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Michael Jordan backs new NASCAR single-car team with Black driver Bubba Wallace

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A basketball legend is getting closer to his North Carolina roots and gearing up for a new venture on the racetrack.

Michael Jordan has “agreed to purchase a NASCAR Cup Series Charter and Bubba Wallace will be the driver for ‘His Airness’ with partner Denny Hamlin when the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season begins,” NASCAR announced Monday.

Jordan’s entry into the sport marks the first Black principal owner of a full-time Cup series team since 1973, when Hall of Famer Wendell Scott drove his own race car in 495 races over 12 years.

“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.”

Wallace, 27, made headlines earlier this year with his push for racial equality and successfully got NASCAR to ban the Confederate flag at all events.

“This is a unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I believe is a great fit for me at this point in my career,” Wallace said in a statement Monday. “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.”

Jordan joins former NBA player Brad Daugherty, a partner at JTG Daugherty Racing, as the only Black owners at NASCAR’s elite Cup level.

By Kelly McCarthy
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