Obama honors 3-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, other drivers at White House

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

White House honors NASCAR champions, drivers

WASHINGTON — Three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson had the gas to get to the White House on Wednesday, where President Barack Obama honored the 2008 winner as well as auto racing.

“NASCAR is a uniquely American sport,” Obama said in the Rose Garden, flanked by drivers.

Obama said the drivers work to support U.S. troops, local schools and environmental innovation. Obama said the sport certainly has grown since “moonshiners” raced in Daytona Beach, Fla., to become a service-oriented organization known around the globe.

“That’s the face of America you show to the world,” he said.

In a race on Sunday, Johnson took the lead with two laps to go but he gambled on his fuel and ran out of gas. Instead of winning, he finished 33rd. It was the third time this season that Johnson has run out of gas, but that wasn’t a problem on Wednesday.

Joining Johnson at the White House were other Sprint Cup drivers and past champions. Special guests included wounded soldiers from a Washington hospital and campers from a North Carolina facility for terminally or chronically ill children.

Johnson’s No. 48 Chevrolet also was parked at the White House.

Obama joked he wanted to take it out for a spin, but the Secret Service told him no.

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