Jay Sommers (racing driver)

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Jay Sommers
Born (1967-10-15) October 15, 1967 (age 50)
Mount Clemens, Michigan
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career
1 race run over 1 year
Best finish 83rd (1988)
First race 1988 Budweiser 500 (Dover)
Wins Top tens Poles
0 0 0
NASCAR Xfinity Series career
1 race run over 1 year
Best finish 133rd (2003)
First race 2003 Food City 250 (Bristol)
Wins Top tens Poles
0 0 0

Jay Sommers (born October 15, 1967) is an American professional stock car racing driver. He competed in the ARCA Permatex SuperCar Series in the late 1980s. After winning the Michigan Lottery in 1988, he used his earnings to bankroll racing endeavors in NASCAR. Sommers eventually raced in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series and NASCAR Busch Series.

He last raced in the Champion Racing Association's JEGS All-Stars Tour.

Racing career

In 1987, Sommers competed in the ARCA Permatex SuperCar Series race at Atlanta International Raceway, finishing 34th after crashing on lap 26.[1]

A year later, at the age of 20, Sommers won one-fifth of a $28.9 million jackpot in the Michigan Lottery, getting $5.8 million. As part of his winnings, Sommers received an annual payment of $290,000, which he used to purchase race cars and equipment from NASCAR team owner Hoss Ellington.[2][3] He finished fourth in the season-opening ARCA race at Daytona International Speedway, followed by a 31st-place run at Atlanta due to mechanical problems. Rumors eventually surfaced of his death or critical injury, which he attributed to people envious of his lottery success.[4]

In April 1988, he entered a self-owned No. 78 Chevrolet in the Winston Cup race at North Wilkesboro Speedway, but failed to qualify.[5] Two months later, Sommers made his first Cup start at Dover Downs International Speedway, starting 36th after setting a qualifying time of 140.242 miles per hour (225.698 km/h).[6] He retired from the race on lap 280 for overheating issues and finished 37th.[7] Sommers also missed the races at Michigan International Speedway, Richmond Fairgrounds Raceway, and Atlanta.[8]

In 1989, Sommers was encouraged by high school friend John Paganes to let him manage his lottery winnings for the next decade. As part of the deal, Paganes would send Sommers $57,000 each year. Though the money was set to run through 2008, Sommers ultimately lost it, prompting him to sue.[9] Although he won the case on a $887,000 settlement, Sommers had to spend much of it to pay off debts. He eventually became a pizza delivery person and construction worker.[2]

After a four-year retirement from stock car racing, Sommers attempted a return to the sport in 2000, driving late models in the Midwestern United States.[10] In 2003, he competed in the NASCAR Busch Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway, driving the No. 0 for JD Motorsports. After qualifying 33rd, he was involved in a lap 197 crash with Johnny and Tim Sauter, resulting in a 28th-place finish.[11]

In 2005, he won a track championship in Ohio. With the support of car owners Barb and John Stajninger, Sommers later raced in the CRA/JEGS All-Stars Tour, driving the No. 98 car.[12] In the series, he ran two races apiece in 2015 and 2016.[13] Outside of racing, he works as a self-employed marine mechanic.[12]

Motorsports career results

NASCAR

(key) (Bold – Pole position awarded by qualifying time. Italics – Pole position earned by points standings or practice time. * – Most laps led.)

Winston Cup Series

NASCAR Winston Cup Series results
Year Team No. Make 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 NWCC Pts Ref
1988 Jay Sommers 78 Chevy DAY RCH CAR ATL DAR BRI NWS
DNQ
MAR TAL CLT DOV
37
RSD POC MCH
DNQ
DAY POC TAL GLN MCH BRI DAR RCH
DNQ
DOV MAR CLT NWS CAR PHO ATL
DNQ
83rd 52 [8]

Busch Series

NASCAR Busch Series results
Year Team No. Make 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 NBSC Pts Ref
2003 JD Motorsports 0 Chevy DAY CAR LVS DAR BRI TEX TAL NSH CAL RCH GTY NZH CLT DOV NSH KEN MLW DAY CHI NHA PPR IRP MCH BRI
28
DAR RCH DOV KAN CLT MEM ATL PHO CAR HOM 133rd 79 [14]

ARCA Permatex SuperCar Series

(key) (Bold – Pole position awarded by qualifying time. Italics – Pole position earned by points standings or practice time. * – Most laps led.)

ARCA Permatex SuperCar Series results
Year Team No. Make 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 APSSC Pts Ref
1987 Jay Sommers 78 Pontiac DAY ATL TAL DEL ACS TOL ROC POC FRS KIL TAL FRS ISF IND DSF SLM ATL
34
114th - [15]
1988 Chevy DAY
4
ATL
31
TAL FRS PCS ROC POC WIN KIL ACS SLM POC TAL DEL FRS ISF DSF SLM ATL 82nd - [16]
1989 DAY
DNQ
ATL KIL TAL FRS POC KIL HAG POC TAL DEL FRS ISF TOL DSF SLM ATL NA - [17]

References

  1. ^ "1987 96 Rock 500k". Racing-Reference. Retrieved May 20, 2018. 
  2. ^ a b Lambert, Pam; Tresniowski, Alex (March 15, 2004). "The High Cost of Winning". People. Retrieved May 20, 2018. 
  3. ^ Griffis, Richard (June 26, 1988). "Millionaire lotto winners put money into racing careers". Lansing State Journal. Retrieved May 20, 2018.  Free to read
  4. ^ Finkelstein, Jim (March 22, 1988). "Rumors dead wrong". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved May 20, 2018.  Free to read
  5. ^ "1988 First Union 400". Racing-Reference. Retrieved May 20, 2018. 
  6. ^ Bryson, Gene (June 5, 1988). "Speed has right tools for faster qualifying". The News Journal. Retrieved May 20, 2018.  Free to read
  7. ^ "1988 Budweiser 500". Racing-Reference. Retrieved May 20, 2018. 
  8. ^ a b "Jay Sommers – 1988 NASCAR Winston Cup Results". Racing-Reference. Retrieved May 20, 2018. 
  9. ^ "Jackpot winner sues his money manager". Detroit Free Press. January 10, 2000. Retrieved May 20, 2018.  Free to read
  10. ^ "Clinton Township racer makes Busch field". Detroit Free Press. August 22, 2003. Retrieved May 20, 2018.  Free to read
  11. ^ "2003 Food City 250". Racing-Reference. Retrieved May 20, 2018. 
  12. ^ a b Pohly, George (August 13, 2014). "County residents Bob Varney, Jay Sommers answer call to auto racing". The Macomb Daily. Retrieved May 21, 2018. 
  13. ^ "Jay Sommers". DriverDB. Retrieved May 21, 2018. 
  14. ^ "Jay Sommers – 2003 NASCAR Busch Series Results". Racing-Reference. Retrieved May 20, 2018. 
  15. ^ "Jay Sommers – 1987 ARCA Permatex SuperCar Series Results". Racing-Reference. Retrieved May 20, 2018. 
  16. ^ "Jay Sommers – 1988 ARCA Permatex SuperCar Series Results". Racing-Reference. Retrieved May 20, 2018. 
  17. ^ "Jay Sommers – 1989 ARCA Permatex SuperCar Series Results". Racing-Reference. Retrieved May 20, 2018. 

External links

  • Jay Sommers driver statistics at Racing-Reference
  • Jay Sommers career summary at DriverDB.com
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