Bubba Wallace sat a few feet from Michael Jordan before the season-opening Daytona 500 when his new team’s co-owner uttered words reminiscent of his “The Last Dance” monologues.
“We don’t sign checks to losers,” Jordan said in the Fox Sports interview.
While Wallace is still in search of his first career Cup win — 13 races into the 36-race NASCAR Cup Series schedule, Wallace’s best finish with 23XI Racing is 11th at Dover on Sunday, and he’s currently 21st in the standings.
Wallace and his team have attracted some of the biggest-name sponsors in the sport, like McDonald’s and DoorDash, to offset the estimated $20 million it takes to run a one-car program. That’s not counting the price of the team’s new headquarters in North Carolina, estimated to run as much as $16 million.
On Thursday, 23XI Racing — which is also co-owned by three-time Daytona 500 champ Denny Hamlin — landed another sponsor.
The DraftKings logo will be on Wallace’s firesuit and on his No. 23 Toyota Camry at this weekend’s race at Texas’ Circuit of the Americas road course as the company becomes 23XI Racing’s daily fantasy, sports betting, iGaming, Free to Play partner.
DraftKings will also be the primary sponsor of the car at Pocono Raceway in June.
“Funding was always an issue surrounding me,” Wallace told Front Office Sports. “For whatever reason, it seems like that’s not an issue [anymore]. Life is good on that forefront. I’ve been humbled by every partner who has come through, such as DraftKings stepping up in a huge way.”
The affiliation with DraftKings seems apropos for a team co-owned by Jordan, whose love for betting was detailed some in “The Last Dance.”
“I don’t have a gambling problem, I have a competitiveness problem,” Jordan said in the documentary.
Wallace doesn’t have the same love of betting, at least not yet.
“I have (bet on sports) with some family members years ago,” Wallace said. “With this partnership, obviously, my interest has increased. Who doesn’t like winning money, especially on your favorite sports teams? I just have to learn more about it and to make sure I’m making the right bets.”
As for winning, Wallace keeps things in perspective, even as the outside world heaps lofty expectations upon him.
“The pressure comes from within these two ears,” he continued. “I can manage that and get through the [race] weekends. But for us, we all know what it takes to be successful in this sport — and it takes a lot from every key individual here.”