Earlier this month, Bubba Wallace raised eyebrows when he announced his decision to cut ties with Richard Petty Motorsports after three seasons. And for those curious about his next move, the wait is officially over.
According to NASCAR, on Monday, Michael Jordan announced that he’ll be joining forces with three-time Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin to form a NASCAR Cup Series team—and (SURPRISE!!!!) Wallace will be its driver.
“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,” His Airness 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.”
In pursuing this venture, Jordan becomes the first Black principal owner of a full-time Cup team since NASCAR legend Wendell Scott drove his own race car in 495 races from 1961 to 1973, according to ESPN. Scott is also responsible for the only win by a Black driver in Cup history: his 1964 victory at the Jacksonville 200.
Outside of announcing the partnership, details on Jordan and Hamlin’s team are scarce. However, the team’s car number, sponsors, organization’s name, manufacturer affiliation and other details will be revealed at a later date.
“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 said in a statement. “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.”
In his own statement, Wallace called joining Jordan and Hamlin a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” and that he’s “super pumped to begin this adventure with them.”
He also dropped this gem on Twitter:
Imagine the infusion of Black and Brown talent that Jordan’s presence could create in NASCAR, from the pit crew to drivers, to crew chiefs and other team members. This is major and could help usher in an entirely new era for the sport.