Ty Dillon hadn't sat behind a simulator rig in 10 years until he prepared to compete in Sunday's iRacing event against NASCAR's stars. Despite Dillon's last-minute entry and scramble to find the proper equipment, the Cup Series driver finished 19th in a field of 35 drivers, proving his real-life driving skills carry over into the virtual world.
"In a real race car, I feel very confident knowing what I'm doing," Dillon said. "In an iRacing rig, I'm not so sure what I'm doing. You don't want to be the first one to mess it up for everybody."
Germain Racing's No. 13 driver gave a promising first showing on the sim and said he plans to compete in other iRaces organized by NASCAR with the season postponed. Dillon currently sits 24th in the NASCAR Cup Series standings and finished 15th at the last race at Phoenix Raceway.
Although Dillon, who lives in Mooresville, N.C., said he'll keep practicing with iRacing in his downtime, it's more likely you'll see him sponsoring an eNASCAR team or driver (like his brother Austin) before he enters a virtual series as a driver.
The 29-year-old prefers to spend his time with his wife, Haley, and his 2-year-old daughter, Oakley. With more free time, Dillon spoke with The Observer about what his family has been doing under quarantine (hint: it involves a lot of Frozen and Blippi), what his first iRacing experience was like and the bright side of the coronavirus.
This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.
Alex Andrejev: Let's talk about Sunday's race first. What was that like?
Ty Dillon: Yeah, it was quite crazy. I really hadn't played a racing game in probably 10 years. And when I found out about the whole thing last Thursday, I was kind of scrounging to find a rig. I dug up the old one that I had from 10 years ago that had been being used at Richard Childress Racing. They had upgraded it so when I got it back to my house, I spent a day or so trying to update it, get it all worked on. I had a couple of days and nights of practicing and figuring out how the system works. And that was really my first race ever.
AA: Wow. How did it feel?
TD: During the broadcast, I remember hearing Dale Jr. talking about how he and Denny Hamlin have raced against each other for two decades on iRacing so that made me feel a little bit better about my 19th-place finish considering that was my first race, but I was extremely nervous because in a real race car, I feel very confident knowing what I'm doing. In an iRacing rig, I'm not so sure what I'm doing. You don't want to be the first one to mess it up for everybody. Luckily, I made it through all right.