Although TV viewership was down slightly for the Bud Shoot-out and Dual 125s from last year, both the Nationwide and Sprint Cup TV ratings were up from a year ago. Sunday’s Daytona 500 scored increased average audience, total audience, and household ratings compared to 2008. Still, these ratings are only about 1% above last year. Supposedly, the race was a sell-out but one must wonder how many tickets might have been “freebies” just before the race started.
Still, NASCAR has to be pleased with both the TV and track numbers. But I continue to hold to the belief that California next week and Atlanta two weeks later will be a more correct reading of how NASCAR might fare this season. Also, it will be interesting to see how many teams attempt to make the show at California and Las Vegas, both long commutes for the underfunded teams.
My prediction is for full fields because the season is young and those teams without full-season sponsors need to show their merit on the track to entice additional sponsor dollars. But if those sponsor dollars don’t appear, the view from here is that the fields will not be full before arriving in Richmond on May 1.