February 4 2010, 11:41 AM
The Super Bowl doesn't air until Sunday, so hardcore sports watchers should tune in Saturday to cheer on a local NASCAR team while waiting for the big game. Operating out of Denver, Furniture Row Racing's number 78 Chevy is the only team based west of the Mississippi River racing in the event. The hard work begins with Daytona 500 qualifying, in preparation for the February 14 race. Team members have been on a media push this week to let people know they're making a serious run this year. They drove in just 18 races last season because of money constraints, but this year they've formed an alliance with Richard Childress Racing, which adds technical support and gives Furniture Row the points earned by Richard Childress Racing last year, according to Fox News. Those points guarantee Furniture Row a start in the first five races of the year, a major benefit for a sport in which smaller, independent teams sometimes struggle to qualify---and a first in the team's five-year history, notes Motor Sports News. Furniture Row also added 20 new employees in the off-season, boosting its shop staff to 60. "I've never been this pumped prior to the start of the season," driver Regan Smith tells Paddock Talk, a racing blog. "And to know that we don't have to go through the gut-wrenching qualifying process---especially at Daytona---is an incredible relief."