NASCAR chief Brian France takes ‘indefinite leave’ after DUI & drug arrest

CEO and Chairman of NASCAR Brian France presenting the state of NASCAR during a press conference before the Sprint Cup Series Coke Zero 400 race at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Florida

France, a third-generation leader, took a leave of absence following his Sunday night arrest in New York's Hamptons on charges of driving while intoxicated and criminal possession of oxycodone.

France was arrested Sunday night in the Hamptons section of New York's Long Island, some 350 miles away from the Cup race in Watkins Glen.

It couldn't have been easy growing up a France, a dynasty of dictators who were unwavering in negotiations, and Bill France Jr. certainly demanded excellence from his only son. He defended France to The Associated Press on Tuesday as "the most loyal friend anyone can have" and said the entire industry shoulders blame for NASCAR's slide. 'Upon traffic stop, it was determined that Mr France was operating said vehicle in an intoxicated condition. Brian France's leadership style could not be more different from that of his late father; he's distant and appears disconnected. France was also in illegal possession of oxycodone, they said. According to the media outlet, his blood alcohol level was twice the legal limit.

Under Nascar's substance abuse policy, Brian France could now be required to go through a recovery program, or could be subjected to drug testing.

France has been CEO of the family-founded racing organization since 2003.

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ESPN's Bob Pockrass, citing a news release from the Sag Harbor Village Police Department, reported that France was held overnight, arraigned at Sag Harbor Village Justice Court on Monday morning, and released on his own recognizance. However, witnesses at the time said he had been driving at a "very reckless speed". NASCAR, also using only two sentences, acknowledged that Brian France had taken a leave and stated that Jim France, his uncle, and the vice chairman and executive vice president, was assuming the roles.

He's introduced a playoff system, overhauled the design of its cars and pushed for diversity within the circuit's predominantly white, male ranks.

But as viewership has declined, sponsors have pulled out of NASCAR and Brian France has not made himself available to the public. He's had a better relationship with France's son, Brian, who replaced his father in 2003. Both Jim France and Lesa France Kennedy have become more involved this year and had privately been picking up the slack for Brian France. He was greeted by several hundred supporters Sunday night when his plane landed in Georgia, which he touched on during a national conference call conducted by NASCAR.

"The France family is locked and loaded in its dedication to NASCAR", France told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

So it is basically business as usual for NASCAR, and that's exactly the way it should be, said longtime France family adversary Bruton Smith. There's nothing to report on that. "I think that's the most important thing right now is this sport needs to be connected in a lot of different directions, but they need to all come together and go in the same direction instead of having so many different ideas". Jim France runs IMSA and was the top supporter in the purchase of ARCA.

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