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With Danica Patrick winning the pole position in qualifying and in contention the entire race, viewers flocked to their television sets to watch this year’s Daytona 500.According to Richard Deitsch of SI.com, this year’s race was the most-watched Daytona 500 since 2008.
The race average 16.7 million viewers on Sunday afternoon, up 22% from last year. These numbers are even more impressive considering the 2012 Daytona 500 aired in primetime on Monday after being postponed by rain.
One big difference is that Patrick was never a serious threat in 2012 as she started 29th and crashed on just the second lap. She later returned and finished 38th.
Of course, the real test will come when NASCAR’s next race in Phoenix is aired on Sunday. It is one thing for casual sports fans to show interest in Patrick at the Daytona 500. It will be a big win for NASCAR and Fox if Danica’s success at Daytona carries over into the ratings in subsequent races.
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