Michael Jordan is beefing up his resume. The NBA legend and business mogul has added NASCAR team owner to his list of accolades.
Jordan is partnering with three-time Daytona 500 winner, Denny Hamlin, to launch the team in 2021. Bubba Wallace has been tapped as a driver.
In an interview with NBC Sports, Jordan spoke about how the collaboration came together and confirmed that he’ll be just as competitive in NASCAR as he was in basketball. “It was one of those things, again, it’s always been on my mind,” he said of owning a team. “I go with my gut feeling. When the time is right you know it. When this was presented to me, I felt good about it. When Bubba was involved in the whole conversation I felt good about it.”
Jordan continued, “My biggest conversation with Denny was, ‘Look, I don’t want to get in there to just go around the races and just go around and around and around and finish up 18th, 19th, 20th, 30th. I want to win. I want to be put in a position for the best chance for us to win. That’s my competitive nature. That’s always been who I am.”
As one of only two Black co-owners for a Cup team (the first is Brad Duagherty) and the first Black majority owner in NASCAR, Jordan hopes to provide more opportunities for Black people in the sport.
“To me, you’re basically diving into a situation where very few Black people have been present into the NASCAR arena. In essence, you’re going in with the opportunity to expand that and to give a different lens to NASCAR as a whole,” he explained. “For so long, it’s been viewed from a negative aspect with the Confederate flag and all these other things that occurred.
“Now you go in with NASCAR making an effort to change the perspective and try to attract and connect to the next generation without losing something for today’s authenticity of the sport presented an opportunity for me to get involved in this whole process and know that I am spearheading a thought process of Blacks getting involved in NASCAR when in essence very few have since 1960s (when Wendell Scott competed and owned his own cars).”
For current NASCAR fans, the 57-year-old retired athlete noted that he isn’t trying to “change and shape NASCAR.” Still, Jordan hopes that fans who have followed his career will support NASCAR as well.
“I go in with my passion. I hope that whoever knows Michael Jordan or whoever supports Michael Jordan, whoever supports NASCAR [sees] this as an opportunity to enjoy the sport.”