Much vote: Dogecoin community votes Josh Wise into All-Star Race

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The power of new media, social media, Reddit.com and the seemingly unstoppable Doge meme has propelled underdog driver and team Josh Wise and Phil Parsons Racing into the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race by way of the Sprint Fan Vote.

Which means he beat Danica Patrick. Or Danica’s boyfriend, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Or the guy that drives the 3, Austin Dillon. And the other drivers who failed to advance.

Patrick wasn’t pleased. “It is what it is,” said Patrick, in a piece written by Sporting News’ Bob Pockrass. “That’s what it is. It’s outside sources that are in control. I know my fans voted a lot and I understand that I actually had more votes this year than I did last year by a fair amount.”

Details of the Sprint Fan Vote, how many votes Wise received or how many he won by were not revealed. But he was notified immediately after taking the checkered flag of Friday night’s Sprint Showdown preliminary race, where he finished 18th.

Via Jeff Gluck of USA Today, Sprint Showdown winner Clint Bowyer told Wise, “For you and your community to beat Danica out is saying something.”

It’s a huge payday for the small team, too. Per MRN Radio’s Dustin Long, Wise’s team is set to make an extra $70,000 in prize money.

Wise has been a driver on the rise thanks the popularity of the Dogecoin Internet cryptocurrency, which gathered enough crowd funding to sponsor his No. 98 car at Talladega a couple weeks ago and returned for an encore for the All-Star Race this weekend. A video of Wise and the Dogecoin car taking out others also gained traction this week.

“This is huge for me and my team,” Wise said post-race. Via Pockrass, Wise said this is big deal for sport because of a lot of young people who wouldn’t tune in are tuning in.

It’s definitely exposing the sport to a newer generation of fan, and to a point, it’s also a case of new media support trumping on-track performance.

But it’s hard not to love an underdoge, and the Wise-Dogecoin story is a welcome tonic in a world of mostly blasé, corporate pitchmen who often relay the same trite cliches in interviews.

Yeah, they’re not going to win on-track. But they’re doing well to win off it.

Much respect.

IndyCar’s ‘Phoenix’ flying into 2023 season: Romain Grosjean enjoying the pilot’s life

IndyCar Romain Grosjean pilot
Chris Owens/Penske Entertainment
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PALM SPRINGS, Calif. – The IndyCar driver known as “The Phoenix” already has taken flight before the 2023 season, and newly licensed pilot Romain Grosjean also got a head start on the opener.

Fulfilling a dream several years in the making, the Andretti Autosport plunged into aviation training over the offseason. Since beginning with online studying last August, Grosjean quickly progressed to earning his licenses for multiengine planes and instrument ratings while completing 115 hours of flight time.

He has landed twice at Albert Whitted Airport, whose primary runway also doubles as the front straightaway on the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg street course.

“Just to land on the start-finish line, that was pretty cool,” Grosjean said during IndyCar Preseason Content Days ahead of the Feb. 2-3 test at The Thermal Club. “The air traffic control guy was like, “Yeah, left on Acre Five, turn, and then back. I was like, ‘Oh, yeah, that’s the last corner of the racetrack, I’ll take it and go back to the pit lane. He was like, ‘Oh, yeah, yeah, that’s true.’ So it was quite funny.”

Grosjean, 36, said he had wanted to become a pilot since he was 30 but was discouraged by Europe’s complicated and time-consuming licensing process (“to go to ground school twice a week, and with our life, it’s impossible”). He was inspired again last year by (now former) teammate Alexander Rossi, who flew to some 2022 races after earning his license a couple of years ago.

“I thought that was pretty cool,” said Grosjean, who had grown “bored of waiting in the airports.”

He plans to fly to nearly all the races this year (“if the weather is good enough, I’ll be flying”) and jokes about being “commercial by the end of the year, so then I can take Roger (Penske). Roger can pay me to fly him around to races if things go bad with racing.”

Grosjean’s social media has been filled with posts about his new hobby, which afforded him the opportunity recently to take his wife to Key West for lunch from their home in the Miami area. The trip took 37 minutes there and 41 minutes on return and highlighted why Grosjean loves flying: “Freedom. Freedom to go anywhere you want, anytime you want. It’s the beauty of it. We can go to the Bahamas for a day if we want to. Anywhere. I think that’s just great to know that you can do whatever you want.”

It’s reminiscent of the cross-country trip across the Midwest in an RV that Grosjean took with his family during the summer of his 2021 rookie season.

“There’s one thing that I told my kids, and I told my friend about America, and for me, that’s the biggest difference between Europe and here, is here everything is possible,” said Grosjean (whose “Phoenix” nickname was derived from a brush with death in his final Formula One start). “If you have the wish, if you give yourself the possibility of doing it, everything is possible. It is different in Europe. Much more boundaries on the way. Much more steps that you need to do in a certain order. But if you want to be extraordinary (in the United States), if you want to do something different, you don’t need to do those steps because you can work through.

“Yeah, I like doing things, and when I do them, I like doing them well. But here I think just the opportunity of driving the RV, flying planes, for my kids to do whatever they want to do, we love that here. Yeah, it’s been the best discovery for us.”

The Swiss-born Frenchman already has flown himself to a race this year, jetting up the Florida coast for his Rolex 24 at Daytona debut last month. It was his debut as a Lamborghini factory driver, and his new deal will continue with the Twelve Hours of Sebring and possibly the Petit Le Mans while he also helps develop the automaker’s new hybrid prototype (LMDh) for next year.

Grosjean, who finished a disappointing 13th in the 2022 points standings with one podium for Andretti in his first full season, said IndyCar will remain his priority in 2024.

But he hopes the IndyCar schedule will afford racing in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship endurance races and perhaps another his longest plane flight yet — a return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

“I’ll keep my fingers crossed like that we get the weekend off from IndyCar,” said Grosjean, noting that 10 IndyCar drivers were in the Rolex 24. “I think it would make a lot of sense. I think for both series it’s amazing. If we can get Le Mans, it’s also amazing because it’s just cool.

“I remember Mario flying across the Atlantic doing Monaco and the Indy 500, and those guys, they were racing everywhere, Formula 3, Formula 2, Formula 1. They were doing the races in opening of the Formula 1 race, and I think that’s very cool for us. So yeah, looking forward to the project. There’s going to be a lot of development coming on. By the time we finish the IndyCar season, the LMDh will be here in the States, and that’s when I’m going to spend a lot of time on it.”