Daytona 500

Tony Stewart: Breaking Down Smoke's Biggest Threats at Daytona

MARTINSVILLE, VA - OCTOBER 30:  Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, talks with Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 MyLowe's Chevrolet in victory lane after the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series TUMS Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway on October 30, 2011 in Martinsville, Virginia.  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images
Austin GreenCorrespondent IFebruary 27, 2012

Tony Stewart has dominated the racing world over the past 12 months, but he's never taken home the trophy on NASCAR's biggest stage: the Daytona 500.

If the following drivers have anything to say about, the man known as "Smoke" will have to wait yet another year before wrapping his hands around the elusive Harley J. Earl trophy.

Here are the biggest threats to Stewart in Monday's Daytona 500.


Jimmie Johnson

DAYTONA BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 25:  Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe's Chevrolet, sits in his car in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 25, 2012 in Daytona Beach,
Todd Warshaw/Getty Images

Johnson was the reigning king of NASCAR before a disappointing 2011 season.

He finished sixth in the Sprint Cup standings after winning just two races, his lowest total since 2001. His bad year was foreshadowed by an awful running at the 500, where he finished 27th.

This year, I'm expecting Johnson to get back on track. He's already got one Daytona 500 win on his resume, which he claimed in 2006.

No one will be shocked if the five-time Sprint Cup winner takes home the trophy again.


Carl Edwards

DAYTONA BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 24:  Carl Edwards, driver of the #99 Fastenal Ford, sits in his car in the garage during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 24, 2012 in Daytona Beach, Florida.
Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Stewart outgunned Edwards to win the Sprint Cup last season, so Edwards will be eager to get his revenge.

He's had some strong outings at the Daytona 500, with five top-10 finishes in the last seven years. Last year, he finished second behind the surprising Trevor Bayne.

This year, Edwards will be near the front of the pack again. With 10 different winners in the last 10 runnings of the Great American Race, Edwards prospects are looking pretty good.


Kevin Harvick

DAYTONA BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 18:  Kevin Harvick, driver of the #29 Budweiser Chevrolet, crashes during the NASCAR Budweiser Shootout at Daytona International Speedway on February 18, 2012 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images
Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Harvick had a disastrous outing at last year's 500, blowing out his engine after just 22 laps.

However, I'm expecting him to make up for it in a big way this year. He's got five top-five finishes in the race, including a victory in 2007 and a second-place finish in 2010.

With his experience in the biggest race of the year, Harvick may be the biggest threat to snatch the crown from Tony Stewart.

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