While the first game based on NASCAR was Richard Petty's Talladega (1985), these were highly unrealistic. No official NASCAR licensed game was released until Bill Elliott's NASCAR challenge in 1991 by Konami.
Before EA acquired the exclusive rights for the NASCAR license Papyrus/Sierra delivered quality racing on the PC with there NASCAR Racing series. Other companies to publish/develop NASCAR games include Hasbro, infogames& Monster Games to name a few
EA lost the NASCAR license after the 2009 calender year, most likely due to the lack of innovation from year to year. There last NASCAR game was NASCAR Kart Racing on the Wii, while the last game to truly resemble NASCAR was NASCAR 09. Fans have no need to worry though as you can find a growing NASCAR influence on iRacing.com, Gran Turismo 5 (set to include 2009 cars & a few tracks) & Days of Thunder: NASCAR Edition (a re release of Days of Thunder more resembling NASCAR then the movie).
Rumors were swirling around that Codemasters was not only interested but the leading candidate to pick up the license. However, Eutechnyx ended up picking it up and is now the owner of the NASCAR IP. NASCAR The Game 2011 was announced back in September 2009, and was revealed that Activision would publish the game, while Eutechnyx would be the developer. It was due to release on February 15th to coincide with the Daytona 500, but was delayed due to technical reasons. The game was officially released on March 29th for both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. The Wii version of the game, however, has been delayed to May 24th, 2011 for unspecified technical reasons.
An article on Gamasutra gives the following rumors about NASCAR 2011
Release: Two weeks before the 2011 Daytona 500 (Feb. 20)
The game was officially announced by Eutechnyxand was due for release in February 2011 to coincide with the Daytona 500 race. However, the game was delayed a month to fix technical problems with the game.