Just under 9 million viewers tuned into Sunday’s Daytona 500 won by Austin Cindric.
The first race of the 2022 season drew an average audience of 8.9 million viewers and was down slightly from the average audience of 9.17 million who watched the 2019 Daytona 500. That Daytona 500 two years ago was the last Daytona 500 run as scheduled. The 2020 Daytona 500 was run mostly on a Monday after rain pushed the majority of the race to the following day and the 2021 Daytona 500 was finished late on Sunday night after hours-long rain delays.
The average number of viewers watching the Daytona 500 has dropped nearly 50% since 2013. The race that year was won by Jimmie Johnson and watched by over 16.6 million viewers. Since then, the audience has declined by nearly 8 million, primarily in chunks from 2013 to 2015 and from 2017 to 2018.
NASCAR drew over 4 million viewers for its much-promoted Busch Clash exhibition race at the Los Angeles Coliseum. That race had a much bigger audience than the 2.5 million viewers who watched the 2020 Clash at Daytona and you can bet that there were some hopes in and around NASCAR that the boost would carry over to the Daytona 500.
It did not, or if it did then it helped prevent a significant viewer drop for the 500. But all things considered, the viewership figure for Sunday’s race may not be all that bad. Over 3 million fewer people watched the 2015 Daytona 500 than the 2013 race after the 2014 500 was delayed by rain. Getting back to the vicinity of the 2019 viewer number after two years of rain-delayed marquee races isn’t a terrible outcome. Fewer than 5 million people watched the 2021 race won by Michael McDowell after it finished in the early minutes of Monday morning on the East Coast.