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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]
Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 14, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, passes Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, to take the lead and win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, leads Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet, Miss Sprint Cup Kim Coon, Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford, and Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, pose for a photo prior to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 GameStop/Rock Candy Toyota, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 15, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 GameStop/Rock Candy Toyota, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 15, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 GameStop/Rock Candy Toyota, leads a pack of cars during the NASCAR Nationwide Series Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 15, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 GameStop/Rock Candy Toyota, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Nationwide Series Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 15, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Jeld-Wen/Menards Toyota, and Darrell Wallace Jr., driver of the #54 ToyotaCare Toyota, burn out as Crafton celebrates winning the series championship and Wallace celebrates winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 14, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Jeld-Wen/Menards Toyota, celebrates winning the series championship in Victory Lane with the trophy, NASCAR President Mike Helton and sportscaster Krista Voda during the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 14, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Jeld-Wen/Menards Toyota, celebrates winning the series championship in Victory Lane after the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 14, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Jeld-Wen/Menards Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the series championship and placing ninth in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 14, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #51 ToyotaCare Toyota, pits during the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 14, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Jeld-Wen/Menards Toyota, and his daughter Elladee take part in pre-race ceremonies for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 14, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS, who is not in the Championship Four final phase of the Chase, qualified for 2nd position Friday, November 14, 2014 for Sunday`s final NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. He will be joined on the front row by Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet SS who won the Pole position. Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet SS, who is not in the Championship Four final phase of the Chase, won the pole position Friday, November 14, 2014 for Sunday`s final NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. He will be joined by Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS on the front row. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)

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