Honda still confident despite another Pole Day drubbing

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As bad as today was for Honda — who had none of their cars make the Fast Nine shootout for the Indianapolis 500 pole — it’s not the end of the world. After all, the manufacturer only had one car in the Fast Nine last year yet rallied on Race Day to secure a 1-2 finish courtesy of Target Chip Ganassi Racing’s Dario Franchitti (pictured) and Scott Dixon.

With that in mind, Honda Performance Development technical director Roger Griffiths vowed that his camp will be ready to battle engine rival Chevrolet in next Sunday’s race.

“Obviously, we come here to do our best and we came here shooting for the pole, and we’re a little bit down on the speeds from where we need to be,” Griffiths told NBC Sports Network’s Robin Miller during this afternoon’s proceedings. “But what everybody remembers is who won the race and we’ve got a pretty good record of winning here. We’re hoping that come next Sunday, we’ll be the ones drinking the milk and lifting the trophy.

“It’s frustrating and I can only sympathize [with the Honda-powered drivers]. We’re all racers, we all want to go fast. The guys back in California have been working hard and we just have to knuckle down and keep going. But you know, it’s a tough day but we rise on these occasions. We keep fighting. That’s what we did last year and that’s what we plan to do next weekend as well.”

Barracuda-BHA’s Alex Tagliani was the top Honda driver, placing 11th on the grid with a four-lap average of 227.386 miles per hour. Chevrolet-powered drivers claimed the first 10 positions, with pole sitter Ed Carpenter leading a mix of the entire Andretti Autosport and Team Penske squads as well as J.R. Hildebrand from Panther Racing in that block of spots.

As for Franchitti and Dixon, Honda’s heroes from one year ago, they’ll start 16th and 17th respectively — well within striking distance of the front on Race Day even with their manufacturer’s problems this afternoon.

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.”