Originally created 05/12/05

Viewers tune in to Darlington

DARLINGTON, S.C. - Darlington Raceway's first Nextel Cup night race was a TV ratings winner.

Track officials released figures from Fox on Wednesday showing Saturday's Dodge Charger 500 with a 5.6 rating and an 11 share. That made it the highest-rated prime-time NASCAR event in the network's history.

The race had an average viewership of 9.3 million, up about 10 percent from Fox's other prime-time TV race this season. The race's 11 share dwarfed programming of the other networks. CBS and ABC had shares of 4.7, and NBC a 4.5.

The share is the percentage of televisions in use tuned to a program. The rating is the percentage of all homes with televisions, whether or not they are in use.

The event was already a success among fans. Darlington had its first prerace sellout since the 1997 Southern 500. Officials of NASCAR's oldest superspeedway are waiting to learn if the track has a spot on the 2006 Nextel Cup schedule.

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