Kim O'Reilly, CBS Sports

In 2023, William Byron proved he has become one of the best drivers in the NASCAR Cup Series by winning a series-leading six races and nearly winning his first Cup championship. To start 2024, he not only reinforced the results of his 2023, but can now lay a claim to being one of the legends of NASCAR's greatest race.

After taking the lead and protecting it for the final four laps, William Byron earned by far the biggest win of his career by becoming the 2024 Daytona 500 champion, giving the 26-year-old from Charlotte, N.C. a permanent place on the Harley J. Earl Trophy and taking his stock as an emerging superstar to the next level. Byron now boasts 11 career Cup Series wins, and he's now set to represent stock car racing as the winner of its biggest race driving one of the sport's most recognizable cars in the Hendrick Motorsports No. 24.

In addition to being crowned the Daytona 500 champion, Byron is now the leader of the CBS Sports NASCAR Power Rankings as the 2024 season now begins in earnest and the Cup Series heads to Atlanta Motor Speedway, where Byron has won two out of four races since the track was reconfigured in 2022.

Here's a look at CBS Sports' updated NASCAR Power Rankings following the Daytona 500:

1William Byron
If you've watched NASCAR for long enough, you've heard about how William Byron started his racing career playing iRacing on his computer enough times to go deaf. But you know what that means? It means William Byron is the first gamer to ever win the Daytona 500.
2Joey Logano
Joey Logano's 45 laps led were the most he's ever had in the Daytona 500, besting his previous mark of 31 laps led when he won it in 2015. Unlike 2015, he didn't lead -- or even get to -- the last one after getting collected in The Big One.
3Denny Hamlin
Denny Hamlin found the front late in the Daytona 500, putting himself in position to win the race for the fourth time and tie Cale Yarborough for the second-most wins in 500 history. Hamlin's chances ended in The Big One, but he was able to complete the final laps and finish 19th.
4Ryan Blaney
There's a degree of feast of famine to Ryan Blaney's results in the Daytona 500. He has three top fives and four top 10s including two runner-ups, but he also has five DNFs including three of the last four years.
5Alex Bowman
Initially, there was some confusion at the finish of the Daytona 500 as some people thought Alex Bowman was ahead of William Byron when the yellow lights came on on the final lap. However, that was put to bed when NASCAR offered a conclusive screenshot from race control that Bowman had not yet passed Byron for the lead when the caution was called.
6Christopher Bell
We might already need to pencil in Christopher Bell as a favorite for the 2025 Daytona 500. Bell finished third for the second year in a row, leading 22 laps in the process.
7Kyle Busch
Kyle Busch recovered from a loose wheel following a pit stop to drive back up to the front, but he didn't have track position when it mattered most and finished 12th. Next year, he'll try for the 20th time to finally win the Daytona 500.
8Kyle Larson
Lost in the shuffle of another Hendrick Motorsports Daytona 500 win was that Kyle Larson just missed out on getting a top-10 finish 40 years to the date of their original car's debut. Back in 1984, Geoff Bodine drove Hendrick's No. 5 to an eighth-place finish in the Daytona 500.
9Brad Keselowski
You can't fault Brad Keselowski for making his move and it not working out. But once again, Lady Luck dealt a bad hand to Keselowski as he continues to try and win his first Daytona 500.
10Ross Chastain
I had to go back and watch the replay after the fact, but in the moment I could tell that Ross Chastain was going to have a monster run coming to the white flag that likely would have taken him past William Byron. Chastain took the run he had, and the hole closed up.
11Bubba Wallace
On the subject of Lady Luck, it was smiling on Bubba Wallace late in the Daytona 500. He was going to run out of fuel before the finish, but the caution coming out for The Big One allowed him to top off under caution, and he drove back to a fifth-place finish by the end.
12Chase Briscoe
After talking about how the vibe around his team was much better entering the season, a top-10 finish in the Daytona 500 offered Chase Briscoe a solid starting point for 2024. The last time Briscoe finished in the top 10 in the 500, he proceeded to win early in the season two years ago.
13Corey LaJoie
Corey LaJoie's top-five finish in the Daytona 500 highlighted a couple of points. Not only does he feel like his Spire Motorsports team is ready to contend, but he also isn't going to back down or concede anything to anyone -- as his comments on Austin Cindric after race's end suggest.
14Austin Cindric
