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via Getty

via Getty

Michael Jordan finally shook off the ‘bad luck’ tag Denny Hamlin slapped on him about being a jinx for the team. But guess what? It was Hamlin who ended up crashing, while Tyler Reddick finally won the Talladega race, and that’s what really made Jordan’s day. You could see the competitive fire light up in him again. As Reddick, piloting the #45 car for 23XI Racing, scaled the catch fence in front of the pumped Talladega crowd, Jordan was down on pit road, hoisting Reddick’s 4-year-old son Beau into the air, celebrating big time. While it might have seemed like just another race to some, for Michael Jordan, it was a whole lot more. Denny Hamlin even mentioned on his podcast how tough it was for MJ, feeling all kinds of helpless watching from the stands.

Denny Hamlin reveals how NASCAR is a different ballgame altogether

Michael Jordan, a legend in basketball and a household name worldwide, was always one to play his cards right, knowing his next move on the court. But NASCAR? That’s a whole different ball game. Even the best drivers on the track can’t predict a sudden wreck that throws them off course, much less an owner like Jordan. According to Denny Hamlin, that’s exactly the case with MJ.

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He said, “He’s the competitor. And, and I appreciated what he said to Jamie Little there that starting this NASCAR team really, it filled the void of competitiveness that he had when he was playing, right? And so the only difference is he doesn’t control, he doesn’t have control. Now we do have control over how we choose to run the team and personnel that we hire and things like that, but it’s, you are a bit helpless when it comes down to a green white checkered or 30 laps to go or whatever, And I’m sitting there on the sidelines and I’m quarterbacking like, ‘Tyler do this! Tyler do that’, you know. And you feel helpless, but like when they do it, you, you just feel so proud because you know, you’ve got a hand in all of it.”

In fact, Denny Hamlin even gave a nod to a tweet from Ryan McGee, pointing out how Michael Jordan isn’t just another face in the crowd of NASCAR owners. McGee tweeted that he’s seen plenty of folks dive into the sport as owners, but MJ is playing a whole different game. He’s not just some figurehead; he’s all in, showing up at the races, and really throwing himself into it. Hamlin confirmed it, saying, “He is, he is not an absentee owner for sure. He cares about this. He is a race fan first. I’m very, very grateful that we struck up the friendship that we did 14 years ago.”

And let’s not forget, Michael Jordan is a brand all by himself. He brings a level of clout and charisma to the table that’s pretty rare, especially for someone so new to the owner’s box.

MJ plays a huge part in the 23XI Racing team

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On the podcast, when Jared Allen hit up Denny Hamlin about what unique stuff MJ brings to the table that other owners might not, because of his legendary status as an athlete, Hamlin shared that Jordan brings killer business connections. Hamlin tries not to lean on him too much but knows when #11 steps up to ask for something, it’s big, and Michael Jordan has the knack to make things happen with the right folks at the right time.

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Hamlin also mentioned that Jordan is super engaged during VIP meet and greets. He’s all about getting to know who’s who—names, who they’re with, what they do. He genuinely cares. Having someone like that, who really values the people backing him and his team, makes a huge difference. And that was amply evident after Tyler Reddick’s Talladega win, as Jordan was seen celebrating the victory with his team members, hugging and greeting them with great excitement.

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Plus, seeing Jordan at the race, especially when Tyler Reddick pulled off that win, must have been something else for the #45 driver, too. As Reddick mentioned, “He’s come to a few races, and unfortunately, even as good as the days have looked, they’ve not ended in Victory Lane. So, for us to win a race like that, be up front as much as we were at the end and it looked like it was slipping away, and then we get it back, man, it’s an unreal feeling.”

For Michael Jordan, that nail-biter of a finish must have stirred up some echoes of his days clinching six NBA titles, always clutch when the pressure was maxed out.