Michael Jordan spent a career driving to the hoop. Now, the former Chicago Bull great will have someone else driving for him. The NBA legend is launching a one-car NASCAR 989 team and his driver will be Bubba Wallace.
Yes, Wallace is going from working for “The King,” Richard Petty to His Royal Airness, Jordan.
NASCAR was stunned 11 days ago when Wallace announced he would leave the famed “43” car. At that point, no one knew the direction the lone Black driver on NASCAR’s Monster Cup circuit would wind up.
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— NASCAR (@NASCAR) September 22, 2020
Jordan Attended Races Growing Up
And then came Monday’s announcement. In addition to Jordan as the majority owner, Denny Hamlin, who drives the 11 car for Joe Gibbs Racing, will be a minority owner in Jordan-Hamlin Racing. There is no conflict of interest racing for one team and owning a piece of another car.
“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 news release. “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. Historically, NASCAR has struggled with diversity and there have been few Black owners. 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.”
The Jordan-Hamlin Connection
Hamlin will continue to drive for JGR. He said he met Jordan at a Charlotte Bobcats (now Hornets) game 11 years ago. Their friendship blossomed as he became the first NASCAR driver with an endorsement by Jordan Brand.
— Denny Hamlin (@dennyhamlin) September 22, 2020
“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 on social media. “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.”
“This is a unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I believe is a great fit for me at this point in my career,” said Wallace, who has made 105 career starts at NASCAR’s top level, all of them with Richard Petty Motorsports. “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.”
Checking this list, it appears as if the No. 23 is available. Those are the digits Jordan wore in becoming arguably the greatest NBA player of all-time. Wonder if the Jordan-Hamlin colors will be black, white, and red, like the Chicago Bulls wear.