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Several sponsors switched for IndyCar’s trip to Long Beach

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There will be a handful of different primary sponsors and liveries adorned on the 21-car Verizon IndyCar Series field for this weekend’s Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (Sunday, 4 p.m. ET, NBCSN), Round 2 of the 2017 season.

Seven of the 21 cars will have either a different primary sponsor or livery, or perhaps both, this weekend. The full entry list, via INDYCAR, is linked here.

Here’s the changes:

  • Simon Pagenaud will run the No. 1 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet, a shift to the blinding yellow from PPG colors at St. Petersburg.
  • Helio Castroneves’ No. 3 Auto Club of Southern California Team Penske Chevrolet is back in the usual blue-and-white it is for this race. It was Hitachi black-and-white at St. Petersburg.
  • Scott Dixon will have NTT Data on his No. 9 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda but the same livery as at St. Petersburg, where GE LED Lighting was the primary sponsor.
  • Graham Rahal’s No. 15 RLL Racing Honda will feature PennGrade signage. It was Steak ‘n Shake at St. Petersburg.
  • Spencer Pigot’s No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet still is listed with Fuzzy’s Vodka primary sponsorship but will have Loki the Wolfdog, an Instagram celebrity dog (seriously, such a thing exists) signage.
  • JR Hildebrand’s No. 21 ECR Chevrolet shifts from Fuzzy’s green to Preferred Freezer Services blue-and-white.
  • Marco Andretti’s No. 27 United Fiber & Data Honda for Andretti Autosport also goes to blue-and-white, after the breakaway from hhgregg. UFD was confirmed as primary sponsor for seven races earlier this week.

This means of the 21 cars, more than half (11 of them) have some degree of blue in their livery.

Those cars are driven by Castroneves, Dixon, Hildebrand, Andretti, Conor Daly, Carlos Munoz, Max Chilton, Tony Kanaan, Ed Jones, Takuma Sato and Alexander Rossi, the latter of whom continues in the NAPA Auto Parts colors this weekend.

Fernando Alonso completes first test with United Autosports

Photo: United Autosports
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Two-time Formula 1 World Champion Fernando Alonso enjoyed his first outing with United Autosports, with whom he will contest the 2018 Rolex 24 at Daytona, in their Ligier JS P217 LMP2 chassis.

The McLaren Formula 1 driver completed the test at Motorland Aragon in Spain alongside co-driver Phil Hanson, who will be a teammate with Alonso at next year’s 24-hour Daytona enduro. Filipe Albuquerque, a former GT class winner at the Rolex 24, was also on hand to help Alonso and the team ahead of Alonso’s first run in an LMP2 car, which comes only a couple days after he made his LMP1 testing debut with Toyota. Albuquerque races with Mustang Sampling Racing in IMSA, but will return to United’s European Le Mans Series program for all but one race in 2018.

“I had a great first test with United Autosports. Obviously, we are on a really tight schedule between now and Daytona, but it was nice to jump in the car for the first time,” said Alonso, who will rejoin the team at the official Roar Before the 24 test on January 5-7.

Alonso added, “There’s quite a few switches and things to study so it was important to do this initial shakedown before Daytona, so I could fully learn about the car. I’m happy with everything – the car felt great and the team were fantastic. The atmosphere here is wonderful, like a big family, so today has been amazing. I cannot wait for Daytona.”

Team owner Zak Brown, who also serves as executive director of McLaren Technology Group and helps lead the McLaren Formula 1 effort, shared Alonso’s enthusiasm and was not surprised he was able to acclimate himself relatively quickly.

“Fernando’s first test with United Autosports went awesome as expected. He is a world champion and it is a pleasure to have him in our car,” he said of Alonso’s debut with the team.

Alonso is currently schedule to contest the Rolex 24 with the aforementioned Hanson and McLaren test driver Lando Norris.