Going into the "Daytona 500" with the first woman securing the pre-race pole position, Fox Sports had big initial viewer interest for TV racing
The race itself didn't disappoint: The "Daytona 500" rocketed up 30% in viewership over last year to a Nielsen preliminary 10.0 household rating/22 share. The 2012 race posted 7.7/13 numbers. During the final laps -- the 15 minutes from 4:30 p.m to 4:45 p.m. (ET) -- viewership climbed to a 12.8/26.
It was the best ratings for a Nascar race in seven years; in 2006 NBC posted a 10.1 household rating/20 share.
Danica Patrick was the first woman ever to win a pole position in the big race. During the race itself, she was consistently in contention among the top five or top 10 leaders for most of the race. Patrick led the race briefly -- the first time a woman has accomplished this feat.
The best-rated markets for the race: Greensboro (21.2 rating), Indianapolis (20.5), Charlotte (20.3), Jacksonville (19.6) and Dayton (19.1). Nielsen preliminary numbers survey the U.S. top 56 markets.
"Daytona 500" is Nascar's typically biggest race of the season. Analyst say the big numbers were seen as a shot in the arm for Nascar -- which have endured a slow TV viewership erosion for its events. This year's Daytona 500 race was won by Jimmie Johnson for the second time.