Joe Gibbs talks Michael Jordan’s new NASCAR team and driver Bubba Wallace

Joe Gibbs Racing comments on the new startup team and former Toyota alliances gone wrong

Last month, Denny Hamlin and NBA legend Michael Jordan abruptly announced they would be joining NASCAR as new team owners. Bubba Wallace will be there driver as the team is set to make their debut in 2021.

Hamlin currently drives for Joe Gibbs Racing, where he will remain. It’s a very rare situation. The most recent driver to own a winning team while driving for a different team dates all the way back to Dale Earnhardt.

Jordan’s team will field a Toyota race car. It will be great for the manufacture with the least amount of cars in the field.

Joe Gibbs Racing has a history of alliances with fellow Toyota teams. So, will the new team have a JGR alliance?

Related: Michael Jordan entering NASCAR spawned from a joke

Joe Gibbs on the new NASCAR team with Bubba Wallace, Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan

“I think first of all it’s a fantastic deal for us and NASCAR and our sport to have Michael Jordan, an icon in sports,” Joe Gibbs told CBS Sports.

“So many people respect him and what he’s done. To have him coming into our sport. Here’s a guy, this guy doesn’t have to do anything he doesn’t want to do okay? And for him to say I want to do this, he kind of grew up here in and around racing and has always had an interest in it.”

“We’ve seen him at the racetrack some. He’s friends with Denny. They play golf together and it started with a conversation on the golf course. For him to say I want to get into our sport is a huge deal for us and Bubba as the driver. It’s a huge deal from a diversity standpoint. I love that and I think it will also bring a lot of new fans to our sport.”

“As I mentioned, everybody has got a device and our sport has made a huge effort from a digital and social media standpoint. We’ve got five people here working in the social-digital area for us on our race team right now. So I think this is a big part of our sport.”

“I think for them to come into the sport, for he and Denny to team up, and to have Bubba, I think that’s going to bring some real excitement the next year.”

JGR will likely have an alliance with the new team

In terms of an alliance…

Gibbs stated, “I think we will probably be a part of that. We’re still working through things. But I think they’ll wind up being in Toyota and Toyota of course is our OEM. So we’re excited about that whole deal.”

Related: Michael Jordan, Denny Hamlin form new NASCAR team with driver Bubba Wallace

Joe Gibbs and Denny Hamlin at Texas Motor Speedway
FORT WORTH, TX – MARCH 31: Team owner Joe Gibbs celebrates with Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Office Toyota, after winning the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on March 31, 2019 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Alliances gone bad with Joe Gibbs Racing

Over the years, Joe Gibbs Racing has regularly setup alliances with smaller Toyota teams.

Furniture Row Racing took Joe Gibbs Racing equipment to the track then claimed the championship in 2017. Following the 2018 season, the team disappeared.

This year, Leavine Family Racing, another JGR affiliated team abruptly announced they would be leaving the sport.

“I think each one of them is a little bit different and separate,” Joe Gibbs opened in a response about responsibility for the team closures.

Martin Truex Jr at Las Vegas Motor Speedway - MENCS
LAS VEGAS, NV – SEPTEMBER 15: Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 5-hour ENERGY Toyota, drives during practice for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series SouthPoint 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on September 15, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

Joe Gibbs on Furniture Row Racing

“You take the 78 and Barney (Visser) and those guys when they came to us I think they had two wins before they came with us. Then the period they were with us they won 16 times. They won a championship.”

“The car went from being with very little sponsorship to being fully sponsored. I think there were some things that took place there with Barney. From a standpoint he lost a sponsor and I think he evaluated what was going on in his life there and made a decision to step out.”

Christopher Bell - Daytona 500 - NASCAR Cup Series
DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA – FEBRUARY 08: Christopher Bell, driver of the #95 Procore Toyota, practices for the NASCAR Cup Series 62nd Annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 08, 2020 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Joe Gibbs on Leavine Family Racing

“I think with Bob Leavine, when we got in an alliance with him I think that was an exciting thing for us. It was an exciting thing for Toyota and for Bob.”

“So our alliance, we worked it up there but I think with COVID and everything that happened. I think Bob will tell you that his company in Dallas, it’s a construction company.”

“Everything that had happened there caused him from a financial standpoint to say hey look he needs to concentrate on his business.”

Joe Gibbs on alliances in NASCAR

“So each one of them were different. I think alliances allow for a team to enter a sport or up their program. I know it helped us get into the sport.”

“We originally had an alliance with Rick Hendrick and they supplied motors and some technology stuff for us. That allowed us to get into the sport. I don’t think we’ve been able to do that.”

“I think it’s a part of our sport where you can help teams get started and so I think it’s a big part of our sport. We love our relationships. We’re careful with them.”

“I think certainly with Toyota and ourselves we kinda look at it and we have a number of people come to us at different times but we’re very selective.”

Gibbs added, “I think in this case with Michael Jordan and Denny it’s going to be a situation where you can help somebody get started. Sometimes it’s a way to help people up their program.”

Related: Bubba Wallace addresses fans that want politics out of NASCAR


Joe Gibbs Racing | Toyota Racing | Bubba Wallace | Denny Hamlin | Michael Jordan | NASCAR