The National Hot Rod Association welcomed the largest television audience in its history Sunday during final eliminations of the Pep Boys NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway in Mohnton, Pennsylvania. The series took full advantage of its NFL on FOX lead-in, drawing 1,678,000 viewers, and a peak of 2.88 million — the highest since partnering with FOX in 2016 and, according to NHRA officials, its largest TV audience ever, on any network.
It’s recorded viewership was up 10 percent, or 150,000 viewers, from last year’s NFL adjacent program, which was likewise a viewership record at the time. Getting down to the finer details, the race registered 578,000 viewers in the coveted 18-49 demographic (also a record), and 644,000 in the 25-54 demographic.
The television audience wasn’t the only highlight of the weekend — the Maple Grove Raceway and it’s new owners, the Koretsky family, sold the venue out for Saturday’s final qualifying, and nearly repeated it on Sunday, with another near-capacity turnout.
For the sake of comparison, the USA Network’s broadcast of the NASCAR race at Bristol on Saturday had 165,000 fewer viewers in 18-49 demographic, and only 100,000 more total viewers than the NHRA. The 1,678,000 viewers was also more than any IndyCar race this year with the exception of the Indianapolis 500.
Those who tuned in to the Countdown the Championship opener at scenic Maple Grove saw John Force Racing sweep the nitro categories, as Austin Prock earned just his second-ever Wally in Top Fuel, and Robert Hight scooped up his seventh of the year in Funny Car. Erica Enders likewise continued her dominance, winning for the seventh time to extend her lead in Pro Stock, and Joey Gladstone won for the third time this season and took overt the points lead in Pro Stock Motorcycle.