MJ in Victory Lane! Tyler Reddick gets first win of season as Michael Jordan watches

Shane Connuck, The Charlotte Observer on

Published in Auto Racing

TALLADEGA, Ala. — It was one of the most special victories Tyler Reddick could imagine.

Reddick emerged victorious after a wreck during the final lap of Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at the famed Talladega Superspeedway. It had been another frantic race on the series’ longest track.

Michael Jordan, co-owner of the 23XI Racing team that fields the Cup cars of Reddick and Bubba Wallace, was atop the No. 45 team’s pit box as the race ended. He jumped up and down with Reddick’s crew members and made his way to pit road.

The six-time NBA champion who finds himself in every conversation about “who’s the G.O.A.T.?” celebrated on pit road with Reddick’s 4-year-old son, Beau — whom Jordan lifted in the air in celebration — and Reddick’s wife, Alexa De Leon.

“Some of the most special victories and moments in Victory Lane have had a lot to do with my kid, honestly,” Reddick said. “I remember back to Road America. He was just knocked out. ... Fast forward a little bit later, he was awake for Indy, and he watched us kiss the bricks. He was like, ‘What is wrong with you guys?’

“To have him wide awake in Victory Lane, celebrating with us. He knows who Michael Jordan is.”

Jordan has been present for many NASCAR races since starting 23XI Racing with Denny Hamlin in 2020, but he hadn’t witnessed one of his drivers win, in-person, until Sunday. Hamlin and members of the team had been joking that Jordan being there was bad luck for their drivers.

Jordan is a big part of his NASCAR team, and it showed on Sunday. Reddick’s crew chief, Billy Scott, explained that Jordan watches every Truck, Xfinity and Cup race and is constantly trying to learn and understand the sport better.


“As you know, this is NBA playoffs right now, so this to me is like an NBA playoff game,” Jordan told the FOX broadcast. “I am so ecstatic — for obviously the fans that support the sport itself. We’ve been working hard, trying to get ourselves up to where we can compete against all the top guys in this sport. But we’ve done a heck of a job just to be where we are. And for us to win a big race like this means so much to me and for the effort the team has done.

“Look, I’m all in. I love it. It replaces a lot of the competitiveness that I had in basketball. This is even worse — because I have no control. If I was playing basketball, I’d have total control, but I have no control. So I live vicariously through the drivers and all the crew chiefs and everybody. I’m very happy for 23XI.”

His owners looked on as Reddick drove to Victory Lane with a Jordan brand paint scheme on his No. 45 Toyota. Hamlin said he was “very envious” when he saw that car in the shop earlier in the week.

Reddick didn’t know if Jordan was at the superspeedway until afterward. He joked that maybe that’s the trick — he pushed too hard when he knew his owner was watching.

“Those are moments that the crew guys get to talk about with their kids for many, many years,” Hamlin said. “We got to celebrate with Michael here winning in his car. These are certainly important memories that these men and women are going to experience for a very long time.”


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