Vergne penalized for clash with Grosjean in Austin

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Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne has dropped to 10th place in the final classification for the United States Grand Prix after the stewards penalized him for a clash with Romain Grosjean.

During the final stages of the race in Austin on Sunday, Vergne made a very aggressive pass on Grosjean heading into turn one to move into the top 10, making contact with the Lotus driver. He went on to finish the race in ninth place ahead of Pastor Maldonado, whilst Grosjean limped home in 11th.

Lotus immediately appealed to the stewards, who subsequently confirmed that Vergne was under investigation for forcing another driver off-track when making the move.

Later on Sunday evening, they confirmed that Vergne had received a five second time penalty, thus dropping him down to 10th place behind Maldonado in the final classification.

“The driver of car #25 is considered to be predominantly at fault for the contact with car #8 at turn one and the consequent forcing of car #8 off the track,” the penalty notice reads.

Vergne was pleased to finish in the top 10 and enjoyed the final fight at COTA, but felt that Grosjean closed the door too sharply at turn one.

“In the final stages I absolutely wanted to gain positions,” Vergne said. “I saw the opportunity to overtake Romain and I decided to go for it. When he closed the door it was just too late.

“At the end, this is racing and you have to fight as much as you can. I like fighting, so it was good fun.”

Despite being the biggest loser from the incident, Grosjean did not gain any positions because of the penalty and remains 11th in the final order.

Donny Schatz edges Kyle Larson for Outlaws victory at Lake Ozark

Trent Gower/World of Outlaws
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Donny Schatz made a last-lap pass on Kyle Larson, snatching a World of Outlaws victory Saturday night at Lake Ozark Speedway.

Larson started on the pole, led 30 of 35 laps and was in control until a caution set up a two-lap shootout to the finish before a limited crowd in Eldon, Missouri.

Schatz and Larson traded the lead twice over the final two laps, but the 10-time champion emerged with his first victory since the NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series returned in mid-May from a two-month layoff because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

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“Man, I don’t know what to say, but Kyle’s a damn good racer,” Schatz, who led five laps, told DirtVision after his 296th Outlaws win. “I kind of had to go where he didn’t. We got that green-white-checkered, and I decided I was going to send it. He decided the same thing.

Donny Schatz celebrates at Lake Ozark Speedway after his second Outlaws Sprint Car victory of the season (Trent Gower).

“I’m glad to get the win. It feels like it’s been forever. I’ve been out here 24 years, and every night is a learning experience still.”

Larson finished second in his fifth start since he began racing with the Outlaws after being suspended from NASCAR.

“Obviously, it would have been nice to get the win,” Larson said on DirtVision. “I figured Donny would rip the middle. The restarts before, he’d almost clear me in (turns) 3 and 4. I should have known to protect and block his momentum. I felt I exited 2 OK. We don’t have spotters or rearview mirrors so you can’t see how close he is or really hear it when the pace is so slow.

“I just didn’t do a good enough job to run a smarter final couple of laps.”

Brad Sweet, Larson’s brother in law, finished third, with Shane Stewart and David Gravel rounding out the top five.

Larson rebounded from a 10th in Friday’s feature at Lake Ozark Speedway, continuing his streak of top-10 finishes in all five of his starts since the Outlaws’ return.

“We got our car a lot better from last night, so that was a plus,” said Larson, who finished second and first in back-to-back nights last week at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at Pevely, Missouri. “These guys are really tough. To be on the podium with Donny and Brad, they’ve won lots of big races and championships, it’s nice. I just didn’t do what I needed to do that last restart.”

Larson nearly had a flawless night Saturday, turning a 11.426-second lap to capture his second pole position this season and won the pole dash to start first in the feature.

Larson, who was fired by Chip Ganassi Racing from his NASCAR Cup Series ride last month for using a racial slur in an iRacing event, said last week that he plans to run several more NOS Energy Sprint Car Series races this year.

Larson remains indefinitely suspended by NASCAR but was approved to race by the Outlaws after completing sensitivity training.