Austin Cindric was unhappy with Corey LaJoie after the final accident, but he can take solace in the fact that he came off Turn 4 coming to the white flag with a shot to win his second Daytona 500. That's much more than Cindric had going for him for much of a dismal 2023 season.
15John Hunter Nemechek
John Hunter Nemechek became the second member of his family to get a top 10 in the Daytona 500, joining father Joe Nemechek who was sixth in 2004 and ninth in 2007. For John Hunter, a seventh-place run marked his new career-best finish.
16Erik Jones
I guess I really shouldn't be surprised that damaged cars can hold the draft by now, but Erik Jones' front end really did get torn to bits in The Big One. Despite that, Jones drove back up through the pack and came to the checkered flag in eighth.
17Noah Gragson
The Daytona 500 marked one of the best overall runs and most complete races of Noah Gragson's young Cup career. Gragson led five laps and finished ninth, just his second career top-10 finish.
18Tyler Reddick
Tyler Reddick announced himself as a Daytona 500 contender by winning his Duel race, but The Big One took him out of the big show on Monday. Reddick is still looking to become the first driver to ever win the season-opener at Daytona in all three of NASCAR's national touring series, having won the Truck opener in 2015 and the Xfinity opener in 2018.
19Ty Gibbs
Ty Gibbs didn't have the best Daytona 500 to speak of, as he fell a lap down at one point before getting the free pass to get back on the lead lap at the end of Stage 2. Despite getting back in the mix, Gibbs was never really a factor at the front and finished a quiet 17th.
20Chase Elliott
A banner day for Hendrick Motorsports could have been a little better for Chase Elliott. He led twice for 13 laps and won Stage 1, but his 14th-place finish was the lowest of the four Hendrick cars.
21Zane Smith
Zane Smith did a nice job getting into the mix in the lead pack at the right time in the Daytona 500, allowing him to have a reprise of his past 500 performance. Smith's 13th-place finish in the 2024 Daytona 500 matched his finish from 2023.
22Martin Truex Jr.
The Big One ended Martin Truex Jr.'s hopes of finally winning the Daytona 500, and we'll see if he ever gives himself another shot. The "will he or won't he" retirement talks that surround Truex have become an annual midseason storyline, and should be again this year.
23Chris Buescher
Chris Buescher covered a lot of ground during Speedweeks, as he traveled back to North Carolina on Friday to attend to the birth of his son before flying back to Daytona for the remainder of the weekend. Buescher will need some better results from this point onward, as baby needs a new pair of shoes and 18th won't really get it done.
24Todd Gilliland
Todd Gilliland announced his arrival midway through the Daytona 500, as he drove to the front and paced the field for 16 laps -- more than he had led in his first two Cup seasons combined entering the race.
25Daniel Suarez
With less than 20 to go, it looked for a moment like Daniel Suarez would have a real shot to become the first foreign-born driver to win the Daytona 500 since Mario Andretti did so in 1967. The Big One ended those chances, and to make things worse, Suarez crashed out early in the Xfinity Series race shortly thereafter.
26Michael McDowell
We'll never know whether Michael McDowell would have had a car capable of winning the Daytona 500. He was fast all week and led several laps from the outside pole early, but electrical problems doomed his day and forced him to putt around well under power.
27Justin Haley
Call this the Rowdy Burns Effect: Michael Rooker, who played the cagey veteran in the Tony Scott film "Days of Thunder," was at the Daytona 500 and looking on as Justin Haley went to the front in a black, white and red No. 51. Unfortunately, Haley would finish 26th after running out of fuel and losing a lap.
28Daniel Hemric
It was overshadowed by teammate AJ Allmendinger's sixth-place finish, but Daniel Hemric had as good an outing in the Daytona 500 as anyone. Hemric ran up inside the top five at intervals during the Daytona 500, and then finished 16th to kick off his return to racing full-time in Cup.
29Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Late in the going, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was at the front, going for the lead with the chance to win back-to-back Daytona 500s. The Big One denied him the chance to become the fifth driver in history to do so. He would have joined Richard Petty, Cale Yarborough, Sterling Marlin and Denny Hamlin in that category.
30Ryan Preece
It's a shame Ryan Preece could never truly show just how strong he was. He was at the front and making a difference in the lead pack, but he would never recover from a mid-race pit road speeding penalty that pinned him a lap down.