Will Lottery winner lose it all in NASCAR?

One year ago, Joe Denette was at the lowest of lows. He had been unceremoniously laid off from the home building company that he had worked for. But four months later, Denette won Virginia Lottery Mega Millions jackpot of over $75 million. After opting for a lump-sum payout of $47.8 million, Denette started to put the wheels in motion, with assistance from fellow Virginian Hermie Sadler, to form Joe Denette Motorsports and ideally compete in the Camping World Truck Series in the 2011 NASCAR season. The biggest hurdle for Denette was hiring a driver that, not only was a capable driver, but brought sponsorship money as well.

Denette needed to look no further than his own state as he found fellow Virginian Jason White, who in the last couple of seasons has established himself from a journeyman driver to a driver right on the cusp of breaking through into the NASCAR winner’s column with many strong runs with the SS-Greenlight Racing organization over the last couple of years. A native of Richmond, White has been racing in NASCAR since 1999 and prior to his start in NASCAR, he dominated the Virginia go-karting ranks and in a five-year span, won six titles in Virginia and was in the top 10 in three different World Karting Association classes over that period of time.

White had a largely ignominious NASCAR career where he bounced around from ride to ride for many years, but in 2009, White’s career started to turn a corner when he had a pair of top five finishes and four top 10′s. The 2010 season was even better, with White winning the pole for the season-opening race at Daytona and having a stout truck for the duration of the race and would close the year with 3 top five finishes and 7 top 10′s. He also grew tantalizingly close to breaking into the winner’s column on more than a few occasions. Going into 2011, White had left SS-Greenlight and there was much anxiety and panic by Jason White fans, as his future looked to be uncertain until Denette took White, his GunBroker.com money, and virtually the entire #23 team from last season to form a Truck Series team and hopefully provide White with the opportunity to get that first win in 2011.

Some cynics are curious as to the long-term solvency of this organization, but from what this journalist can tell, everything seems to be in place to, at the very least, make it through 2011. The team even has tentative plans to run a 2nd truck in a few events this coming season. Joe Denette partnered up with a very smart businessman in Hermie Sadler. The older brother of Elliott and the current SPEED Channel analyst has run a few race teams in the past and, outside of NASCAR, he owns his own successful professional wrestling promotion. And as for Denette, if you gave Hollywood a story of his last 12 months, they would have tossed the script out the window and dismissed it as “too unbelievable". But Denette is on track to achieve what most every NASCAR fan can only wish they had the opportunity to do and be his own boss and own a NASCAR team.

In conclusion, this story will be just one of many great stories heading into Speedweeks at Daytona in 2011. Whether or not Denette is successful in this venture, one has to give the guy credit for following his dream and being blessed with the opportunity to do so. One also has to keep their eyes on Jason White at Daytona as he ran so strongly at the track last year and he could very well finally achieve that elusive first win in NASCAR that has been just out of his grasp the past 11, going on 12 seasons of his career. Denette and White, pardon the pun, are both hoping to hit upon a jackpot to ensure a wind-fall of success in the world of NASCAR. Will they succeed? Only time will tell.

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