The NHRA is still celebrating a successful Maple Grove Raceway weekend. Not only was it the start of the NHRA Countdown to the Championship, but the ratings turned out to be a milestone in the sport’s history.
Sunday’s Pep Boys NHRA Nationals averaged 1,678,000 viewers, which is the most ever for an NHRA on FOX event. It was also up 10% (150,000 viewers) from last year’s NFL adjacent game.
Also, a record was the 578,000 viewers in the 18-49 demographic. NHRA won the weekend in that category.
“It’s exciting to see the partnership between the NHRA and FOX continue to grow and lead to such tremendous numbers,” NHRA vice president of broadcasting Steve Reintjes said in a statement to RACER. “The NHRA on FOX team has continued to deliver several new innovations during the broadcast, and we were thrilled to again have Tony Stewart in the booth. With a record-setting audience tuned in, our race teams put on an incredible show, and we’re thankful for all our NHRA fans, as well as new fans who tuned in for the first time.”
It was the second straight weekend that Stewart spent in the NHRA on FOX booth. Stewart, a three-time NASCAR Cup Series champion and team owner, started his own NHRA organization this season. Leah Pruett, Stewart’s wife and Top Fuel driver, has one win and is championship eligible in the Top Fuel category. Matt Hagan has multiple wins and is one of the favorites for the Funny Car championship.
All four pro categories ran at Maple Grove. Robert Hight won the Funny Car final over Tim Wilkerson, while John Force Racing teammate Austin Prock won the Top Fuel final over Justin Ashley. It was Prock’s second career win.
Erica Enders started her march to a fifth Pro Stock championship with a win in the final over Elite Motorsports teammate Troy Coughlin Jr. In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Joey Gladstone beat Angie Smith.
Peak viewership for NHRA was over 2.8 million people and the NHRA had 165,000 more viewers than NASCAR’s Cup Series race that weekend in the key 18-49 category. NASCAR ran Saturday night at Bristol Motor Speedway, contending its first elimination race in the playoffs.
Overall, the NHRA only had 100,000 less total viewers than the NASCAR Cup Series race. NASCAR registered 1.776 million household viewers on USA Network.
Furthermore, the Maple Grove event had more viewers than any NTT IndyCar Series race this year, except the Indianapolis 500.
Maple Grove had a sellout crowd Saturday and a near sellout Sunday for eliminations. It was the first weekend of NHRA activity at the Koretsky owned facility. The track was purchased by Kenny Koretsky and his family in April.