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Takuma Sato, Graham Rahal lead morning warmup for race day

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing teammates of Takuma Sato and Graham Rahal turned the two fastest speeds in the Sunday morning warmup for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

The Andretti Autosport teammates of Ryan Hunter-Reay and Alexander Rossi were third and fourth, respectively, on the speed chart. Matheus Leist of A.J. Foyt Racing was fifth.

Pole-sitter Will Power was 17th. Josef Newgarden was sixth fastest and avoided sustaining damage after a spin in the Turn 13 hairpin with 8 minutes remaining in the session. The Team Penske driver will start second alongside teammate Power in Sunday’s 1:30 p.m. race (coverage begins at 12:30 p.m. on NBCSN).

“I think we’re going to have a good shot,” Newgarden told NBCSN’s Marty Snider.

Click here for speeds from the last warmup for the 2019 Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

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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