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.