Michael Jordan and Denny Hamlin to line up NASCAR Cup car with Bubba Wallace at the wheel

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CHARLOTTE, NC – Denny Hamlin is launching his own race car team in partnership with Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan and Bubba Wallace as a driver.Hamlin, three-time Daytona 500 winner and top contender for this year’s Cup, made the announcement on social media. The team will be a one-car Toyota aligned with Joe Gibbs Racing.

“Eleven years ago, I met Michael Jordan at a Charlotte Bobcats game and we quickly became friends,” Hamlin wrote. “Soon after, I joined Jordan Brand as the first NASCAR athlete. Our friendship has grown over the years and now we are ready to take it to the next level.

“The choice of driver was easy – it had to be Bubba Wallace. “

Hamlin said further details will be provided. Wallace is the only black driver at the highest level of NASCAR.

Jordan said he had been a NASCAR fan his entire life, urged by his parents to take him and his siblings to races while growing up in North Carolina.

“The opportunity to own my own racing team in partnership with my friend, Denny Hamlin, and to have Bubba Wallace behind the wheel for us, is very exciting for me,” Jordan said in a statement. “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 tackling systemic racism, I see this as a chance to educate a new audience and open up more opportunities for blacks in racing. ”

There has been speculation for months that Hamlin is organizing some sort of ownership group as he expects NASCAR’s business model to become more favorable for team owners when the ‘Next Gen’ car will be released in 2022. NASCAR rules prohibit a current driver from owning one team and driving for another, but Hamlin is working around politics with Jordan as the primary owner.

Jordan became a part owner of the Bobcats in 2006 and bought the team out in 2010, restoring the franchise to its original Hornets name. Hamlin has been a long-time subscriber with court seats along the visitors’ bench.

Jordan went to the NASCAR season finals twice to watch Hamlin race for the championship. Hamlin, 39, is still chasing his first title.

Wallace, who has concocted around $ 18 million in sponsorship deals since making social equality his platform, has previously said he will be leaving Richard Petty Motorsports at the end of the season.

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity that I think is a perfect fit for me at this point in my career,” Wallace wrote in a social media post that coordinated with Hamlin’s.

“I’m grateful and honored that they believe in me and I’m super motivated to start this adventure with them. “

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