NASCAR Becoming Character-Driven Sport

AP Photo

My Sunday NASCAR ritual the past 10 years or so can best be described as this: Channel surf until the last 20 laps. Watch. 


Sure, it was the Daytona 500, but Sunday was the first time in a long time that I watched a full NASCAR race. 


I wasn't alone. 


Overnight ratings were up 30 percent, with some serious gains in the larger markets. 


Striking closer to home was the fact that my Twitter feed was filled with people who were surprising themselves and those around them by sticking with the race. 


Danica Patrick surely helped. She was in the top three for more laps than any other driver on race day. 


But will the fans who sampled...

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