Live sports have gone dark in an effort to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, but that doesn't mean racing fans are lacking consumable content. NASCAR fans can still engage with the sport through a variety of media, including video games (as both players and viewers), podcasts and broadcast alternatives.
On Tuesday, for example, NASCAR announced the introduction of the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series, a virtual exhibition racing series that will run in lieu of NASCAR's traditional races in the coming weeks. Drivers scheduled to compete in the weekly "iraces" include Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Clint Bowyer, Kyle Larson and Christopher Bell.
"Until we have cars back on track, the entire NASCAR community has aligned to provide our passionate fans with a unique, fun and competitive experience on race day," NASCAR's vice president of racing development Ben Kennedy said. "Our long-time partners at iRacing offer an incredible product and we are excited to see how many of our best drivers will stack up in the virtual domain of competitive racing."
NASCAR president Steve Phelps said that in addition to iRacing, the sanctioning body is working with FOX Sports, NBC Sports and its proprietary channels to fill those live racing gaps in the coming months.
"Our fans are obviously thirsty for this content," Phelps said. "We want to provide it to them smartly and have interesting content as opposed to just repurposing some of the content that's already been done."
Phelps said there would be "more to come" on what shape NASCAR's media takes in the coming months. In the meantime, here are some ways you can keep up with racing.
NASCAR has built its virtual racing presence in recent years, with many younger drivers embracing esports. Cup Series driver William Byron, for example, began his career through iRacing, the virtual racing simulation game.
Byron finished second behind Josh Williams (spotter for Cup Series driver Ryan Blaney) in Sunday's virtual race that replaced the postponed QuickTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
"Well dang congrats @joshtwilliams snookered me on that start!" Byron tweeted after the race. "That was fun."