RICHMOND, Virginia (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon and Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden put IndyCars Aeroscreen cockpit protection device though its latest test, on the 0.75-mile short oval at Richmond Raceway.
IndyCar is returning to Richmond in June of 2020 for the first time since 2009 so the test was a chance to not only evaluate the Aeroscreen but to also test some different Firestone tire compounds to find out what might work best for the race.
This is the second on-track test with the Aeroscreen for Dixon, who tested it earlier this month at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“A little different look with the Aeroscreen,” said Dixon. “It seems like everything is going well with all the testing (INDYCAR has) done. For sure (here), the car’s fine.”
The Aeroscreen test was Newgarden’s first chance to try it out since he was crowned the 2019 IndyCar Champion.
“When I first went out my perception of how much grip the car and how much control I had was slightly different, but I think that’s because it felt foreign,” said Newgarden. “You’re not used to having a screen over your head, but after 20 or 30 laps after you got used to it the car feels very similar in terms of how I drive the car or how the car feels compared to a place like Iowa or Gateway — it feels very similar.”
The Aeroscreen was developed by Red Bull Advanced Technologies to reduce the risk of driver injury from flying debris or other objects striking the cockpit area. The titanium framework mounts in three areas around the cockpit: the chassis centerline, two rear side mounts and roll hoop integration to provide enhanced load-bearing capabilities. The load-bearing is expected to be 150 kilonewtons (kN), which equals the FIA load for the Halo design currently used in Formula One. A kilonewton is equal to approximately 225 pounds.
The additional weight of the Aeroscreen didn’t really affect the car as much as one would think said Newgarden.
“From a tuning standpoint, it didn’t take that much to get it back into the correct window as far as the balance – the balance is very good even with the screen on. From that point, I don’t think the cars are going to change that much going into next year.”
The visit to Richmond Raceway was the third consecutive week of on-track testing of the Aeroscreen, with each coming on a different type of layout. Previously, INDYCAR staged an Aeroscreen test at a superspeedway – Indianapolis Motor Speedway – and followed with the second at the Barber Motorsports Park permanent road course in Birmingham, Ala. on Oct. 7.
A focus of this test was to make driving the car a more comfortable experience by redirecting the airflow inside the cockpit through the use of interior inlets.
“That was an improvement,” said Dixon, “especially around the legs and body.”
IndyCar President Jay Frye continues to be pleased with the ongoing development of the Aeroscreen.
“We’ve learned something every time we’ve tested,” said Frye. “It’s about checking the boxes and once the teams get a hold of it they’ll make it even better. They’ll take it to a whole other level.”
The fourth scheduled test will be Nov. 5 at Sebring (Fla.) International Raceway, a track that simulates street circuits. Four-time Indy car champion Sebastien Bourdais of Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan and James Hinchcliffe of Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports will be the drivers taking part in that test.
The Aeroscreen is scheduled to make its race debut March 13-15, 2020 at the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.