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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – In Thursday night's opening Duel, William Byron led 16 laps, raced near the front of the pack for more than half the race and then dropped to the back of the field to protect his No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1.

In the process, he cemented himself as the pole-sitter for Sunday's Daytona 500.

Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson also competed in the first Duel, taking the checkered flag in eighth.

"It does have a ton of speed in it," Johnson said of his No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. "I think we're going to have ourselves a great Ally Chevrolet for the race."

Kevin Harvick won the race.

Below is a closer look at how the first Duel at Daytona International Speedway unfolded.

WILLIAM BYRON, NO. 24 AXALTA CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1
FINISHED:
16th
HOW IT HAPPENED:

  • As the Daytona 500 pole-sitter, Byron started the opening Duel of the evening on the pole. He held the lead when the green flag flew and maintained it through 16 laps before heading to pit road.
  • After his green-flag stop, Byron worked back inside the top five before a caution flag just before the midway point of the race. He restarted in fifth and maintained his position in the draft over the next few laps.
  • On Lap 34, Byron elected to drop back in the pack to protect his car – and his position on the pole for the Daytona 500.
  • He ultimately took the checkered flag 16th, but his starting position for Sunday was already determined last weekend when he became the second-youngest pole-winner in Daytona 500 history.

JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 ALLY CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1
FINISHED:
8th
HOW IT HAPPENED:

  • Johnson took the green flag Thursday night on the front row along side his teammate Byron. He settled in behind Byron shortly after the green flag waved as the Hendrick Motorsports duo continued to run one-two.
  • After 16 laps in second place, Johnson headed to pit road for a green-flag stop. Upon returning to the track, he worked his way back inside the top 10 before making contact with a competitor and bringing out a caution.
  • Johnson headed to pit road under the caution so that the No. 48 team could inspect the Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. Afterward, he quickly moved back inside the top 10 after the ensuing restart.
  • Before the checkered flag waved, Johnson had jumped up to eighth, earning three points for the finish.