I play PC NASCAR games / sims since 1998 (N2 by Papyrus) and had played every follower until the latest title of the series "NR2k3s".
I love the sport and had played nearly every "NASCAR" game (follower) since, even on PSX and PS2... My favorite beside the Papy-Series and PC has been NASCAR '06 total team control. (PS2)
The worst in my opinion: All NASCAR Thunder + "the '05 simracing title(s) by EA, because of ISI "game/physics" engine and poor game design.
Nascar Racing 2003 season is still by far the best in the pure sim department and the multiplayer with all it's features is/was just awesome. I had played it over many years.
NASCAR '14 short Review:
1st. of all, yes, it's more or less just (an expensive) patch above the predecessor NASCAR '13 and the "new" '14, does also have some "small" known issues, still... but:
+ major AI improvements, there are still some issues in pit-strategy, even under caution and sometimes pit stop routine, where the AI (from time to time) simply ignores the player car and moves straight in pit road (some tracks), but the racing against the AI in general is very very good in my opinion and much better as in '13.
Doesn't matter if Speedway, Super Speedway, Short Track, or Road Course. The AI in general does a great job and racing against "it" ,with no driving aids, loose setup, and a racing wheel, is just huge fun imo because AI really takes care of the player car. This wasn't always the case in '13.
The latest patch has made AI less aggressive/fast after starts/ restarts, which is great. AI difficulty can be set up again by "%" as it was in '13.
+ more features in career mode, resarch&development, car builder
+ slightly improved graphics
+ daytone'14 dlc for free ... but all the '14 dlc/paint schemes should be for free imo which sadly isn't :( ..once again: NR3k3S was a great time :) ..
+ new chase, qualification and nascar rules
+ new/changed UI graphics but overall the functions an options are pretty much the same as in N'13 ...I still like the '13 menu-music a little more ;)
+ physics are the same as in '13 and still "sim-cade". It depends on how the player plays this game but it is definitely not an Arcade-title (when aids off).
+ setup features: Changes can be felt clearly on track. (same as in '13)
+ No ISI game/graphics/physics engine !! (as '13 a big plus! for that)
The worst about NASCAR 14 is it's multiplayer. (Same as '13, unstable/crashes/ poor features)
I had stopped playing multiplayer before the latest patch but the multiplayer is still nowhere where NR2k3S or even Grand Prix Legends (with VROC) have been many (15?) years ago...no patch can fix this "mp-concept"
the N'14 multiplayer has just changed the leaderboard times, which have become totally laughable.
No browser, no important MP-features, no players, no games... N'14 multiplayer is just "crap".
For multiplyer I'd recommend to fire up NASCAR Racing 2003 Season, ( or GPL, or Race07) again or to join the IRacing service.
If you like NASCAR and you are looking for a great "offline" experience that represents the thrill on the PC again, this game is the right choice for you, even if it's not a die-hard siumlation game . It's much better as NASCAR 13 imo.
I like this game as it is and with the right AI difficult settings it's just absolutely awesome.