In a ceremony filled with an air of familiarity, President Barack Obama honored Jimmie Johnson for winning the 2013 Sprint Cup championship on Wednesday at the White House.
The championship was Johnson's sixth overall and prompted Obama to quip that Johnson might deserve special visiting privileges.
"Maybe we should make it easier on everybody and give the No. 48 car a permanent White House pass," Obama said. "Don't take my parking spot. And no burnouts in the Portico."
Johnson won five consecutive titles from 2006-2010, with Tony Stewart (2011) and Brad Keselowski (2012) winning the previous two championships.
Now in his 14th season in NASCAR's top division, Johnson has accumulated more wins (69) than any other driver, and nearly double those of second-place Stewart (36). It's a level of dominance Obama, a noted basketball fan and former senator from Illinois, compared to Michael Jordan and his run with the Chicago Bulls in the 1990s.
"Usually when we do these events I make some crack about how the football team's not as good as the 1985 (Chicago) Bears, the basketball team's not as good as the Bulls," Obama said. "But today I can't really say anything because Jimmie Johnson's pretty much the Michael Jordan of NASCAR.
"Like Mike, Jimmie has won six championships in eight years. He won a few titles, took a two-year break and decided, you know what, it's not that interesting, and then got back to winning again."
Joining Johnson on stage were crew chief Chad Knaus and team owner Rick Hendrick. Obama commented on the successful -- albeit sometimes feisty -- relationship between Johnson and Knaus.
"While sometimes the two might sound like an old married couple sniping at each other over the radio, Jimmie knows that without Chad and Rick and the entire team at Hendrick Motorsports, he'd be just another mortal making left turns," Obama said.