Bubba Wallace is set to drive the No. 23 for 23XI Racing, a new NASCAR team co-owned by Michael Jordan and Denny Hamlin, next season. On Friday, Hamlin and Wallace went on CBS This Morning to announce that they would be partnering with Toyota as a manufacturer and give people a first glimpse of the vehicle.
The Toyota partnership does not come as a surprise because Hamlin currently drives the No. 11 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing. Gibbs noted to CBS Sports early in the process that they were working on a deal with 23XI Racing to join team Toyota. That deal is now official.
JUST REVEALED: Here's the new race car for the Michael Jordan-owned @Nascar team @23XIRacing, ahead of its debut on the track next year.— CBS This Morning (@CBSThisMorning) October 30, 2020
This morning, @ToyotaRacing is unveiling its partnership with the team.@BubbaWallace and @dennyhamlin join us live from @CLTMotorSpdwy. pic.twitter.com/L7iTpXqkLu
Toyota Racing Development will build the team's engines and provide technology, data and technical assistance. The relationship will also incorporate an alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing, which will allow 23XI to buy chassis and other services.
"My main goal for 23XI Racing is to be competitive for a championship as soon as possible," said Jordan in a team release. "Our partnership with Toyota and Joe Gibbs Racing gives us the equipment, resources and expertise to do it."
Wallace has yet to win in the NASCAR Cup Series while driving for Richard Petty Motorsports in the iconic No. 43. However, in 2020 he has boasted a career-high five top-10 finishes and a career-best average finish of 21.3.
"Pressure is kind of my middle name," Wallace said on CBS This Morning. "I think I perform well under pressure. Look at a couple months ago, everything that was going on off the race track. We put together some of our best races. So I'm excited for the opportunity."
The alliance with JGR certainly makes a championship possible for Jordan's team. Martin Truex Jr. won a championship with Furniture Row Racing in 2017 when they were aligned with JGR. FRR subsequently shut down following the 2018 season after owner Barney Visser made the decision to step out. JGR's current alliance team, Leavine Family Racing, just saw Christopher Bell have a top three finish at Texas, but also plans to shut its doors at the end of the season due to internal business matters.
"We're excited to have the opportunity to provide resources to this new Toyota team to help them get started," said Gibbs in a release. "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."
Hamlin will continue to drive for Gibbs while co-owning 23XI with Jordan. The No. 11 team is currently competing for a NASCAR championship and has seven wins on the season, which is second to only Kevin Harvick with nine. Hamlin will look to punch his ticket to the Championship 4 on Sunday at Martinsville with a solid finish or win.