Smith Finishes 5th in Daytona 500 Qualifying Race

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 11, 2010) -- Regan Smith powered his No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet to a fifth-place finish in Thursday's first Gatorade Duel 150-mile qualifying race at Daytona International Speedway. The finishing result lifted Smith to a 11th-place starting position for Sunday's Daytona 500.

“We have the best driver out there," said crew chief Ryan Coniam. "Regan did a great job -- we wouldn't want anyone else. I am so proud of Regan and the guys."

Smith, who started 17th in the 60-lap, 27-car field, held his own early and patiently picked his way to the front. He came on strong at the end, gaining nine positions in the final seven laps. He was challenging for the win as the checkered flag was in sight.

"The final lap was pretty interesting," noted Smith. "Everyone was going for the win. I am proud of the Furniture Row team. We've had a busy offseason -- a lot of changes. I know it's just the Duel race, but it's a good lead into the season. I am real confident. We still have some work on our hands, but it was a great start. I am real excited for this team and can't wait for the Daytona 500."

The winner in Smith's race was Jimmie Johnson. Rounding out the top-five in order were: Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Clint Bowyer and Smith.

The race winner in the second 150-mile Duel was Kasey Kahne. 

Sunday's Daytona 500 will be televised on FOX, 11 a.m. MT.