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Net Result Is that Wise Is In, Danica Out At CMS

Deb Williams | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, May 17 2014

Josh Wise, voted into Saturday night's Sprint All-Star Race by fans, took center stage between Clint Bowyer and AJ Allmendinger after Friday night's Sprint Open. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Harold Hinson)

CONCORD, N.C. – What? Who?

Those were the two questions that could be heard echoing through Charlotte Motor Speedway’s infield media center deadline room Friday night after the winner of the Sprint All-Star fan vote was announced.

Josh Wise, a USAC three-quarter Midget division champion from Riverside, Calif., had defeated odds-on-favorite Danica Patrick in the fan voting that ended Friday night. The upset was created by an Internet movement on Reddit that had been engineered by 16-year-old Denis Pavel, of Niles, Ill.

Wise admitted he was having difficulty wrapping his head around the fact he would compete in Saturday’s Sprint All-Star race. However, he said he knew the potential was there for him to upset the popular Patrick.

“There’s 110-million people that regularly use Reddit, and there was a large portion of them that knew about this and were a part of it, I felt like,” Wise said. “So it was just one of those things that you didn’t know if people were just telling you they were voting for you or how many times they’re voting or whatever.”

Wise’s followers on Reddit were definitely supporting him. One person voted for him 84,000 times.

“The fan vote is a cool thing, and for you, your community, to beat Danica out is saying something, so good job,” Sprint Showdown winner Clint Bowyer told Wise in the media center.

Wise’s massive Internet support began in March with Pavel, a NASCAR fan who was also a subreddit/r/NASCAR member. Pavel was impressed with Wise’s strong run at Bristol and he noticed the No. 98 Phil Parsons Racing car wasn’t sponsored. He had seen the online community rally behind various fundraising campaigns, so he decided to raise sponsorship for Wise for Talladega via digital currency known as Dogecoin. Under the program, money can be transferred nearly anywhere in the world for less than a penny per transaction.

Pavel contacted Parsons and asked the amount needed to sponsor the team at Talladega. Parsons told Pavel he needed $50,000 for the small team that has seven to eight employees. Within a week, the /r/NASCAR community had raised more than $55,000 or 67 million Dogecoins.

Since that successful initiative, Wise has become familiar with Dogecoin and Reddit. He’s done an Ask Me Anything session on /r/dogecoin, interacted directly with fans, and promoted the effort on Twitter. Wise also claimed the Reddit user name “dogedriver” in an effort to keep the momentum going.

A poll posted on /r/dogecoin asked users to choose between gold, silver or black for the Talladega paint scheme’s main color. Black was chosen and Reddit users also helped develop the firesuits worn by the team on race day. Wise and Parsons said they would race the Dogecoin car if Reddit users voted Wise into the Sprint All-Star race.

Wise said he didn’t know why the Internet community had embraced him, but he felt it was a big deal for the sport.

“It’s a lot of like young kids and people from around the world,” Wise said. “I’ve had the chance to interact with a lot of them. There’s a lot of people who had never watched a NASCAR race who have now watched several, so it’s a pretty cool deal.”

By starting the Sprint All-Star race, Wise and his team are guaranteed $70,000. Wise said he had contacted Pavel and he texts him constantly. He said Pavel would attend the Chicago race.

– Deb Williams can be reached at dwilliams@racintoday.com

Deb Williams | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, May 17 2014
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  • BystanderEffect says:

    To clarify, the /r/dogecoin community was primarily responsible for raising the funding, hence Dogecoin as the primary sponsorship. Many members of /r/NASCAR were supportive and also donated, as did members of a variety of other subreddits.