Sunday, November 28 2021
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Bubba Wallace’s first career win in the NASCAR Cup Series at Talladega was more than just a milestone victory for both Wallace’s career and NASCAR’s diversity efforts. It also added to the long and storied resume of winning that his car owner entered the sport boasting.

Wallace’s victory at Talladega was the first for 23XI Racing and the first as a NASCAR car owner for NBA legend Michael Jordan, who co-owns the team alongside Cup Series star and business partner Denny Hamlin. While Jordan was not present at Talladega for his team’s first-ever win, the Chicago Bulls icon issued an official statement on his team’s No. 23 Toyota rolling into Victory Lane for the first time.

“I’m so happy for Bubba and our entire 23XI Racing team,” read a statement by Jordan shared by 23XI. “This is a huge milestone and a historic win for us. From the day we signed him, I knew Bubba had the talent and Denny and I could not be more proud of him. Let’s go!”

With storms imminent past the halfway point of a race postponed to Monday by rain, Wallace took the lead on Lap 113 and held it over the course of a furious sequence of racing, holding off advances from past Cup champions Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano before a multi-car crash brought the caution out on Lap 116.

The skies opened up shortly afterwards, and the race was declared official with Wallace in the lead after continued precipitation prevented NASCAR from re-starting the event.

Speaking to the media post-race, Wallace stated that he had yet to hear from Jordan, as he had left his phone in his motorhome and had yet to check it. However, Hamlin was able to offer some insight on Jordan’s immediate reaction to his maiden victory.

“He’s as excited as I am. Even though I probably do most of the work on the ownership side, he’s emotionally invested in this team as much as I am,” Hamlin said. “This would not be possible without him.”

Jordan is now the second former NBA All-Star to win a race as a car owner in the Cup Series, joining fellow North Carolina Tar Heels alum and Cleveland Cavaliers great Brad Daugherty. Daugherty earned his first win as the co-owner of JTG Daugherty Racing in 2014, when A.J. Allmendinger took the team to the Winner’s Circle at Watkins Glen.



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