Chase For the Cup: Season’s Penultimate Race Up Double-Digits

Posted by | November 17, 2011 at 2:31 PM

As the 2011 NASCAR season comes to a close, ratings and viewership for the Chase For the Cup continue to trend above last year’s record-low numbers.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Kobalt Tools 500 from Phoenix, the second-to-last race in the Chase For the Cup, earned a 2.9 final rating and 4.766 million viewers on ESPN last Sunday, up 16% in ratings and 13% in viewership from last year (2.5, 4.201M), but down 12% and 8%, respectively, from 2009 (3.3, 5.172M, ABC).

On one hand, this year’s Kobalt Tools 500 ranks as the second-lowest rated and second-least viewed edition of the race over the past ten seasons. On the other hand, this marks the first time since 2005 that the race has had an increase in ratings or viewership from the previous year.

Of the 78 regularly scheduled Chase For the Cup races in NASCAR history, Sunday’s was just the fourteenth to earn less than a 3.0 U.S. rating. Twelve of those fourteen races have taken place over the past two seasons, all on ESPN.

Sunday’s race continued the season-long trend of NASCAR ratings rising from last year’s mediocre numbers. Of the 28 races that can be compared to last year, sixteen have had increases in ratings and nineteen have had increases in viewership.

Though up from last year, the numbers still generally trail 2009. Of the 28 races that can be compared to 2009, 21 have had declines in ratings and 20 have had declines in viewership.

Ratings/Viewership For Kobalt Tools 500 (Phoenix) Dating Back to 2001

Year
Date
Winner
Net
Rating
Viewers (000)
2011
Sun., 11/13/11 Kahne ESPN
2.9
4,766
2010
Sun., 11/14/10 Edwards ESPN
2.5
4,201
2009
Sun., 11/15/09 Johnson ABC
3.3
5,172
2008
Sun., 11/9/08 Johnson ABC
3.6
5,657
2007
Sun., 11/11/07 Johnson ABC
3.8
6,038
2006
Sun., 11/12/06 Harvick NBC
4.7
7,302
2005
Sun., 11/13/05 Busch NBC
5.0
7,433
2004
Sun., 11/7/04 Earnhardt, Jr. NBC
4.9
7,422
2003
Sun., 11/2/03 Earnhardt, Jr. NBC
4.7
7,684
2002
Sun., 11/10/02 Kenseth NBC
4.4
6,684
2001
Sun., 10/28/01 Burton NBC
4.0

(Sunday’s numbers from ESPN, Nielsen.com)