What a wild 24 hours. First, the exciting news that Ross Chastain would land one of the second most coveted rides in free agency. A shock when you consider some of the names available I didn’t think there was a chance for Chastain, but thank goodness I was proven wrong.
He didn’t remain the top headline for long as Michael Jordan and Denny Hamlin have now bought the charter for Germain Racing and will use that along with the Toyota’s from Leavine Family Racing to start a new Cup series team and have Bubba Wallace as the driver.
Both these instances are great for NASCAR. Chastain is a guy that has had to work for his place in NASCAR and his story is the kind you don’t hear anymore. He’s just a watermelon farmer from Florida who didn’t have rich parents to fund his race cars and land a development deal.
Chastain has the talent to rival anyone else on the race track and getting this opportunity provides him the equipment he needs to be able to finally prove that he has playoff talent but more importantly winning talent. I think that Ross Chastain will come out next year and win at least one race if not multiple.
He has more Cup experience than half the field and is well prepared for this task, so I do not think we will see many growing pains.
Another driver who is looking to prove that he can perform well in good equipment, Bubba Wallace will pilot a not yet named or numbered car owned by Michael Jordan and Denny Hamlin. This new car will come out of the gate with decent equipment as it’s hyped as having the finances to be a team on the same level as what Furniture Row Racing was.
Bubba Wallace is a 6-time truck series winner and performed decently in Roush Racing equipment that was failing towards the end of their Xfinity Series team. He now is a consistent top 20 finisher in a bottom-feeding RPM car.
What’s so special about this deal besides it presents an opportunity to see what Wallace can do with a real Cup ride, it affects the NASCAR economy greatly. Michael Jordan could be argued as the most famous non-political entities in the world.
Him putting his money into our sport is huge, and I mean beyond anything NASCAR could’ve hoped for. The new demographic that Bubba Wallace started to crack will now completely open the flood gates and it is the beginning of the potential rise of NASCAR back to the mainstream powerhouse it was back in the ’90s.
Not only this but Jordan putting money into a team entices others to Invest in NASCAR. Michael Jordan is one of the greatest businessmen on the planet and has turned his brand into something so iconic that it will live on until the Earth burns out. To others who have money, if they see him investing in this product, they’re going to think it’s something worth investing in.
This doesn’t just go for owners but sponsors as well. Having Jordan’s name on something makes it 10x more marketable and that’s what having him associated with NASCAR brings. More sponsorship dollars is the literal cure for a majority of NASCAR’s woes.
What do I expect out of this team though? Honestly, I expect consistent top 20’s and Bubba Wallace to finish the season with atleast 12 top tens. I think he’ll contend for the playoffs but if he does make it I think it’ll be by the skin of his teeth.
The reason being is because this is still a brand new team. While they’ll have all the money at their disposal to compete right away, I don’t think they’ll come out the gate swinging, it will still take them a couple of years to get their feet underneath them.
This is expected to be the next big Toyota team behind Joe Gibbs Racing, and I believe it will be. With Jordan’s financing, Hamlin’s knowledge of the NASCAR world, and Wallace’s talents I could see this team winning in year two and becoming a consistent threat by year 3 or 4.
By then it could even be a multiple car operation, and who knows how far it can go from there. This team is expected to be Toyota’s second team to their flagship team. In the same way Chip Ganassi is to Hendrick and Chevrolet and Stewart-Haas is to Penske with Ford.