It might surprise some, but Bubba Wallace hasn’t gotten to spend a lot of time with 23XI Racing owner Michael Jordan before the Daytona 500.
In fact, they basically hadn’t met at all until just days before the Great American Race. But, considering COVID-19 regulations and the need for caution, the unorthodox start between driver and owner can be understood.
In an interview that aired on FOX’s NASCAR RaceDay ahead of the Daytona 500, Jordan, Wallace and minority owner Denny Hamlin sat down with NFL legend Michael Strahan. Strahan drops the hilarious line that really puts their meeting into perspective.
“Meet your driver.”
Afterward, the trio began talking with Strahan, with Jordan being asked about how he’s communicating to Wallace and Hamlin.
“I’ve been texting these clowns,” Jordan said jokingly. “I’m excited, I’m nervous even though I’m not getting in the car… We don’t sign checks to losers.”
Michael Jordan Speaks on Growing Up in NASCAR
Further, Jordan discusses his past with NASCAR. From a young age, Jordan has been a big fan.
“I grew up in NASCAR,” Jordan added. “My father used to pack the whole family in. We would just go and spend the whole day from that point I’ve been hooked on NASCAR.”
As for what prompted him to own his own team, it’s actually something Jordan has considered for a while. Now, he’s finally making it happen.
“I thought about it so many different teams,” Jordan said. “Never seen a black owner or someone of color that owned their team or dictated what went on with their teams.”
The conversation then turns to the announcement of 23XI Racing. Unsurprisingly, Bubba Wallace’s notifications went through the roof afterward.
“Probably got 60-75 text messages after we announced that night,” Bubba Wallace said. “I get one and read the message and at the bottom it says MJ… That’s cool, I’m texting Michael Jordan.”
Next, Strahan brought up the year of 2020 from the NASCAR perspective and if Wallace has seen steps in the right direction in terms of welcoming minority participation and audience.
“I thought it was a start for sure,” Wallace said. The driver then went on to talk about the emotional moment of being supported by NASCAR drivers. For anyone unaware, a rope resembling a noose was found in Wallace’s garage, but it was determined by NASCAR and FBI was a garage pulley.
“When I got out and started seeing more faces, the drivers,” Wallace said. “I’m like, that’s more than 40 drivers. I stand up and look back and I immediately drop down cause that’s the entire garage… We always have each other’s back, we’re all family.”
Bubba Wallace, Denny Hamlin and Jordan Talk Expectations
Hamlin was also asked what he expects out of Wallace and 23XI Racing in their first year. For Hamlin, it’s just a simple case of seeing improvement.
“Our team needs to get better,” Hamlin said. “From the start of the season to the end of the season, I need to see the arrow going in the right direction.
As for Jordan, he doesn’t shy away from stating his predictions.
“By the end of the year he’ll at least have an opportunity and he’ll probably win at least two races.”