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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.

Valtteri Bottas on Silverstone pole; Nico Hulkenberg a surprising third

F1 Bottas Hamilton Silverstone
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Valtteri Bottas nipped Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton in Silverstone qualifying Saturday to maintain the team’s hammerlock on F1 results this season while Nico Hulkenberg was a surprise in third.

Hulkenberg is filling in for Sergio Perez for the second consecutive race while the Racing Point driver recovers from coronavirus.

It’s the best F1 start since 2016 for Hulkenberg, who was left without a full-time ride after the 2019 season. He finished 20th at Silverstone last week when an engine problem on the grid prevented him ftaking the green.

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“The last seven to eight days have been crazy,” Hulkenberg said after qualifying. “This weekend I felt much better prepared. Q3 was just head down, full beans, and give it whatever I had.

“I’m a bit surprised to be standing here, but there’s a big smile on my face.”

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen qualified fourth and will be among the field trying to derail the Mercedes duo that has won the first four races of an F1 season delayed because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“Feels good,” Bottas said after nipping Hamilton by a few hundredths of a second on his final lap for his 13th career pole position. ” I just love qualifying especially, when it goes well. Proud to drive this car. The race pace is there, so our first job is to get a good start off the line tomorrow and go from there.”

The impressive lap came two days after Bottas, who won the season opener in Austria, announced a one-year contract extension with the team.

Mercedes also is set to begin negotiating a new deal with Hamilton, who has won the past three races in F1 but was disappointed Saturday.

“Valtteri did a great job, but for me, it wasn’t a perfect last lap,” he said. “I don’t think many teams will be doing a one-stop race tomorrow so let’s wait and see how things turn out.”