On Friday morning the 23XI Racing team unveiled the long-anticipated news of its manufacturer and technical partner, Toyota and Joe Gibbs Racing.
But what the stole the show was when driver Bubba Wallace and team co-owner Denny Hamlin unveiled their race car, bearing the number and colors made famous by Hamlin’s ownership partner, Michael Jordan.
The Chicago Bulls-esque red, white and black Toyota Camry featured Jordan’s No. 23 on the doors and the 23XI Racing team logo on the hood and quarter panels, hopefully to be replaced by sponsorship before the team makes its NASCAR Cup Series debut in less than four months at 2021 Daytona Speedweeks.
— 23XI Racing (@23XIRacing) October 30, 2020
Lost in the excitement of seeing Michael Jordan’s car with Michael Jordan’s number was the real story, a technical alliance that gives MJ’s team – and his driver – a chance to compete.
Joe Gibbs Racing is the flagship organization of Toyota Racing Development and the team Hamlin has driven for throughout his 16-plus year Cup Series career. The TRD relationship includes an agreement with JGR that allows 23XI Racing to purchase equipment and share technical information.
“My main goal for 23XI Racing is to be competitive for a championship as soon as possible,” Jordan said in a statement. “Our partnership with Toyota and Joe Gibbs Racing gives us the equipment, resources and expertise to do it.”
“There’s no doubt that Bubba has outperformed the equipment he’s had, week in and week out,” Hamlin said on CBS This Morning, sitting alongside his driver in their Air Jordan sneakers as he spoke of Wallace’s four seasons in the Chevys of Richard Petty Motorsports.
Then, referring to Wallace’s 2013-14 seasons in the NASCAR Truck Series driving for Kyle Busch, Hamlin added, “This is a great opportunity for him to return to the Toyota family, a family he was with early in his career, and it’s an exciting partnership for everyone.”
Added Wallace: “I’m still processing it every day. … I’ve just got to make sure I do my part and deliver each and every time out next year.”