By the time NASCAR returns to racing on May 17 at Darlington Raceway, it will have been two months since the drivers have seen any action on the track. During this time we’ve been catching up with some of the competitors to find out what their life has been like while quarantined at home.
During this period NASCAR implemented the the iRacing Pro Invitational Series to fill the gap. While many of the current drivers are participating, it is, at best, a substitution for the real thing.
This week we spoke with JTG Daugherty Racing’s Ryan Preece to find out how he’s handling life at home, how he’s staying motivated, and what he has missed most.
SM: Are you enjoying the time off or going stir crazy while you wait to get back to racing?
RP: “The time off was definitely weird at first, but I’ve been able to get a lot of projects and house items done while we’ve been at home. However, I am really ready to go back to racing. I’ve been doing as much as I can on the simulator for practice and participating in the iRacing races, but I’m ready to be back in the real race car.”
SM: Are you typically the kind of person who enjoys alone time or do you miss being around people?
RP: “I would say a little bit of both. It’s been nice to unplug but I miss being at the track and around my team.”
SM: What’s the one thing you miss most other than racing?
RP: “I think just being at the shop and continuing to move forward. We have a little bit of a hole to dig out of once the race season resumes, and I miss being able to talk that through and continue building on a game plan to get better throughout the season.”
SM: If for some reason you couldn’t race anymore, what career would you choose and why?
RP: “I’ve been getting into a little bit of furniture building during the quarantine, so that could be something in the future. I’ve always been the person to work on my own things, whether that’s at home, at the shop, on the car, etc. It would be something I could do myself.”
SM: What has been your favorite thing to do while you’re stuck at home?
RP: “Racing on the simulator or the little bit of building furniture I’ve been doing.”
SM: What is your least favorite thing to do at home?
RP: “Housework chores my wife makes me do. Only kidding!”
SM: Have you picked up any new hobbies or gotten back to a hobby you didn’t have time to pursue before?
RP: “I’ve been on iRacing a lot more than I had been in the past. I’ve always enjoyed it and used to do it a lot before getting into the premier series, but obviously our schedule limits my time on it. I’ve been able to get back into it a lot more as I practice and participate in the Pro Invitational Series.”
SM: Have you started any new projects around the house?
RP: “We’ve had lots of projects. I built a ‘home’ for our dog, a crate, a desk, a rolling cart, and a couple of other things. We’re moving hopefully in a few weeks so we’ve been hard at work to get our current house in selling shape.”
SM: Are you cooking for yourself at home? If so what’s the one thing you can cook well?
RP: “My wife and I share the cooking duties but I can make a few things on our Kingsford charcoal grill.”
SM: What’s your favorite music or band to listen to while you’re isolated at home?
RP: “I listen to all types of music while working in my shop at home. It’s hard to pick one specific band or type.”
SM: What are you doing to stay active and keep in shape?
RP: “I work with a trainer during the regular season and we have a fairly strict diet plan as well. I also have a Peloton bike at my home to help keep in shape.”
SM: Are you participating in iRacing? If so, does it help pass the time while you wait for the season to restart? Is it a good substitute for the real thing?
RP: “It does help pass the time, but also leaves you really wanting to get back in the real thing. We’ll see in a few weeks if it’s helped when we get back to racing!”
SM: What are you doing to keep positive and motivated?
RP: “I have my modified car in my personal shop that I tinker around with and that helps pass the time and keep positive. Otherwise, I’ve been on the iRacing game and getting our house ready to move.”
SM: What’s the first thing you will do when the quarantine is over?
RP: “Once it is deemed safe for everyone, I can’t wait to get back to the shop and see the team. Returning to racing will be such a sense of normalcy and relief for us.”
Thursday NASCAR announced a return to racing at Darlington Raceway and Charlotte Motor Speedway in May. Preece’s reaction on his Twitter page says it all.
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