CONCORD, North Carolina (AP) — Clint Bowyer won NASCAR's Sprint Showdown on Friday, earning himself a spot in Saturday's All-Star Race. The victory by Bowyer, one of the sport's leading drivers, was not that much of a surprise in an event for drivers scrambling for a shot at the bigtime.
CONCORD, North Carolina (AP) — Clint Bowyer won NASCAR's Sprint Showdown on Friday, earning himself a spot in Saturday's All-Star Race.
The victory by Bowyer, one of the sport's leading drivers, was not that much of a surprise in an event for drivers scrambling for a shot at the bigtime.
What was surprising was that Josh Wise won the fan vote to make into the All-Star race. Powered by the online community at Reddit and fans who support him through the digital currency Dogecoin, Wise beat out favorite Danica Patrick.
"Man, that's unreal. I can't believe that," Wise said. "I'm still trying to wrap my head around it. This is huge for me and my team."
It's also a big deal for NASCAR, which has seen a surge in popularity among the Millennial Generation because of Wise.
A movement began on Reddit early in the season behind a 16-year-old who was impressed by Wise's effort with underfunded Phil Parsons Racing.
Denis Pavel of Niles, Illinois, noticed Wise had a strong run at Bristol in a car in desperate need of sponsorship. Pavel thought of past fundraisers he'd seen on Reddit, and helped raise enough Dogecoin currency to sponsor Wise's car at Talladega.
The movement then switched to get him into the All-Star race.
"I didn't even know what Reddit was," Bowyer told Wise after the race. "That fan vote is a cool thing, and for you, your community, to beat Danica out is saying something, so good job."
Bowyer found himself in the Showdown because he failed to win a race last season, when he was ranked second most of the year.
"I wasn't very thrilled about being in this race," he said. "We haven't run well, haven't run where we're capable of running, and it's been frustrating. It's a humbling sport. It always has been. I'm a big boy. If this is where we are, we've got to go out there and race hard and qualify into that race and become an all-star."
Now he likes his chances on Saturday when 22 drivers will race for fun and a $1 million prize.
"I really do believe, I'm not just saying this because I'm in the position, if you can qualify into the All-Star Race from this qualifying race, it could be an advantage," Bowyer said. "Every time we have these night races, whether it's the All-Star Race or any night race for that matter, we're practicing during the day, completely different set of circumstances for the race, and that's 40 laps of practice with what we're going to see tomorrow night for one million dollar — make you holler."
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