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.

IMSA’s Bill Auberlen joins NASCAR America to discuss this weekend’s race at Lime Rock

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Turner Motorsport GTD driver Bill Auberlen joined NBC Sports’ Marty Snyder on NASCAR America Presents the Motorsports Hour Thursday to discuss a variety of topics, including Saturday’s IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship race at Lime Rock Park.

Auberlen, alongside co-driver Robby Foley, enters Lime Rock with a great amount of momentum after finishing on the GTD podium at Watkins Glen and taking the GTD class honors in the most recent IMSA race at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park.

There’s also an extra incentive for the duo to win this weekend as well, as Auberlen is one win away from tying Scott Pruett for the most IMSA victories all-time.

Both drivers will have to be on their A-game this weekend, however, as Auberlen stated that Lime Rock is one of the tougher circuits on the IMSA calendar and compared the 1.5-mile Connecticut road course to a short track.

“It’s what we call the bullring of our season,” Auberlen said. “It is a 54-second lap and we’re going to go around it a million times before the end of the day. It’s going to be a hot one, and I think whoever survives this is going to be on the podium.”

Luckily for the GTD and GTLM teams, with no Protoype and LMP2 entries competing at Lime Rock this weekend, the worry of having to yield to entries from the faster classes is gone.

“These Protoypes are so fast now, that interacting with them, you can’t imagine,” Auberlen said. “We have radars in our car that can alert us when they are coming.

“They get on you so fast that if you’re not always looking or something is not telling you they’re coming, you could have a problem and catch into them. That’s gone. Now it’s going to be focus-forward. You’re going to be focused on everything ahead of you. You got GLTM in there at the same time, but they’re virtually the same speed as us – just a little bit faster.

“It’s going to be nice. When you stand on that podium you might be able to go for an overall victory.”

Live race coverage of IMSA’s Northeast Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park begins at 3:00 p.m. ET on NBCsports.com and the NBC Sports app with an encore presentation of the race airing later in the evening at 9:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

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