Daytona 500 Receives Huge TV Ratings

Jimmie Johnson celebrates winning the DAYTONA 500 Sprint Cup Series auto race on Sunday, February 24, 2013. (AP Graphic)

Ratings for{}last weekend's{}Daytona 500 were the highest NASCAR's had in it's season opening race since 2008.

The Daytona 500 earned a 9.9 rating and 22 share, which is up 24 percent from{}2012, when rain pushed the event to a Monday night.

Jimmie Johnson won the race, but Danica Patrick was just as big a reason for the increased attention. Patrick became the first woman to start a Sprint Cup race from the pole. She finished 8th{}in the Daytona 500.

The scary last-lap crash during the Nationwide second-tier race on Saturday may have generated more viewers as well. At least 33 fans were injured during the race when a car flew into the fence at Daytona International Speedway, hurling a tire and large pieces of debris into the stands.