NASCAR drivers like to go fast, but social distancing practices and North Carolina's stay-at-home order have forced them to slow down to prevent the spread of novel coronavirus. For longtime Cup Series drivers, "time off" is an unprecedented concept.
"It's really like my first-ever offseason," Kyle Larson said. "I always stay busy racing, so this is the first time I can't race."
Since the NASCAR season was officially postponed three weeks ago, however, many drivers, including Larson, have migrated to their at-home simulator rigs since the sanctioning body is embracing its iRacing counterpart with weekly virtual races.
With FOX committed to broadcasting the iRaces, and its audience growing -- over 1.3 million viewers across FOX and FS1 tuned in to watch last Sunday's race at virtual Texas Motor Speedway -- competition is intensifying for the 35-driver field, which means drivers are spending more time practicing on the video game.
"I probably race five times a day right now," William Byron said. "Every two hours there's a race, so that's a lot of time. About 10 hours a day, but there's nothing else going on."
Beyond iRacing, though, there are other ways drivers are utilizing their time under quarantine.
-- Home improvement
Housework has been a productive theme among drivers in NASCAR's top series. Bubba Wallace, for example, spent the weekend cleaning out his garage before Sunday's iRace, which led him to a "freaky" discovery.
"I'd seen a couple of dead spiders, and I'm like, 'Man, that's a really big spider,' " Wallace said. " 'Oh, wait, that's not a spider. What in the world is that?' "
Wallace posted a picture of the sandy-looking creature on Twitter, calling on his "critter peeps" to help him identify it. The tweet received nearly 2,000 likes, 700 replies and a name for the insect: the mole cricket.