Michael Jordan has joined forces with NASCAR Cup Series driver Denny Hamlin to form a team for the 2021 season that will have Bubba Wallace as its driver.

Chicago Bulls legend Jordan, who is also owner of NBA team the Charlotte Hornets, announced the link-up with Hamlin via social media.

The new team will see a high-profile pairing of a black majority team owner in Jordan and the only black driver in the top NASCAR series in Wallace.

Jordan, a six-time NBA champion, said he is excited by the chance to create more opportunities for black drivers in a sport he loves.

"Growing up in North Carolina, my parents would take my brothers, sisters and me to races, and I've been a NASCAR fan my whole life," the 57-year-old said in a statement. 

"The opportunity to own my own racing team in partnership with my friend, Denny Hamlin, and to have Bubba Wallace driving for us, is very exciting for me.

"Historically, NASCAR has struggled with diversity and there have been few black owners. The timing seemed perfect as NASCAR is evolving and embracing social change more and more. 

"In addition to the recent commitment and donations I have made to combat systemic racism, I see this as a chance to educate a new audience and open more opportunities for black people in racing."

Earlier this year, Jordan pledged $100million to initiatives tackling systemic racism over the next 10 years.

By completing the purchase of a NASCAR team charter from Germain Racing, Jordan is the first black majority owner of a full-time race team in the premier series since Hall of Famer Wendell Scott owned and raced his own car from the 1960s to the early 1970s.

Wallace, who has been vocal in leading protests against social inequality and helped secure a ban on the controversial Confederate flag from races, was at the centre of an FBI investigation after a noose was found in his garage at Talladega Superspeedway during an event in June.

It was later announced the investigation found the noose was in place since 2019 and no crime had been committed. 

Wallace said the opportunity to work for Jordan a chance he simply could not pass up.

"This is a unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I believe is a great fit for me at this point in my career," he said.

"Both Michael and Denny are great competitors and are focused on building the best team they possibly can to go out and compete for race wins. 

"I'm grateful and humbled that Michael and Denny believe in me and I'm super pumped to begin this adventure with them."

Hamlin will be a minority partner while he continues to drive the No. 11 Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing and explained he had been friends with Jordan for some time.

"Eleven years ago I met Michael Jordan at a then-Charlotte Bobcats game and we became fast friends," Hamlin wrote. 

"Not long after, I joined Jordan Brand as their first NASCAR athlete. Our friendship has grown over the years and now we are ready to take it to the next level. 

"Deciding on the driver was easy it had to be Bubba Wallace."

He added: "It just makes sense now to lay the foundation for my racing career after I'm done driving and also help an up-and-coming driver like Bubba take his career to a higher level. 

"Plus, Michael and Bubba can be a powerful voice together, not only in our sport, but also well beyond it."

United States president Donald Trump posted a tweet on Monday calling for an apology from NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace.

Trump, who also criticised the sport for banning the Confederate flag from its races and events, implied that NASCAR's only full-time black driver was party to a "hoax" after an incident where a rope that was tied like a noose was discovered by one of his crew members in his garage at Talladega Superspeedway on June 21.

The following day in a demonstration of solidarity, all NASCAR drivers and crew members walked behind Wallace's number 43 car to the front of the field prior to the makeup race, and then one by one comforted an emotional Wallace and hugged him. 

Trump's Tweet read: ''Has @BubbaWallace apologized to all of those great NASCAR drivers & officials who came to his aid, stood by his side, & were willing to sacrifice everything for him, only to find out that the whole thing was just another HOAX?''

"That & Flag decision has caused lowest ratings EVER!'' 

Contrary to Trump's claims of a low television audiences, Fox reported ratings for last month's Cup Series race at Martinsville were up 104 per cent on the same spot in the calendar from last year.

Chevrolet driver Tyler Reddick responded to Trump in support of Wallace.

"We don't need an apology," he tweeted. "We did what was right and we will do just fine without your support."

A few days after the rope was discovered, the FBI said it had been positioned in the stall at Talladega since as early as last year and was a garage-door pull rope that had been fashioned like a noose. The FBI also determined earlier in the week that Wallace was not the target of a hate crime.  

Wallace has spoken out about racial injustice and racism, and helped push NASCAR to ban the Confederate flags from its races, events and properties on June 10. 

