Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Ratings Rev Up for Busch Series

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Ratings Rev Up for Busch Series

Article excerpt

Byline: DON COBLE, The Times-Union

LAS VEGAS -- When 94,000 fans showed up at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City for Sunday's Busch Series race, everyone agreed it was a rousing success.

The television ratings released a day later backed that up.

While the race trailed the showdown between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson in the final round of the Ford Championship at Doral and the North Carolina-Duke college basketball game, the overnight rating of 3.4 tied the season-opening Busch Series race at Daytona International Speedway -- which enjoyed a 14-percent increase in viewership over 2004.

Robbie Weiss, NASCAR's international director, said the 3 p.m. start time pushed the conclusion of the race too close to the dramatic finishes of the golf tournament and the basketball game. He said that will be one thing racing officials will consider when the sport makes its likely return to historic road courses.

Another thing that didn't help was the road-course format. While it makes for colorful pageantry, it generally makes for lousy racing. There were only two lead changes at speed during the race, which lasted nearly three hours.

Ratings for Busch Series races this year have soared. The race at California drew a record 3.3 million viewers on FX, a drastic improvement over the 1.4 million who watched the second race from Rockingham, N.C., a year ago.

ROBBY GORDON TO SKIP INDY 500

Robby Gordon insists it's still possible to race in the Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600 on the same day, even though the start time for the 500-mile race was pushed back by one hour.

But if it's done by anyone, it probably won't be Gordon.

He now owns and operates his own Nextel Cup Series team, as well as a part-time Busch Series team. That's too much to add an Indy-car operation for just one race. …

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