NASCAR fan Michael Jordan attends race: ‘I hope Denny can pull it out’

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HOMESTEAD, Fla. – Longtime NASCAR fan Michael Jordan is back at Homestead-Miami Speedway, supporting friend Denny Hamlin in the championship round.

Jordan is a frequent golfing partner of Hamlin, whom he befriended several years ago.

The NBA legend also attended the 2014 season finale and was among the first to greet Hamlin postrace when he exited his No. 11 Toyota after coming up short of winning his first title.

Here’s what Jordan told NASCAR on NBC analyst Dale Earnhardt Jr. in a prerace interview Sunday:

Dale Earnhardt Jr.: I’m down there with the greatest basketball player of all time, Michael Jordan. Michael, what brings you to the race today?

Michael Jordan: “I’m a big racing fan. Started off when I was a kid. Grew up watching your dad, Richard Petty, Cale Yarborough, which was the original 11 that I remember. Now I’m good friends with Denny Hamlin. We go way back. He’s a season ticket holder at the Hornets. I spend a lot of time playing golf with him, and obviously I’m a big NASCAR fan, so I came out to support him.”

DEJ: How long has that friendship been with Denny?

MJ: “About seven years ago. I’ve known Denny for seven years. He’s just gotten better. And obviously, my interest in the sport has been there for a long period of time. I love watching. I set my clock every Sunday to watch NASCAR, and I pay attention, and actually I enjoy spending time with him.”

DEJ: You’re the owner of the Charlotte Hornets. Have you ever thought about becoming a NASCAR owner?

MJ (chuckling): “No, I’ve got a lot on my plate. I love being a fan. I still understand the sport, but in terms of ownership, nah, I think I’m just going to sit back and watch it and support from afar.”

DEJ: We love that you’re here. We appreciate it. I hope Denny can pull it off for you today. You guys get to celebrate in victory lane. You’re going to victory lane, right?

MJ: “Oh, I’ll be there. If he wins. At the end of the day, you’ve got some real good race drivers today. I watched you guys earlier, and you said anyone of the four can win. It’s going to be a good championship. I watched Xfinity yesterday, and it was a good championship with those guys. I expect it to be the same today. And I hope Denny can pull it out.”