Alonso pleased with P6 given engine power deficit

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Fernando Alonso has said that he is pleased to have qualified in sixth place for tomorrow’s United States Grand Prix given that the engine in his Ferrari F14 T is down on power this weekend.

Alonso is using an older engine so he can avoid taking a penalty and ensure that he has a fresh power unit saved for the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, which is worth double points.

Despite the power deficit, Alonso said that qualifying sixth was normal for him and Ferrari, so he was pleased with the result.

“We have been around fifth and sixth all year long in qualifying,” Alonso said. “Nothing will change probably now. I think maybe challenging [Daniel] Ricciardo.

“We were a couple of tenths down on the engine. We had some communications there after the Monza engine failure. At the factory we were discussing last week if we should use the sixth engine and start from the pit lane like Red Bull did.

“We’re using a very old engine, with a little bit less power and at least we don’t need to recover places. We chose the second option, so we are missing a bit of performance. Anyway, fifth and sixth is the way it is and I’m quite pleased with that.”

This way, Alonso will not need to follow Sebastian Vettel’s example and start the race from the pit lane.

“We are doing all of these things to avoid taking the sixth [engine],” Alonso said. “Of course, Abu Dhabi we must have no penalty because it’s double points, so if we manage here and we manage in Brazil, in Abu Dhabi we have no penalty plus a good engine. We have a better engine available. Here I can manage the races this weekend.”

Alonso does not think that he can finish on the podium in Austin, believing that Mercedes and Williams are too far ahead at the front of the field.

“I think Ricciardo and Vettel, who was doing competitive long-runs, I think he will be around us tomorrow. The McLarens, they are around us as well. We’ll see. The first four cars, Mercedes and Williams, are a little bit too fast for us if we are realistic. We just need to concentrate on that second race.”

NBC/NBCSN SCHEDULE FROM UNITED STATES GRAND PRIX

Attention NASCAR teams: IMSA drivers available for Daytona!

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NASCAR will be making its debut on the Daytona International Speedway road course next month, and there’s a big fan who’d like to join the historic weekend.

This fan actually has impressive credentials, too — a few thousand laps around the 12-turn, 3.56-mile layout that annually plays host to the Rolex 24 at Daytona in January.

In 2014, the winning GTLM team in the sports car endurance classic included IMSA Porsche driver Nick Tandy, who rabidly has followed NASCAR for more than 30 years since growing up in England.

So why not try racing NASCAR? Especially because Tandy has the weekend of Aug. 14-16 free.

He’s not picky, either — offering up his services on Twitter (as well as those of Porsche teammate Earl Bamber) for an ARCA, Xfinity, trucks or Cup ride.

Tandy’s affinity for American stock-car racing runs deep.

His first trip to the World Center of Racing was as a fan attending the 50th running of the Daytona 500 on Feb. 17, 2008. During Rolex testing in January, Tandy, 35, said he hadn’t missed a Cup race on TV in 15 years.

Among his favorite NASCAR drivers: the Earnhardts, Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch. When IMSA ran the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course in 2014, Tandy stayed a few extra days at the Brickyard and bought Kyle Busch gear for himself and his children.

He briefly took the stage during a NASCAR weekend last October. After IMSA’s season finale at Road Atlanta, Tandy made a few demonstration laps and a burnout in his No. 911 Porsche before the Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway.

He also has some experience in stock cars, having raced Modified-type grass-roots series on England’s quarter-mile short tracks.

Couple that with a Daytona road course record that includes two consecutive podium class finishes (including last Saturday) and a sports car resume with 13 IMSA victories and an overall win in the 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans … and maybe a NASCAR team should take a look.

And Tandy isn’t the only IMSA driver who likely would be available.

Corvette driver Jordan Taylor, who won the 2017 Rolex 24 overall title with Jeff Gordon as a teammate (and the inspiration for his Rodney Sandstrom persona), also tweeted his availability for the weekend on the high banks.

Sports car veteran Andy Lally, a GTD driver with multiple class wins in the Rolex 24 as well as 38 Cup starts (he was the 2011 rookie of the season in NASCAR’s premier series), also hung out his shingle.

There also is AIM Vasser Sullivan’s Jack Hawksworth (who just won at Daytona last Saturday), the Englishman who teamed with Kyle Busch at the Rolex 24 in January and made an Xfinity start at Mid-Ohio last year with Joe Gibbs Racing.

Many sports car drivers (such as Taylor) already live in Florida, and many are hunkering down in the Sunshine State with IMSA returning to action at Daytona last week and Sebring International Raceway next week. Because of COVID-19-related travel concerns and restrictions, several IMSA stars who live outside the country are riding out the pandemic within a few hours of Daytona with nothing to do.

Why not a weekend at the World Center of Racing?

Over the years, scads of “road-course ringers” (including some Formula One veterans) have tried their hands in stock cars at Sonoma Raceway and Watkins Glen International.

How about considering the many sports car drivers who already have reached victory lane at Daytona by making a few right-hand turns, too?