Stewart interested in filling Mears' spot at Hendrick Motorsports

LOUDON, N.H. -- Tony Stewart said Friday the new opening at Hendrick Motorsports could affect his decision about where he drives next season.

Hendrick Motorsports announced that Casey Mears would not return in the No. 5 Chevrolet.

"There's no one in the garage area that's not going to look in that direction," Stewart said. "You've got to look at it. Absolutely."

Stewart has said he is exploring an ownership option to become the co-owner and a driver for Haas/CNC Racing. He was asked Friday when he might have a decision on his future.

"At this morning's announcement [on the No. 5 car], I don't know," he said. "It may be pushed back even more. We'll wait and see. It's however long it takes to make the right decision.

"There's a lot of variables to look at. We've got all the information except what happened today. The good news is we still have time to look at it."

Stewart is under contract with Joe Gibbs Racing through the 2009 season. JGR officials have said they plan to hold Stewart to his contact obligations in the No. 20 Toyota.

Hendrick did not say who will drive the No. 5 Chevy next season, but ESPN.com reported Sunday Mark Martin will join the team and take over for Mears full time in one final attempt to win a Cup title.

Terry Blount covers motorsports for ESPN.com. He can be reached at terry@blountspeak.com.