Danica Patrick's stock car debut revved Speed's coverage of the ARCA Racing Series season opener from Daytona last Saturday.
The race averaged 2.4 million viewers on Feb. 6, an 87% surge over the 1.3 million who tuned in last year's competition, according to Nielsen data. The performance was the network's second best ever behind its exclusive coverage of NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race. Speed has televised the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race each of the past three years with each topping the ARCA performance, topped by the 3.74 rating and 4 million viewers for the 2008 competition.
All told, the ARCA opener averaged a 2.3 household rating, translating into 1.72 million households, a 59% increase over last year's 1.45 mark, with 1.06 million homes.
Speed's coverage peaked with a 2.66 household rating and 1.99 million households, 72% amelioration from last year top moments of a 1.55 and 1.14 million homes.
Patrick, the godaddy.com spokeswoman, who appeared in a pair of Super Bowl XLIV spots the following day, finished sixth in her first stock car race.
"The Daytona ARCA race always has been a strong performer for Speed," said network president Hunter Nickell in a statement. "We expected a ratings bump from the ‘Danica factor,' but this is much more than a bump. There is no question that her strong debut performance is great news for her, her team and everyone involved in the sport. She handled an intense amount of attention and drove an excellent race."
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