The NASCAR Cup Series race last Sunday at Circuit of the Americas proves that it may be all about the date when it comes to TV ratings.
NASCAR Boosts Its TV Ratings at Circuit of the Americas
- Last Sunday’s Cup Series Race in Austin drew TV audience of 3.731 million.
- Now that’s a bump — audience was up about 1.4 million from last year’s inaugural race at COTA.
- Still, NASCAR finished last among sports programming. A golf tournament across town drew bigger TV numbers.
But why would this be? Why would a NASCAR race at Circuit of the Americas be watched by so many more folks at home?
It was the date and the weather. Last year’s race date fell on May 23. That’s the weekend that comes right before the country takes three days off to observe Memorial Day. Plus, the weather in Austin was nasty. Rain impacted practicing, qualifying, and racing. Here are the comments from driver Kevin Harvick to prompt your memory:
“We don’t have any business being out in the rain, period,” Harvick told reporters last year. “All I can say is this is the worst decision that we’ve ever made in our sport that I’ve been a part of, and I’ve never felt more unsafe in my whole racing career, period.”
But the weather at last Sunday’s NASCAR event at Circuit of the Americas was perfect for driving and watching.
The TV audience was about the same for the sixth NASCAR event on the 2021 calendar. The Atlanta race drew 3.768 million.
However, sports fans watching from home had a ton of content to view. The NASCAR race ranked at the bottom of all sporting events on TV that afternoon. It mainly competed against the NCAA basketball tournament’s Elite Eight games. And the race also went head to head with another major sporting event happening across town. The semifinals and final of the WCG-Dell Match Play tournament was happening at Austin Country Club and on NBC. Sports fans in town had to choose to drive out east of town for the Circuit of the Americas for NASCAR. Or, they could drive west for golf.
At the end of the race, victor Ross Chastain climbed on top of his Camaro and smashed a store-bought watermelon on the track to celebrate the win. It was the first win for Chastain. And his victory celebration was a nod to what his family does for a living. Chastain had time to plan what he might do. After all, he was runnerup in the last two Cup events. He also proved to be the sixth different driver to win a Cup series race this season.
It was a thrilling finish. Chastain battled AJ Allmendinger and Alex Bowman in two-lap overtime. The lead changed four times. But when Chastain went for the final lead, he bumped Allmendinger and Bowman.
“It’s insane to go up against some of the best and I know he’s (Allmendinger) going to be upset with me, but we race hard, both of us,” Chastain said.
“But when it comes to this Cup win, I can’t let that go down without a fight.”