Michael Jordan NASCAR
Michael Jordan is coming to NASCAR. And together of the foremost recognizable athletes within the world, his presence within the sport goes to form tons of noise. It’s an assist the struggling organization could definitely use, especially as many of its stars who transcended the game have retired in recent years.
Jordan is teaming up with Denny Hamlin, a Jordan-brand driver, and friend of his, to make a replacement NASCAR team starting in 2021, they announced Monday night.
In a statement, they said they purchased the charter team from Germain Racing, which makes Jordan the primary Black majority owner of a full-time Cup team since NASCAR Hall of Famer Wendell Scott within the 1960s and ’70s.
Although we don’t know the name of the team, its manufacturer, or what number is going to be on the car — though No. 23 would definitely be an informed guess — its lone driver is going to be Bubba Wallace, who signed a multi-year deal.
Wallace has driven for Richard Petty Motorsports in his first three full-time seasons at NASCAR’s top level, but despite an improved performance this season, he’s still trying to find his first victory. He announced earlier this month his decision to leave the team.
He previously said he wants a family-like team atmosphere but also a competitive car. And he told For The Win he thinks this deal can do both. He said:
“There’s tons that’s still on the table to iron out and type through. So it’s super important to me to feel a neighborhood of the team, but it’s also really important to travel out and win races and be the simplest I are often. So as long as we set that up, there shouldn’t be any reason why this deal won’t achieve success .”
Michael Jordan and Denny Hamlin
Wallace called the deal “a unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” and he added within the release:
“Both Michael and Denny are great competitors and are focused on building the simplest team they possibly can to travel out and compete for race wins. I’m grateful and humbled that Michael and Denny believe me and I’m super pumped to start this adventure with them.”
Hamlin tweeted: “Deciding on a driver was easy.” And following the announcement, Wallace received an abundance of support from those in NASCAR and therefore the greater racing world, including Formula 1 superstar Lewis Hamilton.
More from the announcement:
“Starting a race team has been something that Michael and that i have talked about while playing golf together over the years, but the timing or circumstances were never really right,” said the 39-year-old Hamlin. “It just is sensible now to get the inspiration for my racing career after I’m done driving and also help an up-and-coming driver like Bubba take his career to a better level. Plus, Michael and Bubba are often a strong voice together, not only in our sport but also well beyond it.”
Through 105 races within the No. 43 car, Wallace has nine top-10 finishes but just three top-5s, including being the runner-up within the 2018 Daytona 500 — the very best finish within the race for a full-time rookie.
In 2020, he’s had five top-10 finishes, and he came in fifth within the Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway in August.
This is a unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I believe is a great fit for me at this point in my career. I’m grateful and humbled that they believe in me and I’m super pumped to begin this adventure with them.
— Bubba Wallace (@BubbaWallace) September 22, 2020
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NASCAR Team Driver Bubba Wallace
Wallace is that the only Black driver within the NASCAR Cup Series, and he skyrocketed to international stardom this summer due to his anti-racism efforts within and out of doors of NASCAR. He led the successful effort to urge NASCAR to ban the Stars and Bars, and he ran a Black Lives Matter paint scheme earlier this season.
He’s also spoken out against police brutality disproportionally impacting Black people, worn a “Black Lives Matter t-shirt at the track before races, and encouraged Black sports fans to support NASCAR.
Jordan said during a statement he’s a lifelong NASCAR fan. But he also recognized the impact this team could wear the mostly white sport and its recent efforts to be more inclusive. Jordan said:
“The opportunity to have my very own racing team in partnership with my friend, Denny Hamlin, and to possess Bubba Wallace driving for us, is extremely exciting on behalf of me. Historically, NASCAR has struggled with diversity and there are few Black owners. The timing seemed perfect as NASCAR is evolving and embracing social change more and more. additionally, to the recent commitment and donations, I even have made to combat systemic racism, I see this as an opportunity to teach a replacement audience and open more opportunities for Black people in racing.”
In addition to those opportunities, Wallace should have the resources for a more competitive or maybe winning car, between the sponsors he’s expected to bring with him, alongside any new ones who could also be wanting to join the game.
Michael Jordan, Denny Hamlin Form NASCAR Team
The potential for more sponsors and more fans in NASCAR seems monumental now.
Former NBA great Brad Daugherty is currently the sole Black co-owner of a full-time Cup team, JTG Daugherty Racing. He’s also a part of NBC Sports’ NASCAR broadcast team and said Jordan joining the game never would have happened a couple of years ago.
Daugherty also called the new team a “big momentum shift for this sport culturally” and said that the “eyeballs are getting to be incredible.” He continued, via NBC Sports:
“The opportunity for entrance into the game are going to be made more available as far as people being conscious of the supply to urge involved in NASCAR as a lover or as a business. There is great care in many various areas which will illuminate simply because of who he’s and what he represents. His entire legacy creates a chance for everybody.
“Now, we start talking diversity with what he’s ready to do from a company standpoint and also just from a legacy standpoint together with his brand. It’s getting to be exciting.”
NASCAR needs a driver and personality like Bubba, and it needs the jolt of energy and new fans Michael Jordan will surely bring.