“This is a unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I believe will suit me very well at this point in my career,” Wallace wrote in a social media post Monday night.
“I am grateful and humble that you believe in me and I am super excited to begin this adventure with you.”
In a statement from the Jordanian publicist, the NBA legend noted that his parents took him and siblings to NASCAR races while growing up in North Carolina. He described his partnership with Hamlin, with whom he was friends, and Wallace as “very exciting to me”.
“Historically, NASCAR has struggled with diversity and black owners have been few,” said Jordan, 57, who owns the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets. “The timing seemed perfect as NASCAR evolves and takes social change into account.
“In addition to the recent commitment and donations I made to combat systemic racism, I see this as an opportunity to educate a new audience and give blacks more opportunities in racing.”
Wallace, the only full-time black driver in the Cup series, appeared as the leading voice in NASCAR that year on social issues within the sport and society at large. In June, his vocal opposition to the display of the Confederate flag at NASCAR races and other events was followed by the company to completely ban the symbol of historic racial oppression. That month, the 26-year-old also drove a car with the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter for his Richard Petty Motorsports team.
In an episode that made national headlines and caught the attention of President Trump, a rope was found in a noose in the garage stall of Wallace’s team while racing at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama. The FBI investigated it as a possible hate crime but concluded that the rope had been there since October 2019 and that Wallace was randomly assigned that booth.
Earlier this month Wallace announced that he would be leaving Richard Petty Motorsports at the end of this season. He thanked the team for the great opportunity and said in a statement: “I have grown so much as a driver and as a person since I came to them.”
In a statement on Monday, Hamlin said: “Bubba has improved since joining the Cup series and we believe he is ready to take his career to a higher level.”
Hamlin noted that his friendship with Jordan began 11 years ago at an NBA game in Charlotte, shortly after the latter became a majority owner of what was then Bobcats, and that he was the first NASCAR driver to be signed by Nike subsidiary Jordan Brand .
“Our friendship has grown over the years and now we are ready to take it to the next level,” wrote Hamlin. He added, “Choosing the driver was easy – it had to be Bubba Wallace.”
Hamlin cited Wallace’s rise as “a loud voice for change in our sport and in our country” saying, “MJ and I will fully support and stand by him in this endeavor.”
Hamlin, 39, added that “this season and for years to come,” he remains focused on winning a championship for his team, Joe Gibbs Racing.
NASCAR allows a driver on a team of four vehicles like JGR to join another team (via nascar.com). Fox Sports reported Monday that Jordan and Hamlin’s team had bought a charter from Germain Racing.
According to reports, the new team’s car will be number 23. Jordan made this a legendary jersey number during an NBA career that resulted in six NBA titles on as many trips to the finals and widespread recognition as the greatest basketball player of all time.
Hamlin is a 43-time winner of the Cup series, including triumphs at the Daytona 500 in 2016, 2019 and 2020. His best competitive result of the season to date was second in 2010, and this year he ranks second Place in the points race as NASCAR wins its playoff field en route to the championship finals on November 8th.
Wallace, who has not yet won a Cup Series race, has his best season with five top 10 finishes. He was eliminated from the playoff race at the end of last month as 23rd in the points table, now there are only 12 drivers left.