"I was relieved just like many others to know that it wasn’t targeted towards me,” Wallace, who neither found nor reported the noose, told NBC’s Today in the aftermath of the incident and the FBI's investigation.

"But it’s still frustrating to know that people are always going to test you and always just going to try and debunk you and that’s what I’m trying to wrap my head around now, from people saying I’m a fake … or that I reported it when it was information that was brought to me.”

Following George Floyd's death while in the custody of Minneapolis police on May 25, protesters have pushed for the removal of statues and monuments of known racists, as well as the Confederate flag. 

Trump, however, criticised these protesters during his speech at Mount Rushmore over Independence Day weekend, saying: "Our nation is witnessing a merciless campaign to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values, and indoctrinate our children."

NASCAR president Steve Phelps said an internal investigation into the noose found in Bubba Wallace's garage stall at Talladega Superspeedway last Sunday has been completed.

Phelps announced findings from NASCAR's investigation via teleconference on Thursday, two days after the FBI determined that Wallace – the only full-time black driver in NASCAR – was not the target of a hate crime.

Wallace has spoken out about racial injustice and racism in recent weeks, and helped push NASCAR to ban the Confederate flags from its races, events and properties.

"Upon learning of and seeing the noose, our initial reaction was to protect our driver," Phelps said. "We're living in a highly charged and emotional time.

"What we saw was a symbol of hate and was only present in one area of the garage and that was of the 43 car of Bubba Wallace. In hindsight, I should have used the word 'alleged' in our statement."

NASCAR released a photo on Thursday of the noose, which the FBI said had been positioned in the stall at Talladega since as early as last fall and was a garage door pull rope that had been fashioned like a noose.

"As you can see from the photo, the noose was real, as was our concern for Bubba," Phelps said.

NASCAR said it asked each of its 29 tracks to check their garages, and of over 1,684 stalls, only 11 had a pull-down rope tied in a knot. However, the only one that resembled a noose was discovered in Wallace's stall.

Wallace appeared on CNN on Tuesday after the FBI completed its investigation, saying he was upset by allegations of it being a hoax.

Phelps stood by Wallace on Thursday.

"Bubba Wallace and the 43 team had nothing to do with this. Bubba Wallace has done nothing but represent this sport with courage, class and dignity."

NASCAR was "thankful" after an FBI investigation found driver Bubba Wallace was not the target of a hate crime.

Drivers and crews rallied around Wallace – the only full-time black driver in NASCAR – after a noose was found in his garage at Talladega Superspeedway.

The FBI investigated the matter and found a garage door pull rope had been fashioned like a noose and Wallace had not been targeted.

"The FBI has completed its investigation at Talladega Superspeedway and determined that Bubba Wallace was not the target of a hate crime," a NASCAR statement read on Tuesday.

"The FBI report concludes, and photographic evidence confirms, that the garage door pull rope fashioned like a noose had been positioned there since as early as last fall. This was obviously well before the 43 team's arrival and garage assignment.

"We appreciate the FBI's quick and thorough investigation and are thankful to learn that this was not an intentional, racist act against Bubba.

"We remain steadfast in our commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for all who love racing."

NASCAR drivers and their crews helped push Wallace's car to the front of the field prior to Monday's makeup race, a day after the noose was found.

In a demonstration of solidarity, the drivers and crew members walked in droves behind the car with Wallace at the wheel, and then one by one comforted an emotional Wallace and hugged him.

The first to console Wallace was the owner of his car, Richard Petty, who was at the first race he has attended since the season restarted amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Bubba Wallace insisted "you're not going to take away my smile" as the NASCAR driver responded to a noose being found in his garage at Talladega Superspeedway.

Wallace is the only full-time black driver in NASCAR and has spoken out about racial injustice amid protests in the United States in the wake of the death of George Floyd in police custody last month.

A noose was found in his garage on Sunday, but Wallace was at the centre of a united front prior to Monday's makeup race in Alabama – drivers and crew members walking in droves behind the car with the 26-year-old at the wheel.

After his 14th-place finish, Wallace – standing in front of fans – told FOX Sports: "This is probably the most badass moment right here.

"This sport is changing. The deal that happened yesterday ... I wanted to show whoever it was that you're not going to take away my smile. I'm going to keep on going.

"All in all, we won today. The pre-race deal was probably one of the hardest things I've ever had to witness in my life. ... This is truly incredible, and I'm proud be a part of this sport."

