The television ratings for Sunday's Daytona 500 were up 30 percent from 2012, posting the best metered market ratings since the 2006 edition of The Great American Race. On Monday morning, Fox tweeted that the overnight rating was a 10.0/22, a huge jump from last year's race which was affected by bad weather and finished on Monday.
Danica Patrick's success, both in qualifying for pole position and then remaining in the top 10 for much of the day, will likely be cited as a significant source for the increased interest. Both Patrick and Jeff Gordon, who's also considered a "crossover" star with wider appeal, had the fastest cars during qualifying and started the race on the front row. It was a historic moment for women in sports that received appropriate attention throughout the week. That success and her ability to compete and contend throughout the afternoon likely kept non-traditional fans tuned into the race.
Aside from Patrick's success, fans' interest may have also been piqued for a completely different reason -- the ugly crash during Saturday's Nationwide Series race. The crash made national headlines Saturday afternoon, as 28 fans were treated for injuries when parts of Kyle Larson's car went into the stands. Two fans remain hospitalized with injuries from the crash. It was a scary scene that attracted attention to NASCAR for all the wrong reasons.
NASCAR did announce that they would proceed with Sunday's race as planned, and thanks in large part to Danica, brought home their biggest overnight in seven years.