Skip to main content

Indy legend Sullivan makes offer to purchase NASCAR team


BROOKLYN, Michigan -- Danny Sullivan, the "Spin and Win" driver who won the 1985 Indianapolis 500, has put an offer together to purchase the Bill Davis Racing operation in NASCAR.

Sullivan, one of the most popular IndyCar drivers when he raced for team owners Roger Penske and Rick Galles, told on Friday that he has discussed a deal with Bill Davis, a long-time NASCAR team owner whose car won the 2002 Daytona 500 with Ward Burton as the driver.

Davis confirmed those discussions to at Michigan International Speedway.

"I've been pursuing it but haven't gotten a response from him (Bill Davis)," Sullivan told in a telephone interview. "He's still dreaming on the price.

"I have a partner who has lined up the money to do this and we've been kicking around on some stuff. He is (Davis) off on the numbers and had some bigger people chasing it. The last time I talked to him (Davis), I had the money but didn't get the documents that we requested."

Davis confirmed the conversations with Sullivan but expressed some curiosity over some of Sullivan's statements.

"We've had some conversations," Davis said. "I just heard some of those quotes and I was pretty amazed by them. We've continued to talk to Danny. We've talked to several people, yes. All we've ever talked about with anybody is the entire operation.

"We wouldn't be talking about that in public. It's not to that stage yet. That would be a question for Danny, what his plan is."

Davis admitted the only reason he is open to selling his team is the skyrocketing costs involved to keep a competitive NASCAR Sprint Cup team on the track during the grueling season. Davis also has a highly-successful NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series operation.

Both teams are part of Toyota's NASCAR empire.

"Like I've said all along, the days of the small teams are very, very numbered," Davis said. "Anything we can do to improve ourselves, we'd be interested in talking about. We are open to anything."

When asked if he would remain involved in the operation if the team is sold, Davis acknowledged he would like to be part of it.

"II would like to be involved," Davis said. "I'd prefer to stay. I'm not ready to quit by any means.

"It's pretty hard to do this every week. The little teams, the little guys, those teams are very, very numbered. Our sport has taken a different direction."

Sullivan admitted that when Caterpillar decided to leave Bill Davis Racing and sign with Richard Childress Racing for the 2009 season, it has an economic impact on the amount Sullivan's group is prepared to offer Davis for the team that includes drivers Dave Blaney in the Cup Series with Johnny Benson Jr. and Mike Skinner in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.

"I am always interested in the right deal but with CAT gone they don't have a sponsor," Sullivan said. "There is a meeting going on right now (regarding Bill Davis Racing) so it does have some potential."

Davis said he is optimistic he can find a sponsor to replace CAT.

That has left Blaney's status in limbo. His contract with the team runs out at the end of this season.

"I know there is a group floating around that has Danny Sullivan involved in it that wants to buy a team. I don't know for sure if it is this team or another team or who they are looking at and talking to," Blaney said. "I know one of the guys involved in that group. I have seen Danny Sullivan and know another one of those guys in that group.

"The problem in this sport is Bill Davis has to bring in more money to get this team to compete, no doubt. Somehow, some way, the smaller teams have to generate income and it is hard with sponsors who want to be lined up with the three or four big teams that have all the cars lined up front. It is making it harder on the smaller teams.

"To compete, it's all about being able to afford the right people and keep the right people."

Blaney is used to the uncertainty that has become part of his career in NASCAR.

"It is uncertain for me, somewhat, but I've gotten used to that here," Blaney said. "Like anybody, you want a competitive race car to drive with a good sponsor and good people. We've had that here a lot of times but we're not consistent enough. We can run in the top 10 one week and 30th the next week. We've struggled a little bit with that but all the right ingredients are here. It takes money to keep the right people and keep enough people. That's part of the sport right now."

Sullivan was one of IndyCar racing's top drivers in the 1980s. After running 15 Formula One races for team owner Ken Tyrrell in 1983, Sullivan returned to the United States as a driver in CART. He won 17 races in 170 starts and raced for Forsythe Racing, Shierson Racing, Penske Racing, Patrick Racing, Galles Racing and PacWest Racing.

He won the 1988 CART championship for Penske Racing but is most famous for spinning in front of Mario Andretti while racing for the lead of the 1985 Indianapolis 500. Sullivan's car did a complete spin but did not hit anything.

He went on to win that race -- the biggest win of his career.