As NASCAR's 10-race Chase for the Cup gets closer to its climax, TV ratings and viewership for the title playoff are going up.
The race Sunday at Phoenix International Raceway, which determined the final four drivers who will vie for the championship this weekend, had a 3.1 U.S. household rating and an average 5.09 million viewers, according to Nielsen data released by ESPN, which carried the race.
Those figures were up from a 2.7 rating, and 4.27 million viewers, for the same race a year ago.
NASCAR revamped the 16-driver Chase this year, giving it a knockout-style format in which four drivers were eliminated after every third race until only four would compete for the title in the season finale.
The final four -- Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin and Ryan Newman -- will decide the championship Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Florida.
The TV ratings and viewership for the Chase had dropped from year-earlier levels for six consecutive races until they turned up Nov. 2 for the race in Texas. So the TV gains for the Phoenix race marked the second consecutive weekly increase.