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After back-to-back F1 wins, Hamilton set for closer fight in Singapore

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Lewis Hamilton may head into this weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix coming off the back of two straight victories, but the Mercedes driver is braced for a closer fight with rival teams Ferrari and Red Bull at Marina Bay.

Hamilton became the first back-to-back race winner in 2017 by sweeping the final two European races of the season at Spa and Monza, moving into the lead of the drivers’ standings for the first time this year in the process.

Hamilton leads Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel by three points at the top of the championship, but with the tight and twisting nature of the street course in Singapore expected to suit the Italian marque well, another swing in momentum could occur.

Another threat to Hamilton comes courtesy of Red Bull, whose RB13 car is also better-fitted to tighter layouts than the high-speed tracks of Spa and Monza, leaving the three-time world champion on his toes.

“I think Red Bull will be fast this weekend. It’s not going to be the easiest of weekends, potentially,” Hamilton conceded on Thursday.

“But man, I’m coming with positivity and with the plan of winning this race. This is still regardless of if that is the case, the others potentially have a little bit more downforce, whatever it is.

“We have worked as hard as we can to understand the car and we come here with full attack.”

Mercedes delivered its most crushing performance of the season so far two weeks ago at Monza, sweeping to a one-two finish with half a minute’s advantage over Ferrari.

After hitting the sweet spot with the Mercedes W08 car in Italy, Hamilton is hopeful it can help the team in Singapore despite being a different type of circuit.

“Our understanding of the car will potentially help this weekend, but you never really know where you are going to be able to place the car,” Hamilton said.

“If we can get the car in a place where we are comfortable and a bit like where we were in the last two races, then we will definitely be strong in the fight.”

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?