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Brian France Takes Leave of Absence Following Arrest

by Pete McCole
Monday, August 6, 2018

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Brian France
NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France announced he would be taking an indefinite leave of absence following his arrest on Sunday of DUI and possession of a controlled substance.

France's uncle, NASCAR Executive Vice President Jim France – son of NASCAR founder Bill France, Sr. – will take over as chairman and CEO on an interim basis, according to a statement released by NASCAR.

NASCAR had no further comment on France's arrest, releasing a statement saying "We are aware of an incident that occurred last night and are in the process of gathering information. We take this as a serious matter and will issue a statement after we have all of the facts."

Brian France was arrested on Sunday night on New York's Long Island by the Sag Harbor Police Department after France rolled through a stop sign around 7:30 pm. France failed a field sobriety test ad was later found with a blood-alcohol level nearly twice the legal limit, according to TMZ.

A search of France's car turned up a number of oxycodone pills.

France was charged with aggravated driving while intoxicated, as well as seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance. He was arraigned on Monday morning and was released on his own recognizance. There was no announcement of any additional court dates, or whether France has retained an attorney.

Brian France's mug shot
In a statement released on Monday, Brian France said "I apologize to our fans, our industry and my family for the impact of my actions last night. Effective immediately, I will be taking an indefinite leave of absence from my position to focus on my personal affairs."

France has held the reins in the top leadership position in NASCAR since 2003, when he took over control of the family-owned business from his father, Bill France, Jr.

France helped guide NASCAR through some of its most prosperous years, including the first few years of their 14-year relationship with title sponsor Sprint and Nextel, which saw NASCAR's popularity and television rating hit record highs. Within the last five years, NASCAR's attendance has sagged and TV ratings have dropped precipitously, leading some to speculate about a change in the sanctioning body's  top leadership.

Among the initiatives France helped spearhead during his tenure was NASCAR's substance abuse policy, which included random drug testing and the implementation of a "Road to Recovery" program – a treatment and counciling program that allows NASCAR members to work toward reinstatement.

Over the years, a number of drivers who have been suspended for substance abuse have successfully utilized the program – including A.J. Allmendinger and Spencer Gallagher.

It's unclear of NASCAR would require France to go through the Road to Recovery program.

France has also endured some previous legal trouble before his arrest on Sunday , most notable a lawsuit related to his 2008 divorce to his wife, Megan France.

It has also been reported the France family has actively been seeking a buyer for the sanctioning body, which has been owned by the France family since it was founded by Bill France, Sr. in 1948.

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