Michael Jordan to establish NASCAR Cup Series team with Denny Hamlin, Bubba Wallace will be the driver

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Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

In a surprising announcement, basketball legend Michael Jordan has agreed to partner with Denny Hamlin to purchase a NASCAR Cup Series charter. Bubba Wallace will be the driver when the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season begins.

Jordan, of course, is widely considered the greatest basketball player to ever have donned a jersey, with six NBA championships to his name. (And he owned a rather excellent Mercedes, among many other tantalizing sports cars and luxury machines.) In addition to being the majority owner of this new, NASCAR Cup Series single-car team, Jordan also owns the Charlotte Hornets NBA franchise.

Wallace, the sole Black driver in the NASCAR Cup Series, had announced earlier this month that he would not return to drive for Richard Petty Motorsports. Jordan will become the first Black majority owner of a NASCAR team since Hall of Fame driver-owner Wendell Scott. Hamlin will be a minority owner of the new 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.”

Wallace has made 105 career starts in the NASCAR Cup Series, all of them with RPM. He has five top-10 finishes this season, including a fifth-place run in the regular-season finale at Daytona International Speedway.

Hamlin will continue to drive the No. 11 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing, where his Cup Series career began in 2005. So far this year, he has six wins and is one of the favorites to win the 2020 championship.

The Jordan-Hamlin ownership group has not announced the new organization’s name, manufacturer affiliation, car number, or sponsors. It acquired the team charter from Germain Racing.

NASCAR Cup Series Foxwoods Resort Casino 301
Race fans cheer on Wallace at the Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 in Loudon, New Hampshire. Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
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