Stewart speaks out staunchly against blocking

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Tony Stewart took time to meet with the media Friday at Martinsville Speedway to dismiss “hypocrite” claims after he was blocked at the end of NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series race at Auto Club Speedway two weeks ago.

“I don’t like blocking. I never have, never will,” Stewart said. “It’s our job as drivers to go out there and try to pass people. That’s what racing is about. We didn’t have blocking 10 years ago. I don’t know where all the sudden it became a common deal and some people think it’s alright to do now and is just common practice. I don’t believe in it and don’t believe it should be common practice.”

Stewart explained the different dynamic between blocking at a place like Auto Club in Fontana, a 2.0-mile oval, versus the restrictor plate tracks of Daytona and Talladega. Contact between he and Michael Waltrip at the end of last fall’s Talladega race triggered a multiple car pileup.

“I don’t like it at Daytona and Talladega, either – but it’s the position we’re put in there,” he said. “What happened at California is a different deal. The people that are trying to compare the two, honestly, I’ve read (which reporters) wrote it and it’s disappointing they don’t understand the sport any better than that. There is a huge difference between the two.”

Stewart also said he and Logano haven’t spoken by phone, nor would it matter to Stewart, because disagreements can’t necessarily be settled by such conversations.

Ryan Newman, Stewart’s teammate, made a few waves earlier in the week when he called blocking a “chicken way of driving.”

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.”