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

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

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

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

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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