NASCAR drivers turn to iRacing during coronavirus pandemic

NASCAR Texas Auto Racing
NASCAR Phoenix Auto Racing
Posted at 9:58 PM, Mar 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-31 15:20:19-04

NASCAR drivers are unable to compete on the race track right now with events postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, but NASCAR has found another way to compete.

On Sunday's, eNASCAR and iRacing team up to host virtual races that feature NASCAR drivers. Virginia native Jeb Burton is one of the many drivers who are competing in the virtual sport.

“This time last week I was like, man I'm not doing that, that's not for me," Burton said. "Then, I was like everyone else is doing it, I'm missing out. I went to work and found out where to run and I'm already thinking about Bristol this weekend.”

Some NASCAR drivers have turned to professional iRacing competitors for help acclimating to virtual racing.

Richmond Raceway eSports drivers Zack Novak and Jimmy Mullis use the skills they've developed since beginning iRacing at 12 years old to help the drivers.

“I actually got to help out Anthony Alfredo," Novak said. "He's a NASCAR Xfinity driver. Really, really cool guy. Helpful in just letting us help him.”

“Even though it’s not the real thing, it’s super competitive for them and they care a lot,” Mullis said.

“On Saturday night I couldn’t go to sleep," Burton said. "I was just thinking about my qualifying lap for iRacing.”

While iRacing is a video game, there are some similarities to the real thing.

“After 7 to 8 laps we’re starting to have to lift because the front tires are sliding, so that’s kind of similar to real life,” Burton said.

Burton's confident that NASCAR's fanbase will see growth because of the current growth of eNASCAR and iRacings.

"I think it's a really cool way to get people into our sport who might want to be a crew chief, might want to be a mechanic, might want to be an engineer or a driver," Burton said. "I’m excited to see how much farther this will grow and I think it’s just starting to hit the tip of the iceberg right now.”