Muppets’ Gonzo named grand marshal for Fontana

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Auto Club Speedway staged one of the most entertaining races of last year’s Sprint Cup season, so we’re looking forward to the Cup stars’ return to Southern California next weekend.

But the two-mile oval is betting there’s one thing that can make the Auto Club 400 even more entertaining: A Muppet. And perhaps the nuttiest one of the lot.

The Great Gonzo, known for his wild daredevil stunts, has been named as grand marshal for the Mar. 23 event, which takes place just two days after “Muppets Most Wanted” hits theaters nationally. As part of his duties, he will give the command for drivers to start their engines.

It’s plain to see that Gonzo has a lot of respect for the sport – unsurprising considering that, like him, the drivers are pretty much daredevils themselves going around at 200+ miles per hour.

“Going around in circles as fast as possible is how I got my start,” the Muppet said in a statement. “So it’s a real honor to be named Grand Marshal of this year’s Auto Club 400.

“For me, it’s right up there with sword-juggling, bog-snorkeling, and competitive dentistry.”

Auto Club Speedway has been bringing movie and television stars their way to take part in race-day festivities ever since it opened up in 1997.

But considering Gonzo’s penchant for mayhem, this may wind up being the most memorable command the track’s seen yet.

However, we must note he won’t be suiting up as a driver. Considering how he rides motorcycles, that’s probably for the best…

Verstappen picks illegal Raikkonen pass as favorite F1 2017 overtake

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Max Verstappen has picked his illegal pass on Kimi Raikkonen on the final lap of the United States Grand Prix as his favorite overtake of the Formula 1 season.

Verstappen was one of F1’s most prolific passers through 2017, making 22 overtaking moves as per Pirelli’s end of year data.

When asked to pick out his favorite in a post-season interview on his official website, Verstappen picked his bold move on Raikkonen at the Circuit of The Americas that sparked controversy when he was penalized for completing the overtake off-track.

The Red Bull driver had charged from 16th on the grid to cross the line third, only for a five-second time penalty to deny him a podium and drop him to fourth in a snap call made before the post-race ceremony.

“Of course, at first your initial reaction is something like: ‘Why? It was a great move.’ But when you look at the rules, it was not correct,” Verstappen said.

“Nothing was by the book that whole weekend. Drivers were getting off track without being penalized for it. But you always need to focus on the positives: it was still a nice race and everyone enjoyed the excitement all the way down to the final lap.

“It’s always nice to be on the podium, but to finish fourth after having started sixteenth, is still a great result.

“It wasn’t as painful as most people thought it was. In the end I made my peace with it.”

Asked if it was his best move of the year, Verstappen said: “Yes, because this year I actually didn’t have that many overtakes.

“With this car you are actually only able to overtake on the straights, which is really not that satisfying compared to last year.”