Ryan Blaney won Monday's race and he told ESPN: "It showed how you're not gonna scare [Wallace]; you're not gonna scare him. He's really strong; he's gonna rise above it, and fight this.

"So we just wanted to show our support; I wanted to show my support for my best friend. He's just been someone I've really, really loved for a long time; and I'm gonna support him 100 per cent along the way for many years to come.

"I hope a lot of people will look at that and learn from -- everyone coming together and supporting each other; that's what it's gonna take to make things better."

NASCAR drivers and their crews helped push Bubba Wallace's car to the front of the field prior to Monday’s makeup race, a day after a noose was found in his garage at Talladega Superspeedway.

In a demonstration of solidarity, the drivers and crew members walked in droves behind the car with Wallace at the wheel, and then one by one comforted an emotional Wallace and hugged him.

The first to console Wallace was the owner of his car, Richard Petty, who was at the first race he has attended since the season restarted amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The seven-time NASCAR champion, who turns 83 next month, said in a statement that he was “enraged by the act of someone placing a noose in the garage stall of my race team.”

He went on to say: “I stand shoulder to shoulder with Bubba, yesterday, today, tomorrow and every day forward.”

Prior to the makeup race, #IStandWithBubba was printed on the infield grass of the track. 

Wallace, the division's only black driver, has spoken out about racial injustice and racism in recent weeks, and helped push NASCAR to ban the Confederate flags from its races, events and properties.

The Confederate flag has deep roots to some Americans who live in the south, though it is viewed by some as a symbol of slavery and racism.

Confederate flags were still seen on Sunday outside of the main entrance to the Alabama race track, and a plane flew over the track pulling a banner of the flag.

Security has increased at the track and the FBI was on site on Monday.

The noose that was found in Wallace's garage is being investigated by the FBI and the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division.

NASCAR has launched an investigation after a noose was found in the garage of driver Bubba Wallace on Sunday.

Wallace, 26, is the only full-time black driver in NASCAR and has spoken out about racial injustice amid protests in the United States in the wake of the death of George Floyd in police custody last month.

As the GEICO 500 – held in Alabama, the state where Wallace was born – was postponed until Monday due to inclement weather, NASCAR said a noose had been found in the 26-year-old's garage.

"Late this afternoon, NASCAR was made aware that a noose was found in the garage stall of the 43 team," a statement read.

"We are angry and outraged, and cannot state strongly enough how seriously we take this heinous act.

"We have launched an immediate investigation, and will do everything we can to identify the person[s] responsible and eliminate them from the sport.

"As we have stated unequivocally, there is no place for racism in NASCAR, and this act only strengthens our resolve to make the sport open and welcoming to all."

NASCAR banned Confederate flags from its races and properties earlier this month.

After the noose was found in his garage, Wallace said he would continue to fight against racism.

"Today's despicable act of racism and hatred leaves me incredibly saddened and serves as a painful reminder of how much further we have to go as a society and how persistent we must be in the fight against racism," he wrote in a statement posted on Twitter.

"Over the last several weeks, I have been overwhelmed by the support from people across the NASCAR industry including other drivers and team members in the garage.

"Together, our sport has made a commitment to driving real change and championing a community that is accepting and welcoming of everyone. Nothing is more important and we will not be deterred by the reprehensible actions of those who seek to spread hate.

"As my mother told me today, "They are just trying to scare you." This will not break me, I will not give in nor will I back down. I will continue to proudly stand for what I believe in."

Alvin Kamara will be supporting Bubba Wallace in Miami on Sunday, having become a NASCAR fan following its decision to ban the Confederate flag this week.

The Confederate flag - which is viewed by many as a symbol of racism and slavery - was banned from all NASCAR races and properties in a decision made prior to Wednesday's race at Martinsville Speedway.

Its banishment came amid a renewed focus on the Black Lives Matter movement following the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minnesota on May 25.

NASCAR's decision was praised by many sports stars, including New Orleans Saints running back Kamara, who watched Wednesday's race with interest and tweeted the division to ask when the next race was.

On Saturday, the three-time Pro Bowler tweeted a picture of some merchandise of Wallace, NASCAR's only black driver, confirming he would attend the Cup Series' latest race at the Homestead-Miami Speedway.

