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Jeff Gordon Fan
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The Godfather's Blog
COMMENTARY: Wise's Fans Deserve Your Respect

In an era of sagging attendance and falling television ratings, NASCAR should extend open arms to fans of all kinds. Instead, Saturday night’s NASCAR Sprint All-Star Fan Vote has been greeted with a disappointing mix of disdain, snobbery and mean-spiritedness.
Underdog Josh Wise won the annual Fan Vote, prevailing over presumed favorite Danica Patrick to earn the final spot in the 2014 NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race. The reaction from NASCAR Nation was both swift and ugly.
“They’re not realNASCAR fans,” sneered some observers, labeling Wise’s backers “internet geeks” and worse. The online reddit.com community – largely responsible for Wise’s selection– faced accusations of online election fraud, accusations that quickly proved to be baseless.
Others dismissed the vote on the grounds that Wise had little chance to actually win the All-Star Race, conveniently ignoring the fact that in the 30-year history of the event, only one Fan Vote winner has ever gone on to win the million-dollar top prize. Patrick herself finished a distant seventh in the preliminary Sprint Showdown, and would certainly have failed to contend for All-Star Victory Lane, as well.
One member of the NASCAR media corps even went so far as to label Wise’s selection “a farce," claiming that Patrick was “bumped from the all-star race by a little-known driver who was barely noticed until his small fan base stuffed the ballot box.”
Wise, he wrote, “had no business being in Saturday night’s race,” claiming he was voted in by “a savvy online community that figured out how to manipulate the fan vote.”
That assertion is both insulting to Wise’s fans and totally devoid of fact.
Reddit.com is the largest online community on the planet, and hardly qualifies as a “small fan base." Reddit and Dogecoin members did not engage in “manipulation,” they simply worked harder – and smarter – than any other group. They mobilized their fan base in a way that was both impressive and 100-percent legal. No rules were broken – in spirit or otherwise -- any more than they were broken when Bill Elliott was voted NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver 16 times (10 times consecutively) in the 1980s and `90s.

Elliott’s secret back then was a massive, well-organized and wildly efficient Fan Club that succeeded in getting out the vote for their driver. Wise’s fans did exactly the same thing this year, albeit in a more technologically advanced way.
While most fans were content to cast an online vote or two for their favorite driver, Wise’s backers went the extra mile, devoting hours of personal time to the voting process and prevailing in a contest where the odds were heavily stacked against them.
Many of them also backed that effort with their own paychecks, contributing to Dogecoin’s dollars-and-cents sponsorship of Wise and the No. 98 Phil Parsons Racing entry. Most NASCAR fans have never opened their wallets to sponsor their favorite driver, short of buying a new Dale Junior T-shirt. Based on that fact alone, Wise’s fans deserve your respect.
The reaction to Saturday night’s fan vote can best be described in two simple words.
Sour grapes.
After three decades of All-Star competition, we should understand by now that the annual All-Star Fan Vote is a popularity contest. Popularity can be measured in many ways; through race day applause, souvenir sales, sponsor endorsements and NASCAR’s annual All-Star and Most Popular Driver fan votes. None of those yardsticks are more (or less) valid than the others.
In 2005, Martin Truex, Jr. won the All-Star Fan Vote, despite having competed in only two Sprint Cup Series races that season. His popularity had as much to do with his team owner – Dale Earnhardt, Jr. – than it did Truex himself, but there was no public outcry over the decision. The fans had spoken, and Truex competed in the All Star Race.
It didn’t matter why Truex was popular. All that mattered is that he was.
It’s the same today.
Josh Wise’s fans do not deserve your disdain. They deserve your applause, and even your envy. They are as legitimate as any of us – whether or not they ever attend a NASCAR race -- and have displayed a level of loyalty and determination that most fans can only dream of emulating.

They are not a lesser version of NASCAR fandom. They are, in fact, what all NASCAR fans should aspire to be.

R.I.P Justin Wilson
13,983 Posts
I guess I have a different different idea of a "fan". I'm sure some of these people who voted for Wise are or become an actual fan, but just that fact that they voted does not make them a fan. I have voted for people's Facebook contests on here....doesn't mean I'm a fan of said driver the contest was for. I've seen people say this thing gained 90,000 fans which is absurd. A vote does not equal a fan just like watching a race because the car you backed is in it does not make you a fan. I watch the Superbowl each year, but I'm not a fan....I'm an observer and casual watcher.

I commend these people because they found a way to get their guy in. I just don't want to be lumped in with all of them because they are " fans". Some did become actual fans which is great, but I've seen comments from others where NASCAR is a joke. I frequent Engadget and The Verge which have talked about this whole thing quite a bit. 99% of the people make fun of NASCAR including some people who said they donated or voted as a joke. Those people are not like me they are not fans simply by casting a vote. The ones who are passionate about Wise and the whole thing are the fans.

Please people don't jump all over me on this. I'm just giving my opinion. I fully respect the people who have become actual fans and hope they attend a race soon.
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