A beginner’s guide to NASCAR Heat 5

Justin Melillo
For those looking to get into the 2020 release of NASCAR Heat 5, here are some tips and tricks to get you started.
A beginner's guide to NASCAR Heat 5

Before NASCAR Rivals, NASCAR Heat Ultimate Edition+ and NASCAR 21: Ignition, the first NASCAR title that Motorsport Games had their name attached to was the final game in the numbered NASCAR Heat series—NASCAR Heat 5.

What may currently still be the most played NASCAR title to this date is available to play on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and on PC via Steam. Heat 5 supports Single-Player Career, Single-Player Races, 40-player online multiplayer, Challenges, Championship mode as well as split-screen multiplayer mode.

I’ll be diving into some of the basics for NASCAR Heat 5 to help get everyone started. From setting up the controls to starting a career, from playing online to customizing your driver, and everything else in between, I’ve got what you need to succeed in the 2020 NASCAR gaming title. 


First things first, you’ll set up how you want to play the game. There are four difficulty presets – Casual, Normal, Hard and Expert. The lower you are, the easier things will be. More driving assistance will be implemented and the AI will be turned down. Conversely, the higher you go, the harder it will be.  

This game does work with wheels, certain ones depending if you’re on PC or a console. With a wheel, the Expert experience is probably fine for even a casual sim racer. Plus, players can customize their experience further in the game settings.

Turning all the assists off would need an expert touch to not completely spin on take-off or lock up the brakes when attempting to slow down. Start at a lower setting until you get more comfortable, then raise it up from there. Some other custom settings, such as harder AI but more assists or vice-versa, are also changeable here.

NASCAR Heat 5 does allow for Custom Setups, but you would need to have your difficulty turned up to Hard or Expert (Hard values at the minimum) to mess with it.

In the setup settings, there are a ton of things to mess with. It is a sorely missed feature that hasn’t been found in a NASCAR title since NH5. Messing with these settings could get your car driving more comfortably and faster over a run.

If you didn’t want to mess with the details like that, NASCAR Heat 5 also offers a slider bar to adjust between loose and tight and a few areas in between.


As it usually is with NASCAR console games, the career mode is the big-ticket item for the majority of it. It’s immersive capabilities allow players to pick a spot to start their career. If you don’t like dirt, start with Trucks! Or, start at the top level and see what’s available off the bat.

You could race in all four series if you’d like, and as you can either race each season as an owner/driver or just drive for a preexisting team.

The latter will allow players to pick from one of the entry-level teams in each series, such as Rick Ware Racing or Spire Motorsports for Cup, or Hattori Racing or MBM Motorsports in the Xfinity Series.

Players will get to choose which driver to replace, or they could alternatively add their own car with one of the team’s sponsors and begin their career from there. As players progress, the teams to choose from and drive for will become more lucrative as goals for each team are met.

As an owner/driver, you’ll create your own team, manage expenses and personnel, upgrade equipment and work up to the top of the NASCAR Cup Series.

NASCAR fans, think of it like what Tony Stewart did when he drove for Stewart-Haas Racing, or what BJ McLeod currently does with Live Fast Motorsports. The ultimate goal is to become the NASCAR Cup Series champion.

There will be incentive-based challenges from sponsors to complete that you can choose how easy or difficult. An easier challenge will yield a smaller monetary prize. Momentum is something that can be earned during a season that provides a bit of a speed boost.  

If you’re struggling with completing goals for sponsors, maybe think about taking a lower goal. Completing goals in general are good for the business relationship you share with your sponsor.

If you’re constantly failing to meet expectations, it will make retaining sponsors and finding better rides a bit tougher. Also, you’ll at least have some income, even from a lower goal. 

For the owner/drivers, there are four different types of cars, from Short Track, to Speedway, then Superspeedway and finally, Road Course. 

The first race of the season is the Daytona 500, but opting for a Superspeedway car as a first purchase will put players behind the ball at the speedways that follow.

There are also engineers that can be hired that will help increase engine power, chassis and aero capabilities of the car, depending on their specialties and how you upgrade them.

