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Rahal inherits pole for Detroit 1 after Castroneves penalized

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Graham Rahal will start from pole for Race 1 of the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear, Round 7 of the Verizon IndyCar Series season, after a controversial qualifying session saw Helio Castroneves lose his fastest lap for failing to slow down enough for a caution flag.

Rahal and Castroneves were in separate groups (Rahal in Group 1, Castroneves in Group 2), with Rahal just barely nipping Takuma Sato to go fastest in Group 1. Rahal set a track record in the process, turning a quick lap of 1:13.9681.

Castroneves, meanwhile, was able to better Rahal’s time when he went out in Group 2, with the Team Penske driver also doing so on his last lap with time of 1:13.8901.

However, amidst celebrations with his No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske teammates, Castroneves was notified by INDYCAR officials that he would lose his fastest lap after failing to slow for a caution flag (caused by Schmidt Peterson Motorsports’ Mikhail Aleshin, who received a penalty for causing that).

Castroneves second lap was still quickest of his group and puts him on the outside of the front row.

Rahal’s pole is the third of his career and his first in 134 starts (Kansas, 2009). It’s also the team’s first pole since Scott Sharp did so at Texas in 2007.

Qualifying was conducted differently from its normal fashion on road and street circuits. The field of 22 cars was split into two groups of 11, with combined times from each group setting the grid.

Because Rahal won the pole, his group assumes the odd-numbered grid positions. Takuma Sato will start third, with Alexander Rossi fourth, James Hinchcliffe fifth, and Scott Dixon sixth.

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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.”