Minter: Drivers Pick ‘Things’ Over Their President
HAMPTON, Ga. – The hot topic in the media center at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Friday wasn’t the Chase, or the Sprint Summer Showdown or Dale Jr.’s new contract or the latest sponsor move.
It was the decision by four drivers to decline invitations to meet President Obama at the White House next week.
The event is to honor the 2010 Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, and the invite included the top 12 drivers in the standings, those who participated in the Chase.
A news release from NASCAR on Thursday indicated that Greg Biffle, Kurt Busch, Carl Edwards, Kevin Harvick and Tony Stewart could not attend.
On Friday at AMS, Busch said to add his name to the list who would be there.
“Yes, yes, I will be at the White House,” Busch said. “I heard there was a nice article written that I was part of the group that wasn’t going. All along it was my intention to go and we just had to clear up a scheduling issue.”
He said he was glad to be going.
“I mean, who would turn down the opportunity to go to the White House? For me it’s an honor, it’s a privilege and I’ve had the chance to meet (former President George) Bush and Obama in the past.
“To be a Chase driver and to go to the White House it’s an important visit ‘cause I might not make the Chase every year and I’ll miss out on those opportunities.”
Harvick said he couldn’t get out of his previous commitment, but he wouldn’t say what it was.
“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 is 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.”
Biffle said his sponsor, 3M, had built an event around him and it would have to be cancelled if he wasn’t there.
But one has to wonder how race teams can fly drivers back and forth across the continent to compete in Nationwide and Sprint Cup races on the same weekend but can’t get a driver to Washington in midweek to meet the leader of the free world.
Maybe they’re tired of standing in the background while Jimmie Johnson accepts the honors that come with five straight championships. Maybe they don’t like the President’s politics.
It’s always been interesting to see how enthusiastically the drivers clap for honored guests who attend the weekly driver’s meetings.
But that’s convenient. Sometimes really doing the right thing requires some effort.
– Rick Minter can be reached at email@example.com Comments