After two straight weeks of record low ratings, Talladega provided a lift for NASCAR on ESPN.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Good Sam Roadside Assistance 500 from Talladega, the fourth race of the Chase For the Cup, drew a 3.2 U.S. rating and 5.113 million viewers on ESPN Sunday — down 3% in ratings and 6% in viewership from last year (3.3, 5.430M), and up 3% and down 1%, respectively, compared to 2010 (3.1, 5.177M).
The race ranks as the highest rated and most-viewed of the 2012 Chase For the Cup, easily topping the previous highs of 2.6 and 3.949 million for the September 16 race from Chicago.
Overall, Sunday’s race drew the best numbers for a NASCAR telecast since the September 2 race from Atlanta (3.4, 5.558M), the most recent telecast that did not face football competition.
Despite the relatively solid numbers, the telecast ranks as the least-viewed edition of the fall Talladega race since at least 2001 (viewership prior to 2002 was not available).
In three years on ESPN, the fall Talladega race has earned fewer than 5.5 million viewers each year. In the three previous years on ABC, the race drew at least 6.6 million each year — including over seven million in 2007 and 2008.
(Sunday’s numbers from ESPN)