NASCAR is a widely popular automotive sport and it has a ton of video games available for players to pick up. If you enjoy the sport then you might already have a few of these games in your collection. However, if you’re craving a new game to give you the thrill of barreling down the course and compete with some of the best professional drivers in the sport then check out our list below. Now, most of these games will feature the usual game modes that you would expect from this racing series. What we’re going to focus on is the game modes or features that stood out with the game and why you might be interested in picking a copy of the game up today.
#10 NASCAR Heat Evolution
To start things off here we’ll talk about NASCAR Heat Evolution. This was the first installment to the beloved NASCAR Heat series. Players could compete in different quick races or build up their team as they attempt to win the Sprint Cup Championship. Likewise there were plenty of challenges available where you can attempt to play out some memorable moments from the season. Most players will find that the game plays a bit like a sim-cade so it’s not the strict simulation experience that some fans may have been looking for. With that said, the game only released back in 2016 so you can still play it on more modern platforms, and being a relatively older title now, it won’t set you back very much. The game is only costing players $10 through Steam right now.
#9 NASCAR 09
NASCAR 09 was the final simulation installment from the EA Sports NASCAR series. Outside of the usual game modes, you would find two interesting features that might have appealed to fans. For starters, players could build up their car with endless combinations available to tweak the vehicle towards your liking. The other big notable component was the career mode which had featured Jeff Gordon as he guided you through the ropes. Players were racing to build up their reputation in the business. This meant that not only did players need to perform well in the races, but gain the attention of sponsor contracts. From there it’s all about winning races and coming out on top from the different race series such as the NASCAR Nationwide Series or the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
#8 NASCAR Heat 4
NASCAR Heat 4 is another solid entry to the NASCAR Heat video game franchise. This time around the physics were enhanced giving players a more realistic driving experience. There are even several assists that you can turn off and give players a challenge. Most found this game to be a huge improvement from prior installments and just made for a solid NASCAR experience overall. The latest installment to the series is NASCAR Heat 5 and it’s a bit of a toss-up with fans on which game is better so if you’re wanting the latest and potentially more of an online competitive component then NASCAR Heat 5 may be worth the money otherwise you can have plenty of fun with NASCAR Heat 4.
#7 Daytona USA
A game you’re likely familiar with is Daytona USA. This is an arcade game inspired by the NASCAR sport. It’s nowhere near close to being a simulation of NASCAR but players will have a stock car that they race through different time trial courses. The arcade game was a huge hit and it even found its way on multiple platform ports for players to enjoy such as being featured on Xbox Live Arcade or through the PlayStation Network. There’s not much to the game as you’re mainly racing against the time but one of the interesting elements to the game was recording how players handled the first lap to determine their skill level. If players had trouble initially in the first big lap to get the checkpoint then the game would open the lanes for players to race around the few obstacles. Meanwhile, those that are particularly skilled would find opponents that would actively attempt to block their path.
Those that want a more ongoing experience and like the idea of simulation racing might find iRacing appealing. This is a subscription service game with players usually throwing together builds with racing wheels and other peripherals to get more immersion. Overall, the game features a wide range of racing sports such as NASCAR where you’ll have the ability to compete with others online or host your league for players to race within. It’s more simulation-based and developers have continued to add content into this game with partnerships for several motorsports brands around the world. For what it does, fans have enjoyed this game and the different races or leagues they could participate in which does focus on your skill level. However, it’s a game you’ll want to research as to keep up with the game and continue enjoying it will mean paying a monthly subscription fee. This is still an active game and you’ll find plenty of players going through the title today.
#5 NASCAR 06: Total Team Control
NASCAR 06: Total Team Control brought out a new feature that the game was highlighting which is about team play. While the main components from the previous games were included in this title, the big change-up here was working with a team which meant being able to switch to a different car in the race. During the race, players could switch to control a driver of another car on their team which certainly added a twist element in how you would strategize your racing on the fly.
However, there was another big component added as well which allowed players to send out commands to their team. Players could trigger their team to follow the player or provide a block. There was even a USB microphone attribute added to the game which allowed players to trigger these commands through the in-game crew chief using the headset.
#4 Gran Turismo 5
This is not necessarily a strictly NASCAR racing game but it’s worth mentioning Gran Turismo 5. If you have the game already then you can enjoy some NASCAR content which was the first time the automotive sport was featured in the Gran Turismo series. After all, the Gran Turismo series, in general, was made to represent a wide range of vehicles and racing in general so fans were finally able to see the popular NASCAR sport make its way into the game series in the Gran Turismo 5 installment.
With the sport finally represented, fans were pretty excited to see the game come out as the developers behind the franchise, Polyphony Digital, have done some real wonders in keeping the cars looking and behaving how they would in the real world. While you might not find all the bells and whistles here compared to a game completely dedicated to NASCAR, this is still a suitable option to run with.
#3 NASCAR Dirt to Daytona
Sometimes you don’t need any new gimmicks or features in a NASCAR game to get a fan’s interest. Sometimes all it takes is just a solid NASCAR racing game such as NASCAR Dirt to Daytona. This is a game where you’re attempting to be the best racer and work your way up the ranks. The game starts players out at racing different small-town tracks with cars or trucks as you build up your reputation. Soon after, you’ll eventually get within the NASCAR championships where you’ll begin working to earn your keep.
Ultimately, this means winning races and keeping sponsors, which fans thoroughly enjoyed. There’s a fun story mode, great racing mechanics, and just an overall fun NASCAR experience for the time which fans can still get some enjoyment out of today if they want to dabble into some slightly older video games.
#2 NASCAR Thunder 2004
NASCAR Thunder 2004 is what you would expect from a NASCAR game with the different race modes such as seasons to a career mode. With that said the game has an interesting game feature that was unique to this game series at the time called Grudges and Alliances. This was a feature that put players into a position of making enemies or allies during races.
How this worked is if players started to bump into cars either on purpose or by accident, they would start to become enemies. Later in the race, if they happen to be near you they’ll attempt to bump into you. However, if you allow drivers to draft then they’ll become allies in which they’ll allow you to pass later on in the race without much of a problem.
#1 NASCAR Racing 4
NASCAR Racing 4 was released in 2001 and was a big push forward for fans of the racing simulator. This was a game that had a bunch of firsts and it drove the popularity through the roof at the time. For instance, not only was this game improved visually but there was now car physics that allowed the car to rotate such as a big crash that would flip a car in the air. Likewise, this was the first game in the series to include 43 cars in a race with even some notable tracks such as the Daytona International Speedway.
Players had actual car manufacturers featured as well so there were plenty of reasons for fans to dive into this game right at launch. Players still had the traditional race game modes featured here as well whether they wanted a single race or more championship competition. While this game may be a bit older for players to enjoy today especially if this is not a game they remember playing originally, it was a pretty crucial title for fans.