LAS VEGAS — Michael Jordan’s increased presence in 23XI Racing meetings has made an impact, Denny Hamlin says.
Jordan, who co-owns the Cup team with Hamlin, has had more time since finalizing the sale of his majority stake in the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets on Aug. 3. He was at the track Saturday for Cup practice and qualifying and has been at several series races in recent weeks.
Hamlin previously said that Jordan had become more active in marketing matters with the team but noted Saturday Jordan’s increased involvement in team meetings.
“I think he’s brought some very good intel into our meetings on mindset, on how do we get better individually as a team,” Hamlin said Saturday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. “He’s obviously been a part of team sports forever. He’s, at times, heard things in meetings where he’s like, ‘I don’t like that. We need to be more self-reflective on what we need to do better.’ That goes such a long way with our team.”
Jordan won six NBA championships with the Chicago Bulls and was selected as the second-greatest athlete in the 20th century by The Associated Press, trailing only Babe Ruth.
Jordan’s skill, matched with an unrelenting drive, helped carry him to icon status. He’s sharing his knowledge with the race team.
“He is getting involved in more meetings,” Hamlin said of Jordan. “He’s listening 99% of the time, but when he hears something he doesn’t necessarily like … as far as self-reflection is concerned, he’ll point that out.
“For every one finger pointing (at someone), there’s three pointing back at you. So you always need to think about what you need to do better and that’s great advice to live by.”
Execution was an issue for both 23XI Racing teams this summer. In June and July, Tyler Reddick had a five-race stretch where he finished no better than 27th. During that same time, Bubba Wallace finished no better than 15th.
Both made the playoffs, reaching a team goal. They both moved on to the Round of 12. Reddick advanced to the Round of 8, while Wallace was eliminated last weekend at the Charlotte Roval.
They will start next to each other in Sunday’s race at Las Vegas (2 p.m. ET on NBC). Wallace qualified seventh, Reddick eighth.
Part of their success in the playoffs is due to more consistent efforts, particularly Reddick’s team. Reddick won at Kansas, was second at Darlington and placed sixth at the Roval.
“It just seemed like when the playoffs came, everyone was ready and locked in and we have been doing a good job ever since,”Reddick said. “Right as we got into the heat of this thing, we pulled it together. It would have been good to correct it earlier, but when the playoffs came around, we locked in.
“Those first two races were really strong for us, and even though Texas and Talladega didn’t go great, I feel like those were days that things could have gone a lot worse, and we did a good job of managing the issues we had.
“It was definitely tough to have those races slip away in the summer, but we learned from all of those mistakes along the way, and I feel like we are operating right where we need to right now.”