With Penske partnership ending, Newman to weigh options

Penske Racing has decided it will not re-sign Ryan Newman, who has been with the team since 2000.

"It's what is best for him and best for us," a Penske Racing spokesman said. "We're going to focus on getting him in the Chase and then move on."

Newman, driver of the No. 12 Alltel Dodge Charger, said last month he would not re-sign with Penske unless the performance of his team improved significantly. He met with Penske following the race at Daytona earlier this month.

"I appreciate Penske Racing and all they have done for me, but more importantly, I appreciate their friendship and what they have done for my career," Newman said in a statement Monday. "I would also like to thank all of the sponsors, especially Alltel, who have supported me."

Newman acknowledged on Saturday in Chicagoland that he has three serious options outside of Penske. A source close to the situation said Newman has been in discussions with Stewart Haas, Joe Gibbs Racing and Richard Childress Racing.

The source added there is a firm offer from Stewart-Haas and that potential sponsors are set, but that the deal is not done.

Newman said one of his options included ownership of equity in the company. Stewart-Haas general manager Joe Custer said his company is not looking to give up any more ownership than the 50 percent already given to Stewart.

JGR officials have consistently said they are not interested in giving up ownership. Team owner Joe Gibbs and president J.D. Gibbs talked on Saturday as though 18-year-old sensation Joey Logano could replace Stewart in the No. 20 Home Depot car next season.

RCR, looking for a driver for a fourth team sponsored by General Mills, and GEM already are divided into partnerships.

There has been considerable speculation that Newman will join fellow Indiana native Tony Stewart at the newly formed Stewart-Haas Racing team next season. Sources have told ESPN.com that a deal is close to being completed and could be announced in two weeks at Indianapolis.

Newman has struggled since giving Penske his first Daytona win and is currently 16th in the standings through 19 races. He has seven top-10 finishes this season.

The Penske team said Newman's replacement will be announced "in the near future." Penske test driver David Stremme is considered a leading candidate for the job.

Angelique S. Chengelis and David Newton cover NASCAR for ESPN.com.