The NHRA is still celebrating a successful weekend at Maple Grove Raceway. Not only was it the start of the NHRA countdown to the championship, but the ratings proved to be a milestone in the history of the sport.
Sunday’s Pep Boys NHRA Nationals averaged 1,678,000 viewers, which was the most viewers ever for an NHRA on FOX event. It was also 10% (150,000 viewers) higher than last year’s NFL neighbor game.
Another record was the 578,000 viewers in the 18 to 49 age group. NHRA won the weekend in that category.
“It’s exciting to see the partnership between the NHRA and FOX continue to grow and result in such tremendous numbers,” Steve Reintjes, vice president of broadcasting for the NHRA, said in a statement to RACER. “The NHRA on FOX team continued to deliver several new innovations throughout the broadcast and we were thrilled to have Tony Stewart back at the booth. With a record-breaking audience, our race teams put on an incredible show and we are grateful to all of our NHRA fans, as well as new fans tuning in for the first time.”
It was the second straight weekend that Stewart spent in the NHRA at the FOX booth. Stewart, a three-time NASCAR Cup Series champion and team owner, formed his own NHRA organization that season. Leah Pruett, Stewart’s wife and Top Fuel driver, has one win and is championship eligible in the Top Fuel category. Matt Hagan has multiple wins and is one of the favorites for the Funny Car Championship.
All four pro categories were run at Maple Grove. Robert Hight won the Funny Car final against Tim Wilkerson while John Force Racing teammate Austin Prock won the Top Fuel final against Justin Ashley. It was Prock’s second career win.
Erica Enders started her march to a fifth Pro Stock Championship with a win in the Finals over Elite Motorsports teammate Troy Coughlin Jr. In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Joey Gladstone beat Angie Smith.
The peak viewership for NHRA was over 2.8 million people, and the NHRA had 165,000 more viewers this weekend in the key 18-49 category than the NASCAR Cup Series race. NASCAR ran at Bristol Motor Speedway Saturday night and played its first elimination race in the playoffs.
Overall, the NHRA had just 100,000 fewer spectators overall than the NASCAR Cup Series race. NASCAR registered 1.776 million household viewers on the USA Network.
Additionally, the Maple Grove event had more spectators than any other NTT IndyCar Series race this year, with the exception of the Indianapolis 500.
Maple Grove had a sell out crowd on Saturday and a nearly sold out Sunday for the eliminations. It was the first weekend of NHRA activity at the Koretsky-owned facility. The track was purchased by Kenny Koretsky and his family in April.