In time trials, Smith qualified ninth (row 5, inside lane) in his no. 78 Furniture Row Racing/CSX Play it Safe Chevrolet Impala. He covered the 1.366-mile oval in 27.451 seconds at 179.141 mph to post his fourth top-10 qualifying effort of the season.
“We needed a lift and it looks like the Darlington mojo is still there,” said Smith, who as the defending Southern 500 champion has been the subject of a great deal of media attention. “We've been struggling lately, but right now we’re feeling as if we made some good moves and are really looking forward to thes race. I like the way our Furniture Row/CSX Play it Safe Chevy is handling. This is one of the most exciting races of the season and I can’t wait for it to start.”
Smith’s car will be carrying the “I BREAK FOR TRAINS” bumper sticker, which is part of CSX Transportation’s “Play it Safe” public safety campaign to urge pedestrians and motorists to exercise caution around railroad tracks.
The pole winner was Greg Biffle (180.257 mph). Rounding out the top-10 in order were: Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne, Ryan Newman, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin, Smith, and Jeff Burton.
The Southern 500 will be televised on FOX, beginning with a 30-minute prerace show at 6:30 p.m. EDT.