In congratulating Stewart on his accomplishment, Obama recounted Stewart's victory in a must-win situation in the final post-season race in Miami.
"Tony went all out. Twice he came from back of the pack, passing 118 cars -- sometimes three wide," Obama said. "Tony said it felt like he passed half the state of Florida. But in the end, he hung on to take the checkered flag and win the championship with a tie-breaker.
"And Tony himself acknowledged he didn't see it coming; nobody saw it coming. We've all heard about athletes who say they're going to do what it takes to win it all. But back in August, with the season winding down, Tony predicted he wouldn't be able to pull it off.
"In fact, he said that if he did end up winning the championship -- this is a quote -- 'I'll declare I'm a total bumbling idiot,'" the president said, eliciting laughter. "Here's your chance, Tony.
"But I think Tony's hero, the great A.J. Foyt, put it best when he said the reason Tony won was because he drove the best race of his life. Period. And he did it with the rest of these drivers on his tail."