Jimmie Johnson, Chad Knaus meet The Great Gonzo (PHOTO)

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As we wrote earlier this week, the Muppets’ resident daredevil – The Great Gonzo – is at Auto Club Speedway to take on Grand Marshal duties for today’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway.

We figure that’s the best explanation behind the track claiming its first NASCAR sellout since the 2003 season. Okay, there is the matter of the track reducing its grandstand capacity to 68,000 but that’s not nearly as fun of an explanation.

In any case, America’s favorite “Whatever” is already making the rounds at Fontana before today’s fifth race of the 2014 Sprint Cup championship.

In fact, he’s already spent time with the defending Cup Series champion, Jimmie Johnson, and his Hendrick Motorsports crew chief, Chad Knaus – who couldn’t resist giving Gonzo the ol’ “rabbit ears” in a photo.

Knaus is known as one of the most intense personalities in the Cup garage, so it’s good to see him cutting up a bit. With Gonzo around, it’s hard for anyone not to be at least a little goofy.

As Jerry Bonkowski wrote yesterday, Gonzo is set to make his entrance today at Fontana by getting shot out of a cannon and will then give the command to start engines.

Audi bids farewell to Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich upon retirement

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Audi bid farewell to its iconic head of motorsport, Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, at its end-of-season ‘Race Night’ event in Germany on Friday upon his retirement.

Ullrich took over the reins as Audi’s head of motorsport in 1993 and stayed in the role for 23 years, overseeing its arrival in the prototype class of sports car racing and domination of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Ullrich stepped down from the position at the end of 2016, handing the reins over to ex-Audi DTM chief Dieter Gass, and attended his final racing event with the German marque at its first works Formula E outing in Hong Kong earlier this month.

Ullrich was honored at the Race Night event on Friday and thanked for his efforts in developing Audi into a force within global motorsport.

“In 566 factory-backed commitments during this period he celebrated 209 victories, 13 of them in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, eleven in the 12-hour race at Sebring and nine in the ‘Petit Le Mans’ at Road Atlanta,” a piece on Ullrich’s tenure for Audi’s website reads.

“31 driver titles in super touring car racing, in the DTM and in the sports prototype category are credited to him. 57 campaigners were Audi factory drivers during Wolfgang Ullrich’s era and he was responsible for 18 new developments of racing cars – an impressive tally.”