Jimmie Johnson and a group of NASCAR racers were honoured Wednesday in the White House by President Barack Obama.
Surrounded by the drivers, the American president gave a speech on the White House's South Lawn, where Johnson's car was parked beside his Sprint Cup champion's trophy. Obama praised the series and its drivers for their service to the community, while recognizing the growth that the sport has enjoyed in the U.S. and worldwide.
"You know, it is not every day that we have a championship stock car parked out on the South Lawn," Obama said. "Fortunately, we got Jimmie to agree not to do any burnouts or tear up my backyard.
"I also suggested to Jimmie that, in exchange for free parking, he should let me take the #48 out for a few laps. He said that was fine – but the Secret Service didn't think it was fine."
As well as Johnson, another 17 drivers were part of the event, including most of the Chase contenders from the 2008 season, plus Juan Pablo Montoya. Eight former champions also intended, headed by Richard Petty.
Johnson's visit to the White House was his second, as in 2007 – following his first Cup title – he met with then President George W. Bush.