Josh Wise: Living the Racing Dream the Hard Way

Kyle BrandtContributor IJune 25, 2010

PHOENIX - APRIL 09:  Josh Wise, driver of the #61 Radisson Inn Ford, looks on from the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Nationwide Series Bashas' Supermarkets 200 at Phoenix International Raceway on April 9, 2010 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Tom Pennington/Getty Images

It was a December day in 2003 that changed the life of Josh Wise forever. It wasn't just anyone calling him, but then reigning NASCAR Spring Cup champion Tony Stewart. The phone call led to the 23 year-old Riverside, California native driving Stewart's USAC midget entry, a chance that he had been waiting on for a long time.

In only his second full year in USAC, Wise went on to win the Super License and National Midget championships, racking up four national midget wins and 10 top-five finishes. The following year, he went on to win the USAC Super License championship again, as well as the National Sprint Car title with four wins and six poles.

2007 marked Josh's debut in the ARCA Remax and NASCAR Camping World Truck series driving for Michael Waltrip and Eddie Sharp Racing. In ARCA, he had three second-place
runs, seven top-ten finishes and one pole at Gateway where he set a new track record. In the Truck Series, he had two top-ten finishes.

Wise moved to the NASCAR Nationwide series in 2008 driving for Michael Waltrip racing. He only competed in 17 races, but had five top-fifteen finishes and a career best fifth place effort at O'Reilly Raceway Park.

Though his stats are impressive, Josh's NASCAR journey has been anything but easy. Josh moved to a new race team in 2009 and only made three starts with a best finish of 27th. This season, Josh made his debut with his third different team in as many years driving for Specialty Racing. So far, Josh has competed in 13 races and has a best finish of 16th earlier this month in Nashville driving the #7 for JR Motorsports.

As quick as Wise had risen to the top of the USAC rankings, he has fallen to humble beginnings, now running for a team with limited crew members and resources. Those who wander the garage area on a race weekend cant help but notice holes in the knees of his crew members' pants. A flat black paint scheme adorns his #61 Ford and there are no big-name sponsors on it.

Through all the ups and downs of the past few seasons, one couldn't help but notice a smile on Josh's face while being interviewed during a practice session Friday morning in New Hampshire. Hardships are nothing new for him. He has come from modest beginnings and has worked his way up the ranks the hard way.

There is light at the end of the tunnel, however. It was recently announced that Wise will again drive the #7 Nationwide Series entry for JR Motorsports on July 17th at Gateway- a track he has had success at in the past and could be his next big break.