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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.




Related Pictures

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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]
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Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Skittles Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 26, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Skittles Toyota, places the winner`s decal in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 26, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana (Photo Credit: Photo by Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Skittles Toyota, celebrates with the chequered flag after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 26, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Sarah Crabill/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Skittles Toyota, celebrates by kissing the bricks after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 26, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Skittles Toyota, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 26, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Rainier Ehrhardt/NASCAR via Getty Images)
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Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Skittles Toyota, leads a pack of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 26, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Sarah Crabill/NASCAR via Getty Images)
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