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NBA

Michael Jordan starts NASCAR team with Bubba Wallace as team's sole driver

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Michael Jordan (NBA Getty Images)

Michael Jordan is branching out away from the basketball court and onto the race track.

The Charlotte Hornets owner is set to start a NASCAR Cup Series team with three-time Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin​, announcing that Bubba Wallace will be the driver in the single-car team.

"Eleven years ago I met Michael Jordan at a then-Charlotte Bobcats game and we became fast friends," Hamlin wrote in a Twitter post. "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."

Wallace is currently the only Black driver racing full-time at NASCAR's top level and announced earlier this month he would be leaving Richard Petty Motorsports after three seasons.

"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 posted on Twitter.

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

Jordan becomes the first Black majority team owner in NASCAR since Hall of Famer Wendell Scott in the 1960s and '70s and hopes he can attract a new wave of fans to the sport, that has long struggled with diversity.
"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," Jordan said in a statement.

"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. 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 combat systemic racism, I see this as a chance to educate a new audience and open more opportunities for Black people in racing."

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