On Sunday, NBA legend Michael Jordan will make his NASCAR debut with Bubba Wallace at NASCAR’s most prestigious race: the Daytona 500.
Before the partnership, Wallace had long since admired Jordan since his Space Jam days. Wallace was just a kid when Jordan rose to stardom with the Chicago Bulls and quickly became fond of him.
Jordan will make his official debut with Wallace behind the wheel as a NASCAR team owner with 23XI Racing.
According to Front Office Sports, during last year’s Daytona 500, Wallace partnered with Richard Petty Motorsports in the No. 43 Chevrolet. This year, he will drive the No. 23 Toyota co-owned by Michael Jordan and three-time Daytona 500 champion, Denny Hamlin.
According to Wallace, he was in awe when he met Jordan.
“When he walked in the room it was like, “Oh wow, this is for real,”‘ Wallace said.
Bubba Wallace & Michael Jordan Look To Make History In This Year’s Daytona 500
Besides the premiere of their highly anticipated partnership, this year’s race is monumental for other reasons. Wallace is the only African American full-time driver at NASCAR’s top level.
In addition, Jordan is the first African American owner of a full-time Cup team since Hall of Famer Wendell Scott in 1973.
Scott drove his own car in 495 races from 1961 to 1973. Scott’s victory at the Jacksonville 200 in 1964 is the only win by a black driver in the Cup’s history.
This year, Wallace hopes to make more progress for African Americans in the sport. His runner-up finish in the 2018 Daytona 500 was the best finish by a black driver in history.
“Our car is super fast. It’s one of the fastest cars in the garage,” Wallace added.
Hoping to get a glimpse of Jordan, NASCAR fans will be disappointed as new COVID-19 protocols will keep Jordan from watching at the No. 23 pit box.
“With COVID, it’s kind been a bummer,” 23XI crew chief Mike Wheeler said in a statement.
Last season, Wallace added about $18 million in sponsorships. His partners include Door Dash, Columbia Sportswear, Cash App, and he also landed a deal with Beats by Dre. He’s also got a deal with McDonald’s