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Newman, Stewart play coy

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – If Ryan Newman is indeed in line to join Tony Stewart’s new team next season, neither driver is saying.

Stewart said Tuesday he’s still trying to fill the two-car lineup at Stewart-Haas Racing, while Newman joked the only new offer he’s received was to drive for one of Stewart’s sprint car teams.

All kidding aside, Newman is believed to be the top candidate to drive for Stewart next year. The Daytona 500 winner announced last week he’ll leave Penske Racing at the end of the season, a decision that makes him the top current free agent.

Stewart, who is leaving Joe Gibbs Racing to become part-owner of what’s now known as Haas-CNC Racing, said he’s still looking at who is available.

“There are a lot of drivers in the running right now,” he said. “It’s not narrowed down to just one driver right now.”

But Stewart does have a list of criteria he’d like his future teammate to meet, and among the things he’s looking for is the commitment to help the new team drive from the back of the NASCAR field and start contending for wins and championships.

“We definitely want somebody that you feel like is dedicated to what we’re trying to do and realizing that we’re taking an organization that’s not had the success that it wants, and has the foresight to look forward and see what we’re trying to accomplish,” Stewart said.

“You want a driver that has that same attitude with what they do every weekend. You don’t want a guy that’s just content to run in the Top 15 or Top 20. You want a guy who has every intention every year and a realistic intention of saying, ‘I expect to make the Chase.’”