The 2012 NASCAR Chase For the Cup got off to a better start than in previous years, but the numbers were still low.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Geico 400 from Chicago, the first race in the Chase For the Cup, earned a 2.6 U.S. rating and 3.949 million viewers on ESPN Sunday afternoon — up 13% in ratings and 7% in viewership from the Chase opener in 2010, the Sylvania 300 from New Hampshire (2.3, 3.677M).
Last year’s Geico 400 was postponed due to rain. The 2010 edition of the race, which aired in July on TNT, earned a 2.8 and 4.608 million viewers.
Excluding rainouts, Sunday’s telecast ranks as the lowest rated and least-viewed edition of NASCAR from Chicago (dates back to 2001). The previous lows were set in 2010. As recently as 2007, the race drew a 4.0 and 6.365 million viewers on TNT; in 2005, the race drew a 5.7 and 8.958 million on FOX.
Of course, the race did not have to deal with NFL competition in those years.
Though low relative to previous Chicago races, Sunday’s telecast ranks as the highest rated and most-viewed Chase For the Cup opener since the 2009 Sylvania 300 on broadcast network ABC (3.2, 5.044M).
(Sunday’s numbers from ESPN)