CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Michael Waltrip made his return to the Sprint All-Star race at Charlotte thanks to one of his drivers: Clint Bowyer won Friday night’s preliminary Sprint Showdown 40-lap race to gain entry into the annual All-Star race and have a shot at $1 million.
That win took the #15 Charter/5-Hour Energy Toyota Camry and Waltrip, the owner, to the race. AJ Allmendinger finished behind Bowyer to gain automatic entry into the All-Star race.
However, the biggest surprise of the night came when the third driver to become eligible for the All-Star was announced in Victory Lane.
By way of winning the Sprint Fan Vote, little known Josh Wise became the last entrant in the All-Star event.
His chances of winning the fan vote — and upsetting odds-on favorite Danica Patrick — were boosted by an organized effort on the website of his sponsors, the digital currency company of Dogecoin and Reddit.com.
“I’m still trying to wrap my head around it,” Wise told the media following the race.
Wise drives for Phil Parsons Racing and has only 79 Sprint Cup starts with no higher a finish than 17th.