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Danica helps ESPN to another record

Danica Patrick sits in her car before practice

Danica Patrick sits in her car before practice for Sunday's NASCAR Daytona 500 auto race in Daytona Beach, Fla., Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2012. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt) Photo Credit: AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt

It's pretty simple. Danice Patrick, races, people watch. Danica wrecks, people still watch. Her Nationwide debut this year was the most watched Nationwide race ever on cable television. The previous record holder, that would be Danica. Here's the release:

With an average of 4.4 million people watching, ESPN’s live telecast of the NASCAR Nationwide Series season opener at Daytona International Speedway on Feb. 25 has broken the previous record as the most-viewed race ever on cable television for the series.

The race telecast earned a household coverage rating of 3.3, averaging 4,433,249 viewers in 3,304,012 households, breaking the record of 4,271,365 viewers in 3,170,109 households set for ESPN’s telecast of the Daytona race in 2010.

Ratings and viewership for the Daytona telecast were up 37 percent from ESPN’s telecast of last year’s race, which earned a 2.4 household coverage rating and averaged 3,246,875 viewers.

“We’ve seen two consecutive years of ratings increases with the Nationwide Series on our networks and NASCAR carried some strong momentum and storylines into this year,” said Julie Sobieski, ESPN vice president, programming & acquisitions. “This certainly represents a great start to the season.”

All 33 races in the NASCAR Nationwide Series season will air on either ESPN, ESPN2 or ABC. The next telecast is from Phoenix International Raceway on Saturday, March 3, at 4 p.m. ET on ESPN2.

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