Michael Jordan has spent his life chasing the thrill of competition everywhere he can, from the basketball court as a player and now owner to the golf course and beyond — hell, he caught a 442-pound marlin in a fishing competition last summer because it was a thing to do.
One of his great loves is motorsports, as he’s owned a motorcycle racing team and, starting Sunday at the Daytona 500, his new NASCAR team will make its Cup Series debut. That team, 23XI racing, is in partnership with current Joe Gibbs Racing driver Denny Hamlin, who was Jordan Brand’s first NASCAR sponsored driver, and the car will be driven by rising star Bubba Wallace. Wallace, who we got the chance to speak to last week, called it “surreal” driving for Jordan, noting that it’s on he and the rest of the team to meet his expectations for excellence.
Prior to the Daytona 500, Jordan, Wallace, and Hamlin all sat down for an interview with Michael Strahan to discuss their new race team and how it all came together. One of the first questions Strahan asked of Jordan was one that many have wondered, which is how he handles being in a situation as an owner where he doesn’t have the ability to impact the outcome on the track (or the court) the way he once did as a player.
As Jordan notes, the only thing he can do is seek out people he believes share the same competitive “DNA” as he does, noting that he’s seen that in Hamlin and Wallace. He also heaps praise on his new driver, explaining that he has all the ability to be great and that it’s Jordan’s job and the team’s job to provide him with the tools to do so.
Wallace was set to be in great position to pick up a good finish in 23XI’s first race, as he qualified 6th on the starting grid for the Daytona 500 on Sunday afternoon, but will go to the back of the field after failing pre-race inspection twice.