Bubba Wallace, Michael Jordan, and 23XI are off to a promising start.
Michael Jordan is officially a NASCAR owner and his joint venture with Denny Hamlin, 23XI Racing, made its debut on Sunday at the Daytona 500 as Bubba Wallace was piloting the number 23 DoorDash car. After a rocky start, Wallace found himself near the front of the pack, before dropping back after a shakey tire derailed his ability to contend for the win. In the end, Wallace finished 17th, although he racked up enough stage points to end up eighth in the NASCAR standings following the first race.
Moving forward, this team has a lot of promise, and they are also looking to make a big statement. While speaking to The Athletic, Wallace discussed what it's like being the only black driver in the Cup series, and just how important it is to have Jordan as an owner. For Wallace, this is going to do wonders for opening up the sport.
Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images
“You know, talking to (Jordan), it’s just providing the exposure,” Wallace said. “The exposure to opportunities for minorities to be in the sport – on this side of the fence, or the other side of the fence. That’s really the biggest thing. Literally, everybody knows who Michael Jordan is. ‘Oh, he’s a part of NASCAR? I might tune in.’ ‘Oh, he’s the owner (of the team) of the only Black guy in Cup? [Pantomimes a phone call] Hey, you hear MJ’s in NASCAR?’ They’re calling their buddies. Snowball effect. That’s kind of how I think it works. Because with everything I did last year (to) bring in a new influx of fans, with MJ coming into the sport, it brings in a new influx of fans. We just have to keep providing the exposure to opportunity.”
23XI Racing is currently partnered up with Joe Gibbs Racing, which is one of the best teams in NASCAR. As a result, Bubba has some of the best equipment of his career, and he is poised for one of his best seasons to date. With the Daytona Road Course taking place next weekend, Wallace will have an opportunity to showcase this new car on one of the more difficult tracks in the sport.
If you're a fan of auto-racing, it's definitely going to be a fun season.
James Gilbert/Getty Images