“A lot of naysayers, a lot of the Bubba haters were saying he got fired and Bubba was out in the ocean without a paddle,” Ribbs said. “That cat’s on an ocean liner now.
Ribbs and Lester both said they heard news of the formation days before the announcement. They both hope that Jordan’s involvement will create more corporate sponsorship opportunities for minorities.
“It is going to definitely raise awareness without a doubt,” Ribbs said.
NASCAR officials anticipate that the debut of the Next Generation car for the 2022 Cup Series will help curb costs for team owners.
For Lester, the current financial obligations to compete is akin to calling LeBron James the greatest basketball player in the world before asking for him to provide $18-$20 million a year just to play. “Corporate America controls the purse strings of our ability to compete, because it’s a sport where you bring your checkbook first and your helmet second,” he said. “But once you’re bitten by the racing bug, you’re never able to shake it. That’s what it comes down to.”
One of the first lessons an owner must navigate, Lester said, is how to spend others’ money. For that, Lester said Jordan will need to forge a successful relationship with Joe Gibbs Racing.
“Joe Gibbs has the experience in the sport to basically accelerate anything having to do with success,” Lester said. He’s got a relationship with Toyota that’s long term. He’s got all the resources, all the engineers, all the simulation ability. He’s got all the technology needed to be successful. Michael Jordan, I haven’t heard him say he’s going to put his financial empire at risk for this.”
Lester, though, isn’t doubting Jordan’s involvement and its potential impact on the sport.
“What they have brewing for next year, I think will prove successful,” he said. “Hamlin is a winner and especially Jordan, is a true winner. He would not get out of his comfort zone and out of his lane unless he believed that there was a pot at the end of the rainbow, a pot of gold.”