“It is just a huge honor,” he said. “And not only is it very good for me and my career and what I do in the racecar and my brand, I think it’s very good for NASCAR as well.”
This year, six of the 10 featured on the list are NFL quarterbacks, including Peyton and Eli Manning, as well as Tim Tebow, who debuted last year at No. 10, but is now ranked second.
The rankings, released Tuesday, are done by public opinion polling.
Forbes used Nielsen and E-Poll, which surveyed more than 1,100 adults about dozens of well-known athletes to measure their likeability and whether they are considered influential to marketers.
The term “influential” was among 40 those polled could choose from to describe the athletes. From the answers, 25 percent said “influential” described Johnson, and 40 percent stated they liked the five-time NASCAR champion.
Johnson was joined on the list by his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. But Earnhardt slipped from third to seventh, while teammate Jeff Gordon dropped off the list.
Also falling off the list was Michael Phelps, Troy Polamalu, LeBron James and Shaquille O’Neal, who was no longer eligible because he’s retired.
Making the list this year was Jeremy Lin, Many Pacquiao, Eli Manning, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers.
CUTTING TIES: Struggling engine manufacturer Lotus released Bryan Herta Autosport and Dreyer & Reinbold Racing from its IndyCar engine contracts Tuesday.
The release clears the two teams to cut new deals with powerhouse manufacturers Chevrolet and Honda, and leaves Lotus with just three cars spanning two teams. BHA had already said it would not take Alex Tagliani to Sunday’s race at Brazil, while DRR driver Oriol Servia will make his final start with a Lotus this weekend.
Neither team had a new engine deal to announce Tuesday.
“I ran cross country in high school, but I am not quick enough to push the car around the track myself. We need an engine,” Herta said. “Obviously, if we get one, it’s going to be either a Chevrolet or a Honda, but we don’t have anything yet. It was a little bit of a leap of faith, but that’s why it’s really good it was done amicably between teams and IndyCar and Lotus.”
HEARING: IndyCar has scheduled a Thursday hearing to discuss Chevrolet’s protest over changes Honda is allowed to make to its engines.
IndyCar last week ruled that Honda can change the compressor cover on its single turbocharger. Chevrolet and its teams believe the change should not be allowed.