NASCAR driver Joey Logano gets in the game

A screenshot of a video game featuring Joey Logano, who also helped make it.
A screenshot of a video game featuring Joey Logano, who also helped make it. TNS

Not only is NASCAR driver Joey Logano one of the playable drivers in the new “NASCAR Heat Evolution” game for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, he also helped make it. Logano, a life-long gamer, is part-owner of Dusenberry Martin Racing, the company that published the new NASCAR game.

Logano worked with the company, as well as developer Monster Games, to offer a racing experience designed for both hardcore race fans and occasional Sunday drivers. The game offers everything from a deep career mode to 40-player online races. Logano talks about the new game in this exclusive interview.

Q: How have you seen NASCAR video games evolve over the time that you’ve been playing them?

A: As a NASCAR racer I look at the video games as probably the closest thing a NASCAR fan can get to actually driving a racecar. Other sports you can go to your local sporting goods store and buy a baseball bat or basketball or things like that, but in NASCAR you can’t just go buy a racecar, or you can’t just go 200 mph down the highway. You’re not supposed to do that, at least. (Laughs.) The closest thing you can get to it is NASCAR video games. So this is obviously something that caught my interest.

Q: What’s it been like playing the career mode?

A: It’s great. You start making this money as you race and then you’re able to buy new parts for your car and you’re able to get your car faster and you’re trying to make the Chase. So there’s the pressure of needing to finish in a certain spot to move on and all that. It’s a lot of fun. The career mode is cool, too, because the races aren’t stupid long. They’re around five minutes, so you’re able to bank through them quick. You can make quick money. You can keep developing your car. You’re able to go through a season really quick. In past racing games, if you wanted to play in season mode or career mode, it would take you a whole season to play along, but this is the fun aspect of going to a different race track and running a quick race and making the quick money to be able to buy these things. It keeps you connected to the game for a long period of time because there are always goals that you’re trying to strive towards.

Q: As someone who drives professionally, can you give us a sense of how important artificial intelligence is when it comes to having drivers behave like they really do versus driving on rails like we’ve seen in past NASCAR games?

A: That’s something neat about the game that you can move around the racetrack and you can find speed in different areas of the race track. That’s something that we do a lot inside the actual racecar. When you have the competitors in the game that are able to drive a line that’s realistic and move around and do things, that’s important, along with having the game automatically become harder or easier so you’re competing up front in the race and you’re not struggling to finish 30th or winning every single race. Having that balance of that challenge is important. How the game adjusts automatically is something that’s never been done in racing games, so it’s something really neat to bring to the table.