On a weekend where it felt like all the hype surrounding racing in the US was at the Formula 1 Miami Grand Prix, it was NASCAR that ended up stealing the show.
F1 drew big names such as Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Patrick Mahomes to its second annual race around Hard Rock Stadium.
But in the end, it was NASCAR’s race in Kansas that had the last laugh. NASCAR drew higher TV ratings and a higher total audience. That’s despite being on cable TV as opposed to network for F1.
.@NASCAR beat @F1 in total viewers Sunday, while F1 beat NASCAR in the 18-49 demo — though NASCAR was on cable.
1) NASCAR (FS1): 1.35 rating and 2.352 million viewers
🔳 18-49 demo: 430,000 viewers
2) F1 (ABC, including pre-race): 0.90 rating and 1.646M
🔳 18-49 demo: 625,000 pic.twitter.com/USKL3JThEe
— Adam Stern (@A_S12) May 9, 2023
Those who turned in were treated to one of the best races of the young NASCAR season. Denny Hamlin used a last-lap pass to take the victory over Kyle Larson.
But it was what happened after the race that drew headlines.
Controversial rising star Ross Chastain and rookie Noah Gragson got involved a physical altercation after a previous crash on the track.
Gragson approached Chastain first, grabbing him by the shirt. Chastain then responded with a right hand to the jaw that landed cleanly.
Many believed the incident would land both drivers in hot water. As it turns out, that’s not the case.
Alex Zietlow of The Charlotte Observer reports that NASCAR has opted not to punish either driver.
“We looked at that. We’ve talked about it. We’ll continue to have conversations with Ross and Noah,” NASCAR vice president of competition Elton Sawyer said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
“When you feel like your day hasn’t gone the way that you had hoped it would, and someone had impacted that with a way you’re not happy with, you’re going to show your displeasure,” Sawyer continued. “So we’ll continue to have some dialogue with those two organizations and make sure we’re in a good place.”
Technically, neither driver broke a rule.
But it’s still surprising to see NASCAR balk at stepping in. Only time will tell if Gragson and Chastain have buried the hatchet going forward.