NASCAR: The worst-kept secret was finally revealed

Bubba Wallace, 23XI Racing, NASCAR - Mandatory Credit: Wilfredo Lee/Pool Photo via USA TODAY Network
Bubba Wallace, 23XI Racing, NASCAR - Mandatory Credit: Wilfredo Lee/Pool Photo via USA TODAY Network /

More than a month after confirming their new NASCAR Cup Series team, 23XI Racing finally confirmed their manufacturer and technical alliance.

Back on Monday, September 21, it was revealed that NBA legend Michael Jordan and Joe Gibbs Racing NASCAR Cup Series driver Denny Hamlin had teamed up to form a new Cup Series team for the 2021 season and that Bubba Wallace would be the driver. They had purchased a charter from Germain Racing.

But that was all that was announced at that time.

Several weeks later, it was announced that the team would be named 23XI Racing, with the name based on the number which Jordan won on his jersey en route to six NBA championships with the Chicago Bulls, #23, and Hamlin’s racing number, #11, in Roman numeral form. It was also announced that Wallace would drive the #23 car.

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However, it still had not been confirmed what manufacturer this new team would use nor whether or not they would form a technical alliance with a team currently using that same manufacturer.

The thing is, everybody already knew what was coming.

It was obviously going to be a Toyota team, given Hamlin’s ties to the manufacturer, and the team would have a technical alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing, given not only the fact that Hamlin competes for the team and has done so full-time since 2006 but the fact that Joe Gibbs Racing are set to lose their current technical alliance with Leavine Family Racing after the 2020 season with Bob Leavine’s team set to shut down.

In case you missed it, finally, on Friday, October 30 — a total of 39 days after the announcement of the creation of the new team — it was indeed confirmed that the #23 car will be a Toyota Camry, and it was indeed confirmed that 23XI Racing will have a technical alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing.

Hamlin confirmed this news in a statement.

"“Toyota has been a big part of my NASCAR career. We’ve achieved multiple milestones together including back-to-back Daytona 500 victories. I know how they support their teams, and when I decided move to team ownership, I knew that I wanted Toyota to be alongside our team. Toyota supports my vision with this team and will be integrated with our team members to support us as we grow and strive to achieve race wins and championships.”"

Here is what Jordan had to add.

"“My main goal for 23XI Racing is to be competitive for a championship as soon as possible. Our partnership with Toyota and Joe Gibbs Racing gives us the equipment, resources and expertise to do it.”"

Here is what Joe Gibbs Racing team owner had to say.

"“We’re excited to have the opportunity to provide resources to this new Toyota team to help them get started. We can remember being in a similar position nearly three decades ago and we were fortunate to have a similar agreement that helped us in the beginning. We’re happy for Denny to realize his dream of ownership and certainly it’s a big deal for NASCAR to have someone with the respect and stature of Michael Jordan enter our sport.”"

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It was later confirmed that Mike Wheeler, who served as Hamlin’s crew chief from 2016 to 2018 before moving to Leavine Family Racing as Matt DiBenedetto’s crew chief in 2019 and then as the competition director for the team this year, is set to be Wallace’s crew chief.