Charlie Kimball takes first career IndyCar pole in Texas (VIDEO)

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Charlie Kimball secured his first career Verizon IndyCar Series pole on Friday at Texas Motor Speedway, knocking off teammate Scott Dixon in qualifying for Saturday night’s Rainguard Water Sealers 600 (8:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN).

Kimball’s average speed over two laps clocked in at 222.556 mph, narrowly eclipsing Dixon’s average of 222.516 mph.

For Kimball, it his his first pole in 109 career IndyCar starts, his previous best being second at the 2016 INDYCAR Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. It is also the 89th pole for Chip Ganassi Racing.

“I’m really excited to be on pole. The guys totally deserve it,” said an ecstatic Kimball. “Everyone at Chip Ganassi Racing has been working so hard and the boys have had my back all year long through the good, the bad, and the ugly. It’s so nice to be able to repay them with a pole position here at Texas Motor Speedway. The No. 83 Tresiba Honda was really good right out of the box and (engineer Todd (Malloy) made a few adjustments that made it better during the course of practice. During qualifying we just took a swing at it and went out and got the job done.”

All four of Chip Ganassi’s cars flexed their muscle during qualifying at Texas, with Dixon qualifying second (his fourth front row appearance in nine races), Tony Kanaan qualifying fourth, and Max Chilton qualifying sixth.

Alexander Rossi qualified third for Andretti Autosport while Tristan Vautier qualified an impressive fifth on his return with Dale Coyne Racing. This matches Rossi’s best career start (Indianapolis 500) while Vautier has a career-best on ovals (was 10th in 2013) but not overall (third at Barber in 2013).

The top eight qualifying speeds all came from Honda powered cars. Will Power (ninth, for Verizon Team Penske) was the best of Chevrolet runners.

Of note: qualifying speeds were up significantly from 2016 on the newly repaved and reconfigured Texas Motor Speedway. Kimball’s pole speed of 222.556 mph came in at over five miles per hour faster than Carlos Munoz’s 2016 pole speed of 217.137 mph. In total, 18 cars turned an average speed that was faster than last year’s pole mark.

Times are below. Per NBCSN’s qualifying coverage, Carlos Munoz did not make a qualifying attempt after failing to make it through technical inspection in time. Final practice for the Rainguard Water Sealers 600 will roll off tonight at 6:45 p.m. ET.

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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.”