DAYTONA BEACH, Fla — The anticipation was building more and more as Daytona Speedweeks went on. Friday’s nights thrilling NASCAR Truck Series season opener, which ended on a photo finish by the way (.010 seconds), the closest in the race’s history, was witnessed by an estimated crowd in excess of 25k.
Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series season opener was run in front of nearly 50k in attendance. That left Sunday’s Daytona 500 brewing bigger and bigger.
First, there was the two-day rumor that President Donald Trump would be attending the race in some capacity. That got the anticipation growing bigger and bigger. Then, it was later confirmed on Thursday that he would in fact be here with the First Lady. On top of that, the race was announced a sell out in which all of the 101,500 grandstand seats being sold out for the fifth straight year. But, throw in all the infield camping too and you get what Daytona International Speedway officials said was the largest crowd here in years.
That’s not all the good news either.
The purse would be just shy of $25 million, the largest in the history of the 62 year event as well.
A photo finish on Friday night, bigger and bigger crowds as Speedweeks go on, a sell out — the largest attended race here at Daytona in years, the largest purse in the history of this race and the President coming here and giving the command.
Well, that anticipation not only grew bigger here in Daytona, but as well as the nation too. The TV ratings are out and almost 11-million people tuned in for just 20 laps that were able to run to completion before rain set in and postponed the rest of the race to Monday afternoon.
The 10.9-million viewers were up 19-percent for the entire race run last year (9.1-million) and up over 32-percent from the lead in (11.1-million) in last year’s race.
Call it the Trump effect and that NASCAR is on the rise again too.
The Busch Clash viewership last weekend was up 7-percent from last year’s race too and the highest watched Clash on FS1 since 2014.