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Michael Jordan becomes NASCAR team owner, with Bubba Wallace as driver

Six-time NBA champion, Michael Jordan has partnered with Denny Hamlin to form a single-car Nascar Cup Series Team, with Bubba Wallace in the driving seat.

Basketball legend Jordan, who seized ownership of NBA team, Charlotte Hornets in 2010 for US$180 million, will be principal owner of the newly formed Nascar team while Hamlin will serve as minority partner.

The partnership was announced in coordinated posts on Jordan and Hamlin’s social media channels.

"Historically, Nascar has struggled with diversity and there have been few black owners," Jordan’s statement read. "The timing seemed perfect as Nascar is evolving and embracing social change more and more."

Earlier this year, the NBA hall of famer pledged over US$100 million to the black community over 10 years. Jordan’s move into Nascar will act as another step towards equality. “I see this as a chance to educate a new audience and open more opportunities for Black people in racing,” Jordan said.

Wallace is Nascar’s only black full-time driver, while Jordan becomes the second black team owner in the Cup Series. Earlier this year, Wallace was successful in his campaign to get the Confederate flag banned from Nascar races.

Speaking of joining Jordan and Hamlin’s team, Wallace said: "This is a unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I believe is a great fit for me at this point in my career."

Hamlin, three-time Daytona 500 winner and favourite for this year’s Cup title, will be part of a single-car entry from Toyota. As a minority partner, Hamlin remains within the rules prohibiting racing with one team while owning another.

“Eleven years ago I met Michael Jordan at a then-Charlotte Bobcats game and we became fast friends,” Hamlin wrote. “Not long after, I joined Jordan Brand as their first Nascar athlete. Our friendship has grown over the years and now we are ready to take it to the next level. Deciding on the driver was easy, it had to be Bubba Wallace.”

In a statement, Nascar welcomed Jordan to the series. “His presence at Nascar’s top level will further strengthen the competition, excitement and momentum growing around our sport.”

Author: Charlie Farmer