Drop in ratings triggers action

There is quite a bit of media interest in NASCAR lately. Unfortunately, it involves a lack of interest among race fans.

Ratings for the first four races of the Chase for the Championship were down 27 percent compared with last year. The level of concern prompted a meeting between ESPN and NASCAR executives last weekend in Charlotte, N.C.

"Some people are asking, 'Is it because you've switched from ABC to ESPN?'" said Andy Hall, spokesman for ESPN. "There isn't that much of a difference in the reach. … ESPN is in more than 100 million homes. Our research shows that our drop is among people who have access to ESPN. We're working very closely with NASCAR on research and trying to figure out why, whatever reason it might be.

McMurray emotional: Jamie McMurray doesn't have the big-name recognition as some other drivers on the NASCAR circuit, but he is one of the most pleasant guys you ever will meet.

His personality shined again after he won at Charlotte on Saturday night. As he was racing around the last few laps, with Kyle Busch and Jimmie Johnson too far behind to catch up, McMurrary started thinking about his tearful victory celebration at the start of the season, when he won the Daytona 500.

"You know, I was crying, obviously because I was happy, but also because you feel like a prayer has been answered," he said. "Certainly it's not the first thing that I pray about every day. But everyone wants to be successful and you want to do well in life, so when you feel like that has been answered, it's emotional."

Daytona update: The push to spark greater interest in NASCAR involves more than TV viewers. Daytona International Speedway will up the ante when it comes to the up-close-and-personal experience. Track officials unveiled the "Daytona 500 Experience" on Tuesday that will give fans an expanded one-hour speedway tour featuring the Daytona 500 Club, the Sprint Tower and the Sprint Cup garage. Those areas were previously unavailable. The expanded tour begins Nov. 8.

"As our sport continues to evolve, so must our vision for our facilities and attractions to make sure we continue delivering the best experiences to our fans all year round," President Joie Chitwood said. "Our research has shown that the most popular attraction is the speedway tour. … We want to provide fans with a more in-depth view of the inner workings at Daytona International Speedway."

— George Diaz

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