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Ed Carpenter leads frantic final practice at Texas

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Ed Carpenter led a wild final practice at Texas Motor Speedway ahead of Saturday night’s Rainguard Water Sealers 600 (8:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN).

Carpenter, who struggled somewhat in qualifying and will start 14th, turned a fast lap of 224.682 mph, and he was the only driver to break the 224 mph barrier. Scott Dixon, Alexander Rossi, JR Hildebrand, and Simon Pagenaud completed the top five.

In what could be a preview of Saturday night’s race, the final practice saw close action throughout the 30-minute session.

A group consisting of as many as 15 cars ran together at one time, with several venturing into the outside lane to make passes. However, the session ran without incident, only stopping once for debris on the circuit.

Speeds continue to be significantly higher in comparison to last year. Carpenter’s best lap was nearly 11 mph faster than the quickest lap from last year’s final practice (Graham Rahal, 213.935 mph, conducted in June prior to the rainout) and just under 10 mph quicker than the quick lap from pre-race warmup for the August makeup date (Scott Dixon, 214.937 mph).

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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.”