Washington, DC (Sports Network) - Reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Brad Keselowski was honored by President Barack Obama during a somewhat subdued ceremony at the White House on Tuesday.
Obama praised Keselowski for his championship season last year, but in his opening remarks, he continued to express his sympathy for the victims of Monday's Boston Marathon bombings.
"We've had this event scheduled for some time, and events have a way of intervening," Obama said. "Obviously, our minds right now are very much with our fellow Americans and fans and competitors from all over the world who woke up yesterday and went to run and cheer on at another terrific sporting event, the Boston Marathon.
"I know the entire NASCAR family shares with me just an incredible sense of loss. We mourn the victims, and we pray for their loved ones."
Obama also thanked Keselowski for his Checkered Flag Foundation and its "Race to Recovery" program, which benefits wounded U.S. Armed Forces service members and their loved ones.
Keselowski's team owner, Roger Penske, and his crew chief, Paul Wolfe, also attended the ceremony.
"Most of all, we are here today to congratulate Brad and his whole team," Obama said. "Best of luck as you gear up for this year's Chase (for the Sprint Cup championship). I was just telling him that I was getting tired of seeing (Jimmie) Johnson all of the time. And I understand now that Brad and Jimmie are going at it again. So I know this is going to be a competitive race (season) as well."
Johnson holds a nine-point lead over Keselowski following the seventh race of the season. The series will run on Sunday at Kansas Speedway.
Keselowski later showed off his No. 2 Miller Lite car, which was parked on the South Lawn. Keselowski's Sprint Cup trophy was on display in front of the car.
"Brad offered to let me drive it around the South Lawn, but the Secret Service said no," Obama jokingly said.
Keselowski's visit to the White House comes three days after he lashed out at NASCAR following the Sprint Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway. Keselowski was furious with NASCAR after officials confiscated the rear-end housing and other parts on his car during pre-race inspection. His team could be facing penalties.
On Monday, NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France told Fox Business Network that Keselowski would not be fined for his post-race comments.