NBC to kick NASCAR ratings into higher gear

Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — NBC picks up its half of the NASCAR schedule with Saturday night’s race at Daytona International Speedway. Its task: Stop the ratings slide.

Fox Sports wrapped up its portion of the season last week with the least-watched race at Sonoma Raceway since 2002. Not counting rainouts, all 15 Cup Series races this season have set or tied a multiyear ratings low.

Still, last Sunday’s Fox Sports finale ranked second among all sports events watched on a single network, trailing only the final round of the PGA’s Hartford Open. Even so, the downward ratings turn is something NBC hopes to flip. “I think we can control what we can control, and that’s putting the best possible product on the air,” said Sam Flood, executive producer for NBC’s NASCAR telecasts.

“We also make sure we market and get the word out as well as we possibly can that this is must-see TV. And we’ve got a good history and a good track record at NBC of making events bigger.”