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  Daytona TV ratings up! (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   By Mike Mulhern

   JOLIET, Ill.

   The big 'dozers and shovels are busy tearing up Daytona International Speedway, in a $20 million-plus repaving project set in motion after the infamous Daytona 500 pothole....and NASCAR this week hits the country's third-largest market, for Saturday night's Chicago 400, with Sprint Cup drivers on a rampage.
   And after a half-season of hot track action but cold ratings, the TV numbers from Saturday night's Daytona 400 have to be cause for celebration,
   Well, for a night at least.
   And 3.6 might not sound all that big, but after so many downs, it's nice to be up, and maybe going that way.
    TNT, whose six-week NASCAR run ends with the Chicago 400, is boasting that the Daytona broadcast was "the number one program of the night on television with households, total viewers, and key adult and male demos, as well as the number one program of the week across cable with households, total viewers and men 25-54."
   The good news is that TNT's Daytona 400 coverage showed a significant increase in TV ratings: up 16 percent, a 3.6 household rating, which translates to 6.1 million viewers.
   TNT can also boast of significant increases in some key demographics, with the largest increase apparently in men 35-54, which is NASCAR's traditional core audience.
   The major demographic segments up over the 2009 summer classic:
   -- Adults 18-49.
   -- Adults 25-54
   -- Men 18-34
   -- Men 18-49
   -- Men 25-54

   NASCAR CEO Brian France delivered his state-of-the-sport review last weekend at Daytona, and he said he was "real pleased" with the racing action.
   And Daytona's TV numbers, if they hold up the rest of the summer, may back him up, and may mark a turning point....because up till now the impact of this 'Boys, have at it' – despite all the on-track theatrics – hasn't reached deep to the bottom line.
   France's sister, Lesa France Kennedy, the low-keyed, quiet boss of the France family's race track empire, has just weighed on the the company's bottom line for the season.
   Kennedy says she's not optimistic the U.S. economy will be turning around that much any time soon, and her report this week on the second quarter results for the International Speedway Corp. (ISC) shows a $10 million loss in revenues and operating income over the same period in 2009.
    Total revenues for March-April-May – when the ISC hosts major races at Phoenix, Martinsville, Talladega, Richmond and Darlington -- decreased to $142.2 million, compared to $152.4 million in 2009. Operating income was $21.3 million, compared to $31.7 million.   
   Kennedy said the recent changes in NASCAR rules – this 'Boys, have at it' -- and car designs "are being well received by the fans, who continue to attend our events in strong numbers.
    "However our financial results for the second quarter were adversely impacted by the ongoing economic headwinds and compounded by weather issues, which further impacted attendance-related revenues at our Martinsville Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway race weekends.
    "It is becoming increasingly clear that there will not be any meaningful macroeconomic recovery, particularity in unemployment and consumer confidence levels, for the balance of the year."
    That's a change in attitude from earlier this year: "We based our 2010 financial projections on economic forecasts reflecting expectations that the economy would by now have stabilized and be showing stronger growth in the second half of the year."
   And now things have turned iffy, she says. "We remain concerned about consumer spending, based on many economic indicators, most recently the substantial drop in the Consumer Confidence Index which demonstrates the fragile state of the economic recovery."
    For the year so far, through May 31, ISC reported total revenues of $294.2 million, compared to $318.5 million in 2009, and operating income of $61.1 million, compared to $81.7 million.

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People must have thought

People must have thought Little Dale was going to win again. I guess "the call" was good only for Friday night's race.

Unfortunately for me, I was

Unfortunately for me, I was only able to catch the last lap of the race on t.v., coming home late from work...I'm sure with the spoiler package debuting there, there was some good racin' & wreckin'! By the way, was there any other major sports game being televised that night? Maybe that was the key. Ain't nuthin' else on. Wait til college/pro football pre/reg. season starts. Check the nums then.

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