The second-to-last race of the NASCAR season may have generated watercooler discussion on Monday, but was still down from last year.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup AdvoCare 500 from Phoenix, the ninth race in the Chase For the Cup, drew a 2.8 U.S. rating and 4.423 million viewers on ESPN Sunday — down a tick in ratings and 7% in viewership from last year (2.9, 4.766M), but up 12% and 5%, respectively, from 2010 (2.5, 4.201M).
This marks the second-lowest rated edition of the fall Phoenix race since at least 2000 (ratings prior to 2001 were not available), and the second-least viewed since at least 2001 (viewership prior to 2002 was not available).
With that said, the race earned the third-best numbers of the 2012 Chase For the Cup, trailing only Talladega (3.2, 5.113M) and Charlotte (3.2, 5.095M).
Sunday’s race included a brawl involving drivers Jeff Gordon and Clint Bowyer. While the altercation attracted some mainstream media attention, it happened so late in the race that it likely did not have had a meaningful impact on the numbers.
Overall, the 2012 Chase has been a disappointing television draw. Of the eight races that can be compared to last year, seven have had declines in ratings and all eight have had declines in viewership.
(Sunday’s numbers from ESPN)