"Deciding on a driver was easy — it had to be Bubba Wallace," Denny Hamlin said in a statement Monday night

By Ashley Boucher
September 21, 2020 10:30 PM
Advertisement
Michael Jordan, Denny Hamlin, Bubba Wallace
| Credit: Getty Images (3)

Bubba Wallace has found a new team!

NASCAR driver Denny Hamlin announced Monday that he and NBA legend Michael Jordan are teaming up to field a new car in 2021 — revealing that Wallace will be their driver.

"Tonight, I'm excited to announce that MJ and I are starting a new, single car NASCAR Cup Series team for 2021," Hamlin, 39, shared on Twitter. "Deciding on a driver was easy — it had to be Bubba Wallace."

"Bubba has shown tremendous improvement since joining the Cup Series and we believe he's ready to take his career to a higher level," Hamlin continued. "He deserves the opportunity to compete for race wins and our team will make sure that he has the resources to do just that."

"Off the track, Bubba has been a loud voice for change in our sport and our country," Hamlin said. "MJ and I support him fully in those efforts and stand beside him."

Wallace, 26, said on Twitter that he is "super pumped" to join forces with Hamlin and Jordan, calling it a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."

"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 tweeted Monday. "I’m grateful and humbled that they believe in me and I’m super pumped to begin this adventure with them."

In his own statement, Jordan — who will be the principal owner — said that he sees the opportunity to own a NASCAR team ideally timed "as NASCAR is evolving and embracing social change more and more."

"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," the former Chicago Bulls star's statement said, according to ESPN.

Bubba Wallace
| Credit: Steve Helber/AP/Shutterstock

"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," Jordan, 57, said.

"Historically, NASCAR has struggled with diversity and there have been few Black owners," Jordan said. "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 combat systemic racism, I see this as a chance to educate a new audience and open more opportunities for Black people in racing."

Hamlin will be a minority partner and continue to drive himself for Joe Gibbs Racing, ESPN reported.

Earlier this month, Wallace announced that he was leaving Richard Petty Motorsports.

"This was not an easy decision as I have nothing but the utmost respect for Richard Petty and his family, but I believe it's time for someone else to take over the reins of the No. 43," he shared in a statement on Instagram, saying he hoped to end the 2020 season on a "high note."

Sharing the news of the new team on Instagram, Wallace wrote in the caption, "Here’s to new beginnings!"