Daytona 500 Big-City Ratings Up 30% With Patrick in Front

The Daytona 500 drew a 30 percent increase in preliminary television ratings for Fox as Danica Patrick became the first female driver to lead a lap of Nascar’s biggest race and Jimmie Johnson won for the second time.

With Patrick starting from the pole position, the race was seen in 10 percent of homes in the top 56 U.S. television markets, News Corp. network spokesman Dan Bell said on Twitter. That was 30 percent higher than the 7.7 rating last year’s race drew, which was run on a Monday because of rain, and the best big-market rating for the event since 2006, when Johnson also won.

The results from yesterday’s race in Daytona Beach, Florida, marked the best year-to-year big-market ratings improvement in the competition’s history, Eddie Motl, a Fox spokesman, said in an e-mail.

Patrick, the first woman to start from the pole position for a race in Nascar’s top series, finished eighth to top the best previous Daytona 500 finish for by a woman, Janet Guthrie, who was 11th in 1980.

Johnson took the lead for good on Lap 191 of 200 and withstood a challenge from runner-up Dale Earnhardt Jr. following a restart with six laps left.

The race was held one day after more than 30 spectators were injured at Daytona International Speedway when Kyle Larson’s car crashed through a barrier and sent debris into the crowd during a race in the Nationwide Series, Nascar’s second tier.