As NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace prepares to open the Cup Series season with Sunday’s Daytona 500, he’s still feeling out his new 23XI Racing team, including one of his new bosses.
“Right now it’s just been some short conversations through text messages — him figuring out the direction of the team and how things are going,” Wallace said Wednesday morning.
The NBA legend is set to arrive at Daytona International Speedway sometime Thursday, Wallace said, which will give the 27-year-old driver a chance to have one of his first real one-on-one conversations with the new NASCAR team owner.
Wallace does, however, have a sense of what to expect from Jordan, thanks to the acclaimed documentary series, The Last Dance.
“We all got to see a little bit of his taste, his character in The Last Dance,” Wallace said. “Very competitive, I’m going to say that.”
Wallace will drive the No. 23 Toyota for the team co-owned by Jordan and Denny Hamlin, the Tampa-born NASCAR veteran and two-time defending 500 champion. The change of scenery should be a boost for Wallace’s career.
Although Wallace has become one of the bigger names in NASCAR as one of the only Black drivers in its history and his support of the Black Lives Matter movement, he hasn’t yet reached on-track stardom. He spent his first three full Cup seasons at Richard Petty Motorsports, which lacked the resources to field competitive cars. Wallace has only three top-five finishes in his 112 career races.
Those results won’t fly for Air Jordan.
“I’m just excited for the opportunity for him to take a leap of faith with himself and with Denny,” Wallace said. “To select me to drive the race car is pretty special. Very grateful for the opportunity.”