President Obama: Jimmie Johnson is the ‘Michael Jordan of NASCAR’


President Obama walks into the East Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, June 25, 2014, with NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson for a ceremony honoring the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champions. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

President Obama awarded NASCAR's Jimmie Johnson with the 2013 Sprint Cup during a brief ceremony in the East Room of the White House Wednesday, lavishing high praise on the auto-racing champ.

“Usually when we do these sports events I make some crack about how the football team isn’t as good as the '85 Bears, or the basketball team isn’t as good as the Bulls,” Obama said, referring to his affinity for Chicago sports teams. “But to that I can’t really say anything because Jimmie Johnson is pretty much the Michael Jordan of NASCAR.”

Johnson is no stranger the White House. His first visit was at the invitation of President George W. Bush in 2003, and his most recent before Wednesday was in 2011, when Obama hosted him for his 2010 championship success.

Wednesday’s award marks Johnson’s sixth Spring Cup win. Obama went on to recognize Johnson’s pit crew and crew chief, Chad Knaus.

“It is amazing to see the teamwork and athleticism, it’s remarkable,” Obama said, joking that Knaus and Johnson’s relationship reminded him of an “old married couple”.

Obama praised Johnson’s community involvement and his organization, the Jimmie Johnson foundation—which has raised millions of dollars for families in need since its start in 2006.

The president even suggested that Johnson’s number 48 car should be a permanent staple at the White House, considering how many times he's been feted at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

“Just don’t take my parking spot,” Obama said. “And no donuts in the portico.”

Thomas Gibbons-Neff is a summer intern and a former U.S. infantry Marine.
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