CONCORD, N.C. Fox Sports president Goren not only believes the NASCAR Winston Cup Series has finally shed its regional perception, but he also says the racing circuit has become one of the ''healthiest'' sports on television.
In the three years since Fox, NBC and Turner Sports started their $2.8 billion, six-year contract with NASCAR, ratings have skyrocketed. According to figures compiled by Sports Business Journal, ratings in the past three years have increased 109 percent in Chicago, 35 percent in New York and 34 percent in Los Angeles.
''As far as ratings go, I don't know if there's a healthier sport in his country,'' Goren told the magazine. ''The national ratings week in and week out declare that this is a national sport.''
The national ratings for the first 11 races of the season have averaged a 5.6. A year ago, the average rating was a 5.8. NASCAR officials said the small decline can be attributed to two rain delays during the season-opening Daytona 500 and three weeks of war coverage.
The national ratings continue to support the racing series' contention it's the second-most popular sport on television. It trails only the NFL in ratings.
The top six markets in the country for racing are: Greensboro, N.C. (15.9); Greenville, S.C. (13.4); Charlotte, N.C. (13.1); Indianapolis (11.8); Knoxville, Tenn. (10.6); and Dayton, Ohio (10.6).
What has NASCAR doing cartwheels is that ratings also are up in nonracing areas such as Buffalo, Seattle and Boston.
NASCAR RULES: Two crew chiefs were fined and Robert Yates Racing had an engine seized last week at The Winston all-star race at Lowe's Motor Speedway.
Lee McCall, crew chief for Sterling Marlin's Dodge, was fined $10,000 for having an improperly mounted weight, and Chad Knaus, who along with driver Jimmie Johnson won the all-star race at its $1,017,604 payday, was penalized $1,000 for an unapproved air directional device.
NASCAR also took away Dale Jarrett's engine after his team changed it before the race.
According to rules, Jarrett's team is allowed to make the change only if it can prove there was a problem and get approval. The penalty for changing engines is a move to the end of the starting grid.
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