DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- The very first stage of the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series season is in the books, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. led his Hendrick Motorsports teammates to the green checkered Stage 1 flag.
Earnhardt finished the 60-lap Stage 1 in fifth place, with Jimmie Johnson joining him inside the top 10 in ninth after starting at the rear of the field in a backup No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet SS..
With the top 10 at the end of Stages 1 and 2 earning extra points for the race, Earnhardt picked up six points and Johnson earned two.
Chase Elliott finished Stage 1 in 15th, and Kasey Kahne closed out the first 60 laps in 31st.
Stage 2 also consists of 60 laps before an 80-lap final stage.