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William Byron wins Daytona 500: Great American Race

William Byron won the 66th Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway. It was his 11th career victory on the NASCAR circuit.

William Byron emerged victorious at the 66th Daytona 500, held at the Daytona International Speedway in Florida. This marked Byron's 11th career victory on the NASCAR circuit, with his previous win occurring at the Texas Motor Speedway back in September 2023. As the white flag was unfurled and just before the fifth caution flag of the race was waved, Byron crossed the finish line. The caution was brought about by Ross Chastain spinning out, as reported by Fox Sports.

The 26-year-old driver had never achieved a finish higher than 21st place at the 2.5-mile superspeedway. Byron's triumph made him the sixth driver for Hendrick Motorsports to clinch the Daytona 500, setting a new record for the team.

In a post-race television interview, Byron expressed his disbelief at his victory, stating, "I'm just a kid from racing on computers and winning the Daytona 500. I can't believe it. I wish my dad was here. He's sick, but this is for him, man. We've been through so much, and we sat up in the grandstands together and watched the race (when Byron was younger). This is so freaking cool." This win marked Byron's second victory at Daytona, with his previous win occurring during the summer of 2020.

Alex Bowman finished second, securing a one-two finish for Hendrick Motorsports at NASCAR's season-opening race. This was the team's first Daytona 500 win since 2013, when Jimmie Johnson emerged victorious, according to Christopher Bell secured the third position.

The race experienced its fourth caution flag with eight laps to go after an 18-vehicle wreck on the back straightaway. Byron made contact with Brad Keselowski as they vied for second place, prompting a red flag that was later lifted to a yellow flag with seven laps remaining. The green flag was then waved with five laps to go.

The race was originally scheduled to take place on Sunday but was postponed due to rain, marking the first time a race had been delayed before the starting flag since 2012. The event was squeezed in for 20 laps before being halted in 2020, according to The Associated Press. Byron became the third Monday winner of the Daytona 500, following Matt Kenseth in 2012 and Denny Hamlin in 2020, as reported by NBC Sports.

In 2021, the race concluded on a Monday following a nearly six-hour rain delay, with the checkered flag being waved after midnight. Ryan Blaney, the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series champion, secured the second stage of the race and led after 130 laps of the 200-lap race. Meanwhile, Chase Elliott led after the first stage, with the second time he had won a stage at the Daytona 500.

The Daytona 500 has seen its fair share of last-lap passes for the lead in recent years, with crashes also dominating the past seven races. Joey Logano was aiming to become the first polesitter to win the Daytona 500 since Dale Jarrett in 2000, according to ESPN. The grand marshal for the race was actor and former wrestler Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.

The Xfinity race, initially scheduled to begin at 11:01 a.m. EST on Monday, was pushed back until after the Daytona 500 due to early morning rain leaving the superspeedway damp, as reported by NBC Sports.

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