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Michael Jordan jumps into NASCAR Cup Series with Bubba Wallace
Hornets owner to launch single-car team for 2021
 
Published Monday, September 21, 2020 10:00 pm
by Herbert L. White | The Charlotte Post

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Bubba Wallace, NASCAR's lone Black Cup Series driver, will pilot a car for Michael Jordan in 2020. Jordan is stock car racing's first Black team majority owner since Wendell Scott in the 1970s.

Bubba Wallace will race for Michael Jordan in 2021.

Wallace, NASCAR’s lone Black driver, is moving to an unnamed single-car team owned by the Charlotte Hornets owner and three-time Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin starting next year. Wallace, who announced earlier this month he was leaving Richard Petty Motorsports, signed a multi-year deal to drive for Jordan, who is the squad’s majority owner. Hamlin, who pilots the No. 11 Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing, is a minority partner.

Jordan, who becomes the first Black majority owner of a full-time team in NASCAR’s top series since Hall of Famer Wendell Scott owned and raced his own car in the early 1970s, bought the team charter from Germain Racing, which is closing shop at season’s end. The transaction effectively guarantees Jordan’s team a spot in every race next year.

"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."

Jordan’s entry into the NASCAR paddock gives stock car racing another basketball tie-in. Brad Daugherty, an All-Star center with the Cleveland Cavaliers during his playing days, is co-owner of JTG Daugherty Racing, which fields cars for Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Ryan Preece.

Speculation swirled around Wallace’s next move after announcing his departure from RPM. Chip Ganassi Racing was believed to be a landing spot, but that team signed Ross Chastain to pilot the No. 42 Chevy next year. Wallace, who is 23rd in the Cup standings, has one top-five finish in 2020 (Daytona) and a career-best second at the 2018 Daytona 500.

“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, 26, NASCAR’s first Black full-time Cup Series driver since Scott, who scored a win in 1964. “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.”

The name, car number, manufacturer, sponsors and other details for the new team will be announced later.

“Starting a race team has been something that Michael and I have talked about while playing golf together over the years, but the timing or circumstances were never really right,” said Hamlin, who has six Cup wins this year and is in the round of 12 in the series’ postseason with three races remaining. “It just makes sense now to lay the foundation for my racing career after I’m done driving and also help an up-and-coming driver like Bubba take his career to a higher level. Plus, Michael and Bubba can be a powerful voice together, not only in our sport, but also well beyond it.”

 

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