NBA legend Michael Jordan behind new NASCAR Cup team with Bubba Wallace as driver

NASCAR

Bubba Wallace's NASCAR future has been confirmed as he will move over to a new team owned by Michael Jordan and Denny Hamlin

Michael Jordan, Denny Hamlin

Michael Jordan and Denny Hamlin will join forces and enter a new NASCAR team for 2021

@dennyhamlin

Legendary NBA player Michael Jordan and NASCAR Cup Series driver Denny Hamlin have announced the pair will enter a new team into the top category of the series next season, with Bubba Wallace as driver.

The Hall of Famer and owner of the Charlotte Hornets will be the majority shareholder of the new team when it joins the series for the 2021 season.

Hamlin, currently driving in the Cup Series for Joe Gibbs Racing in the No11 car, will take a minority stake in the team. Details as to the name, number and manufacturer affiliation are yet to be confirmed.

NASCAR announced last night that the two had purchased a Charter from Germain Racing, currently operating as the No13 Chevrolet driven by Ty Dillon, and that Wallace would move across from Richard Petty Motorsports having already confirmed his intentions to leave the team at the end of the 2020 season.

Wallace has been at the forefront of the push for greater diversity and has been outspoken in the fight against racial injustice in the United States, with the series showing solidarity with Wallace earlier this year with pre-race displays of support for the only Black driver in the top NASCAR series.

Jordan said that the move was a chance to educate and provide greater opportunity to Black people in the world of motor sport.

“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. 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.”

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Jordan and Hamlin struck up a friendship dating back to 2011 when the pair met at a Charlotte Bobcats basketball game. Since then, Hamlin went on to become the first Jordan athlete in NASCAR and ran an Air Jordan-branded truck back in 2013 at Martinsville.

“Our friendship has grown over the years and now we are ready to take it to the next level. I’m excited to announce that MJ and I are starting a new, single car NASCAR Cup Series team for 2021. Deciding on a driver was easy – it had to be Bubba Wallace.

“Bubba has shown tremendous improvement since joining the Cup Series and we believe he’s ready to take his career to a higher level. 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.”

On the track, Wallace has put together his finest season to date, achieving five top-ten finishes in 2020, with a season-best of fifth place coming at Daytona. He has also agreed multiple personal sponsorship deals, including Beats Electronics, Columbia Sportswear Co. and Urban Outfitters.

“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 of the announcement.

“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.”