NASCAR Thunder 2003 ShipsREDWOOD CITY, Calif.--Sept. 19, 2002-- Get behind the wheel of Dale Earnhardt Jrs number 8 car or select from any of the 69 NASCAR® drivers, with more than 175 different NASCAR vehicles in Electronic Arts NASCAR Thunder(TM) 2003. The console versions shipped this week for the Playstation®2 computer entertainment system, the PlayStation® console, Xbox(TM) video game system from Microsoft and the Nintendo GameCube(TM). Now the most extensive NASCAR experience, with a full pack of 43 cars racing door-to-door, also features the deepest and most compelling modes with the addition of the Lightning Challenge, Thunder License and an expanded Career Mode. "Im gonna wear this game out," commented Dale Earnhardt Jr. "The new additions are really fun. I take this stuff pretty seriously, so Im happy to see that EA SPORTS has done great things with this years NASCAR Thunder game." The NASCAR Thunder franchise is renowned for its Career Mode but this years is the deepest yet. Gamers are challenged to create a car, sign sponsors, manage the pit crew and invest in research and development as they try to beat the record seven championships held by Richard Petty and the late Dale Earnhardt. Management can be very detailed, users can choose to recruit each member of the pit crew separately or have the computer quickly select a pit crew for them. In addition to managing the team through out their career, players can attract bigger and better sponsors and earn money to invest in the team, car and pit crew on their way to NASCAR super-stardom. The games new Lightning Challenge mode throws gamers into one of 31 different scenarios. Each challenge features one or more of 35 different NASCAR stars, out of the car and in front of the cameras, walking fans through the scenario and challenging them to recreate or improve on history. Challenges range from trying to navigate the car through the "big one," a crash involving multiple vehicles, without getting caught up in the wreck, to repeating Dale Earnhardt Jrs win at last years EA SPORTS(TM) 500. With one lap to go, the number 8 car is in 4th place -- can you take Dale Jr. back to victory lane? Winning these challenges earn Thunder Plates that unlock features including hidden drivers, tracks, alternate paint schemes and videos in NASCAR Thunder. Another new feature, Thunder License mode, takes you on a guided tour by Richard Petty, to all 23 NASCAR Cup Series tracks. Players can ride shotgun with "The King" as he shows the best lines around each of the tracks and entry speeds for the infamously tough and treacherous turns in the NASCAR Cup Series. Along the way, Petty will also share little details and interesting factoids about the tracks. Once gamers hit the track, they will benefit from the interactive driving instruction from one of 23 NASCAR Cup Drivers. Getting your Thunder License is the best way to improve your driving skills and success is rewarded with a host of unique Thunder Plates. NASCAR Thunder 2003 features fantasy tracks that offer additional challenges for gamers who are looking for more road racing. NASCAR Thunder 2003 features 6 challenging fantasy road racing courses, racing on the Daytona Beach course and one Superspeedway with speeds in excess of 240mph. "Were taking the NASCAR franchise to a whole new level with NASCAR Thunder 2003," said Ed Martin, director of NASCAR production, Electronic Arts. "With 2003, weve taken our best selling game and added entirely new ways for fans to experience the racing action with new game modes, more drivers, more tracks and lots more excitement."