William Byron Wins Daytona 500 Pole


Richard Childress Racing's Austin Dillon, Hendrick Motorsports' Chase Elliott, Stewart-Haas Racing's Aric Almirola, Roush Fenway Racing's Ryan Newman and Stewart-Haas Racing's Daniel Suarez rounded out the top 10 by finishing in sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth and 10th place in their #3 Chevrolet, #9 Chevrolet, #10 Ford, #6 Ford and #41 Ford, respectively. In the offseason, Byron was paired up with Johnson's longtime crew chief Chad Knaus, while Johnson was paired with Kevin Meendering.

William Byron put Hendrick Motorsports in a familiar position: on the pole for the Daytona 500. No, it doesn't pay any points and doesn't count toward playoff qualifying, but the 75-lap exhibition race is the first event on the NASCAR calendar, so that's worth something.

"Knowing the rain was coming you could see it coming and I knew that was my lap to make the move I had a great run down the back", Johnson said.

Johnson topped Sunday's Clash after contact between he and Paul Menard in a battle for the lead resulted in the multi-car crash that collected most of the field in turn three.

Right before the final red flag to call the race, all the cars were racing on the backstretch as Jimmie Johnson side-drafted Menard and caused him to wreck and 15 others. Johnson said he will gladly take the win. After splitting with Johnson at the end of last season, Knaus essentially repeated the feat with Byron. "We're prepared. This is the first step of our process together".

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This year's Clash boasted a 20-driver field, with the previous season's pole winners joined by past Clash winners, past Daytona 500 winners and polesitters, and the playoff drivers from the previous season.

"I think he came down a little bit to defend and block", Johnson said. He had a discussion with a NASCAR official after the race, claiming Johnson took his lead by passing below the track's yellow line, an illegal move according to the NASCAR rule book. In fact, not including Johnson's auto, only three other cars made it through this wreck unscathed. I got that move inside of him and was hopeful the 1 was going to be following me through. Menard led more laps than anybody in the field with 51 laps led before he was involved in the lap 56 wreck.

Menard wasn't happy that he got bumped out of the race. He was down at least 25 laps in five straight Clashes, and understands just how quickly a race at Daytona can change.

"You know a driver can't really do much", Bowman said. He finished first in his 40 to 44 age division early Sunday in the Daytona Beach half marathon with a time of 1 hour, 34 minutes, 18.4 seconds.