Michael Jordan, Denny Hamlin Co-Owners Of 2021 NASCAR Team With Bubba Wallace Behind The Wheel
Basketball legend Michael Jordan is expanding his empire. He has agreed to purchase a NASCAR Cup Series Charter with partner Denny Hamlin and Bubba Wallace will be the driver when the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season begins.
While Jordan is widely considered to be the greatest basketball player of all time and current owner of the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets, he will now also be the majority owner of a NASCAR Cup Series team. Wallace is the series’ lone Black driver in the midst of a career-best season and has found a new home after announcing earlier this month that he would not return to Richard Petty Motorsports. Hamlin will be a minority owner of the single-car team. Hamlin and Jordan are close friends.
“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 ownership group indicated that the organization’s name, manufacturer affiliation, car number, sponsors, and other details would be announced later. Hamlin will remain a driver of the No. 11 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing.
Though other details of the new team’s formation had not been announced, Hamlin said “deciding on a driver was easy — it had to be Bubba Wallace.” Wallace has made 105 career starts at NASCAR’s top level. He has five top-10 finishes this year, including a fifth-place run in the regular-season finale at Daytona International Speedway.
Wallace announced earlier this month that he would leave Richard Petty Motorsports at the end of this season with an enduring memento — the famed curlicued signature of team owner Richard Petty tattooed on his right leg.
Wallace has championed causes that fight racial injustice and has found his voice in the quest for social change. He has welcomed others in the NASCAR industry to join him in solidarity.
Wallace says, “This is a unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I believe is a great fit for me at this point in my career. 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.”
NASCAR President Steve Phelps confirmed that it’s possible for a current driver of a four-car team to own all or part of another team – but that NASCAR would have to ensure fair competition.