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500 Telecast Produces Big Numbers For Fox

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, February 26 2015

The 2015 Daytona 500 rang up big numbers in terms of television viewers. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Rusty Jarrett)

By John Sturbin | Senior Writer

Joey Logano’s victory in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season-opening Daytona 500 was witnessed by 13.4-million viewers on FOX, a 44 percent increase over the 9.3-million diehards who waited-out last year’s day-long, rain-delayed telecast at Daytona International Speedway.

The network reported Thursday that a total of 23.5-million viewers watched all or part of Sunday’s 57th edition of the “Great American Race.” Additionally, 11 days of Speedweeks programming on FOX Sports 1 enjoyed a 14 percent increase in average viewership (293,000 vs. 257,000).

Logano scored his first Daytona 500 victory after a wreck brought out a caution for a major crash just after the Penske Racing driver had taken the white flag during a green/white/checkered restart. A whirlwind media tour that took him to New York City and his hometown of Middletown, Conn., ensued before Logano rolled into Atlanta Motor Speedway Thursday for a day-long open test of NASCAR’s 2015 Cup rules package.

“To be honest with you it’s like, ‘We’re at Atlanta now.’ It’s still great. It’s cool,” said Logano, driver of the No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford Fusion. “We’ve enjoyed this whole time but now it’s back to work. There are a lot of unknowns coming here to Atlanta with the new package, so you’re kind of on-edge just to see what it’s going to be like and get back in the groove of a normal weekend.

“This is gonna be a big test to see where we’re at and to see what we need to work on to get better. All of the stuff that came along with the 500 was fun, but that’s kind of over now and it’s back to work.”

NASCAR’s 2015 Cup race package includes a reduction of horsepower to 725 via a tapered spacer; roller valve lifters to replace flat valve lifters; lower rear differential gear ratios targeting 9,000 RPM; a rear spoiler adjustment to six inches high from the 2014 height of eight inches; optional driver adjustable track bar; 38-inch wide radiator pan and a minimum vehicle weight drop of 50 pounds via ballast reduction (2014 weight: 3,300 without driver).

Logano, 24, admittedly was taken aback when greeted like royalty in the AMS garage area. “It’s neat because I lived here for six years,” Logano said. “I ran Legends Cars out here forever, so I know a lot of people here at Atlanta. I still know all of the security guards because they’re the ones that let me in when I was 10-years-old and walked around the garage. They were my hookups back then and they’re still here, so it’s cool to see them after all that.”

Logano will start Sunday’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 on the 1.54-mile AMS quadoval knowing he already has secured a spot in the 10-race, season-ending Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship.

“Even though we’ve got something new this weekend, we’ve got something already,” Logano said. “It’s nice because, like I said, there are so many unknowns. We don’t really know what’s gonna happen, if our car is gonna be fast or not. We assume we’re gonna be OK but you never know. But knowing that we’re in the Chase kind of makes us feel a little bit better because it gives us some time to really make sure we get this thing figured out.

“Hopefully, we’ll be contending for a lot more wins. We can be aggressive now and race like we did last year up until the Chase starts, so that’s a nice feeling.”

NASCAR “shoulder programming” surrounding the Daytona 500 on Sunday saw NASCAR Raceday average 973,000 viewers on FOX Sports 1, a 31 percent increase over last year’s 742,000 for a one-hour edition of the show. NASCAR Victory Lane posted 464,000 viewers, up 21 percent over the last post-Daytona run in 2013 (383,000). The week leading up to the Daytona 500 was the third most-watched in FOX Sports 1 history and the highest since last season’s National League Championship Series.

FOX kicked off the 2015 Cup season on Saturday, Feb. 14, with the Sprint Unlimited averaging 5.6-million viewers, a 60 percent increase over 2014 (3.5-million) when it aired on FOX Sports 1. The non-point race powered FOX to a first-place finish in prime time among broadcast networks across all key male and adult demos, including ages 18-49 and 18-34.

Daytona Pole Day Qualifying on Sunday, Feb. 15, on FOX averaged 3.4-million viewers, up 17 percent from 2014. The first ever “group qualifying” format at DIS was the highest-rated and most-watched session since 2009, with four-time series champion Jeff Gordon scoring the pole for his final Daytona 500 start.

The 2015 Budweiser Duel at Daytona scored 3,018,000 viewers on FOX Sports 1, a slight dip from last year’s 3,122,000 prime time debut, but strong enough to be No. 1 in ad-supported cable from 7-10:30 p.m. (EST) in total viewers and adults 18-49 on Thursday, Feb. 19. Earlier in the day, a slate of Daytona practices (Sprint Cup Final, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and Final) averaged 244,000 viewers, a 16 percent increase in viewership (vs. 210,000) compared to the same three Thursday practice sessions last year.

The NCWTS season-opening race on Friday night, Feb. 20, drew 1,550,000 viewers, a three percent increase from last year’s 1,502,000 viewers. Earlier in the day, Truck Series qualifying posted a 15 percent gain over 2013 (472,000 vs. 409,000).

The first 2015 NASCAR XFINITY Series race under the new television deal on FOX Sports 1 delivered 2,944,000 viewers on Saturday, Feb. 21, an eight percent increase over last year’s race on ESPN and good for the most-watched sports event on ad-supported cable on the weekend.

The race, with 2014 Sprint Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick serving as a first-time analyst , was the 13th most-watched telecast in FOX Sports 1 history.

This year’s Daytona 500 also was the most-watched NASCAR event on FOX Sports Go, posting a 220 percent increase in unique visitors over last year’s race. In addition, mobile consumption of NASCAR content on Foxsports.com was up 63 percent, year-to-year.

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, February 26 2015
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