Castroneves snatches Road America pole in Penske 1-4 sweep

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ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – Helio Castroneves has done it again, pulling another final lap flier to secure the pole position for Sunday’s KOHLER Grand Prix (12:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN) from Road America.

Castroneves has secured his third and Team Penske’s sixth pole position of the Verizon IndyCar Series season, with the Brazilian dropping a 1:41.3007 best lap on his final lap.

This is also the 50th pole of his career, which breaks a tie with Bobby Unser for third on IndyCar’s all-time list.

That supplanted Will Power in a Penske-dominated qualifying session, continuing the team’s form this weekend. Power looked set to have the pole at 1:41.3611, but that ended just behind.

The remaining two drivers of the Team Penske, Josef Newgarden and Simon Pagenaud, completed the team’s top-four sweep – its third straight session where all four Penske Chevrolets locked out the top four positions.

Team Penske did this most recently in qualifying at Sonoma Raceway for last year’s season finale, except there it was Pagenaud on the pole over Castroneves, Juan Pablo Montoya and Power.

This is the second time this year Penske has gotten four cars into the Firestone Fast Six shootout, having also done so at the INDYCAR Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course earlier this year. Pagenaud missed it there while Montoya, in his only road course outing of 2017 in the team’s fifth car, made it in.

Scott Dixon and Graham Rahal upheld Honda’s honor with fifth and sixth place on the grid, but significantly off the pace.

Dixon was 1.6 seconds off while Rahal didn’t put in a representative time in the final session. Rahal didn’t use a set of Firestone’s red alternate softer compound to save a set for the race on Sunday.

Max Chilton was seventh and best of those who didn’t make it into the Fast Six, with Marco Andretti best of Andretti Autosport’s quartet in eighth.

Elsewhere Ed Jones advanced into Q2, an impressive feat for the rookie with Dale Coyne Racing and his Chicago Bears tribute helmet, while Alexander Rossi was a surprise driver to not advance out of Q1, and will start 15th.

Esteban Gutierrez is 17th and Mikhail Aleshin 19th ahead of their returns, Gutierrez after missing Texas and Aleshin after missing Friday’s practice sessions.

Times are below.

RESULTS

ELKHART LAKE, Wisconsin – Qualifying Saturday for the KOHLER Grand Prix Verizon IndyCar Series event on the 4.014-mile(s) Road America, with qualifying position, car number in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine, time and speed in parentheses:

1. (3) Helio Castroneves, Chevrolet, 01:41.3007 (142.649)
2. (12) Will Power, Chevrolet, 01:41.3611 (142.564)
3. (2) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 01:41.6608 (142.143)
4. (1) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 01:42.0385 (141.617)
5. (9) Scott Dixon, Honda, 01:42.9308 (140.389)
6. (15) Graham Rahal, Honda, 01:45.0464 (137.562)
7. (8) Max Chilton, Honda, 01:42.7566 (140.627)
8. (27) Marco Andretti, Honda, 01:42.8614 (140.484)
9. (5) James Hinchcliffe, Honda, 01:43.2105 (140.009)
10. (83) Charlie Kimball, Honda, 01:43.3221 (139.858)
11. (19) Ed Jones, Honda, 01:43.7959 (139.219)
12. (28) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 01:43.9786 (138.975)
13. (14) Carlos Munoz, Chevrolet, 01:42.9039 (140.426)
14. (20) Spencer Pigot, Chevrolet, 01:42.8875 (140.449)
15. (98) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 01:43.0171 (140.272)
16. (10) Tony Kanaan, Honda, 01:42.9077 (140.421)
17. (18) Esteban Gutierrez, Honda, 01:43.1652 (140.070)
18. (21) JR Hildebrand, Chevrolet, 01:42.9132 (140.413)
19. (7) Mikhail Aleshin, Honda, 01:43.8891 (139.094)
20. (26) Takuma Sato, Honda, 01:43.4111 (139.737)
21. (4) Conor Daly, Chevrolet, 01:44.1579 (138.736)

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.”