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Wallace to drive for new Hamlin-Jordan team in 2021

NASCAR

22 Sep 2020

Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images/NASCAR Media

Three-time Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin is forming a new NASCAR Cup series team with basketball legend and long-time friend Michael Jordan, with Bubba Wallace as the driver.

No further details have been released about the as-yet-unnamed team, although it has been reported that Wallace has signed a multi-year deal with the outfit.

The announcement of the team’s formation was followed by news that Germain Racing had sold its charter ahead of its closure at the end of the season.

“11 years ago I met Michael Jordan at a then-Charlotte Bobcats game and we became fast friends,” Hamlin said in a statement. “Not long after, I joined Jordan as the Jordan Brand’s first NASCAR athlete.

“Our friendship has grown over the years and now we are ready to take it to the next level.”

Jordan isn’t the first basketball player to move into NASCAR team ownership, with fellow NBA All-Star Brad Daugherty who has been a co-owner of JTG Daugherty Racing since 2008, having previously been involved with a Truck series team in the late-1990s.

NASCAR welcomed the news, saying: “We proudly welcome Michael Jordan into the NASCAR family, and look forward to watching Michael, Denny Hamlin and Bubba Wallace compete in 2021.

“Michael is an iconic sports figure and celebrated champion whose fiercely competitive nature has placed him among the greatest athletes of all time,” the governing body’s statement added. “His presence at NASCAR’s top level will further strengthen the competition, excitement and momentum growing around our sport.

“We wish Michael and his team tremendous success.”

Wallace (front) is enjoying a career-best season in 2020 – Credit: Michael Reaves/Getty Images/NASCAR Media

Wallace’s signing comes just under two weeks after he announced he would be leaving Richard Petty Motorsports, the team for which he has contested all 105 of his Cup races to-date.

The six-time Truck series winner is currently enjoying his best Cup campaign to-date, with five top-10 finishes so far for RPM, a team that has struggled for consistent form for several years.

“This is a unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I believe is a great fit for me at this point in my career, Walkace said in a tweet following the announcement. “I’m grateful and humbled that they believe in me and I’m super pumped to begin this adventure with them.”

Hamlin added: “Bubba has shown tremendous improvement since joining the Cup Series and we believe he’s ready to take his career to a higher level,” said Hamlin. “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.”

Despite his move to team ownership, Hamlin signalled his intention to remain behind the wheel of the #11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota for “the years ahead”.

Hamlin has six wins to his name so far and sits second in the points behind Kevin Harvick.

Hamlin will remain in the #11 JGR Toyota in 2021 and beyond – Credit: Jamie Squire/Getty Images/NASCAR Media