AUTO RACING

Picking the car number for Michael Jordan’s new NASCAR team was a slam dunk: Bubba Wallace will drive the No. 23 car when the team makes its debut next season.

Jordan named his team 23XI Racing – that’s pronounced twenty-three eleven – in honor of both his retired uniform number with the Chicago Bulls and the car number of his partner, three-time Daytona 500 champion Denny Hamlin.

Jordan and Hamlin announced last month they had formed a NASCAR team with Bubba Wallace as the driver, a high-profile pairing of a Black majority team owner and the only Black driver at NASCAR’s top level.

“This is the start of the new adventure! So ready! #23XI,” Wallace tweeted Thursday.

The team has not yet named a manufacturer for its debut at the 2021 Daytona 500, but because Hamlin drives a Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing, the No. 23 will almost certainly be a Camry aligned with JGR.

Jordan becomes the first Black principal owner of a full-time Cup team since Hall of Famer Wendell Scott drove his own car in 495 races from 1961 to 1973.

Wallace is the only Black driver in the Cup Series, and this season used his platform to push for racial equality. The 27-year-old successfully urged NASCAR to ban the display of the Confederate flag at its events.

FORMULA ONE: The Haas team will replace drivers Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean next year, the team said.

The pair have struggled in their fourth season together and have scored only three points between them in 11 races so far.

Grosjean’s career at Haas started promisingly in 2016 when he finished sixth at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix and then fifth in Bahrain. But the quick yet erratic French driver has made a string of mistakes in the past couple of seasons, as has Magnussen.

The Danish driver’s best season in F1 was in 2018 when he finished ninth in the drivers’ championship, securing two fifth-place finishes and placing in the top 10 in 11 of 21 races.

HOCKEY

NHL: The league canceled the Winter Classic, scheduled for Jan. 1 at Target Field in Minneapolis, as well as All-Star Weekend that was set for late January in Sunrise, Florida.

The NHL said those moves don’t change the league and players’ target date to begin the new season on or around Jan. 1, with the hope of each team playing a full 82-game season.

• The Dallas Stars re-signed right wing Denis Gurianov to a $5.1 million, two-year contract.

• The New Jersey Devils signed veteran defenseman Dmitry Kulikov to a one-year, $1.15 million contract.

TENNIS

BECKER ACCUSED: Tennis great Boris Becker appeared in a London court, accused of failing to surrender two of his Wimbledon trophies to be sold to settle his debts.

The 52-year-old Becker, who was declared bankrupt in 2017, has also failed to turn over his two Australian Open trophies, according to a new 28-count indictment that claims he hasn’t complied with orders to disclose information.

The German pleaded not guilty to all counts. Becker has allegedly concealed property holdings and more than $1.3 million held in bank accounts.

The indictment lists Becker’s Wimbledon trophies from 1985, when at age 17 he became the youngest men’s singles champion at the All England Club, and 1989. Becker also won the tournament in 1986. He won the Australian Open in 1991 and 1996.

Becker, who lives in London, was told that his trial would begin in September 2021. He faces several years in jail if convicted. He remains free on bail.

COLOGNE CHAMPIONSHIPS: Diego Schwartzman returned to action after his run to the French Open semifinals, beating Oscar Otte 6-3, 6-2 in Cologne, Germany.

Third-seeded Denis Shapovalov lost 6-1, 4-6, 2-6 to French veteran Gilles Simon.

CYCLING

GIRO D’ITALIA: Wilco Kelderman moved into the overall lead, wresting the pink jersey from long-time wearer João Almeida on the iconic Stelvio climb on the race’s toughest stage.

Kelderman finished fifth in the 18th stage, 2 minutes, 18 seconds behind Team Sunweb teammate Jai Hindley, who earned his first victory in a Grand Tour by edging Tao Geoghegan Hart. It took the riders more than six hours to complete the 128.6-mile route from Pinzolo to Laghi di Cancano.

Kelderman started the day second overall, 17 seconds behind Almeida. The Dutch rider now has a 12-second advantage over Hindley, who moved up to second place.

SPANISH VUELTA: Dan Martin held off his rivals on an uphill climb to the finish line to win the third stage and close in on defending champion Primoz Roglic’s overall lead.

Martin clinched the win with a strong final push in the 103-mile hilly stage from Lodosa to Vinuesa. The victory moved him to within five seconds of Roglic, who finished second on the stage. Richard Carapaz was third and is 13 seconds off the overall lead.

It was Martin’s second Vuelta stage win, coming nine years after his first.


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