NEW YORK (Dec. 2, 2002) - Recently crowned NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion Tony Stewart kicked off his Champion's Week in grand fashion Monday as he visited the White House and met President George W. Bush. Stewart, the 31-year-old from ...
NEW YORK (Dec. 2, 2002) - Recently crowned NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion Tony Stewart kicked off his Champion's Week in grand fashion Monday as he visited the White House and met President George W. Bush.
Stewart, the 31-year-old from Rushville, Ind., met with President Bush for about 15 minutes and signed and presented one of his Home Depot racing helmets.
"It was quite humbling," Stewart said following his visit. "It was a very grateful feeling in that short amount of time with the President. He made us feel like one of the guys - except that he has a lot of power. I was a lot more nervous going to the big red (NASCAR) trailer than making the trip to the Oval Office. It was very flattering to have the private time he spent with us."
Stewart was joined on the visit by his girlfriend, Jaime Schaffer; team owner Joe Gibbs and his wife, Pat; crew chief Greg Zipadelli and his wife, Nan; and The Home Depot President/CEO Robert L. Nardelli.
"It was an awesome experience standing in the Oval Office, and we were very fortunate to be in the same room as the President," Gibbs said. "All of us were very impressed by how approachable he was. We were all excited, especially Tony."
"It was neat to see how nice he was but yet at the same time see how much control he has," Zipadelli added. "He told us about the pictures hanging in the Oval Office and what each meant. It was quite a lifetime experience."
Stewart will head to New York City this evening to begin a weeklong flurry of activity that will culminate with Friday evening's NASCAR Winston Cup Series Awards Ceremony at the Manhattan Center.
He will be involved in a variety of media activities throughout the week, including guest appearances on top-rated morning shows Regis and Kelly and Today, special photo shoots and goodwill visits to local New York City fire and police departments.