Bubba Wallace To Drive for Team Starting in 2021 NASCAR Cup Series Season
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Sept. 21, 2020) – NBA legend Michael Jordan and three-time Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin today announced the formation of a new NASCAR Cup Series race team that will begin competition for the 2021 season. Rising NASCAR star Bubba Wallace has signed a multi-year deal to drive for the yet-to-be-named, single car team. "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," said Jordan. "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 will serve as principal owner of the new team with Hamlin as a minority partner while he continues to drive the No. 11 Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing. "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 the 39-year-old Hamlin. "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." With the completed purchase of a NASCAR team charter from Germain Racing, Jordan becomes the first Black majority owner of a full-time race team in NASCAR’s premier series since NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Wendell Scott owned and raced his own car from the 1960s into the early 1970s. "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 is the first African-American driver to race full-time at the NASCAR Cup Series level since Scott. "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 at a future date. About Michael Jordan: An NBA legend, Michael Jordan was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009. He played 13 seasons for the Chicago Bulls, and was five-time regular season MVP. He led the Bulls to six NBA Championships and was named Finals MVP during each of those series. In 2010, he became the majority owner of the Charlotte Hornets (then Bobcats) and is the first former player to become the majority owner of an NBA franchise. Since its creation, his Jordan Brand (a division of NIKE) has been an innovator of athletic shoes and apparel. As one of the world’s most popular and recognizable figures, Jordan’s endorsement portfolio includes Gatorade, Upper Deck and Hanes, among others. He is a strong supporter of charitable causes that assist at-risk youth, help kids with disabilities and illnesses and, along with Jordan Brand, recently made a 10-year, $100 million commitment to social justice initiatives. About Denny Hamlin: Considered one of the all-time greatest late model drivers in the Virginias and Carolinas, Denny Hamlin is a top contender each season to win the NASCAR Cup Series championship. Hamlin has amassed 43 wins over his 15 full seasons driving the No. 11 FedEx Toyota Camry in the NASCAR Cup Series for Joe Gibbs Racing. He is one of only six drivers to win the Daytona 500 at least three times, joining NASCAR Hall of Famers Dale Jarrett (3), Jeff Gordon (3), Bobby Allison (3), Cale Yarborough (4) and Richard Petty (7). Hamlin currently has six wins for the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season and is ranked second in the NASCAR Playoffs driver standings heading into the three-race Round of 12 that starts this Saturday night at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. About Bubba Wallace: Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr. is NASCAR’s lone African-American driver and has played a critical role in NASCAR's push for inclusion and equality, including its ban of the Confederate flag at race events. In 2018, Wallace became the first full-time, African-American NASCAR Cup Series driver in over four decades, starting his rookie season with a runner-up finish at the Daytona 500. He went on to finish second in the Rookie of the Year standings. The 26-year-old has six total career NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series wins, becoming the first African-American driver in nearly 50 years to win a NASCAR national series race when he went to victory lane at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway in 2013 (Wendell Scott won a NASCAR Grand National race in 1964).