Forbes, From the year of the Nascar driver to the year of the quarterback.
Last year three drivers from the Nascar circuit made our list of America’s Most Influential Athletes, led by perennial Sprint Cup Series champ Jimmie Johnson. Nascar hasn’t exactly faded. Johnson, whose talent and guy-next-door demeanor endears him to fans, as well as to marketing chiefs of brands like Chevrolet, Quaker State and Lowe’s, repeats as America’s most influential athlete, based on public opinion polling. But fellow drivers Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (down from No. 3 to No. 7) and Jeff Gordon (off the list this year) didn’t keep up, making way for newcomers like Jeremy Lin and Manny Pacquiao, and for the rise of several pro quarterbacks.