Dixon, Power say Aeroscreen not inhibiting

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INDYCAR is staging its second on-track test of the new Aeroscreen today, this one at Barber Motorsports Park with one-time NTT IndyCar Series champions and Indianapolis 500 winners Ryan Hunter-Reay of Andretti Autosport and Simon Pagenaud of Team Penske.

The innovative safety piece, developed by Red Bull Advanced Technologies, is designed to reduce the risk of driver injury from debris or other objects striking the cockpit area. The Aeroscreen encompasses the cockpit and is comprised of a ballistic material anchored by titanium framework. All cars will have one during the 2020 season, which begins with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg March 13-15.

As was the case with last week's oval test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, there will be several items on today’s checklist at Barber Motorsports Park, including the process of a driver getting in and out of the car efficiently with the Aeroscreen. The drivers who tested last week don’t see it being a problem.

“It’s something you’ll practice a lot,” said Team Penske’s Will Power, who like Hunter-Reay and Pagenaud has won an Indianapolis 500 and a season championship. “You think about how many times you get in an out (of the race car), you’ll get good at it.

“I’d rather have it around my head than worry about if it’s a struggle to get out.”

Will Power

Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon, a five-time series champion and 2008 Indianapolis 500 winner, agreed with Power.

"I think you’re going to have to get in the car a little earlier,” he said. “It does take a little longer, but getting out was fine, actually.”

Power suggested some form of a handle to assist with egress.

Future tests are scheduled at Richmond Raceway on Oct. 15 (drivers will be Dixon and reigning series champion Josef Newgarden of Team Penske) and at Sebring International Raceway on Nov. 5 (with James Hinchcliffe of Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and Sebastien Bourdais of Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan).

Aeroscreens are to be delivered to all NTT IndyCar Series teams prior to Christmas.

INDYCAR President Jay Frye said members of the AMR IndyCar Safety Team have discussed and started practicing how better to assist drivers with egress, when necessary.

“They’ve had the frame, the piece that they’re already practicing on,” he said of the group which travels to all INDYCAR events. “They’re also practicing on if you had to take the (Aeroscreen) completely off (to see) how quickly that could be done. It’s very quick at this point. We have some great tools to do it.”

Frye said he expects everyone involved to work better with the Aeroscreen as they work with it more. Frye noted there is additional space for someone on the outside of the cockpit to lean on, which provides leverage to work.

“At the end of the day, we’re really hoping that this creates (a situation) where you don’t have to extract anybody, right? It’s there to protect people,” he said.

Frye has called the Aeroscreen “a total industry-changing driver safety solution.”

“This is, to me, a game changer,” he said. “This is big. This is something that will really change the complexion of the sport for a long time to come.”

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