Three-time NASCAR Champion Tony Stewart received a call from President Barack Obama on Wednesday morning while he and the other 11 NASCAR Chase drivers celebrated the 2011 season in Las Vegas.
Stewart is guest of honor during NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion’s Week and when he picked up his phone on Wednesday morning Obama was on the line, calling the Stewart-Haas Racing driver/co-owner from Air Force One to add his congratulations.
“It is a huge honor to get a call from the President of the United States,” Stewart said. “I was more nervous that I wasn’t going to be able to hear on the phone very well, being from Air Force One, but they got great service up there. He just congratulated us on a great season. … The First Lady was giving him updates from the track, so I was really proud that he was following our sport and cared enough to call yesterday.”
A press release issued by the President’s press secretary stated, “Earlier today, the President called Tony Stewart to congratulate him and the entire Stewart-Haas Racing team on winning the 2011 Sprint Cup Series Championship and on the incredible season they had. The President said he was impressed that Mr. Stewart was able to come from the back of the pack to edge out Carl Edwards for the win. The President said that the First Lady and Dr. Biden enjoyed being at Homestead for the Ford 400 and how grateful they were to have NASCAR honor military families. The President commended Mr. Stewart and the other drivers for being such positive role models and great ambassadors for NASCAR, and said that he looks forward to congratulating Mr. Stewart in person at the White House next year.”
Michelle Obama and Jill Biden honored military families at the season finale race at Homestead-Miami Speedway where Stewart won his championship by winning the race.
Stewart has already had a week packed with activities and he picked up four awards at Thursday’s NASCAR NMPA Myers Brothers Awards Luncheon. Stewart was named the Mobil 1 Driver of the Year and was given the O’Reilly Auto Parts Position Improvement Award, the Sunoco Diamond Performance Award and the Goodyear Tires Award.
At the conclusion of the luncheon, the top-12 drivers hit The Las Vegas Strip for what has evolved into one of the most popular events of Champion’s Week: the NASCAR Victory Lap. For the third consecutive year, thousands of fans lined up to watch the top 12 roar down The Strip. Starting at Planet Hollywood and ending at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, celebratory burnouts smoked the closed streets of Las Vegas. Stewart’s SHR teammate, Ryan Newman, managed to blow an engine during his burnout.
A large crowd also enjoyed a Q&A session with the top 12 at the popular NASCAR After The Lap, held at the Hard Rock. That event was highlighted by an impromptu break dance by Jeff Gordon.
Day 3 events ended with the presentation of the SiriusXM NASCAR Radio “Stewie Awards,” hosted by Stewart, honoring the best moments of the 2011 season.
Stewart will be honored Friday night at the formal Awards banquet at the Wynn Las Vegas.