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President Trump honors Martin Truex Jr., No. 78 team at White House

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President Donald Trump praised the performance of Martin Truex Jr. and his team, thanked NASCAR Chairman Brian France for his support and lauded the sport’s patriotism in a ceremony Monday at the White House honoring Truex’s 2017 Cup title.

President Trump was accompanied to the ceremony by Truex and Sherry Pollex, Truex’s longtime girlfriend.

President Tump noted that “the entire NASCAR field spent 2017 chasing (No.) 78. I’ll tell you, I’d be watching and they would be chasing you.’’

He later said: “Never giving up is a story of the 78 team and is a story that will forever be told in NASCAR.’’

President Trump acknowledged crew chief Cole Pearn.

“Chief, pretty tough job, right?’’ President Trump said.

President Trump also praised Pollex.

“I also want to take a moment to recognize the amazing Sherry Pollex,’ he said. “She is the love of Martin’s life. As many of you know Sherry has bravely battled ovarian cancer. She is an incredible woman. Sherry, you’re determination in the face of adversity has been an inspiration to millions of Americans who know what you’re going through. … You are SheryStrong and we are praying for you, and we’re deeply honored to have you here today.’’

President Trump spoke about France, who attended the ceremony.

“My good friend Brian France is here,’’ said President Trump, who was endorsed by France at a Feb. 2016 rally in Georgia. “He is doing a fantastic job. I’ve had him for my friend for a long time, Martin, you wouldn’t believe that right? Different sides, different states slightly, but we liked each other right from the beginning.

“Brian, thank you very much for being here. Congratulations on everything that has happened. … Brian has been with us since the beginning like so many others that love NASCAR. He’s been really a supporter right from the beginning. He said, we support Trump and so I want to thank you very much Brian. That was incredible. That meant a lot, thank you.’’

President Trump noted the sport’s patriotism.

“This lively sport reflects our national spirit and our can-do attitude,’’ he said. “At every NASCAR race, you will see thousands of patriotic Americans from the grandstands to the pit stalls proudly waving our flag and roaring with joy at the words ‘Start your engines’

“I will tell you one thing that I know about NASCAR. They do indeed, Brian, stand for the playing of the national anthem. Right? They do indeed. Somebody said ‘Maybe you shouldn’t say that, that will be controversial.’ I said, ‘That’s OK NASCAR is not going to mind it at all,’ right fellas? They don’t mind it at all.’’

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Martin Truex Jr. to visit White House, President Trump on Monday

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The final stop of Martin Truex Jr.‘s championship tour will be Monday on the South Lawn of the White House.

Truex, the defending Cup Series champion, and other members of Furniture Row Racing will meet with President Donald Trump during a ceremony scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. ET, according to an advisory from NASCAR.

Truex’s visit is the first for a NASCAR champion during the Trump Administration. There was not a White House visit last year for Jimmie Johnson‘s seventh championship.

A Furniture Row Racing spokesman confirmed to NBC Sports that Truex’s crew chief, Cole Pearn, who has taken shots at the president on Twitter, also will attend the ceremony Monday.

Trump and NASCAR have intersected numerous times over the past three years, well before the 45th president of the United States took office.

On Feb. 18, President Trump tweeted an acknowledgment of the Daytona 500.

Last September, Trump tweeted his support of NASCAR drivers standing for the anthem.

NASCAR CEO and Chairman Brian France endorsed Trump in a Feb. 29, 2016 rally at Valdosta State University in Atlanta, Georgia, one day before the Super Tuesday primary.

Drivers Ryan Newman, David Ragan, Chase Elliott and NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott also attended the rally, with both Elliotts speaking briefly in support of Trump. Trump claimed in a tweet that he received the endorsement of NASCAR.

NASCAR Hall of Famer Mark Martin endorsed Trump at another rally in Concord, North Carolina, a week later.

France later told the AP he was “very surprised” that after his “routine endorsement,” which he considered personal and not on behalf of NASCAR, “my diversity efforts for my whole career would have been called into question.”

In April 2016, France told the AP during the APSE Commissioners Meetings that he “probably shouldn’t have been” surprised by the reaction to the endorsement.

A month before the presidential election, Austin Wayne Self drove a paint scheme dedicated to Trump’s campaign in a Truck Series race at Talladega Superspeedway . In the Nov. 6 Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway, Reed Sorenson drove a similar scheme two days before Trump was elected.

In July 2015, NASCAR announced it would no longer hold its Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series award ceremonies at the Trump National Doral near Miami, Florida.

The move was made hours after Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, threatened to boycott the event over “recent and ongoing blatantly bigoted and racist comments from Donald Trump in regards to immigrants of the United States.”

 

WATCH LIVE: NASCAR America at 5 pm ET – Tribute to Steve Byrnes, White House honors Kevin Harvick

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We have a jam-packed Tuesday edition of NASCAR America, which airs from 5 to 5:30 pm ET.

Krista Voda and Kyle Petty will host from our Stamford (Conn.) studio.

Today, we, along with the rest of the NASCAR community, mourn the passing of veteran broadcaster Steve Byrnes.

We pay our respects with a tribute piece written and voiced by legendary NASCAR announcer Ken Squier.

Kyle and Krista also share their favorite memories of Steve as we remember him for the great man he was.

We’ll also report on Kevin Harvick’s visit to the White House this afternoon, where he and the 4 team were honored by President Barack Obama for their 2014 Sprint Cup championship.

Also on today’s show:

* Through the Field takes us through all the post-Bristol storylines.

* Scan All 43 from Bristol.

If you plan to stream the show on your laptop or portable device, be sure to have your username and password from your cable/satellite/telco provider handy so your subscription can be verified.

Once you plug those pieces of information in, you’ll have access to the stream.

Remember, click here at 5 p.m. ET to watch NASCAR America live.

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Jeff Gordon shares pictures of day at White House with family and President Obama

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Jeff Gordon and his wife Ingrid Vandebosch shared pictures of their family at the White House on Monday that include photos with President Barack Obama.

Gordon appeared on “Live with Kelly and Michael,” which was broadcast from the White House during the annual Easter Egg Roll. Gordon is among those taking part in First Lady Michelle Obama’s social media outreach #GimmieFive. The First Lady asks Americans to share five things they are doing to lead a healthier life.

On the show, Gordon was among the celebrities challenged to do a physical activity. Comedian Howie Mandel challenged Jeff Gordon to do five push-ups. Afterward, Gordon challenged Dale Earnhardt Jr. to do five squat jumps.