The NASCAR Cup Series got underway on Sunday afternoon, as drivers took to the track at Daytona International Speedway for the annual Daytona 500. The race also marked Bubba Wallace‘s debut for 23XI Racing, the new Michael Jordan owned team.
Wallace will drive the No. 23 Toyota in the Daytona 500 on Sunday and become the face for Jordan’s excursion into NASCAR. The 27-year-old driver has become one of the sport’s most popular personalities, so pairing with the NBA legend makes for a very exciting duo.
Prior to the race getting underway, Wallace sat down with Jordan, 23XI Racing co-owner and fellow Toyota driver Denny Hamlin, and FOX Sports’ Michael Strahan to talk about the inception of the team. Hamlin spoke first about the selection process and how the newly formed group landed on the up-and-coming driver.
“This was the guy we were gonna go after right away,” Hamlin said. “[Michael] believed in Bubba’s talent and he’s the guy we wanted to build this program around.”
But it was Jordan’s answer that stuck out. The Charlotte Hornets’ owner has long been a fan of NASCAR and saw a chance to make an impact on stock car driving by choosing an ambitious driver to be the face of his team.
“I think he presents a great opportunity. Not just as an African-American, but in terms of talent,” Jordan said when asked why he chose Wallace. “He’s someone who aspires to be good. All you have to do is support him.”
23XIRacing’s Michael Jordan, Denny Hamlin and Bubba Wallace sit down with Michael Strahan.
— FOX: NASCAR (@NASCARONFOX) February 14, 2021
Wallace’s ambition to be successful in racing certainly sounds like it mirrored Jordan’s competitive spirit in the NBA. Now they’ve teamed up and formed a duo that should bring some excitement to NASCAR this year.
Unfortunately for Wallace and 23XI Racing, Sunday’s Daytona 500 got off too a rough start. The 27-year-old’s No. 23 car failed inspection twice prior to the race. As a result, officials bumped Wallace to the back of the field for the start of the race and ejected a crew member.
In what’s been a messy Daytona 500, Wallace had found himself unscathed thus far. Tune-in to FOX to watch the “Great American Race.”