DOVER, Del. (AP) — Kurt Busch on Friday credited IndyCar's promotion of the Indianapolis 500 for a bump in the television ratings.
ABC's telecast on Sunday earned a 3.9 rating, averaging 6.2 million viewers. It was up from 3.7 in 2013, and up in many traditional NASCAR markets.
The ratings increase could be attributed to Busch running both the Indy 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 on the same day, the first Double attempt since 2004. He finished sixth in his Indy debut, but an engine failure at Charlotte Motor Speedway prevented him from completing all 1,100 miles.
"There was a lot of promotion done from everybody," Busch said at Dover International Speedway, where he returned to his full-time NASCAR job. "The IndyCar Series sends drivers all around the country to promote the race. The Coke 600 is a strong race on a Sunday night timeslot, prime-time TV. I didn't hurt the ratings, no. I only did my part to create awareness for motorsports and the military. Did I help bump the ratings? Maybe I did."
Among metered markets, Indianapolis led the ratings for the Indy 500 with a 12.9. The race is shown on tape delay in Indy. ABC noted increases in traditionally strong NASCAR TV markets, including Greenville, South Carolina, which earned a 6.2 and was up from 5.0.
Jacksonville, Florida, was up to a 5.9 from 3.6 last year, and Richmond, Virginia was at 5.6, up from 4.1. Charlotte, North Carolina did a 5.2, up from 4.2, and Birmingham, Alabama, and Atlanta also saw increases.
Meanwhile, the NASCAR race on Fox earned a 4.1 rating, making it the most-watched sports program of last weekend. It was down from a 4.3 in 2013.
Busch was the first driver in 10 years to attempt The Double. According to Joyce Julius & Associates, Busch received 2.5 times more mentions than Indy 500 pole sitter Ed Carpenter in the week leading up to the Indy 500.