Ryan Hunter-Reay had been the class of the field in the first half of the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama (currently on the NBC Sports Network), but pit stops for him and Will Power allowed Charlie Kimball to take the lead at Lap 44.
Pole sitter Hunter-Reay was ahead of a wild start at the green flag, as well as a multi-car, first-lap incident in Turns 7-8 that saw Graham Rahal spin out Oriol Servia and James Hinchcliffe sustain apparent suspension damage. Rahal and Servia managed to bring their wounded cars to pit road for repairs and came back out, but Hinchcliffe came to a stop shortly afterwards at Turn 3 and his No. 27 Andretti Autosport Chevrolet was towed behind the track.
While Hunter-Reay sailed off from his pursuers in the first stint, Kimball battled mightily for second place with Tristan Vautier in that same frame. Eventually, Vautier faded back into the field while Kimball stayed up toward the front.
Adding to the intrigue are the multiple pit strategies that are unfolding throughout the field, which is making for a very interesting race to follow.
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.”