You’ll need to upgrade both the departments (with money) and the people (with money). Don’t overspend if you find a place where you’re competitive, you don’t need to fully upgrade until later on.

NASCAR usually isn’t about winning it all in the first season, it should be a grind to the top. It’s your fake money though, so spend as you please. 


The Career schedule follows the 36-race NASCAR Cup Series schedule, starting in Daytona and ending in Phoenix. Races can be set to different lengths, some will allow for more options to be turned on, such as yellow flags, stages and black flags.

You can also choose to turn on DNF’s in the settings. If you crash hard enough, you’ll end the race without completion. You can simulate sessions if you don’t want to participate in a practice, qualifying or even a race session.

There are only 36 races and one series to contend with now, however. The season is split into four Superspeedway races, eight at Short Tracks, three Road Courses and 21 intermediate Speedway races.

My suggestion would be to build the speedway intermediate car first, since that’s the bulk. After that, whichever of the other three you prefer. Don’t forget to upgrade personnel and departments along the way!

Do take note, the game classifies Phoenix Raceway as a short track so a short track car will work best there… but that’s just plain wrong, in my opinion.

Don’t forget about NASCAR Heat 5’s Reputation System. Your reputation is dependent on the way you drive the computer opponents. Certain teams won’t sign you if you have too many rivals, or certain rivals against you.

nascar heat 5 reputation board

You get into rivalries with drivers by running them dirty and will make it harder to race around them.

On the opposite side of the coin, if you work together with another AI driver with drafting and making clean passes, you’ll get friendly with them, making them more likely to work with you. 


There are a host of other modes outside of the NASCAR Cup Series career. Single player modes, such as the Single Race and Challenges, are set to keep players entertained at their own pace.

Multiplayer options, such as Online or Local, exist to let players enjoy the title with others. If you don’t want the heftiness that comes with a career, players can also create their own Championships to compete in.

Finally, there are customization options to get into. Both cars and drivers can be created to your likeness to have a truly immersive experience.


Race Now is fairly self-explanatory. Pick a series, pick a car, pick a track, go race a single race event. Race Now is great for getting to learn a circuit for the first time in a race setting, perhaps to see how different settings might work out. 

There are 30 Asphalt racing venues selectable here. In certain cars, some venues host a second date that can be cycled to replicate in your single race endeavor. There are also some tracks that aren’t normally on their respective calendars. For example, the Cup Series doesn’t go to Canada or Mid-Ohio, but you can race them here.

Eldora is only selectable in the Trucks, as far as the normal NASCAR series are concerned. The dirt cars can also choose Eldora and the special dirt races that they can only partake in.


For NASCAR Heat 5, up to 40 players can get into a lobby and race against one another or a number of AI cars. A host can set up the lobby, choosing most of the details that could be chosen for an offline race.

Options range from the basics, like lap count, and flag settings and the track, to the number of assists that can be turned on or off.

Split Screen is a local multiplayer option to allow two players to race in a session offline on a single console or PC.


The NASCAR Heat 5 paint booth includes a list of pre-made bases and specifically-placed sponsors.

Unlike Ignition and Rivals, creators will not need to build their own liveries from shapes and size up their own logos to make them fit nicely, that just isn’t a feature in this title. Instead, they’ll just have to conform to the placement and dimensions that the game provides with no custom options.

A driver can also be created in NASCAR Heat 5, and this is the same process that is in Rivals. Details such as facial features, weight, height, and uniform can all be adjusted.

When you load up a race weekend, you’ll see your character leaning on the race vehicle. When you win, your avatar will celebrate in victory lane. Make yourself as accurate or as wild as you desire.


So, there you have it. Please, do remember that this is a starting guide for beginners and there are a lot more details to get into. Did we miss something important? Let us know in the comments below!

Full disclosure – Traxion.GG is part of Motorsport Games and the Motorsport Games family of brands. All Traxion.GG content is editorially removed from Motorsport Games video game development and created by a dedicated team.

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