Davis sells NASCAR team, engine company

Associated Press • Dec 23, 2008 at 12:00 AM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Just a month removed from his first NASCAR championship, but hampered by the current economic crisis, owner Bill Davis has sold his race team and engine company.

Mike Held, a California businessman, and Marty Gaunt, vice president at Bill Davis Racing, bought out the veteran owner. The duo said Monday they’ve also taken control of profitable Triad Racing Development, which supplies engines, chassis and bodies to customers from all three of NASCAR’s top series.

Davis, who has been in NASCAR for more than 20 years, won his first championship this season with Johnny Benson in the Truck Series. He also won the Daytona 500 with Ward Burton in 2002.

But Davis lost his Sprint Cup Series sponsor and has been unable to secure funding for 2009. Benson also announced before last month’s titleclinching finale that he would not return to BDR next season.

“When you’ve been involved for this long in this sport, and won in all three series, there’s definitely a lot of emotion involved,” Gaunt said. “But I believe Bill got to a time in his life where he said ‘There’s other opportunities for me.’ I think he realized this is the right time for him to move on.

“When we told him this is what we’d like to do, presented it to him at the round-table and went back and forth, he got to a point where he wanted to move on this deal.”

Davis was not immediately available for comment.

In addition to an Arkansas cattle farm, Davis owns and operates Bill Davis Trucking, which is separate from the NASCAR operation. The trucking company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in October, 2007, and Davis said at the time the filing was “necessitated by an injury accident and an ensuing lawsuit against the company.”

Davis entered NASCAR in 1988, teaming with fellow Arkansas native Mark Martin to run 13 Busch Series races. He had Jeff Gordon under contract in the early 1990s before Gordon found a loophole that allowed him to move to Hendrick Motorsports.

BDR first competed in Cup in 1993 and has five wins, including the Daytona 500 and Southern 500 with Burton. He started last season with two cars, but former Formula One world champion Jacques Villeneuve failed to make the season-opener and never secured sponsorship to keep that program afloat.

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