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Five NASCAR Drivers Decline President Obama's White House Invitation

President Barack Obama will honor NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson and the 11 other Chase drivers from last year in a White House ceremony on Wednesday – but nearly half of the 2010 playoff contenders won't be there.

NASCAR said Thursday that five drivers – Greg Biffle, Kurt Busch, Carl Edwards, Kevin Harvick and Tony Stewart – will not be attending the White House visit due to "schedule conflicts."

UPDATE: Busch said Friday he will attend the White House visit after all.

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They must be very busy people. Regardless of one's political views, the president is still the president – and an opportunity to speak with the leader of the free world is a rare and special one.

You'd think whatever photo shoots or sponsor appearances these drivers have lined up on Wednesday afternoon – if that's indeed the reason – could be rescheduled. After all, this is the President of the United States we're talking about here.

For a sport that prides itself on patriotism, having so many drivers turn down the president's invitation simply seems strange.

Johnson, Denny Hamlin, Jeff Gordon, Kyle Busch, Clint Bowyer, Jeff Burton and Matt Kenseth will attend.

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RELATED: President Obama schedules speech for same time as first NFL game of the season