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2011 Daytona 500: Television Ratings Spike Significantly

Prior to Sunday’s Daytona 500, I asked ‘Will You Be Watching?’ Apparently the answer, at least in a lot more households than a year ago, was ‘yes.’

FOX announced this morning that the Daytona 500 received an 8.2 overnight rating, up 17 percent from 2010.

You can’t really say that was because 20-year-old Trevor Bayne was the winner. No one knew that would happen. The race, however, was compelling enough to keep people who may have glanced at it in passing tuned to it.

The question for NASCAR now is whether it can capitalize on the solid ratings start and Bayne’s newfound status as the face of the sport to experience a growth spurt.

The sport is making a concerted effort to promote its drivers, and the emergence of a young star like Bayne could do wonders for NASCAR. He will be making the David Letterman/Jay Leno late-night circuit, and we will just have to wait and see if the sport can turn this temporary bump into something long-lasting.