I’ve been following NASCAR for just over 20 years or so, and I’ve been playing the video games since NASCAR ’98 on the PSOne. The games have changed in a lot of ways since that time. They look much more realistic now. They sound better. You can race online against other real people, something I never would have thought possible back in the NASCAR ’98 days. There are other improvements but those are some of the bigger ones. The other major thing that has come out around the world of NASCAR since ’98 is the NASCAR iRacing series. iRacing is easily the most realistic NASCAR game to date (though it’s not a NASCAR only game), so much so in fact that the real drivers use it to train on upcoming races and tracks that they haven’t been to yet.
The console games, including NASCAR ’14, aren’t nearly as up to par as the iRacing game. But that doesn’t mean that it’s not still a ton of fun! So I decided that I’d put up a little strategy that can help you if you aim to take the Daytona 500 anytime soon. I don’t race at full length, I don’t have the time to put in over 4 hours into the races like I used to. Pesky responsibilities! So I race typically anywhere between 20 and 40 laps, but I also set the fuel and tire wear to a high number so that I have to pit at least once in order to finish the race. It has the realism of how a race works without taking too long.
The thing I normally do is I try to qualify as high as possible. That may be obvious, but some strategies have you do a slow qualifying on purpose so you can be at the back and avoid big crashes. I’ll tell you now; I don’t normally see a lot of big crashes at this track. The only big ones I’ve seen in my personal Daytona 500 races have been ones I got involved in by accidentally bumping somebody too hard or something like that. So it doesn’t do you any good to qualify out back. (Unless you do a full race, in which case you have to develop your own strategy). After qualifying I try to do my best to stick up front, typically drafting behind one car really tightly so we can pull away a bit. You have to be careful because it’s easy to get somebody loose from hitting them too hard, but if you can be careful it’ll work out well for you.
As the race goes I’ll do one of two things: around the halfway mark I pit, whether right before halfway or right after. At that point I’ll either get four tires and fuel, plus needed adjustments, or I’ll simply get two right side tires and fuel. The two right side tires and fuel works well because you can get out pretty quickly and you can almost count on the computer cars getting all tires and fuel for their stop. The thing you have to be careful about, just like in real NASCAR, is you do not want to be alone when you’re done pitting. If possible try to pit with somebody else, even if you see them way down the road progressing in pit road. Remember, with you getting two tires and fuel, you’ll have about half the pit stop you’d normally have, so you can catch the other car and have a drafting partner. Team up with them and if you have good track position and the cautions fall your way then you’ll probably be in good shape!
No one strategy is perfect; any number of things in your race can completely throw this strategy off, but I’ve found that this general strategy works out in my season long campaign’s, so give it a shot if you want to win the Daytona 500, or any other race for that matter! It may work well for you.