DOVER, Del. -- Richard Childress Racing hasn't picked up the option on Casey Mears' contract and likely won't unless a sponsor is found to keep four cars in the organization.
And even that's not a given.
"If we don't have the funding to do it, I don't want to hold him back from getting another ride," team owner Richard Childress said Friday at Dover International Speedway.
Mears signed a one-year deal, with an option for a second, to drive the No. 07 with Jack Daniel's as the sponsor. Jack Daniel's announced earlier in the week it will not return in 2010.
Childress said the goal is to remain a four-car organization, noting a personal responsibility for keeping as many RCR employees as possible under tough economic times.
If potential suitors aren't interested in Mears, who is 20th in points, sources said the organization may be forced to turn to another driver.
"It all depends on sponsorship," Childress said. "Casey has done a good job. It's just unfortunate circumstances around Jack Daniel's to have to leave the sport."
David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.