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Web movement helps send Wise to 'Dega

TALLADEGA, Ala. (AP) - Josh Wise made it to Talladega Superspeedway the new-fashioned way.

A movement started on the online site Reddit by a 16-year-old fan using the digital currency Dogecoin generated a sponsorship for Wise's No. 98 Ford Fusion in Sunday's Sprint Cup Series race.

Wise learned about the effort through another social media site, Twitter.

''At that time I didn't really know what Dogecoin was,'' Wise said Friday. ''I had heard of Reddit but I hadn't been on there much. It was easy to kind of dismiss it at first because it was like, `Well yeah, they might have like 10 or 15 people want to help us raise sponsorship but I doubt they're going to be able to raise the full amount to sponsor us.'

''Five or six days later, they had met the goal of $55,000 to sponsor us and we had a sponsor for Talladega. It was pretty cool.''

Teen Denis Pavel of Niles, Ill., had noticed Wise's mostly unadorned black car having a strong run at Bristol before finishing 23rd. He thought of past fundraisers he'd seen on Reddit, and helped pave Wise's road to Talladega. Phil Parsons Racing also let Reddit users vote on a paint scheme for Wise's car.

''It's been so cool because having a crowd-funded car like that, we had a lot of excited people that contributed,'' Wise said. ''And also people that are part of Dogecoin and the Reddit community ... For a small team like us and for myself as a driver who's really trying to break out in the sport, it's been just a really awesome opportunity.''

Wise said he now has become a regular on Reddit, engaging with fans and others. Now, some of them are helping with another uphill battle to get Wise into Sprint Cup's All-Star Race on May 17. Fans get to vote one driver into the race.

''That's kind of the next cool thing that's coming down the pike,'' Wise said. ''Who knows? We're obviously going against Danica Patrick, which is going to be a huge thing to overcome. But just the thought of it and the effort that they're putting into that is really cool. If we pulled that off, it would be pretty exciting. We're going to just see how this weekend goes. Hopefully we can do for them, have good results and do some more cool things in the future like this.''

Copyright 2018 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.
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