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NASCAR TV ratings up after banning Confederate flag

Fox reported notable ratings increases for Wednesday night’s race at Martinsville, which happened hours after the series announced its ban of the flag.

If you were wondering how NASCAR’s decision to ban the Confederate flag at its events would affect its business, here’s the immediate answer: Positively.

Overnight TV ratings for Wednesday night’s Cup Series race at Martinsville were up 104 percent from the same spot on the series schedule last year, Fox reported Thursday.

Last year’s race was postponed because of rain, so it might not be the best example. A more recent and applicable comparison isn’t as stark, but it’s still a good sign for the series. Ratings for the Martinsville race (1.14) were up 16 percent from NASCAR’s last weeknight Cup race on FS1 (a 0.98 at Charlotte on May 28).

NASCAR’s official Twitter account increased its Twitter followers by 2,958 on Wednesday, after losing a few hundred followers each of the previous nine days, according to data on socialblade.com. Its Instagram following increased by 1,007 — its third-highest jump in the last two weeks, according to the site.

Related: NASCAR bans Confederate flag from its races and properties

Joey Logano, the 2018 Cup champion, praised NASCAR’s decision and fellow driver Bubba Wallace for speaking out about the issue.

"You have monumental moments, big moments in sports and life,” Logano said after the race. “Obviously, there’s so much going on right now in our world when you think of the Black Lives Matter movement that’s going on, coronavirus, and it’s forcing all of us to look internal, look at ourselves first. It says in the Bible, ‘Look at yourself before others,’ and I think you need to fix your heart, find your heart, know what’s right. I’m not speaking as myself, I’m speaking for everybody, that’s just the way we should be.

“It was really cool to see what Bubba was able to do. I didn’t see where he finished, but he should be proud of the movement he’s made for the African American community in our sport. He always has, just by being here, but when you look at the comments he made on CNN the other day and then NASCAR completely answered it. Kudos to NASCAR. Kudos to Bubba for bringing it up and using his platform for something good. That’s the most important thing.

Related: Some NASCAR fans still defend, display Confederate flag (2015)

“We can win races," Logano continued. "I say this all the time, winning a championship is nice, but what is it? It’s an empty trophy, it’s an empty cup. That’s what it is. If you do nothing with it, it’s really pointless at the end of the day, so kudos to him for really stepping up and being a leader and not just a race car driver.”

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