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Posted: Wednesday, March 16, 2005

NASCAR ratings continue to shift into high gear

Although last Sunday's race at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway went against several college basketball conference championship games, it still was the most-watched sports show on television.

According to Nielsen Media Research, the race drew a 5.8 overnight rating and a 12 share, easily beating such conference showdowns as Duke-Georgia Tech in the Atlantic Coast Conference, Florida-Kentucky in the Southeastern Conference, Illinois-Wisconsin in the Big 10 and Texas Tech-Oklahoma State in the Big 12.

Ratings were 5.5-percent higher than numbers recorded for the same race in 2004.

Hendrick makes pitch for Hall of Fame in Charlotte

Charlotte, N.C.'s bid to land the NASCAR Hall of Fame now has a front man, car owner Rick Hendrick.

He said the sport was "born here, it was built here and it belongs here. And we're going to win this race."

Charlotte is considered the front-runner for the project since more than 90-percent of the teams in NASCAR are based within 90 miles. The town claims race fans can visit the museum as well as many of the race shops — including Hendrick's. No other locations can offer as much, he said.

The Charlotte effort also has strong support from local, state and national leaders.

Other cities competing for the hall of fame are Atlanta, Daytona Beach, Fla., Richmond, Va., Birmingham, Ala., and Kansas City.

NASCAR is expected to make its decision later this year.

Roush Racing boosts development program

Jack Roush signed four young drivers to his development program, including 14-year-olds Joey Logano and Marc Davis.

Erik Darnell and Danny O'Quinn also were signed to start in development series — Logano in the USAR Hooters Pro Cup Series in May when he turns 15.

Darnell and O'Quinn will make selected ARCA Re/Max starts this year, while Davis, the first African-American signed by Roush, will drive in the FASTKIDS truck series and on short tracks around North Carolina.

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