Bubba Wallace dropped the news 11 days ago that he would be leaving the team where he got his Cup Series start—Richard Petty Motorsports—at the end of the 2020 season. Without any announcement of where he would be going, speculation ran rampant. For those 11 days, he was perhaps NASCAR’s hottest free agent. Today on Twitter Denny Hamlin announced that Wallace would be driving a car for the team he and NBA legend Michael Jordan started together.
Wallace has proven time and again that he can drive a stock car well beyond what it should otherwise be capable of, racking up some good top 10 and top 5 finishes for what is otherwise a mid-pack team. Add in the fact that he’s stood tall in the face of racial adversity, this year in particular, as NASCAR’s only Black driver, and the choice becomes highly logical. Sponsors love him, as he’s gained sponsorship backing in recent months from high profile sponsors like Beats by Dre and Colombia Sportswear.
Hamlin made the official announcement Monday evening with the following statement:
11 years ago I met Michael Jordan at a then-Charlotte Bobcats game and we became fast friends. 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.
Tonight, I’m excited to announce that MJ and I are starting a new, single car NASCAR Cup Series team for 2021. 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. He deserves the opportunity to compete for race wins and our team will make sure 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. MJ and I support him fully in those efforts and stand beside him.
More details about the team will be released at a later date, but for now I remain focused on winning a championship for my No. 11 FedEx Toyota Joe Gibbs Racing team this season and in the years ahead.
Obviously the full extent of the team has not been announced, like where the team will be based, or if the team will receive engineering assistance from Hamlin’s top-flight Joe Gibbs team. I know I’m excited to learn more as this situation unfolds. With a name like Michael Jordan backing him, Wallace is sure to find it quite easy to secure sponsorship. That name transcends time, space, and sport.