On Monday, President Trump tweeted that televised NASCAR events have experienced their “lowest ratings EVER” following the stock car league’s ban on the Confederate flag at events and its investigation into a noose discovered in driver Bubba Wallace’s Talladega Superspeedway garage. Like so many things originating from @realdonaldtrump on Twitter, the claim about TV viewership is incorrect.
For starters, 2020 NASCAR viewership on Fox broadcast network and cable channel FS1 is up 8% since returning from its pandemic hiatus on May 17 when compared with the same number of races from the 2019 schedule, according to Nielsen numbers. NASCAR races on Fox are up the same 8% since the league banned the Confederate flag the following month.
Wallace’s crew found a noose in his stall on Sunday, June 21, the original date of the Talladega GEICO 500, which got rain-delayed until the following afternoon. That race scored 3.4 million viewers on Fox, according to Nielsen, which is up 20% from the prior week’s rain-impacted NASCAR Cup race at Homestead, which pulled in 2.8 million viewers. Both races occurred a couple of weeks after NASCAR’s ban on the Confederate flag at events went into effect on June 10.
On Monday, Trump called the reporting of the discovery of the noose in the garage of NASCAR’s only Black full-time driver a “HOAX.” After an investigation, the rope tied into a noose was found to have been a previously existing garage-door pull and the FBI said Wallace “was not the target of a hate crime.”
Wallace, who is biracial, led the call for NASCAR to ban the Confederate flag.
Through the first 15 races of this season, NASCAR Cup racing is averaging 3.778 million viewers on Fox and FS1 through the Pocono 350 on June 28, which is -1% from the 3.817 million viewers those same 15 races averaged last season. That little dip is understandable, given NASCAR is working with a switched up schedule and the fact both Daytona and Talladega were rained out and ran on Mondays instead of Sundays.
But that’s just looking at the Nielsen returns for Fox-owned channels’ NASCAR races, right? Well, the racing series is doing just fine over on NBC, too.
On Sunday, NBC aired its first NASCAR Cup Series race of the 2020 season, the Big Machine Hand Sanitizer 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, averaged a Total Audience Delivery (TAD) of 4.370 million, with 4.343 million of those tuning in on television. Both of those numbers are up 46% from to the same race in 2019, which was held in September, according to fast-national data from Nielsen and digital data from Adobe Analytics.
The audience tallies for yesterday’s race, which was primetime’s top broadcast in the key demographic of adults 18-49, were +32% compared to last year’s NASCAR Cup Series Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway, which took place over the July 4th holiday weekend.
So, no, NASCAR has not been suffering from its “lowest ratings EVER” since the Confederate flag ban and the discovery of the noose-shaped garage-door pull in the stall assigned to Wallace. And that also rings true for the Xfinity Series, the second-highest level of stock car racing.
On Saturday, NASCAR’s minor-league race, the Pennzoil 150 from Indianapolis Motor Speedway, was the most-watched Xfinity event from the Brickyard track in three years, with a total audience delivery (TAD) of 1.692 million viewers, according to NBC. TAD combines Nielsen’s television and Adobe’s mobile viewership.
That was the largest all-in audience for an Xfinity race on broadcast television since August 2019. Four Xfinity races have aired on broadcast between NBC and Fox since then. It was 21% better than the average of the four that aired on broadcast television in 2019.
The Pennzoil 150 delivered a 1.1 household rating on TV alone, according to Nielsen. That, too, is not a low.
The racing weekend was NBC Sports’ first of 2020.
Chase Briscoe won the race, which aired from 3:09 p.m. ET to 5:12 p.m. ET. It enjoyed a lead-in from the same raceway, as IndyCar’s GMR Grand Prix was paired with the stock car race as a sort of Independence Day stunt programming.
“Has @BubbaWallace apologized to all of those great NASCAR drivers & officials who came to his aid, stood by his side, & were willing to sacrifice everything for him, only to find out that the whole thing was just another HOAX?” Trump tweeted on Monday. “That & Flag decision has caused lowest ratings EVER!”
Hours later, Wallace responded, “To the next generation and little ones following my foot steps.. #LoveWins.”
Wallace’s Twitter post continued:
Your words and actions will always be held to a higher standard than others. You have to be prepared for that. You don’t learn these things in school. You learn them from trials and tribulations, the ups and downs this crazy world provides. You will always have people testing you. Seeing if they can knock you off your pedestal. I encourage you to keep your head held high and walk proudly on the path you have chosen. Never let anybody tell you [sic] can’t do something! God put us all here for a reason. Find that reason and be proud of it and work your tails off every day towards it! All the haters are doing is elevating your voice and platform to much greater heights!
Last thing , always deal with the hate being thrown at you with LOVE! Love over hate every day. Love should come naturally as people are TAUGHT to hate.
Even when it’s HATE from the POTUS..
Trump’s tweet and Wallace’s response are below.
Has @BubbaWallace apologized to all of those great NASCAR drivers & officials who came to his aid, stood by his side, & were willing to sacrifice everything for him, only to find out that the whole thing was just another HOAX? That & Flag decision has caused lowest ratings EVER!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 6, 2020
— Bubba Wallace (@BubbaWallace) July 6, 2020