Bubba Wallace proved Monday at Talladega Superspeedway that NBA legend Michael Jordan doesn’t give lip service when it comes to his new NASCAR Cup Series team.
One of the biggest talking points entering the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season was the creation of 23XI Racing, the Joe Gibbs Racing-affiliated team co-owned by Denny Hamlin and NBA legend Michael Jordan.
They announced their entry into the sport last September, and they announced then-Richard Petty Motorsports driver Bubba Wallace as the driver of the #23 Toyota from 2021.
In three full seasons with Richard Petty Motorsports, Wallace, who became one of the more scrutinized drivers in the series in the summer of 2020, finished no higher than 22nd place in the championship standings.
So naturally, Jordan, who had previously said that he wanted to stay away from team ownership, saying that his one reason for finally making the decision to get involved in the sport as something more than a fan was winning drew some laughs and some criticism.
And a pre-season quote from Jordan has been a go-to for the Wallace critics throughout the 2021 season.
Here is what the six-time NBA champion had to say about the decision to sign Wallace as 23XI Racing’s first ever full-time driver.
“We don’t sign checks for losers,” Jordan said with a laugh back in February before the season-opening Daytona 500. “I feel like he’s going to learn how to win. He’s got the talent. We would not have invested in him and picked him if he didn’t have the talent to win. By the end of the year, I think he’s going to have an opportunity, and he probably will win at least a couple of races. If it’s more, I’d be elated.”
Naturally, Jordan “not signing checks for losers” was referenced quite often throughout a 26-race regular season which saw Wallace secure just two top 10 finishes and fail to qualify for playoffs.
Wallace hasn’t won multiple races, which was also a personal goal of his, but Monday proved one thing: Michael Jordan really does not sign checks for losers.
While it ended up being a rain-shortened race, Wallace had worked himself to the front of the field in the YellaWood 500 at Talladega Superspeedway. With rain on the way, a multi-car crash behind him resulted in a caution flag toward the end of stage two.
Then the rains came, forcing a red flag, and it was determined that the race would not be restarted at the four-turn, 2.66-mile (4.281-kilometer) high-banked oval in Lincoln, Alabama, a track which does not have lights.
So Wallace was credited with not only winning stage two, but winning a race for the first time in 143 career starts.
And while it didn’t come in a full-length race, nothing will change the fact that the 27-year-old Mobile, Alabama native is now a Cup Series race winner.