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Dixon still leads points, but loses another win chance, at Texas

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After a chaotic to say the least Verizon IndyCar Series Rainguard Water Sealers 600 from Texas Motor Speedway, Scott Dixon could have afforded to feel aggrieved at losing yet another win chance Saturday night.

The usually unflappable “Iceman” left the track without a comment after being collected by Indianapolis 500 champion Takuma Sato on Lap 243. Sato’s No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda tried to the inside of Dixon’s No. 9 NTT Data Honda on the dogleg of the 1.5-mile oval before coming up and into the fellow Honda.

The ensuring contact also collected Max Chilton and Conor Daly as innocent bystanders in a four-car accident that involved four cars with nearly identical blue and white paint schemes, Daly’s red, white and blue ABC Supply Co. Chevrolet standing as the only exception.

“It was an unfortunate bad situation. I had car on my right side. It bottomed out,” Sato told NBCSN’s Robin Miller. “Nothing I could do. It was a great show. Very unfortunate we couldn’t finish the race.”

Such was the chaotic night though that despite Dixon’s truncated evening he was still classified ninth, and remains the Verizon IndyCar Series points leader through nine of 17 races.

The ninth place finish is actually Dixon’s second worst result in nine races; his other, of course, was his 32nd place registered after his airborne flight at Indianapolis following contact with Jay Howard. In the other seven races he’s finished between second and sixth, yet without a win.

Simon Pagenaud drove cagily and smartly as he did earlier this year to end third, maximizing points on a day when many others didn’t. He now sits second in points with 313.

Sato, even with the contact, ended 10th and is third on 312.

Helio Castroneves crashed out early and after his first finish outside the top-10 this year, is now fourth on 305 points, while Will Power was the big mover with his win to jump from eighth to fifth on 286.

Detroit double winner Graham Rahal sits sixth on points on 283, with Josef Newgarden (277), Tony Kanaan (264), Alexander Rossi (254) and James Hinchcliffe (232) completing the top-1o in points.

Max Chilton (229) and Ed Jones (228) are only a handful of points outside the top 10 in 11th and 12th, which means that through nine races this year there are still 12 drivers within 98 points – a staggeringly close number.

With a season-best result of seventh and his first top-10 finish of the year, Daly has finally moved past nearly all those drivers who’ve missed a race this year into 19th. Previously in the last weekend, he was behind JR Hildebrand, Sebastien Bourdais, Spencer Pigot and Juan Pablo Montoya.

Hildebrand sits ahead of three drivers – Carlos Munoz, Charlie Kimball and Daly – who’ve driven in all nine races this year. The Californian missed Barber with a hand injury.

Dixon, meanwhile, heads to Le Mans for his Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT commitments, as do fellow IndyCar full-season drivers Kanaan and Mikhail Aleshin, along with NBCSN analyst Townsend Bell.

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.”