Brian France, NASCAR’s CEO and Chairman, has been ranked 23rd by the Sports Business Journal on its list of 50 most influential sports figures.
The ranking is a drop of 10 spots for France from last year’s ranking.
Topping the list is NBA commissioner Adam Silver. Ahead of France in the rankings is Cleveland Cavaliers’ owner Dan Gilbert. In 24th is Michael Levine and Howard Nuchow, co-heads of CAA Sports, an agency that represents athletes.
France’s ranking comes at the end of year that saw him come under criticism after publicly endorsing President-elect Donald Trump during his campaign in February and also announce the next title sponsorship for the Cup series.
Last week France announced that Monster Energy would become the title sponsor for NASCAR’s premier series in 2017. It will be just the third different title sponsor for the premier series. France, who ascended to his position in 2003, was also responsible for the negotiation of the Nextel/Sprint title sponsorship that began in 2004.
The weekend of the season finale races at Homestead-Miami Speedway, France defended NASCAR’s diversity efforts and the health of the sport that’s been under his leadership for 13 years and has seen declines in attendance and viewership.
“We are still very pleased with our position in sports,” France said. “The audience isn’t going away at all. It’s sliding to different places, consuming in different ways.
“I would tell you some other leagues that have 30 percent drop‑offs, they didn’t lose 30 percent of their audience from one moment to the next, that audience is just sliding and consuming in some different ways. Our digital consumption is off the charts.
“So things are happening and sliding and moving around. It will all work out. Sports, in the end, us included, will always have a huge, big audience. So whether ratings are sliding over here, spiking at times over here, that will all work out.”