This isn't necessarily because Stewart has done anything wrong, but Carl Edwards is going to have a new found determination this week, and this season. Like Stewart, he has accomplished everything the sport has to offer, but he doesn't have a Daytona 500 or a points championship.
It's hard to imagine Edwards not being especially determined to change both of those this year, especially since he's starting from the pole position at Daytona.
Ultimately, Edwards has too many things working in his favor to think that Stewart will overtake him.
As if Edwards wasn't enough, Stewart will also need to compete with other elite racers starting right around him. Looking at the lineup (per Connie Ann Kirk of the Rochester Motorsports Examiner), Stewart will also have to negotiate a top 10 that also includes Greg Biffle, Matt Kenseth, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Regan Smith, Marcos Ambrose, Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Burton and Elliott Sadler.
That is going to be too much for Stewart. The positive for the three-time points champion is that he's only 40, so there is still plenty of time left to win at Daytona; it's just not going to happen in 2012.
How will Tony Stewart finish at the 2012 Daytona 500?
The other problem is that winning one of the Gatorade Duels has been a recipe for disaster in recent years. If you think about it, it actually makes complete sense.
Stewart is already a target, as he's one of the sport's biggest names, the reigning Sprint Cup champion and one of the best racers off all-time. Now, add in the fact that he's recorded a win on the same track during the week, and the bulls eye will be firmly on his back.
That is going to lead to Stewart getting bottled up, unable to make his moves.
Stewart will find his way to the top 10 because he's a prolific racer, but that won't be enough to score a win at the Daytona 500. This year will belong to Edwards.