Nifty Fifty: Toyota hits Sprint Cup milestone

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After two weeks of being in the headlines for engine reliability issues, the folks at Toyota are celebrating after Matt Kenseth brought them their 50th victory in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series today at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

David Wilson, senior vice president for Toyota Racing Development, hailed his TRD compatriots Kenseth and Joe Gibbs Racing on Twitter after the checkered flag: “So proud of our @toyotaracing TRD team. We have the best people in the world. Thank you @JoeGibbsRacing and @mattkenseth for believing.”

Kenseth and JGR teammate Kyle Busch saw their TRD motors let go while fighting within the lead pack at the Daytona 500, and one week ago at Phoenix International Raceway, Busch and another JGR pilot, Denny Hamlin, had to start from the rear of the field after valve spring problems forced their teams to swap engines.

But today in Vegas, there were no problems for the TRD camp. In addition to Kenseth’s victory, Busch (fourth) and Michael Waltrip Racing’s Martin Truex Jr. (eighth) also posted strong results.

For his part, Kenseth said he wasn’t concerned about reliability problems emerging in today’s 400-miler.

“The stuff runs really, really good, and I knew, obviously, they knew there was a problem there and they were going to work on it and fix it,” he said.

When you think about it, it’s only fitting that Kenseth and JGR has delivered Toyota its milestone 50th victory in NASCAR’s top series. The team, with Busch at the wheel, also gave the manufacturer its inaugural Cup win on March 9, 2008 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

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.”