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Cup Notes: White House Snubs Spur Debate

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, September 2 2011

Some of Jimmie Johnson's peers will not be joining him at the White House. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Harold Hinson)

By Jeff Hood | Senior Writer

HAMPTON, Ga. – When NASCAR takes its top drivers to the White House on Wednesday to meet President Barack Obama, four drivers will be noticeably absent

Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards, Kevin Harvick and Tony Stewart were put on the defensive at Atlanta Motor Speedway Friday afternoon when quizzed on why they chose to pass up a trip to meet a sitting president.

“I’m disgusted by the comments I see that people say we rejected or ‘I can’t believe that Biffle rejected,’” Greg Biffle said. “I was very flattered to get that invitation. I got the invitation less than two weeks ago to go and I’ve got a function that I’m obligated to be at with 3M in Minnesota that they’ve had planned for nine months.”

Kevin Harvick fired when asked what he’ll be doing Wednesday afternoon.

“I don’t think that is anyone’s business,” he said. “It is just one of those things where we have so many things going on that particular week leading up to the Chase.

“It’s just a bad week for us to be committed to more than one thing to go up the day before we have to be in Richmond.”

If Marcos Ambrose, Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski or Paul Menard are victorious in Sunday night’s Advocare 500, it will trigger a $3 million payout by series sponsor Sprint.

Busch admitted that he’ll have one eye on his championship run and the other on trying to capture a big payday if he’s in contention for the win on the final lap.

“I think there’s a line somewhere there in between,” when asked about his potential last lap strategy. “It does sort of have that All-Star feel. When do you ever get a chance to race after three million bucks, you know?

“It will depend on a lot of things, but you look at the All-Star race and how it went down this year. I wasn’t able to catch (Carl Edwards). If I could have got there, who would have known what happened?”

Dale Earnhardt Jr. met the media Friday afternoon to discuss his chances during the upcoming Chase for the Sprint Cup championship and his new contract extension with Hendrick Motorsports.

Earnhardt, who will now call Hendrick Motorsports home through 2017, said he’s not pleased with the results he’s posted this season.

“I would give me barely a passing grade at this time,” said Earnhardt, who is currently ninth in points but winless since 2008. “I’m not content at all. I feel like I’ve been given some really good opportunities there and not been able to capitalize on it.

“But we made a lot of changes (during the offseason). Things have started to swing upward for me. My confidence is up.

“I’m satisfied with the performance that (crew chief Steve Letarte) has and with how his cars drive. We just need to find that little bit extra.”

Keselowski has turned into the hottest driver in NASCAR over the past month despite suffering a foot injury during a practice run at Road Atlanta last month.

The Michigan native has reeled off a first, second, third and first in the Cup Series while being forced to sit out Nationwide races during that span.

“It’s been an amazing run and I feel awful privileged to have as fast of race cars that I’ve had over the last few weeks,” said Keselowski, who will return behind the wheel of the No. 22 Dodge in the Nationwide Series in Saturday night’s Great Clips 300 at AMS. “When you run through a point in time that you don’t have fast race cars, it certainly feels good to get into some good equipment and get going. It’s certainly an honor.

“I wish I could pinpoint what it is. I have a hard time believing that having a broken foot makes you a better race car driver. I think that it’s the team coming together and clicking as one and I’m proud to be a part of that.”

– Jeff Hood can be reached at jhood@racintoday.com

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, September 2 2011
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