It looks like Kasey Kahne won’t give up his Coca-Cola 600 title without a fight. The Hendrick Motorsports driver, who will start sixth tomorrow night at Charlotte Motor Speedway, continued to show why he’ll be a contender in NASCAR’s longest race by leading “Happy Hour” final practice with a lap of 188.594 miles per hour.
Kahne, a three-time winner of the “600,” told reporters earlier this week that he appreciates the longer distance races as they give him and his crew more time to tweak the car and get into position to contend late.
“I feel like I’ve done a little better in over the years, 500‑mile races, 600 miles, and it gives you more time to work on your car, gives you more time to kind of fine‑tune and get it as perfect as you can for those last 50 to 100 miles,” said Kahne.
“I’ve always really liked the longer races…We have a good combination to get the car better and better throughout the race, and I think that’s what it’s all about – the communication in the 600 and having a car that’s capable of making a lot of little adjustments to make it right for the very end.”
Kurt Busch was second-quickest in the final practice session, with pole sitter Denny Hamlin in third, Darlington winner Matt Kenseth in fourth, and Greg Biffle in fifth.
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.”