SPARTA, Ky. – Reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson made a pit stop Wednesday at the White House in Washington, D.C. to meet with President Barack Obama to be honored for his championship achievements last season.
Johnson received many accolades from the Commander-in-Chief, even referring to him as the “Michael Jordan” of NASCAR. Furthermore, President Obama also noted that Johnson’s role model presence expands outside the racing circle, saying, “These days we’ve got a lot of kids all across the country who want to be like Jimmie, and why shouldn’t they?”
For Johnson, who’s visited the White House more than a half a dozen times reflected on his most recent experience, which was seemingly more meaningful than others, as he was joined by team owner Rick Hendrick, crew chief Chad Knaus and members of his No. 48 team.
“Of course it was a huge honor for myself and the team,” Johnson said. “The fact that I was able to be there with my teammates to experience the tour and those few minutes that we had with the President, was great. Honestly, we’ve moved on from the 2013 season and are heavy into the 2014 season, so it was a nice opportunity to reflect back and to bring back those memories and feelings of accomplishment and to share that with my crew guys. Mr. Hendrick was there, of course, and Chad (Knaus, crew chief) for the first time after all these years. It was just an awesome experience. To look out into the audience and see my daughter there and my wife, it was just a very cool experience.”
But, what about that moment that stood out to Johnson as he listened to the President?
“It was a surreal moment standing on stage next to him and hearing him reference or compare me to Michael Jordan, with the six championships I assume is where he was going with that, and hear our foundation (Jimmie Johnson Foundation) mentioned and all the hard work that we’ve put in there,” said Johnson. “I didn’t know what his speech would be. But to hear him go through and articulate with great detail, the things that we’ve accomplished as a team on and off the track and what the foundation has done, I sat there with goose bumps, head to toe just hearing all that stuff. It was pretty neat.”