Here are the facts: The Food City 250 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway on Aug. 26 earned a 1.1 household coverage rating. The same race in 2010 earned a 1.6 rating, 31.3 percent lower than this year's.
But the 2011 rating may be an anomaly because of Hurricane Irene, which wreaked havoc on the East Coast of the United States and disrupted the lives of millions.
The race averaged 1,439,000 viewers on ESPN. The network said it was investigating whether many watched television coverage of Irene instead of the Bristol race but admitted it may not be able to determine that precisely,
2011 Nationwide Series Television Ratings