NASCAR announced today basketball legend Michael Jordan has joined forces with his long-time friend Denny Hamlin to purchase a NASCAR Cup Series Charter to compete in next year's season as team owners. The unnamed single-car team has signed Bubba Wallace as its driver.
“Growing up in North Carolina, my parents would take my brothers, sisters and me to races, and I’ve been a NASCAR fan my whole life,” Jordan said in a statement. “The opportunity to own my own racing team in partnership with my friend, Denny Hamlin, and to have Bubba Wallace driving for us, is very exciting for me."
Wallace announced earlier this month he would leave Richard Petty Motorsports—where he got his start in top-level racing in 2017—at the end of the 2020 season.
"Historically, NASCAR has struggled with diversity and there have been few Black owners," Jordan continued. "The timing seemed perfect as NASCAR is evolving and embracing social change more and more. In addition to the recent commitment and donations I have made to combat systemic racism, I see this as a chance to educate a new audience and open more opportunities for Black people in racing.”
Hamlin, who owns a minority stake in the new team, will still drive the #11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota for the 2021 season. He's won six races this year so far, and is a favorite to win the Cup Series championship.
“Bubba has shown tremendous improvement since joining the Cup Series and we believe he’s ready to take his career to a higher level,” Hamlin said in a statement. “He deserves the opportunity to compete for race wins and our team will make sure he has the resources to do just that. Off the track, Bubba has been a loud voice for change in our sport and our country. MJ and I support him fully in those efforts and stand beside him.”
Wallace also expressed excitement about the move.
"This is a unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I believe is a great fit for me at this point in my career," Wallace said in a statement. "Both Michael and Denny are great competitors and are focused on building the best team they possibly can to go out and compete for race wins. I’m grateful and humbled that Michael and Denny believe in me and I’m super pumped to begin this adventure with them.”
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