Newman staying mum on possible move to Stewart-Haas Racing

JOLIET, Ill. -- Ryan Newman was "Mummy" on whether he will leave Penske Racing after this season.

Newman, promoting the soon-to-be-released movie "Mummy" on his car in Saturday night's Sprint Cup race at Chicagoland Speedway, is considered the leading candidate to join Tony Stewart next season at newly-formed Stewart-Haas Racing.

Sources have told ESPN.com that deal to join the Indiana natives is close to done and could be announced in two weeks at Indianapolis.

Newman said he has three serious options outside of Penske and that ownership is part of at least one of the options. He also said re-signing with Penske is an option.

Asked if ownership could be an option at Stewart-Haas, where Stewart was given 50 percent of the company, Newman said, "I won't answer that."

"I haven't agreed [to anything]," he added. "I haven't agreed. I don't know my answer. Driving for Tony's team is an option. He has a seat. Even you guys have marked me as one of the guys that is the lead candidate to go there."

Newman said last month he would not re-sign with Penske unless the performance of his team improved significantly. He met with Penske, who has had medical issues from a kidney procedure, following last weekend's race at Daytona.

He said the team has made some strides to improve, but not enough to convince him it is ready to challenge for a championship.

"The most important thing to me is performance, winning a championship, achieving outside the goals outside of what I've done, which is a lot of polls and a win in the Daytona 500," said Newman, who is 16th in points.

"I see potential to win a championship where I'm at. That potential just hasn't proven to be as high as other organizations. That's a statistical fact. It's just what I have to do to put myself in the best position to move forward."

Newman said the decision facing him is one of the toughest of his career.

"I have A, B, C and D right now," he said."I don't have them 50-50 right now. I don't even have a phone-a-friend."

While Newman and Stewart have had issues on the track, they are good friends off the track and respect each other's abilities.

"Tony is a very great competitor in a great many ways because he's tough, but he's also respectful," Newman said. "He's done a lot to help me, guide me. He's an Indiana boy, so I have respect for him for that."

David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at dnewtonespn@aol.com.