NASCAR Driver Greg Biffle says he’s “disgusted.” Tony Stewart is “very sorry.”
And both say they resent suggestions they rejected President Obama’s invitation to a tribute to the sport in the White House Rose Garden this afternoon.
Apparently the invitation was extended two weeks ago to 12 drivers who will be in nearby Richmond, Virginia, for a Saturday night race. Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson will be honored by the President and will attend.
“There’s a lot of people in this nation that would love to have that opportunity and spend time with the president and just have a couple minutes of his time,” Stewart tells the sports fan website SBNation.com . “It’s a tough schedule that we have.”
Biffle says he has a photo at home of the presidential handshake he got with President Obama in the Oval Office on an earlier visit.
“I’m very flattered for the invitation and I would love to go,” Biffle tells SBNation.com. ”I (would) take advantage of that. I’ve been to Walter Reed (Army Medical Center) for seven years in a row; things like this are important to me. I simply have an obligation.” Biffle will be with his major sponsors in Minnesota today.
The White House schedule explains that today’s invitation is just like many of the events held for championship teams. “The President will also recognize the efforts by Jimmie Johnson and NASCAR to give back to their community as part of their visit, continuing the tradition begun by President Obama of honoring athletes and sports teams for their efforts on and off the field.”
Defending champ Johnson tweeted over the weekend that he looks forward to the White House event.
“Regardless of political views, when (president of the United States) sends an invite and wants to honor you at the White House, you accept,” Johnson wrote, adding a hash tag with the word “respect.” Johnson claimed some fans had complained about him accepting an invitation from Obama.
Scheduled to join in person are drivers Jeff Gordon, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Jeff Burton, Clint Bowyer, and Matt Kenseth, along with champ Jimmie Johnson.