NBA legend Michael Jordan is widely known for his passionate embrace of many different sports, beyond the basketball courts that made him such an iconic figure. After all, this is the guy who even briefly tried his hand at Major League Baseball, following his first retirement, before getting back to the hoops with the Chicago Bulls and Washington Wizards.
Since his definitive second retirement, there was never any doubt that Jordan would remain active in the sporting world. After a front-office role with the Wizards, the six-time NBA champion threw his financial weight behind a takeover of the Charlotte Hornets franchise, acquiring majority ownership in 2010, following his initial investment a few years earlier.
Here is the logo for the 23XI Racing team co-owned by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan: pic.twitter.com/bbIqGvKcst
— Bob Pockrass (@bobpockrass) October 22, 2020
The next major investment is focused on backing his very own NASCAR Cup team, along with the talented racing capabilities of Bubba Wallace, who is predicted to have a great future ahead in professional stock car racing. Back in September 2020, the news broke that Jordan was teaming up with Denny Hamlin to buy and form a new team. Shortly afterwards in October, the 23XI Racing name and logo that will be used by the team was revealed.
23XI NASCAR Championship Ambitions
This won’t be the first motorsports venture by Jordan, who actually owned a motorcycle road racing team, with two Suzuki bikes competing in the 2013 MotoAmerica Superbike Championship. Although that particular foray was short-lived, this next venture into the NASCAR world has been inspired by the winning potential seen in Bubba Wallace, who is already one of the most successful African American drivers in the sport.
Given the amount of excitement surrounding the 23XI Racing team and their bold ambitions, it will be interesting to see how American betting odds for the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series begin to take shape ahead of the 73rd championship season for professional stock car racing in the United States. Likewise, there will be plenty of expectation surrounding Bubba Wallace, who could make the most of Jordan’s backing to make a serious push for the championship.
— Bubba Wallace (@BubbaWallace) October 22, 2020
27-year-old Wallace finished 28th in the overall NASCAR standings in 2018 and 2019, although he could surpass that benchmark before the 2020 season ends. Heading into the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series campaign, however, Jordan has already outlined his expectations for Wallace, who is just as eager to rise to the challenge. With all the right ingredients in place and financial backing of a highly competitive team, he could push amongst the top ten drivers and beyond, even towards a bid for the Cup Series championship itself.
Importance of Wallace & Jordan to NASCAR
The huge media impact of racial and social justice movements in America haven’t gone unnoticed by NASCAR, particularly after an incident at Wallace’s garage ahead of one race at the Talladega Superspeedway in June. This received worldwide news coverage, as the driver also made a point of sharing his thoughts and views, made all the more compelling with Wallace currently the only African American competing in the Cup series.
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) June 23, 2020
“To diversify our fan base has been a top priority,” NASCAR executive vice president Jill Gregory explained, during a motorsport.com interview. “We’ve been focused on diversity and inclusion for quite some time,” she insisted, aware that Jordan’s new team with Wallace behind the wheel “is going to give us a lot more visibility to those diverse audiences.”
The challenge ahead for the 23XI – pronounced twenty-three-eleven – will be achieving success out on the track, because that will guarantee even more visibility for the team itself and NASCAR as a whole. Sharing all the team ambitions and those of his many followers, of course, will be Bubba Williams himself, in what could be one of his most competitive seasons to date.