Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

NASCAR NOTEBOOK; Ratings Cool despite Chase Heating Up

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

NASCAR NOTEBOOK; Ratings Cool despite Chase Heating Up

Article excerpt

Byline: DON COBLE, The Times-Union

TALLADEGA, Ala. -- The Chase for the Championship was supposed to pump new interest into the final 10 races of the Nextel Cup Series season as stock-car racing goes head-to-head with the NFL.

Television ratings, however, show a decline.

The sport waited for ratings from Dover on Wednesday knowing Ryan Newman's blowout -- he led 325 of 400 laps at Dover, Del. -- won't help bring in new fans. A week earlier, ratings from New Hampshire, the first stop in the Chase, were down from a year ago.

"I wonder if we're not all putting too much into individual race numbers," Kyle Petty said. "True, this is a 'What have you done for me lately?' sport, but you have to look at things in perspective and in context to take a full measure. If our ratings were up a lot over last year over the past two or three weeks, I wouldn't say that indicated we were heading to the top, no doubt. And the fact they haven't jumped the past couple of weeks doesn't mean the world is ending, either."

Ratings may have been affected by Hurricane Jeanne, which slammed into Florida on Saturday night. Not only were thousands of fans without power in Florida, many were still trying to dig out from Hurricane Ivan a couple weeks earlier.

"I live in Port Orange, and I know how people have been the last couple of weeks," driver Greg Sacks said. "During the New Hampshire race, they weren't watching television. They were either boarding up their houses or hunkering down waiting for a hurricane to come through."

TRACKING NORTHWEST

International Speedway Corp., which already owns 12 speedways on the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series circuit, will build a new track 30 miles north of Seattle, giving the sport a presence in the Pacific Northwest.

The Great Northwest Speedway will be built on a 850-acre site near Marysville, the town's mayor confirmed Tuesday. It's expected to open in 2008.

The entire project is expected to cost about $300 million. Local officials said it would seat 75,000 fans and host one Nextel Cup Series race, as well as single events from smaller series, presumably the Busch and Craftsman Truck series. …

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