William Byron leads Daytona 500 practice on opening day


DAYTONA BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 11: Alex Bowman, driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet, qualifies on the pole with a time of 46.002 seconds and a speed of 195.644 miles per hour for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 11, 2018 in Daytona Beach, Florida.

Byron turned a lap of 210.681 miles per hour in Saturday afternoon's practice at Daytona International Speedway. Could the third time be a charm for Truex Jr., after leading the DAYTONA 500 previous year with two laps to go and finishing second in 2016? His lap of 44.625 measured at 201.681 miles per hour narrowly ahead of Ricky Stenhouse Jr's lap of 44.632. Those drivers consist of last season's pole winners, past Daytona 500 pole winners, and the playoff drivers from last season.

Hamlin will start on the outside of the front row.

NASCAR told teams to make a gear change for Saturday's final practice, though speeds still increased from the initial practice, where Kyle Busch had the fastest vehicle at 199.743 miles per hour.

In Saturday's first practice, Kyle Busch led all four Joe Gibbs Racing Toyotas to a sweep of the speed chart. Blaney will be making his first start in the Clash Sunday afternoon and it looks like he'll make a big splash in the season opening exhibition.