NASCAR’s Dar­ling­ton race had more than 6 mil­lion view­ers

The State - - Sports - BY ALEX ANDREJEV aan­drejev@char­lot­teob­server.com

Even with­out fans in at­ten­dance, NASCAR’s re­turn reached a lot of eyes Sun­day.

Ac­cord­ing to Fox Sports, Sun­day’s race at Dar­ling­ton av­er­aged 6.32 mil­lion view­ers and was the most­watched com­pet­i­tive sports event on ca­ble tele­vi­sion since this year’s Day­tona 500, which reached more than 7 mil­lion view­ers.

“A great day for sports in gen­eral,” Hall of Fame driver and Fox NASCAR an­a­lyst Jeff Gordon said af­ter the race. “Peo­ple con­nect to sports and peo­ple con­nected to what was go­ing on out there (Sun­day).”

The broad­cast, which was pri­mar­ily con­ducted re­motely from Fox NASCAR’s Char­lotte-based stu­dio in or­der to limit the num­ber of peo­ple on-site amid the coron­avirus pan­demic, earned a 3.7 tele­vi­sion rat­ing, ac­cord­ing to Nielsen.

View­er­ship was up 38 per­cent from NASCAR’s last race at Phoenix be­fore the sea­son was post­poned in March. The au­di­ence peaked in the fi­nal quar­ter­hour of the race, won by No. 4 driver Kevin Har­vick, at 6.8 mil­lion view­ers.

“To be en­ter­tained and have a race of this mag­ni­tude and the his­tory of this track,” Gordon said. “You could hear in Kevin Har­vick’s voice just how much that (win) meant to him and his team and also to the fans.”

“Even though the (fans) weren’t there,” Gordon con­tin­ued. “They weren’t present at the track.”

The top five lo­ca­tions where fans tuned in were tra­di­tional NASCAR mar­kets in the south­east. In or­der of tele­vi­sion rat­ings, those were Greens­boro, N.C. (9.5 rat­ing), Char­lotte, N.C. (9.1), Indianapol­is (8.9), Nashville, (6.7) and Jack­sonville (6.4 rat­ing), per Fox Sports.

The num­bers also in­di­cated that rac­ing may have reached new fans. The biggest de­mo­graphic gain in view­er­ship was among men ages 18 to 34, which was up 47 per­cent since the last NASCAR Cup race be­fore the pan­demic forced the sport to shut down in March.

“We are back,” Fox NASCAR an­nouncer Mike Joy said. “What a long 10 weeks it was, but what a great day it was for the fans, es­pe­cially for Kevin Har­vick, (and) for all NASCAR, for this sport to make its re­turn and to do it in a safe man­ner and have a great race to show for it.”

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