NASCAR’s return to racing last Sunday at Darlington figured to put up big TV numbers in a world still largely on lockdown, and didn’t disappoint. The Real Heroes 400, run without spectators, averaged a 3.71 household rating and 6.3 million viewers on FOX Sunday, which made it the highest rated and most-watched Cup Series race outside of the Daytona 500 since Atlanta in 2017 (3.8/6.6m). It also represented a 38% increase over the last race at Phoenix on March 8, before the lockdown began.
This year’s Daytona 500 on FOX averaged a 4.4 rating and 7.3m viewers between Sunday and Monday, after being postponed by rain. The Sunday-only portion of the Daytona 500 averaged a 6.26 rating.
The Darlington audience grew as the race progressed, with viewership peaking at 6.81 million viewers from 7:15 p.m. ET through the conclusion of Kevin Harvick’s run to his 50th Cup Series win.
Sunday’s race easily topped the rest of the weekend’s sports events, including Sunday’s live charity golf event on NBC, which ranked second with a 1.47/2.32m. It launched NASCAR’s first phase of spectator-free events events in Darlington, but the second planned event for the Xfinity Series on Tuesday night was postponed until Thursday by rain, and tonight’s second Cup Series race (6 p.m., FS1) is also threatened by inclement weather. NASCAR will then move to Charlotte for four races including Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 (6 p.m. ET, Fox).