NHRA’s Mile-High Nationals underway in Denver

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On Friday, Cruz Pedregon, Doug Kalitta, Allen Johnson and Adam Arana came away as first-day qualifying leaders in their respective classes at the NHRA’s Mile-High Nationals at Bandimere Speedway.

Pedregon topped the Funny Car contingent and bested his own track record with a time of 4.073 seconds at 307.37 miles per hour, ahead of defending event winner Jack Beckman (4.097/309.91) and Tim Wilkerson (4.114/302.21). Beckman’s run was enough to eclipse Bandimere’s old speed record.

In Top Fuel, Kalitta, who is looking for his first win of the year in the top-tier Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, led the way with a time of 3.889 seconds at 310.13 miles per hour. Khalid alBalooshi was second-fastest with a pass of 3.924 seconds at 313.95 mph, while rookie Brittany Force was third in class following a time of 3.926 second at 309.56 mph.

Johnson, a four-time winner at Bandimere, was the fastest Friday qualifier in Pro Stock with a time of 6.949 seconds at 198.23 miles per hour. Colorado native Vieri “V” Gaines was second (6.970/197.25), followed by Shane Gray in third (6.971/197.02).

Finally, in Pro Stock Motorcycle, Arana led with a pass of 7.267 seconds at 182.62 mph, topping Denver resident Mike Berry (7.281/181.89) and Michael Ray (7.289/180.48).

Qualifying continues this afternoon, with eliminations beginning tomorrow morning.

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.”