DOVER, Del. -- Denny Hamlin moved into a tie for the lead for the most victories in the NASCAR Cup Series on Saturday when he passed Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Martin Truex Jr with nine laps to go and then hung on for the win.
The margin of victory for Hamlin was 1.18 seconds over Truex in the Drydene 311 at Dover International Speedway.
"I've been running down the leaders these last few weeks but haven't been able to get there," said Hamlin, who has finished second in the last two races.
Hamlin got career win No. 43 on Saturday.
"Pretty awesome," he said of that number.
The victory was his first ever at the place they call the Monster Mile. It was the sixth on the season for Hamlin and ties him with Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing.
"People always ask at Q and A's, ‘What's your least favorite track?' and I always say Dover because I'm not that good here," Hamlin said. "I love the track, but I haven't been very good here. But we have unbelievably good cars right now."
Hamlin led a race-best 115 of 311 laps.
"I'm working as hard as I ever have. I can't complain about anything right now," said Hamlin, who is looking for his first Cup championship. "We just got things going."
Truex, who had finished third in the last five races, said he gave up the lead and perhaps the win, because of lapped traffic.
"If the 10 car (Aric Almirola) wasn't just pinning me on the bottom, I would have been fine," Truex said. "Every time I tried to move up and get some air on my car, he just slid up in front of me like an idiot. But in the end, we just weren't good enough."
A third Joe Gibbs Racing driver, Kyle Busch, finished third. Busch is the defending series champion but has yet to win a race this season.
Rounding out the top five Saturday were Kevin Harvick and Chase Elliott of Hendrick Motorsports.
Saturday's race was the first of a weekend doubleheader with the second set for 4 p.m. Sunday.
The non-playoff portion of the schedule will conclude next weekend at Daytona International Speedway, where Hamlin won the Daytona 500 in the season-opening race.
Seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson started the day 17th in points -- 25 behind Hendrick Motorsports teammate William Byron -- with only three races to go before the start of the 16-driver, 10-race playoffs. He ended the day three points to the good over Byron, who finished 28th.
"It does feel good," said Johnson, who is the winningest driver ever at Dover with 11. "We had a solid day. Wish we had a little bit more for the lead guys but this new tire really threw us for a loop. Good start for the double-header."
Richard Childress Racing's Austin Dillon returned to his car after missing last weekend's race at the Daytona road course because of a positive COVID-19 test. He led 30 laps in the first 70-lap stage. He finished 15th.