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  • Writer's pictureDominic Konareski

Josh Wise And His 'Moonrocket' Of A Career

In 1991 an 8-year-old boy got into the seat of a Quarter Midget, little did he know that in just 16-years he would be in NASCAR’s top divisions, that boy was Josh Wise.

Josh Wise started racing in 1991 in California, as he competed regularly in the Pomona Valley Quarter Midget Racing Association. By the end of 1996 Wise was already a three-time California State Monza Champion along with a 1994 National Quarter Midget championship being thrown in the middle.

In six years of quarter midget racing Wise stood tall with over 60 race victories, which would then have him move up to racing Micro Sprint cars. Josh Wise dominated once again as in 1997 he was the winner of eight main events, six of those eight being in a row to give him a second place points finish and Rookie of the Year.

1998 was another multi-win season that would feature a championship in the 250 micro midgets. Wise would then join the United States Auto Club (USAC) at just a very young 16-years old. Racing ¾ midgets, he would then win the USAC Championship along with Rookie of the Year; Josh Wise was now the youngest crowned champion in USAC’s 40+ years of history.

Fast forward several years to 2003: Josh Wise was hired by a racer named Tony Stewart, after he won the Belleville Nationals and the 360-non wing Sprint Car Nationals on back-to-back weekends.

Wise would then drive Stewart’s team to a USAC National Midget title in 2005 and then a National Sprint Car title in the 2006 racing season, proving week after week that he is a winner and needs tougher competition.

Josh Wise would land with Eddie Sharp Racing in several races in the 2006 ARCA season which led to an 11-race deal for 2007, in those two seasons Wise had 7 TOP10s along with a pole and several runner up finishes. Also in 2007, Wise landed with Darrell Waltrip Motorsports where he would drive part-time for the team. That would lead to his big break with Fitz Motorsports. 2007 also marked Wise making his NASCAR Xfinity Series debut at Indianapolis Raceway Park, where he drove his car to a 17th place finish after starting 29th.

JR Motorsports would land Wise in 2010 on a part-time schedule; he would be brought back in 2011.

Josh Wise would then make it to the top that racing has to offer in 2011, getting a ride in the NASCAR Cup Series, making his debut driving the No.37 for Max Q Motorsports.

Wise’s best opportunity came just a season later though, taking the seat of the No.26 for Front Row Motorsports. It was a mostly full-time ride, overall though most of the races featured the No.26 as a start and park entry.

The same would occur in 2013 for FRM where Wise started and parked over ten races, he would drive about 20 to completion and participated in every race except the Watkins Glen event, which Michael McDowell ran.

Change was needed and that’s exactly what happened, in November of 2013 Wise announced his departure from Front Row Motorsports and would lead that up with a signing to Phil Parsons Racing on December 4th of the same year.

The 2014 Daytona 500 came and went with Josh Wise bringing home a 24th place finish.

Also, during the 2014 season many people on the social media platform Reddit, noticed that Josh Wise drove an unsponsored car at the Food City 500 (Bristol Motor Speedway), which led several people to reaching out to Dogecoin, a meme cryptocurrency.

Money for the Dogecoin sponsorship was raised in just over a week to total to $55,000 or about 65+ Million Dogecoin in time for Wise to run sponsored for the Aaron's 499 at the Talladega SuperSpeedway, where he finished 20th.

Wise would then run the car at the 2014 Sprint Showdown where he was not able to transfer by winning, but instead beat Danica Patrick in the fan vote to advance. At that point fans loved Wise and the car, nicknaming it “Moonrocket.”

He drove it in the All Star race with the scheme coming back for the Toyota Save Mart 350 at the Sonoma road course.

In 2015 Wise recorded his first career Cup Series top 10 at Talladega and after that it was all struggles at PPR. Phil Parsons Racing would then be changed to the short living Premium Motorsports in the middle of 2015. Since new management occurred Josh Wise would leave

and jumped around with several different teams. He then landed with The Motorsports Group for 2016, despite failing to qualify in several key races the team still hoped and planned for Wise to compete as full time as possible. Wise was then replaced late in the 2016 season by Gray Gaulding after the AAA Texas 500 at the Texas Motor Speedway, that was the last time Josh Wise ever raced in the NASCAR Cup Series.

Josh Wise is a driver that never won big in the top series but will always be remembered for his success in other series, iconic sponsors/paint schemes and racing for fan favorite teams.

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