CHARLOTTE, N.C. – NBA legend Michael Jordan and three-time Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin have announced the formation of a new NASCAR Cup Series team that will begin competition starting next year.
Current Richard Petty Motorsports driver Bubba Wallace has signed a multi-year deal to drive for the yet-to-be-named, single-car operation.
“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 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. In addition, 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 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.
“We proudly welcome Michael Jordan into the NASCAR family, and look forward to watching Michael, Denny Hamlin and Bubba Wallace compete in 2021,” NASCAR officials said in a statement Monday night. “Michael is an iconic sports figure and celebrated champion whose fiercely competitive nature has placed him among the greatest athletes of all time. His presence at NASCAR’s top level will further strengthen the competition, excitement and momentum growing around our sport.
“We wish Michael and his team tremendous success.”
Wallace moves over to the new team from RPM’s No. 43 Chevrolet, where he has spent the entirety of his full-time Cup career to date.
In 105 starts for RPM, Wallace has earned three top-five and nine top-10 finishes, with a best effort to-date of second in 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, 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 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.