Sources: Mears close to joining Richard Childress Racing team
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. -- Richard Childress Racing officials are hoping to work out the final details this week so they can announce that Casey Mears will join the organization in 2009 as the team's fourth Sprint Cup driver, sources confirmed Sunday.
The announcement could come next weekend at Michigan International Speedway if all the contracts are signed. But Mears said Sunday that nothing is certain yet about where he's headed.
"Obviously, anyone would love to be part of an organization like RCR," Mears said. "I always try to be up front about this stuff, but the fact is nothing is signed and I'm still talking to other teams."
When asked if his new deal could be completed within a week, Mears said: "I certainly hope so. The sooner the better. We're very close on a couple of things."
Part of the hold up at RCR has been the complications of working out a plan to make a driver switch within the organization.
It's expected that Clint Bowyer would move to the new No. 33 Chevrolet with General Mills as the sponsor. Mears would take over for Bowyer in the No. 07 Chevy that Jack Daniels sponsors.
RCR would petition NASCAR to swap the owner points on the No. 07 car to the No. 33 Chevy so Bowyer would have a guaranteed spot in the first five races next year.
Mears would not need to qualify the No. 07 car on speed in the first five events. He was asked Sunday if he had a problem going to a car without a guaranteed starting spot.
"I wouldn't want to do that," Mears. "But if it was on a team that had the personnel and equipment to make the car fast enough to qualify, it might be a possibility."
Kellogg's cereal is one of Mears' primary sponsors at Hendrick Motorsports. Consequently, officials for General Mills, the parent company of Cheerios, reportedly were uncomfortable with Mears driving under that banner next season.
Mears, 30, announced last month that he was leaving Hendrick at the end of the season. He raced four seasons for Chip Ganassi Racing before joining Hendrick last season.
Mears ranked 24th the Cup standings entering Sunday's race at Watkins Glen. His one Cup victory came in the 2007 Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe's Motor Speedway.
Mark Martin is replacing Mears in the No. 5 Chevrolet next season at Hendrick.
Terry Blount covers motorsports for ESPN.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.