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Slam Dunk: Jordan picks 23 for car number of new NASCAR team

In this Oct. 5, 2019, file photo, Bubba Wallace gets ready to enter his car for qualifying rounds before a NASCAR Xfinity Series auto race in Dover, Del. Denny Hamlin is starting his own race car team in partnership with Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan and Wallace as the driver.  (Associated Press)
In this Oct. 5, 2019, file photo, Bubba Wallace gets ready to enter his car for qualifying rounds before a NASCAR Xfinity Series auto race in Dover, Del. Denny Hamlin is starting his own race car team in partnership with Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan and Wallace as the driver. (Associated Press)
Associated Press

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Picking the car number for Michael Jordan’s new NASCAR team was a slam dunk: Bubba Wallace will drive the No. 23 car when the team makes its debut next season.

Jordan named his team 23XI Racing – that’s pronounced twenty-three eleven – in honor of both his retired uniform number with the Chicago Bulls and the car number of his partner and three-time Daytona 500 champion Denny Hamlin.

Jordan and Hamlin announced last month they had formed a NASCAR team with Bubba Wallace as the driver, a high-profile pairing of a Black majority team owner and the only Black driver at NASCAR’s top level.

“This is the start of the new adventure! So ready! #23XI,” Wallace tweeted Thursday.

The team made the announcements by launching social media pages that include a video and a “Here we come. #23” message.

“A new chapter in Motorsports. The norm doesn’t fit for us. This is only the beginning. @23XIRacing,” Hamlin tweeted.

The team has not yet named a manufacturer for its debut at the 2021 Daytona 500, but because Hamlin drives a Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing, the No. 23 will almost certainly be a Camry aligned with JGR.

Jordan becomes the first Black principal owner of a full-time Cup team since Hall of Famer Wendell Scott drove his own racecar in 495 races from 1961 to 1973.

Wallace is the only Black driver in the Cup Series and this season used his platform to push for racial equality. The 27-year-old successfully urged NASCAR to ban the display of the Confederate flag at its events.

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