Daytona revs Fox, but ABC takes Sun.

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NEWTON, Mass. -- The Daytona 500 proved to be a pole-to-pole winner for Fox Sports, giving NASCAR's premier race its fifth-best ratings and viewership ever.

At least 17.5 million viewers tuned in for the race Sunday, according to preliminary data released Monday by Nielsen Media Research.

Meanwhile, ABC's "Desperate Housewives" (18.3 million viewers, 6.9 rating/16 share) led ABC to a primetime win in viewership and the adults 18-49 demographic. "Housewives" far outweighed its 9 p.m. competition, which included CBS' "Cold Case" (11.4 million, 3.0/7), NBC's "The Apprentice: Los Angeles" (6 million, 2.3/6) and Fox's "Family Guy" (8.5 million, 4.3/10).

ABC also won at 8 p.m. with "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" (14.2 million, 5.4/14), ahead of NBC's sagging "Grease: You're the One That I Want" (6.9 million, 1.9/5). ABC won at 10 p.m. with "Brothers & Sisters" (11.8 million, 4.6 /12).

Daytona's ratings peaked with a 12.0/22 between 7-7:12 p.m.

It follows last year's record Daytona 500, which averaged 19.3 million viewers and an 11.3/23 and occurred during the Winter Olympics. Last year's race also was the shortest since 1995.

Sunday's household rating for the race was up 2% compared with the 10-year average of 9.9 and up 8% from the average 16.2 million viewers. It's also up drastically from the 1997 Daytona 500, which averaged 12.8 million viewers and an 8.6 rating.

The top local market was Greenville, S.C., which averaged a 22.1 rating, just edging out Greensboro, N.C. (22.0), Indianapolis (21.6) and Charlotte, N.C. (20.6).

Nightly averages: ABC (13.3 million, 4.9/13), CBS (11.1 million, 2.7/7), NBC (7.3 million, 2.3/6), Fox (9 million, 4.1/11) and the CW (3 million, 1.1/3).
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