Well, the ratings for Danica's stock car debut are out. Keep in mind that the race was on SPEED TV, and that ARCA is a third tier stock car series (fourth tier if you include the NASCAR trucks). Keep all of that in mind when you hear that, "SPEED coverage of the ARCA Racing Series season opener from Daytona scored a Nielsen Household Rating of 2.30 (1,723,000 households), a 59-percent increase over last year's 1.45 (1,062,000 households)." The quote is from the ARCA press release available here.
We all knew Danica would provide a bump to stock car ratings, even for ARCA races, but every IndyCar fan reading this just spit out their drink and said, "A 2.30? On SPEED!?" Yes, a 2.30. Yes, on SPEED. I know.
But that isn't what should really tick off an IndyCar fan. You should really be ticked off that last year's ARCA race from Daytona drew a 1.45 rating. Right now, if I offered the IRL a guaranteed 1.45 rating for all of the non-Indy ovals, would they take it? You'd better believe it. Nice.
As Pressdog says here, this is made even more frustrating by the lack of IndyCar racing for another month plus, and then it'll be four straight road and street courses before they finally get to Kansas. Fantastic.
Just to throw out another depressing idea, let's say the IRL took NASCAR up on the rumored offer to run at Phoenix during the Cup weekend in a few weeks. Let's say they came to an agreement to make it a twin-lead billing, with IndyCar running on Saturday night. It actually would be a perfectly-timed season opener. And let's say that Danica did the double, running both the Nationwide and IndyCar races.
True of False: That IndyCar race would be the highest-rated IRL race ever, excluding the Indy 500.
I say true. It might also be the best-attended oval race ever for the IRL that wasn't held at Indy or Texas.
So the next big question is whether the IRL (and new CEO Randy Bernard) can make this happen for 2011. Because it really need to happen. It really really needs to happen. I'm feeling bullish on IndyCar racing right now. This could be the type of event that gains a ton of mind-share for the IZOD IndyCar Series.