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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Daytona 500 pole sitter William Byron had plenty of time up front in clean air throughout “The Great American Race.”

 The driver was able to hold his lead in front of teammate Alex Bowman when the green flag dropped, and though he lost the position early in the race, he recovered to finish Stage 2 as the runner-up and regained the lead to start the final segment.

 In total, he led the Daytona 500 field for 44 laps on Sunday – the most the driver of the No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 has led in a single race in his NASCAR Cup Series career.

 “We were in a great spot to contend for the win,” Byron said, “and just all hell broke loose.”

 Though he lost the lead when he headed to pit road, Byron was working his way back through the field late in the race. In the final 10 laps of the event, however, several multiple-car incidents involved the majority of the field, Byron included. The No. 24 team was able to keep the Axalta Chevy on the track through it all – until one final incident with just two laps to go.

 “We were pushing the No. 22, we were in sixth and made a good recovery though we had some damage from the previous wreck,” Byron said. “I was just part of the meat sandwich after that.”

 The resulting damage ended Byron’s day, and he was scored 21st.

 “Things were really looking up for us until we ran out of tries there at the end,” Byron tweeted after the race, noting how fun it was to drive the No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. “More to come soon.”