"See y'all tomorrow @NASCAR @BubbaWallace wassup?!!!" Kamara wrote.

Wallace is a fan of the University of Tennessee, where Kamara played two seasons of college football prior to entering the NFL in 2017.

Bubba Wallace welcomed NASCAR's decision to ban the Confederate flag from flying at its races and properties, hailing a "huge, pivotal moment for the sport".

Wallace, the division's only black driver, had called for the banishment of a flag which is viewed by many as a symbol of racism and slavery, saying there was "no place" for it in the sport.

There have been protests at racial injustice across the United States and beyond after George Floyd died in police custody last month.

NASCAR said the flag "runs contrary to our commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for all fans, our competitors and our industry".

The decision was made prior to Wednesday's race at Martinsville Speedway, where Wallace - wearing a United States flag on his face mask and an "I Can't Breathe" T-shirt - discussed the announcement.

Asked by FOX Sports for his thoughts, Wallace applauded into the microphone and added: "Bravo. Props to NASCAR and everybody involved.

"This has been a stressful couple of weeks, and this is no doubt the biggest race of my career tonight. It couldn't be at a more perfect place, where I got my first win in the Truck Series in 2013 and followed it up with my second one in 2014.

"I'm excited about tonight. There's a lot of emotions on the race track and off the race track that are riding with us. Tonight's something special, today's been something special.

"Again, hats off to NASCAR. [NASCAR president Steve] Phelps and I have been in contact a lot, just trying to figure out what steps are next. That was a huge, pivotal moment for the sport.

"[There has been] a lot of backlash, but it creates doors and allows the community to come together as one. That's what the real mission is here. I'm excited about that.

Wallace finished 11th in a race won by Martin Truex Jr. Drivers' championship leader Kevin Harvick was back in 15th.

NASCAR announced on Wednesday the Confederate flag has been banned from flying at its races and properties. 

The announcement came one day after Bubba Wallace, NASCAR's sole black driver, called for the banishment of the racist symbol, saying there was "no place" for it in the sport.

The Confederate flag is deeply rooted in the south of the United States, despite being connected to slavery and racism. 

"The presence of the Confederate flag at NASCAR events runs contrary to our commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for all fans, our competitors and our industry," NASCAR said in a statement.

"Bringing people together around a love for racing and the community that it creates is what makes our fans and sport special. The display of the Confederate flag will be prohibited from all NASCAR events and properties."

The decision to ban the flag came hours before Wednesday's race at Martinsville Speedway.

Wallace, who wore a shirt that read "I Can't Breathe" prior to Sunday's event in Atlanta, will drive a Chevrolet with a special Black Lives Matter paint scheme at Martinsville. 

NASCAR drivers admit they aren't quite sure what to expect when they step into a race car for the first time in over two months for Sunday's Cup Series race at Darlington Raceway, but they're all eager for the opportunity.

Two in particular are especially grateful for a second chance.

The Real Heroes 400 marks the resumption of a 2020 season put on hold by the worldwide coronavirus pandemic, as well as the return of Ryan Newman from an horrific final-lap crash in February's Daytona 500 that briefly put the Roush Fenway Racing driver's career – and life – in limbo. 

Newman miraculously escaped the spectacular wreck – in which his car went airborne and flipped several times before landing on its hood after being hit from behind by Ryan Blaney – with a bruised brain but no permanent damage. The 18-time Cup Series winner was medically cleared in late April and will start 21st following a random draw used to determine post positioning.

"I'm so excited and thankful to be healthy, to get back into the race car," he said. "I am thankful for all the people and support that have prayed for me and given me a multitude of miracles."

Matt Kenseth will be making a comeback of a different sort when he gets behind the wheel of Chip Ganassi Racing's No. 42 Chevrolet for his first Cup Series start since the 2018 season finale. The 2003 champion was lured out of retirement to replace Kyle Larson, fired by CGR last month after being caught using a racial slur during an iRacing event.

"Certainly, the learning curve is going to be steep," said Kenseth, the oldest driver in Sunday's field at age 48. "I know being out of the car that long, starting with a different team and piling on top of that not being able to practice for the foreseeable future, or testing and anything like that, is going to be very challenging.

"But, I'm really excited. I have to admit, I'm just as excited as I've been to go racing in many, many years. I'm really looking forward to getting to the track."

