ESPN Chases Down NASCAR Ratings Record With Sprint Cup Final

Tony Stewart raced past Carl Edwards Sunday to win his third NASCAR crown in the finale of the 2011 Chase for the Sprint Cup as ESPN earned its best-ever rating with the stock car circuit.
ESPN's Nov. 20 telecast of the Ford 400 from Homestead-Miami Speedway averaged a 4.6 household cable rating,  4.0 nationally, and 6.79 million viewers, according to Nielsen data. The viewership average -- buoyed by a peak audience of 10.5 million at 8:08 p.m. when Stewart took the checkered flag -- broke ESPN's previous NASCAR record of 6.67 million watchers for the 2008 Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis. (Nov. 20's final figures do not include a rain delay from 4:45 p.m.-6 p.m.).
Viewership was up 21% from 5.605 million viewers, with the coverage rating ahead 18% from a 3.9 on ESPN,  for last year's finale of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, which saw Jimmie Johnson win his fifth consecutive title. The 2011 race also out-delivered the circuit's 2009 concluder that aired on ABC, which counted 5.607 million viewers and a 3.6 U.S. rating.
Ratings for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup on ESPN and ABC increased 14.8% from 2010, averaging a 3.1 U.S. rating compared to 2.7 for last year (not including the rain-delayed Chicagoland Speedway event, which was run on a Monday). Also, excluding rainout races, ESPN and ABC's NASCAR Sprint Cup coverage for 2011 averaged a 3.2 U.S. rating, up 6% from a 3.0 for last year.