On Friday morning, Team 23XI Racing released the long-awaited news about the manufacturer and their engineering partner, Toyota and Joe Gibbs Racing.
But what stole the show was when driver Bubba Wallace and team co-owner Denny Hamlin revealed their race car, which bears the famous numbers and colors of Hamlin’s owning partner Michael Jordan.
Chicago Bulls-esque red, white and black Toyota Camry features a Jordan 23 on the door and a 23XI racing team’s emblem on the hood and dashboard, hoping to be replaced with a pre-team’s sponsorship. NASCAR Cup Series in less than four months at Daytona Speedweeks 2021.
It̵7;s official 🤝 @ToyotaRacing pic.twitter.com/FuFwrvfj6N
– 23XI Racing (@ 23XIRacing) October 30, 2020
Filled with the excitement of seeing Michael Jordan’s car with Michael Jordan’s number is a true story, a technical alliance that gives MJ’s team – and the driver – the chance to compete.
Joe Gibbs Racing is the flagship organization of Toyota Racing Development and the team that Hamlin has driven during his 16-year Cup Series career. The TRD relationship includes an agreement with JGR to allow 23XI Racing to purchase equipment and share technical information.
“My main goal for 23XI Racing is to compete for the championship as soon as possible,” Jordan said in a statement. “Our partnership with Toyota and Joe Gibbs Racing gives us the equipment, the resources, and the expertise to do just that.”
With Joe Gibbs Racing having a maximum of five Cup Series teams, the 23XI team had to prove to NASCAR that it wasn’t simply trying to follow the rules by acting as a fifth team. 23XI will operate from a store owned by Germain Racing, which is about to discontinue business.
Mike Wheeler, who has led Hamlin to five victories in three seasons including his first of three Daytona 500 wins, will be the team leader for the No. 23. Wheeler last season was the competition director. by Leavine Family Racing, a Gibbs-affiliated team that is closed.
Hamlin told reporters on Friday afternoon: “The rule interpretation is not the fifth JGR, so they don’t offer us a free service,” Hamlin told reporters. “They don’t give us free cars and everything is independent. We don’t employ any of their employees. It’s our own organization, we have our own payroll, our suppliers. We have to pay for it, so this organization stands on its own. ”
And while Jordan says he wants to compete for the championship as soon as possible, Hamlin knows that expectations will be justified at the start of the 2021 season.
“He understands that this is a constructive process,” said Hamlin of Jordan, who won six NBA championships with Chicago. “Winning is a broad term. Your odds of losing are much greater than your odds of winning. Will he be able to win the first half of the season? I don’t think that’s a realistic expectation. But I believe he thinks we can go on the pitch and win our first year. ”
Hamlin likened his start-up effort to 2009 when Tony Stewart became a co-owner of the National Cup championship team that scored four wins in Stewart’s first season as owner. In the third season, Stewart-Haas Racing won the Cup title.
“This is very similar to what Tony did,” said Hamlin. “When he got there, he brought victory and relevance to it, and all of a sudden, very good people wanted to work for them. And they start building, they start building, and the next thing you know, they’ve got a championship organization. ”
Hamlin says Wallace is likely to reap more success than what he has had so far in the Cup Series when he has better equipment at his disposal.
“There’s no doubt that Bubba has done better than the equipment he has, week after week,” Hamlin said on “CBS This Morning”, sitting next to his driver – in his shoes. Air Jordan sports – as he talks about Wallace’s four seasons in Richard Petty Motorsports’ Chevys.
Then, referring to Wallace’s 2013-14 season in the Kyle Busch Truck Drive series, Hamlin added, “This is a great opportunity for him to go back to the Toyota family, a family where he has been with him since the beginning of his career, and it’s an exciting partner for everyone. “
Wallace added: “I’m still handling it every day. … I just have to make sure I do my part well and deliver everything for the next year.”
Information from the Associated Press has been used in this report.