Kenseth will start 12th in his return, with Brad Keselowski earning the pole in the blind draw and Alex Bowman joining him on the front row. Current points leader Kevin Harvick will start sixth and Joey Logano, winner of two of the four Cup Series races prior to this season's suspension in March, drew post nine.

The Real Heroes 400, named in honour of healthcare workers currently taking part in the fight against COVID-19, will be the first of two spectator-free Cup Series events held at Darlington in four days as part of NASCAR's revised schedule. Two more will take place at Charlotte within a four-day span later in May, headlined by the prestigious Coca-Cola 600 in its traditional Memorial Day weekend slot.

The Charlotte races will also be conducted without fans in attendance, as will a rescheduled race in Bristol, Tenn. on May 31 and four just-announced Cup Series events in June to be held at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Homestead-Miami Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama. The Homestead races will take place on consecutive days on June 13 and 14.

Competing without fans will be an adjustment for drivers, as will racing competitively off a two-month layoff without having the benefit of practice time or a qualification round.

"I think it's going to be a little tough jumping back into the swing of things after, I think I counted 62 days off," said Blaney. "But I feel like everyone will be pretty responsible getting going, being smart."

NASCAR has announced its season will resume on May 17 following the suspension enforced by coronavirus restrictions.

That means it will become the first major American sports competition to return since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down all leagues in mid-March. 

The season will return without fans at Darlington Raceway to kick off a stretch of seven races over an 11-day span at two tracks. 

"NASCAR and its teams are eager and excited to return to racing, and have great respect for the responsibility that comes with a return to competition," said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer.

"NASCAR will return in an environment that will ensure the safety of our competitors, officials and all those in the local community. We thank local, state and federal officials and medical experts, as well as everyone in the industry, for the unprecedented support in our return to racing, and we look forward to joining our passionate fans in watching cars return to the track."

The schedule continues at Darlington Raceway with a midweek Xfinity Series race and another Cup Series race on Wednesday, May 20, before shifting to Charlotte the following weekend. 

Charlotte Motor Speedway will host four straight days of racing, with the traditional Memorial Day weekend Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday, May 24 and another Cup Series race on Wednesday, May 27.

In-between there will be another Xfinity Series race and a Gander Trucks event. 

"This has been a proactive effort to put our motorsports industry back to work and boost the morale of sports fans around the world, while at the same time keeping the health and safety of all who will be on site the top priority," said Marcus Smith, president and CEO of Speedway Motorsports. 

NASCAR remains committed to running a full 36-race season, but no other races have been scheduled after May 27. 

United States president Donald Trump said he is "tired of watching baseball games that are 14 years old" as he eyes the return of sport following the coronavirus pandemic.

COVID-19 has brought sport to a standstill around the world – the NBA, NHL, MLS, PGA Tour and NASCAR seasons were among those suspended, while the start of the MLB campaign was pushed back and there are concerns over the NFL.

The Olympic Games have been postponed until 2021, as well as Euro 2020 and the Copa America due to coronavirus, which has killed more than 126,500 people globally and over 26,000 in the US.

Addressing COVID-19 and sport on Tuesday, Trump told reporters: "In sports – we want to get our sports back, so importantly.

"We have to get our sports back. I'm tired of watching baseball games that are 14 years old. But I haven't actually had too much time to watch.

"I would say maybe I watch one batter, and then I get back to work."

Trump also revealed an advisory group that will work to help reopen the US economy.

The group includes NBA commissioner Adam Silver, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, UFC president Dana White, WWE's Vince McMahon, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban.

Chip Ganassi Racing have fired Kyle Larson after the driver used a racial slur during a virtual race on Sunday.

Larson used an offensive term in the iRacing event after performing a microphone check, with a fellow driver then telling him he could be overheard.

The 27-year-old was suspended, first by his team, then by NASCAR, and ordered to undergo sensitivity training as he accepted "the damage is probably unrepairable".

Chip Ganassi Racing have now elected to cut ties with a driver who has six victories in his career.

A team statement read: "After much consideration, Chip Ganassi Racing has determined that it will end its relationship with driver Kyle Larson.

"As we said before, the comments that Kyle made were both offensive and unacceptable especially given the values of our organisation.

"As we continued to evaluate the situation with all the relevant parties, it became obvious that this was the only appropriate course of action to take."

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