Tony Stewart proclaimed his interest Friday in Hendrick Motorsports’ soon-to-be-vacated No. 5 Chevrolet, saying the removal of Casey Mears from that ride could alter his plans for 2009 and beyond.
Stewart has another year left on his contract with Joe Gibbs Racing but has expressed interest in partial ownership of another team. Reports have said the deal is done, with sponsors and drivers named.
But Stewart said that wasn’t the case, joking at New Hampshire Motor Speedway that there are some teams he has yet to talk to.
“I’ve still got two ARCA teams I’m talking to, a truck team and now the 5 car’s available,” Stewart said. “I’ve still got a lot of work to do.”
But Stewart wasn’t joking when asked if Hendrick’s No. 5 would be something he would be interested in.
“Absolutely, absolutely,” Stewart said. “You’ve got to. There’s nobody in this garage area that’s not going to look in that direction. You’ve got to look at that.”
The open seat could postpone any announcement involving his future, Stewart said.
“After today’s announcement, I don’t know, it may be pushed back even more now,” Stewart said. “We’ll wait and see. It’s however long it takes to make the right decision.”
Stewart dismissed reports about possible sponsors moving to Haas CNC Racing, where Stewart would supposedly go after buying into the team.
“I don’t even know who I’m driving for yet,” Stewart said. “It’s kind of hard to pick a sponsor when you don’t know who you’re driving for yet, don’t you think? It’s kind of like, which comes first, the chicken or the egg?”
And, of course, Stewart could remain with JGR. He is under contract with that team through 2009.
“There’s a lot of variables to look at still,” Stewart said. “We’ve got all the information, except for what’s happening today. The good news is we’ve got time to look. We’re going to have to make a decision at some point.”