NASCAR may have started the year off right, based on these preliminary TV ratings

2017 was a year to forget on TV, for NASCAR anyway.

Most races were way down. Even Dale Earnhardt Jr's final race at Homestead was down 23% from 2016 and almost 40% from 2015. On average, NASCAR viewership averaged 4.1 million viewers across NBC, NBCSN, FOX, and FS1. That's down 11% from 2016 (4.6M) and down 18% from 2015 (5.0M).

But now, there may be a glimmer of hope.

Daytona qualifying was, based on preliminary ratings, flat year over year. Flat isn't down, so that's good news. Adam Stern of the Sports Business Journal reported the numbers of Twitter:

But here's the better news, also courtesy of Stern. The Clash ratings were way up -- by 29 percent! Not only that, they're the best over night numbers since football ended.

That's an excellent way to start the season, and one that NASCAR should try to build on.