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Drivers meet Obama at the White House

Eight NASCAR drivers have been honoured by President Barack Obama at the White House, with five-time champion Jimmie Johnson presenting the president with a framed pair of gloves.
Jimmie Johnson was guest of honour at a reception for the 2010 Sprint Cup Chase contenders at the White House hosted by President Barack Obama on Wednesday.

"Last time many of these drivers were here, Jimmie was celebrating his third straight championship. He's got a couple more titles under his belt now," said Obama, who said that Johnson "is not just one of the best drivers of all time, he's up there with some of the great sports dynasties.

"Now, Jimmie is breathing down the necks of Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty for the most NASCAR titles ever, which is not bad for the son of a machine operator and a school bus driver who still has plenty of seasons ahead of him."

Obama said, "It's great to have #48 parked outside ... It's pretty tough to look at the #48 and not want to jump in it and take a few laps, although Jimmie would not be happy with me if I did that!" adding that the only thing he got to drive these days was a golf cart at the Camp David Presidential retreat dubbed Golf Cart One.

Johnson was joined at the White House by Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Jeff Gordon, Jeff Burton, Denny Hamlin and Clint Bowyer.

"We also need to give credit to the other Chase drivers up here who want Jimmie to know that the second he makes a mistake, they're going to be ready to knock him out of Victory Lane," Obama continued, who approved of the 'trash-talking' that is a NASCAR trademark. "You've got to have a little feistiness, and these guys are extraordinary competitors. And that's what makes this sport so exciting to watch. Everything can come down to just one race, one pit stop, one split-second decision."

The trip had turned unexpectedly controversial after four of the drivers invited - Carl Edwards, Tony Stewart, Greg Biffle and Kevin Harvick - had declined. The drivers were accused of being disrespectful to the President and even unpatriotic by some quarters, while others took it as a sign that the foursome were critical of Obama's policies.

"I think that's blown a little bit out of proportion," Edwards had said, who explained that he simply had pre-existing business commitments that he couldn't move. "This is not only the busiest time of the year, this is about the busiest time of my life."

Greg Biffle had explained that he had to be at an event for his primary sponsors 3M which had been arranged for months before the White House Invitation came through at the end of August.




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U.S. President Barack Obama (center) poses for a group picture with NASCAR drivers (left to right) Jeff Burton, Kyle Busch, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth, Kurt Busch and Clint Bowyer during an East Room event Sept. 7 at the White House in Washington, D.C. [Photo Credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images]
U.S. President Barack Obama (right) is presented with a pair of gloves by NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson (left) during an East Room event Sept. 7 at the White House in Washington, D.C. Obama hosted the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion to honour his win. Johnson is the only driver in the NASCAR history to win in five consecutive years. [Photo Credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images]
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, races Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on May 3, 2015 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS, races to victory Sunday, May 3, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway in Lincoln, Alabama. With him are Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS who finished second, and Paul Menard, driver of the #27 Quaker State/Menards Chevrolet SS who finished in third place. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on May 3, 2015 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet, and his crew chief, Greg Ives, celebrate in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on May 3, 2015 in Talladega, Alabama.  (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS, is congratulated by Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS Sunday, May 3, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway in Lincoln, Alabama. This was Earnhardt, Jr.`s sixth victory at Talladega. Johnson finished second behind Earnhardt, Jr. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Discount Tire Ford, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR XFINITY Series Winn Dixie 300 at Talladega Superspeedway on May 2, 2015 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet SS, qualifies for second position Saturday, May 2, 2015 for Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway in Lincoln, Alabama. Kahne is sixth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. Hendrick Motorsports teammate and Pole winner Jeff Gordon, driver of the #5 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet SS will join him on the front row Sunday. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet SS, wins the Pole position Saturday, May 2, 2015 for Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway in Lincoln, Alabama. Gordon is tenth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet SS will join him on the front row Sunday. (Photo by Andrew Coppley/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet SS, wins the Pole position Saturday, May 2, 2015 for Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway in Lincoln, Alabama. Gordon is tenth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet SS will join him on the front row Sunday. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet, poses with Miss Coors Light Amanda Mertz and the Coors Light Pole Award after qualifying for pole position for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on May 2, 2015 in Talladega, Alabama.  (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet, stands on the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on May 2, 2015 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Greg Biffle, driver of the #16 Ortho Ford, climbs out of his car during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on May 1, 2015 in Talladega, Alabama.  (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet, celebrates with champagne and crew chief Tony Gibson in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway on April 26, 2015 in Richmond, Virginia.  (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway on April 26, 2015 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway on April 26, 2015 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway on April 26, 2015 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Daniel Shirey/NASCAR via Getty Images)

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