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Chaves, Harding impress with top five at Texas

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One of the newest teams in the Verizon IndyCar Series is quickly making a name for itself as a surprise contender.

Harding Racing, owned by Indiana businessman Mike Harding (has a technical partnership with Dreyer and Reinbold Racing and shares its shop), with IndyCar veteran Larry Curry serving as team manager and competition director, had not contested a race prior to this year’s 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil. Yet, with two races now on their resume, Harding Racing’s No. 88 Chevrolet, in the hands of 23-year-old Gabby Chaves, is making its presence felt.

The two races the team has contested, the aforementioned Indy 500 and Saturday’s Rainguard Water Sealers 600 from Texas Motor Speedway, saw a combined 20 caution periods (11 at Indianapolis, nine at Texas) for various incidents, with Saturday’s race in Texas especially filled with carnage.

Yet, in both races, Chaves survived the chaos to not only bring the No. 88 entry home in one piece, but in strong finishing positions. A ninth-place at Indianapolis was buoyed by a fifth-place run at Texas on Saturday night, completing a remarkable opening pair of races for the young outfit.

Chaves detailed after Texas that the reasons behind their success are actually quite simple: they’ve had solid preparation and have stayed out of trouble.

“We did what we had to do. We kept our nose clean. We had a solid car. I think before the accidents, we were inside the top 12. We had great Chevy power until the end, and just made the passes when we had to. Just really proud of the team effort,” Chaves said of Saturday night’s result.

Though the team is searching for sponsors and partners to secure a planned full-season effort in 2018, their third and final scheduled race of 2017 will be the ABC Supply 500 (August 20, NBCSN) at Pocono.

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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.”