The Washington Times - May 29, 2008, 03:15PM

Greetings, readers. This is my first blog post since the re-launch of our Web site, which, as you can see, has been spiffed up quite a bit. It is not bug-free yet. But folks are working on it and I hope you will bear with us and visit often so that we get web traffic because apparently the Internet is the wave of the future or something.

Anyway… on to the sports biz news that you have been craving.


It’s always interesting to see how television ratings for the Indy 500 stack up against NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600 Sprint Cup race. Both races run on the same day, though at different times. When Indy was in its hey-dey, nothing could beat it. Then NASCAR got really popular and dominated the ratings. Now it’s about neck and neck.

This year, the Coca-Cola 600 scored a 4.7 rating, while the Indy 500 landed a 4.4. So, victory for NASCAR, though its worth pointing out that the Coca-Cola 600 appeared in prime-time, when ratings are generally higher.

What’s particularly interesting is that the so-called “overnight” ratings that came out earlier this week actually had given the Indy 500 a 5.1 rating, compared to 4.5 for the Coca-Cola 600. But then when final ratings came out, the numbers had shifted. What happened? Well, overnight ratings only take into account the largest 55 media markets, while final ratings include all small and medium-sized markets as well. The final ratings reflect how NASCAR is more popular in smaller towns and rural areas, while IndyCar may have a stronger following in and around the larger cities.

For the Indy 500, ratings dropped to 4.4 from 4.7 last year. So that’s disappointing for the Indy Racing League, which had seen growing ratings for races leading up to Indianapolis. What’s to explain the drop? Well, the race itself was kind of difficult to watch, largely because there were a freightload of cautions. It seemed like every five minutes there was a stoppage of some kind, and its no wonder some people might have tuned out.

Second, Danica Patrick was never really in a position to win the race. If she had been jockeying for the lead position at any point, people would have stayed tuned. But her car wasn’t fast enough, and she was gone by lap 180 because of an accident.

Third, there were a lot of new drivers in the field. Casual fans aren’t going to get too excited by the likes of Ryan Hunter-Reay, Justin Wilson and Alex Lloyd.

Fourth, weather was generally nice in most major cities. It certainly was around the D.C. area. If it’s the Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend and the sun is shining, you can rest assured a lot of people will choose to hit the beach, head to the lake or take a snooze in the backyard hammock. Last year’s race was marred by rain and the weather was similarly mediocre around the country.