Danica Patrick led the field to the green flag for the 55th running of the Daytona 500, but it was Jeff Gordon who led the first lap. Patrick quickly settled into the second position and tucked her car behind Gordon's Chevrolet.
One concern for Gordon in the early going was a piece of debris that had latched onto the grill opening of his car, causing his engine to overheat. But a timely caution for debris on the track allowed Gordon to close up on the pace car and use the air to knock the wrapper away.
As has been the case throughout Speedweeks, most drivers up front ran single-file with two- and three-wide racing taking place in the middle of the pack on back for the opening 10 laps. But as the field worked Lap 11, everyone fell into line with drivers content to pace themselves through the early stages.
Kyle Busch, Kasey Kahne and Austin Dillon rounded out the top five with 30 laps on the board.
Kevin Harvick, who entered the race as a pre-race favorite after sweeping the preliminary events leading into the 500, was running comfortably in eighth.
One driver, David Gilliland, has already headed to the garage with an apparent engine-related issue.