Bowyer and Allmendinger dominated both segments of Friday night's qualifying race for the All-Star race, which was largely uneventful save for a spin of Marcos Ambrose off the bumper of Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.
The drama revolved around who would get the fan vote. Wise was sponsored by Dogecoin, an internet currency, at Talladega, and drove the paint scheme during the Showdown. He had the power of an intenet subculture on Reddit.com behind him. Danica Patrick, well, is Danica Patrick. She's the most popular driver in NASCAR outside of Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the most polarizing driver in racing. She won the fan vote last year. Was her star power enough to overcome the voting power of a passionate bloc on the internet?
No. Over 3 million votes were cast. Wise was the winner.
The Dogecoin sponsorship at Talladega happened after the team raised $55,000 for the wrap on Wise's car. (Dogecoins are worth a fraction of a cent in real money terms.) It sparked interest among the shibes -- the name for Dogecoin loyalists -- and Wise finished 20th, his only top-20 finish of the season.
Does Wise have a shot to win Saturday night? Hell no, unless the entire field ahead of him crashes and he avoids it. His team, Phil Parsons Racing, is a single-car team without the infrastructure of teams like Joe Gibbs Racing and Hendrick Motorsports. Fan passion only goes so far at a 1.5-mile track that demands speed and aerodynamics.
But it's a fun story, especially when put against the empire that is Patrick and her ubiquitous GoDaddy sponsorship. While the voting regulations for the Sprint All-Star Race may be a tad different next year, Wise's win proves that there's more to NASCAR fan voting than Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Patrick, NASCAR's two most popular drivers. That's not a bad thing at all, even if it's only for a year.
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