The thundering herd returns to Nintendo 64. EA Sports gives gearheads another chance to scrape some paint with NASCAR 2000, their millennial follow-up to last year's NASCAR 99. Stocked with more drivers and tracks than than last year's offering, NASCAR 2K caters to racing fanatics. Gamers, Start Your Engines NASCAR 2000 features 33 active drivers, plus legendary masters like Richard Petty, Cale Yarborough, Alan Kulwicki, Davey Allison, Bobby Allison, David Pearson and Benny Parsons. A Quick Race feature immediately thrusts players into the cockpit for a single day at the track, but dedicated drivers should check out the game's in-depth Championship Mode. After choosing a car and driver, players have the option to customize the length of the race. Most drivers will probably choose to shorten the day's competition, but if you're willing to go the distance NASCAR 2000 offers 400-lap marathons. Practice and qualification runs take place before each event in the Championship Mode, and points are rewarded according to your driver's finishing position. You'll have to consistently put in a good day of driving to bring home the Championship Cup at the end of the season. Fresh Paint Job Gamers familiar with NASCAR 99 won't notice a dramatic change in the visual package, but the cars appear more detailed and crisp in this version. During day races, reflections shift over the duration of the race as the sun crosses the sky. Sparks fly if you get muscled too close to a wall, and your vehicle shows damage as it takes abuse. The frame rate in NASCAR 2000 is excellent, producing an authentic sense of speed as you push your car past 150 MPH. Stiff Competition Rookie drivers will quickly learn to use the brake pedal before taking turns, unless they want to upset their sponsors by scraping off their logos on the wall. Both arcade and simulation physics settings are available, as well as a custom setting which allows players to fine-tune the driving variables. Overall, the play control is solid and the physics are consistent. Computer AI is more advanced than in the 99 edition, resulting in more exciting races and frequent photo finishes. Once you work your way to the front of the pack it's a constant struggle to keep the competition in your rear-view mirror where it belongs. Under the Hood Like its predecessor, NASCAR 2000 allows players to get greasy by tinkering around in the Car Setup menu. In addition to choosing between automatic or manual transmission, players can adjust the following features of their machine: Rear Spoiler Wedge Tire Pressure Gear Ratios Take a few practice laps before each race to determine the optimal configuration for each course. The Checkered Flag Two friends can compete in NASCAR 2000's two-player mode. A handicapping feature can be turned on or off, just in case your friends aren't as skilled behind the wheel as you are. The cars appear less crisp during two-player gameplay, but the framerate doesn't miss a beat. A wide variety of engine sounds add to this Pak's realism, while Benny Parsons and Bob Jenkins spit colorful commentary throughout the race.