Indy 500 TV Ratings Jump 40 Percent

Danica Patrick's (search) first Indianapolis 500 (search) made for great television. ABC's broadcast on Sunday drew a 6.6 overnight rating and a 17 share, up 40 percent from last year and the highest since 1997.

Patrick, who became the first woman to hold the lead at the Indy 500, led several of the final laps before settling for fourth. The ratings during the last 15 minutes of the race spiked to 8.8/21.

Dan Wheldon (search) passed the 23-year-old rookie with seven laps to go and coasted to his first victory at the Brickyard.

Last year's race, won by Patrick's Rahal-Letterman teammate Buddy Rice, drew a 4.7/11.

Arie Luyendyk's victory in the 1997 race, which finished on a Tuesday because of rain, drew a 7.6/19.

The rating is the percentage of all homes with TVs, whether or not they are in use. Overnight ratings measure the 55 largest TV markets in the United States, covering nearly 70 percent of the country. Share is the percentage of people actually watching TV at a time who tune in at any point during a specific program.

Each overnight rating point represents about 735,000 TV homes.