Lotto winner hits the race track

Sunday, June 5, 1988 – Michigan Lottery winner Jay Sommers qualified 36th and finished 37th in the Budweiser 500 at Dover International Speedway in his only NASCAR premier series start. The 21-year-old Sterling Heights, Mich., native had hoped to make his debut at North Wilkesboro (N.C.) Speedway earlier that year but failed to qualify in his No. 78 Chevrolet.

Sommers bought one of what turned out to be five winning Michigan Super Lotto jackpot tickets in January. He used his share, which came to $4.6 million after taxes, to fund his racing career. He had one previous ARCA start, finishing 34th at Atlanta in 1987, before making two more starts in that series at Daytona and Atlanta in ’88. He finished fourth at Daytona.

Sommers purchased a car and equipment from Hoss Ellington after collecting his share of the lottery winnings to go Cup racing.

Besides failing to qualify at North Wilkesboro, Sommers also missed making the field at Michigan, Richmond and Atlanta that season.

Sommers’ final NASCAR start came in 2003 while driving for team owner Johnny Davis. He finished 28th in the Food City 250 XFINITY Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway.