Brad Daugherty calls Michael Jordan’s ownership of a Cup team a “huge moment for NASCAR.”
Jordan and Denny Hamlin will co-own a Cup team next season. Bubba Wallace will be the driver. Jordan will become the first Black majority car owner of a full-time team since Wendell Scott owned and raced cars in the 1960s and ‘70s.
Daugherty, the only Black owner of a full-time Cup team currently, is excited about Jordan’s entrance into NASCAR.
“It’s a big momentum shift for this sport culturally, period,” said Daugherty, co-owner of JTG Daugherty Racing and an analyst for NBC Sports. “Three years ago, this would have never happened. A year ago, this wouldn’t have happened. It’s the timing. If the timing is right and you have someone like Michael Jordan put his brand and what he’s all about into whatever you are doing, it adds a lot of credibility. I look forward to whatever he can bring to the table to help continue to build NASCAR.”
Daugherty told NBC Sports that Jordan can help the sport reach more people.
“The eyeballs are going to be incredible,” Daugherty said of Jordan’s potential impact. “The opportunity for entrance into the sport will be made more available as far as people being aware of the availability to get involved in NASCAR as a fan or as a business. There’s just so many different areas that will light up just because of who he is and what he represents. His entire legacy creates opportunity for everyone.
“Now, we start talking diversity with what he’s able to do from a corporate standpoint and also just from a legacy standpoint with his brand. It’s going to be exciting. I’m excited because I think more people now, more than ever, will take a look at NASCAR with a keen eye and keen interest and be excited about maybe participating as a fan or as a business partner or as someone wanting to learn how to drive a race car or own a race team. The more notoriety the better.”
NASCAR stated Monday: “Michael is an iconic sports figure and celebrated champion whose fiercely competitive nature has placed him among the greatest athletes of all time. His presence at NASCAR’s top level will further strengthen the competition, excitement and momentum growing around our sport. We wish Michael and his team tremendous success.”
Jordan told The Charlotte Observer on Monday that the deal came together in about 10 days because of the chance to hire Wallace.
“When (Hamlin) told me there was a possibility of getting Bubba Wallace, I’m saying, ‘OK, this is perfect!’” Jordan told The Observer. “If I’m getting involved in NASCAR, then get a Black driver (with) a Black owner.”
For all that Jordan can bring to NASCAR, Daugherty knows that the competition can prove challenging.
“I’m sure he’s committed to next season and we’ll see how that goes and if it goes well, you go beyond that,” said Daugherty, a teammate to Jordan on the University of North Carolina basketball team. “He had a (Superbike) team for a long time and loved that. He understands it’s a different business model. He’s at the point in his life, he’s like Roger Penske and Rick Hendrick and those guys to where it’s really not a detriment to him financially if he’s not making money. We’ll have to see how much he can stomach because it’s an interesting business model for sure.”
Jordan told The Observer he’s in it to win.
“If I’m investing, if I’m a participant, then I want to win! I don’t want to be out there to be just another car,” Jordan said.
Daugherty looks forward to seeing Jordan, Hamlin and Wallace at the track.
“I think it’s a pretty dynamic trio with Michael, Denny and Bubba,” Daugherty said. “They’re going to be like rock stars.”
Daugherty also looks forward to something else next year.
“Look forward to racing against those guys,” he said, “and trying to kick their butts.”
— #NASCARPlayoffs on NBC (@NASCARonNBC) September 22, 2020