Despite Bubba Wallace Openly Daring Michael Jordan, Daytona 500 Winner Hints the 23XI Driver Should Be Grateful of MJ

Published 02/23/2023, 1:32 PM EST

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A long time in the making, Brad Daugherty finally saw his NASCAR dream turn into reality. The five-time NBA All-Star’s JTG Daugherty Racing team won the elusive Daytona 500 title. It was a momentous occasion for the longtime racing lover. Right after the win, a special text came to him. It was an NBA peer and fellow ‘23XI’ owner, Michael Jordan. The pair began their official competition and even started trash-talking. But despite a thrilling win, Daugherty held nothing but praise for His Airness. In particular, he spoke about Jordan’s immense contribution to the sport.

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Jordan began his NASCAR racing team back in 2020 with Denny Hamlin. The Chicago Bulls legend gave the keys of the lead driver to Bubba Wallace. The 29-year-old driver is the only Black driver in the NASCAR cup series. Only last season, he finished second in the Daytona 500 for the second time in his career. Wallace has risen as arguably one of the best drivers in the Cup Series. He has won twice as a part of the ’23XI’ brand.

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From his first race, people could see that the racer had all the skills to compete against the best. However, Daugherty believes without Michael Jordan, the driver wouldn’t be sitting in the driver’s seat at all.

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Daytona 500 winner credits Michael Jordan for giving Bubba Wallace a chance

Right as the Cleveland Cavaliers legend watched Ricky Stenhouse Jr. make history, he was ecstatic. While he couldn’t be at the event, Daugherty spoke to the Charlotte Observer about the win. He highlighted his exchange with MJ and even spoke about the impact the basketball legend has had in his short time. According to Brad Daugherty, Jordan is the sole reason an African American racer is in a position to win races every week, referring to Bubba Wallace.

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For 35 years, the 57-year-old has pushed to create opportunities for the community. While he is proud of what he has accomplished, he feels only Jordan was capable enough to give Bubba Wallace a chance. In an interview with the Charlotte Observer, he said, “No one else, those big teams, was gonna give Bubba a chance. No one else was gonna give him the opportunity that he deserved.” He continued, “And I’m pulling for Michael Jordan every weekend to be successful. And I’m hoping that we beat him, obviously, but I pull for him every weekend.”

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Anyplace Jordan dives into, the spotlight is ought to follow. The basketball icon can single-handedly bring millions of eyes to any of his projects. Just the mere mention of his name is enough to create a tsunami of attention. The 6x NBA champion has used it in the right places, moreover, for the right people. Wallace and MJ have created a special connection through the Toyota he drives on the track.

The race car driver is a special find. He has even earned himself some special perks which others seemingly don’t have. The 29-year-old might be able to roam around without wearing the Jordan brand, but he is always grateful for the platform ‘His Airness’ gave him. Michael Jordan loves nothing more than fierce competitors who give it their all. And Wallace checks those boxes with every race.

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WATCH THIS STORY: $630 Million Giant Is Giving NASCAR Fans an Exclusive Opportunity to Meet Bubba Wallace and Tyler Reddick

While they haven’t won a championship yet, they aren’t that far away. Both Wallace and Jordan are people who will give it their all. With a superb team behind, the dream of winning seems to be coming closer. If they do win, it will be a momentous day in NASCAR history. Do you think Bubba Wallace will give Jordan his first win as a NASCAR owner? Let us know your views in the comments below.

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Written by:

Anuj Talwalkar

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Anuj Talwalkar is an NBA writer at EssentiallySports. He is a student studying at NM College in Mumbai, aspiring to pursue sports management to follow his love for sports. Anuj started following the NBA last year, and he loves to combine his passion for writing with his understanding of basketball.
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Edited by:

Pragya Vashisth

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