Very vroom: Josh Wise finishes 20th at ‘Dega in DogeCoin car

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After rising into the Top 5 with less than 25 laps to go in today’s Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway, Josh Wise and his crowd-funded No. 98 DogeCoin Ford was shuffled back in the final stages and ultimately finished 20th.

Wise narrowly avoided a four-car pileup with 14 laps to go by going through the middle of the melee, which enveloped Jimmie Johnson, Joey Logano, Kurt Busch and Michael McDowell. He avoided further incidents for the remainder, but was unable to make headway.

However, while the final result left something to be desired, seeing the car battle with the leaders must have still been a thrill for those on Reddit who chose to back Wise with the digital “cryptocurrency” for today’s race.

Afterwards on Reddit’s Dogecoin page, reaction was overwhelmingly positive. One poster, Super_Bob, hailed the result as a success and asked users to give Wise and the small Phil Parsons Racing team a “high paw” – a nod to DogeCoin’s canine mascot, ‘Doge’ the Shiba Inu – for their efforts.

“The race started with 43 cars, think about how many of those 43 teams that are not one of the top big money brands (Lowe’s, KFC, GoDaddy, etc.) that got that kind of camera + announcer attention and an explanation of what the sponsor was about, hardly any,” he wrote.

“This was viewed millions around the country. Josh was in the lead pack for several laps and was noticed and mentioned more than once by the announcers, this was great exposure for us and curious people will do exactly what we wanted: Learn what Dogecoin is.”

On Twitter, PPR and Wise showed they were equally grateful in turn for the Reddit/Dogecoin support. Team and driver enjoyed noticeable mainstream media attention leading up to today’s event, and no doubt that it created a few more fans for the sport.

All in all, a worthwhile endeavor for all parties involved.

Sebastien Ogier in driver’s seat for sixth straight World Rally Championship title

Sebastien Ogier leads the way in the WRC title chase. Photo: Getty Images
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COFFS HARBOUR, Australia (AP) — Thierry Neuville finished the sixth stage of Rally Australia on Friday without a rear left tire, damaging his chances of catching five-time defending champion Sebastien Ogier for the World Rally Championship title.

The Belgian driver entered the rally just three points behind Ogier in the closest title fight in 15 years.

He held the upper hand on his French rival, building a near-10 second gap through the first five stages at Coffs Harbour before hitting a chicane and finishing the stage with only three tires on his Hyundai.

Neuville was fortunate the puncture occurred late enough in the day to finish all six forestry stages and avoid a retirement. But the mistake cost him 40 seconds and gave Ogier, who is 33 seconds ahead of him, a clear run at his sixth straight championship.

In his last start with Ford before a move to Citroen next year, Ogier struggled as the first to drive the dusty, slippery forest routes.

“I pushed like crazy, I was on the limit over the jump and everywhere, I can’t do (any) more,” Ogier said. “I was on the limit.”

With Ogier on sweeping duties the back markers flourished, and Mads Ostberg took the lead in his return to the series.

Ostberg was forced to miss the previous round in Spain to make way for rally winner and nine-time world champion Sebastien Loeb, who was making the last of his three guest appearances for Citroen.

Now back in the seat, Ostberg leads Jari-Matti Latvala by 6.8 seconds in the Australian rally, with sixth-stage winner Craig Breen in third.

Ogier was seventh, 38.2 seconds off the pace, but only needs to finish ahead of Neuville to claim the championship title. Neuville is in 10th place after six stages.

Roles will reverse on Saturday, with Ogier to start further back in the field and do his best on cleaner roads to make up the day-one deficit before Sunday’s final stages.

Andreas Mikkelsen, the 2016 Rally Australia champion, was an early dropout after rolling into a ditch in his Hyundai. Mikkelsen had only just avoided a tractor that had found its way onto the course.

Former winner Molly Taylor and co-driver Malcolm Read were also forced out of their event when their Subaru hit a hay bale at high speed on the morning’s second stage. Both reported soreness but suffered no serious injuries.

The 24-stage rally totals 319 kilometers (197 miles). Ten stages are scheduled Saturday with the final six on Sunday, most of them through forests on the New South Wales state’s north coast about 530 kilometers (325 miles) north of Sydney.