Notes: United Fiber & Data back as No. 27 Andretti Honda sponsor

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The familiar blue and white paint scheme of United Fiber & Data will return to the Andretti Autosport lineup for select 2017 races, starting with the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach from April 7-9.

The rebranding of Marco Andretti’s No. 27 Honda comes as a result of the financial issues faced by team sponsor hhgregg, the electronics retailer that filed for bankruptcy protection earlier this month. Andretti Autosport decided to transition the branding on the car.   

“We’d like to wish Bob (Riesbeck, president and CEO) and the entire hhgregg family luck as they work through the current situation,” said Michael Andretti, Andretti Autosport CEO. “We are blessed to have such loyal and dedicated partners; and while this is an unfortunate situation for hhgregg, we are pleased to have such a strong relationship remaining with United Fiber & Data.”   

The 2017 venture will mark a fifth year in the relationship between Andretti Autosport and United Fiber & Data, the Pennsylvania-based tech company that served as a major associate sponsor with the team in 2013 and ‘14 and as a full primary sponsor for the No. 27 car in 2014. United Fiber & Data was a season-long associate of the team and co-primary sponsor in 2016 with both Marco Andretti and Carlos Munoz.   

“We are proud of our longstanding partnership with Andretti Autosport, and we are equally pleased to continue this partnership by serving as a primary sponsor for select IndyCar races this season,” said Bill Hynes, founder & CEO, United Fiber & Data. “We look forward to once again bringing the signature colors of the UFD livery to INDYCAR tracks across the country.”   

Penske joining prestigious Horatio Alger Association

Roger Penske, owner of the most successful team in Indy car history and chairman of Penske Corporation, will be inducted into the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans when the prestigious organization holds its 70th induction ceremony this week in Washington, D.C.

The Horatio Alger Association honors the achievements of outstanding individuals and encourages youth to pursue their dreams through higher education. Penske joins 10 other esteemed business and civic leaders receiving the honor, including Hall of Fame NFL quarterback John Elway and ABC News correspondent Byron Pitts. For the last 70 years, the Horatio Alger Award has been annually bestowed upon admirable leaders who have succeeded despite facing adversity and who are committed to higher education and charitable efforts in their local communities.

“It is a privilege to receive the Horatio Alger Award alongside 10 remarkable men and women,” Penske said. “I was fortunate enough to have a strong support network growing up and I learned the importance of believing in yourself and having the courage to take the first step toward your dream. We are all stronger and more capable than we think, and I hope to convey that message to as many young people as possible through my work with the association.”

USC head coach to be grand marshal at Long Beach

Clay Helton, the football coach at Southern California, will serve as grand marshal for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Helton will give the command, "Drivers, start your engines!" in addition to attending the Verizon IndyCar Series drivers’ meeting, visiting the teams in the paddock and taking a pre-race hot lap of the track in a two-seat Indy car with racing legend Mario Andretti

“I am honored and thrilled to serve as Grand Marshal of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, representing our football team and the Trojan family,” Helton said. “It will be exciting to get an up-close look at the incredibly skilled drivers and their support teams, and the cars they drive, as well as seeing all that goes into making the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach such an iconic sporting event.”

Of note

ABC’s broadcast of the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil in May 2016 has been nominated for an Emmy award in the category of Outstanding Live Event Audio/Sound. … Chip Ganassi Racing driver Tony Kanaan is competing in Sunday’s South Beach Triathlon in Miami. Kanaan is an avid trainer who has competed in numerous triathlons including the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii in 2011.

From the fans