Pressure mounts on Smith as NASCAR Nationwide races in Chicago Sunday

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An off weekend for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series means the NASCAR Nationwide Series will have its day in the spotlight.

The Nationwide Series’ STP 300 at Chicagoland Speedway this Sunday may see the championship lead change hands.

Just five points separates Regan Smith from Sam Hornish Jr. (594-589), and the top five are covered by just 24 points. Austin Dillon (582), Justin Allgaier (574) and Elliott Sadler (570) are all in striking range, as they all seek their first wins of the season.

Sadler dropped the hammer on Smith after Loudon last weekend, when he told Smith directly after a post-race confrontation, point blank, “You will not win this championship, mark my word.” More on that kerfuffle is here from NASCAR.com.

Brian Vickers, who’s sixth in points, looks to ride the momentum of his Cup win at Loudon last weekend and translate it to the Nationwide side. Despite driving for Joe Gibbs Racing, he too is yet to visit victory lane in his full-time ride this year.

Dillon, Vickers, Brian Scott and Michael Annett have some extra incentive this weekend as the four qualifiers for Nationwide’s $100,000 “Dash 4 Cash” bonus. It’s the third of four races in the summer stretch, where the highest-finishing eligible driver wins a $100,000 bonus above and beyond the race purse. In addition, fans can also enter to win $100,000 and a trip to Indianapolis Motor Speedway through the NASCAR Nationwide Series $100k Sweepstakes.

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.”