But Smith, who mainly drives in NASCAR's second-level Xfinity Series, now is scheduled to compete in the biggest race of the year in the sport's top-tier Sprint Cup Series.
Smith, 31, was tapped to replace Kurt Busch, who was suspended indefinitely by NASCAR on Friday after a family court judge in Delaware said it was "more likely than not" that Busch committed domestic violence against an ex-girlfriend last fall. Busch, 36, has denied the allegations.
A three-judge panel upheld Busch's suspension Saturday, but the 2004 NASCAR Cup winner will appeal to Gulfstream President Bryan Moss, NASCAR's final appeals officer, Saturday night. But Busch's team, Stewart-Haas Racing, said it planned to have Smith drive Busch's No. 41 Chevrolet in the Daytona 500 regardless of the appeal's outcome.
Luckily for Smith, there was one final practice Saturday at Daytona International Speedway that gave him the opportunity to get accustomed to Busch's car for Sunday's race.
Before practice, Smith told reporters that "we have a shot to go out and win this race on Sunday. And I’m going to go out and do everything I can to make that happen.
“I’ve got nothing to lose in this race other than go out and drive as hard as I can," Smith said, adding that he had not spoken to Busch since the suspension.
Later Saturday, Smith was competing in the Xfinity Series race at Daytona when he was collected in a 12-car crash, his Chevrolet flipping over but landing upright on its tires. Smith was not injured.
Smith has competed in the Daytona 500 on six previous occasions; his best finish was seventh in 2011 and again in 2013.
“I was planning on watching the race on the couch just like anybody," Smith said, but now "I’ll have a little bit better seat."
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