DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. With Danica Patrick starting from the pole, the Daytona 500's preliminary television ratings were much higher than last year's.
Sunday afternoon's race earned a 10.0 overnight rating and 22 share on Fox, the network said Monday. That's up 30 percent from 2012, when rain pushed the event to a Monday night. It was the highest overnight rating since 2006.
Jimmie Johnson won the race while Patrick was eighth, the best finish by a woman at the Daytona 500.
The race had plenty of buildup: Patrick making history as the first woman to start a Sprint Cup race from the pole, the revamped cars, no more tandem drafting, and a frightening crash the day before in the second-tier Nationwide Series.
"I noticed something last night coming out of the track for dinner, just seemed to be a different vibe inside the infield," said Dale Earnhardt Jr., who finished second Sunday. "People seemed more excited about what was getting ready to happen. Even today, there seemed to be a whole lot more people here. Seemed to be a lot more excitement about the race.
"That really was the biggest motivator for me. I think we're headed in the right direction. ... For some reason, it just felt like we're on the right track as a sport. That's got me really excited."
Ratings represent the percentage of all homes with televisions tuned to a program. Shares represent the percentage of all homes with TVs in use at the time. Overnight ratings measure the country's largest markets.