Clint Bowyer and A.J. Allmendinger finished 1-2 in Friday’s Sprint Showdown at Charlotte Motor Speedway, sending the two drivers into Saturday’s Sprint All-Star Race.
But the surprise of Friday’s race came afterward, when little-known and 18th-place finisher Josh Wise won an Internet fan’s vote to be the third driver from the Showdown to transfer into the all-star event.
Wise’s chances at winning the fan vote – and upsetting presumed favorite Danica Patrick – were boosted by an organized effort on the websites of his sponsors, the digital currency company Dogecoin and Reddit.com.
“I’m still trying to wrap my head around it,” said Wise, who drives for Phil Parsons Racing and has 79 Sprint Cup starts with no finish higher than 17th. “This is huge to have this awesome community get behind us.”
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It’s not the first time Wise has benefited from his online fans. They raised $55,000 so Dogecoin and Reddit could sponsor him at Talladega earlier this month.
“I think this is a big deal for our sport,” said Wise. “There are a lot of young kids and people around the world that we’re interacting with. There are a lot of people watching NASCAR races that have never watched. So, yeah, I see the potential in it.”
Bowyer started fourth in the 40-lap race, but led the final 17 laps to beat Allmendinger. Casey Mears was third and Marcos Ambrose – who recovered after spinning with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. on Lap 4 – was fourth. Pole-winner Austin Dillon finished eighth.
“I wasn’t thrilled to be in this race,” said Bowyer, who hasn’t won since 2012. “We haven’t run well and it’s been frustrating. I’m a big boy. This is where we are. We’ll qualify (Saturday) and become an all-star.”