With Trump on hand to serve as grand marshal and give the order for NASCAR drivers to start their engines, the Daytona 500 drew an initial audience of 11.2 million viewers for the start of the race, Sports Business Journal reported. Viewership at the race start was up 32 percent compared to last year and was the highest at the Daytona 500 in five years.
"Drivers, this is President Trump, and it was an honor to open the Daytona 500,” the president said in a message to drivers and crews. “Have a phenomenal day. Have a great race. Be safe. God bless you. We love you."
While drivers completed just 20 laps at Daytona before race officials postponed the event, the broadcast drew an average audience of 10.9 million viewers prior to the postponement. That figure was up 19 percent compared to full-race average viewership last year, which came in at 9.2 million viewers.
Trump was the first sitting president in history to serve as grand marshal at the Daytona 500. Aside from his message to drivers, Trump kicked off pre-race festivities by taking a lap around the Daytona International Speedway in the presidential limo, known as “The Beast.”
NASCAR postponed the final 180 laps of the 2020 Daytona 500 until Monday afternoon due to rain. The race restarted at 4 p.m. ET with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in pole position.
Final viewership figures for the restarted race are expected later this week.
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