FILE PHOTO: May 17, 2020, Darlington, SC, USA; Kevin Harvick celebrates after winning celebrates after winning the Real Heroes 400. Mandatory Credit: Brynn Anderson/Pool Photo via USA TODAY Network
May 18, 2020
(Reuters) – There was no one in the grandstands watching at Darlington Raceway but millions flocked to their televisions on Sunday to see the first live NASCAR race since the novel coronavirus outbreak shuttered North American sport two months ago.
FOX Sport said on Monday that the Real Heroes 400 won by Kevin Harvick pulled in 6.32 million viewers, making it the most watched non-Daytona 500 NASCAR Cup race since Atlanta on March 5 2017.
As American sport emerged from a COVID-19 pandemic induced hiatus on Sunday, there was concern over how sport starved fans would digest events being played out in front of soulless empty grandstands.
The ratings, for NASCAR at least, delivered a promising start to a busy racing schedule that will feature 20 races spread across seven Southern states run over a 36-day span.
NASCAR will be back at Darlington Raceway, the iconic South Carolina oval known as the “Track Too Tough to Tame” on Tuesday for an Xfinity Series race while Harvick will try to make two wins in row on Wednesday when the super speedway hosts its second Cup race in four days.
(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto. Editing by Pritha Sarkar)