One of the first things Denny Hamlin said he had to do after winning Sunday's first race of the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup was text Michael Jordan.
Hamlin and Jordan have become friends. Hamlin's firesuit has the Jordan Jumpman logo on it and he has courtside seats to the Charlotte Hornets. He said Jordan texted him Wednesday about the Chase and admitted that Hamlin was in fact a better driver than Michael Jordan. If – here's the caveat – Hamlin won the race.
He did. So Jordan's admission is now true.
"The first thing I'm going to do is text Michael Jordan," Hamlin said. "He texted me on Wednesday. He said he was in Monte‑Carlo. I popped in his head like I always do, which I thought was a little odd. He says, I know you're about to head into the playoffs. I just want you to know I've never admitted to anybody that anyone is better than me at anything my whole life. But if you win this race this weekend, I will admit that you're a better driver than I am."
"I thought, Wow, that would be awesome. I just thought of that just now. So the first thing I'm going to do is text him and say, Admit it, I'm better than you, and I want everyone to know."
Admitting a professional race car driver is a better driver than you are isn't much of an admission. But this is Michael Jordan we're talking about. His competitive streak isn't much less iconic as his NBA titles and his Nike brand.
With the win, Hamlin, who tore his ACL playing pickup basketball less than two weeks ago, is now automatically advanced into the second round of NASCAR's Chase, which begins in the fourth race of the 10-race playoffs. 16 drivers start the Chase and the field is whittled to four drivers for the final race of the season at Homestead.
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