The NTT IndyCar Series had a very respectable TV rating for their opening race of the 2020 season. The Genesys 300 on NBC, in primetime on Saturday night, was NBC Sports’ most-watched INDYCAR race on record and the series’ most-watched race since 2016, excluding Indy 500s, according to Fast National data provided by The Nielsen Company and digital data from Adobe Analytics.
The season-opening race of the 2020 season from Texas Motor Speedway on NBC (8-10 p.m. ET) averaged a Total Audience Delivery of 1.285 million viewers to rank as the most-watched non-Indy 500 INDYCAR race since the 2016 Dual at Detroit Race 2 on ABC (1.397 million viewers).
Saturday night’s race on NBC also surpassed last year’s Road America race (1.110 million TAD) to rank as NBC Sports’ most-watched INDYCAR race on record and was up 38% vs. last year’s average viewership on NBC, both excluding the 2019 Indy 500. That made the race INDYCAR’s most-watched season-opener since 2016 (St. Pete; 1.391 million viewers; ABC). The race produced a 0.82 HH rating.
The first race back though was different. Other than no fans in attendance, the biggest change to normal activity was being a one-day show. They practiced, qualified and raced all in a span of 9+ hours. While it was grueling for the teams and drivers, some drivers noted after the race that this could be in the cards for more opportunities of doing this in the future too.
“It was really the unknowns,” race winner Scott Dixon said of the day. “Trying to cram that all in. Traveling here this morning, qualifying, practice, race, then we fly home tonight. First time we’ve ever done anything like that. A lot of new things.
“Maybe that’s how we’ll do a lot of our events from now on. I’m not sure. I actually kind of enjoyed it. Kind of cool to do doubleheaders like this, which I think we’re going to do in the future this season, which is going to be a lot of fun. I think the unknowns are the most difficult part.”
Second place finisher Pagenaud agreed.
“The one-day show is actually interesting in many ways,” said last year’s Indy 500 champion. “I thought it was very interesting because you had to be very decisive on your decisions. Obviously, after the first session, we kind of had to decide the race setup right away because the car was going to go to impound after qualifying. That’s a split decision you make in a very short amount of time with your engineer. Same for the crew.
“I think, quite frankly, for me the heat was probably the hardest part of the day, getting acclimated to the heat in the car as well. It was a tough one. I’ve seen mechanics, a lot of mechanics, struggle today with the heat. I thought it was very interesting to just do one day actually. Why not? Bring your stuff and race as hard as you can.”
Defending series champion Josef Newgarden said that he too had a blast and that it was entertaining but noted that the one-day show could have been a reason to why Dixon, not a Penske driver, was left celebrating in victory lane.
“The hardest part for me was thinking that we — basically thinking we made the right decisions going into the race, about 15 laps in realizing that we were horribly off the mark. So you don’t have a lot of time to rectify an issue.
“I think if there was more practice, more of a lead-up to this event, maybe we would have had some clues to point out maybe we weren’t as strong as we thought we were going into the race.
“When you have that jam-packed schedule, it’s kind of on the team and the driver to execute quickly and to make the right decisions, to show up with good stuff, kind of stick to your guns.
“I like that. I really like that style. It didn’t work out for us tonight. I think in the future we can hopefully thrive in that situation.”
If this is to occur in the future, when? Could July 4’s GMR Grand Prix do this? It’s a jam packed schedule, but why not? Road America could certainly do it with practice, qualify and race on Saturday and do so again the next day with the exception of practice. Iowa could do it a week later as well in same fashion. This may be part of the future of their sport too.
It’s working in NASCAR as all of their drivers are in favor of less on track activity and just heading straight into the race. For IndyCar, is difficult to show up without any practice since the new Aeroscreen has greatly adjusted setups from the past, but one two-hour session followed by single car, two lap qualifying and then the race would do the trick.
Limiting days from a weekend schedule is always a win because of the cost saving measures. Plus, it strengthens the race too.