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2011 Daytona 500: Will You Be Watching?

Will you be watching the Daytona 500, NASCAR's premier event, Sunday (noon ET, FOX)? Some of you will, of course, but the real answer is that a lot less of you will watch than did a few years ago when NASCAR really went mainstream and was at the height of its popularity.

Here are some figures that show the nature of the problem NASCAR has driven head-long into during the past few years.

In 2005, NASCAR averaged a 5.3 television rating, and the Daytona 500 garnered a 10.9. In 2010, those rating fell into the 3's overall and just a 7.7 share for the Daytona 500. The Kansas City Star summed up the situation by saying simply "NASCAR's not hot any more."

Once the fastest-growing sport in America, NASCAR is looking to reclaim the magic.

"We’re listening to our customer base — our fans," said Steve Phelps, chief marketing officer at Nascar. "We have to make sure we stay relevant and current."

This season will bring some changes to the cars, a focus more on promoting the drivers and allowing them to mix it up a little more and allow more of the confrontations between drivers to play themselves out and other changes geared toward appealing to younger audiences.

There is also a school of thought that with this being the 10th anniversary of the death of Dale Earnhardt, the sport is suffering because there is no other figure like him driving today.

Whatever the reason, and whatever the solutions, Sunday's Daytona 500 will provide a glimpse of whether or not NASCAR is back on track.

Will you be watching?

-- You can find everything you need to know about the race at SB Nation's NASCAR Hub.