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.

Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images
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Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry. Time just published a brief piece by Wallace saluting Hamilton as a trailblazer.

The idea of Hamilton attending the NASCAR season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it would seem right for Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — to spend some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).