Defending Indy 500 winner Will Power approves of INDYCAR’s latest safety advancement

Photo by Bruce Martin
Photo by Bruce Martin
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INDIANAPOLIS – As defending Indianapolis 500 winner Will Power was hitting the throttle of his No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet in Wednesday’s “Open Test” at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for this year’s Indy 500, directly in front of him was a three-inch piece of titanium, just a few inches in front of the steering wheel.

Power barely noticed it.

“Anything they put to protect a driver’s head is a good thing,” Power said. “You notice it there, but you need to be at top speed, following cars to really know for sure.

“The ‘Halo’ they use in Formula One is much bigger and obviously higher. Believe me, you are going to want it there if a piece of debris hits that. It’s worth it, in that respect.”

All 29 cars on the track for Wednesday’s open test were equipped with the Advanced Frontal Protection (AFP), the latest safety advancement in cockpit safety.

The AFP will be used for the rest of the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series season, including the 103rdIndianapolis 500 on May 26.

Wednesday’s rain-interrupted session was the first time the AFP has been used on the track. The AFP is made of titanium by IndyCar chassis manufacturer, Dallara. That company introduced the AFP to INDYCAR in January as the series continues to test a protective windscreen that can withstand high impacts from debris.

The concept of the AFP began in 2012 and the current AFP has been subjected to, and passed, the same loads as the roll hoop.

Bolts included, the AFP weighs just 2.8 pounds and reinforcements to the monocoque weight 2.1 pounds. It costs $5,000 per AFP.

It’s the next step in safety, and to a driver such as Team Penske’s Power, it is very important. Power has been involved in several serious crashes during his career.

“It’s the luck of the game, man,” Power told NBC Sports.com. “When you have a car crash in front of you on a superspeedway, the amount of stuff that goes flying, man, it’s really the luck of the draw whether it hits you.

“The windscreen can’t come soon enough. INDYCAR is constantly working on ways to make it safer. You have to hand it to INDYCAR President Jay Frye, he gets after it in terms of safety and is really, really good.”

Photo by Bruce Martin

Frye gave an overview of the new device before Wednesday’s testing began at 11 a.m. Eastern Time. He said the AFP was considered after testing results of the windscreen did not meet INDYCAR’s wishes.

While that program continues to be developed, the AFP serves as another safety device to help the drivers and teams in debris situations.

“We’re worked really hard the last couple of years to come up with a solution,” Frye said. “This is Phase One of that solution. Phase Two will be announced sometime in May. This is the first piece of that process.

“This process began in 2012 and we resurrected it. We were confident of what this piece can do, so we were able to get it on the car now.”

The AFP is designed to deflect the flying debris over the head of a driver.

“We work on safety every day and this is the latest piece of that,” Frye said.

Five-time NTT IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon tested the new device on a simulator to helped give the drivers an idea of how it affects the driver’s vision.

“After today, the drivers will get more used to it in their line of vision,” Frye said. “Scott said it didn’t bother him. This is narrower than the F1 Halo. By their second time out today, they won’t even notice it is there.

“Scott didn’t even notice it when we did the testing on the simulator. It was important we had him do this because we had him run the windscreen in Phoenix. We put some different devices in front of him and he thought it was fine.”

Photo by Bruce MartinAccording to Tino Belli, INDYCAR Director of Aerodynamic Development, the height of the device was determined by simulator results.

As for the windscreen, Frye said a new evolution of that technology continues to be tested and he is pleased with the results so far. He hopes to give more information on that in May.

“We are doing this to help the drivers, so it’s a good thing,” Frye said. “The new piece we are working on for the next phase is for 2020. We feel good where we are at in that process.”

This device could have helped save James Hinchcliffe from a concussion when he was hit by a piece of the wing from Justin Wilson’s car in the IndyCar Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2014.

“We think this would have helped that a lot,” Frye told NBC Sports.com. “That’s all we can do. It would have been a better outcome in that instance.”

Final 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona results, stats

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona overall results were all streaks: two consecutive victories in the endurance classic for Meyer Shank Racing and three in a row for Acura.

And Helio Castroneves became the second driver to win three consecutive Rolex 24s and the first to win in three straight years (Peter Gregg won in 1973, ’75 and ’76; the race wasn’t held in ’74 because of a global oil crisis).

Starting from the pole position, Tom Blomqvist took the checkered flag in the No. 60 ARX-06 that led a race-high 365 of 783 laps with co-drivers Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud and Colin Braun.

RESULTS: Click here for the finishing order in the 61st Rolex 24 at Daytona l By class

Meyer Shank Racing now has two Rolex 24 victories and the 2022 championship since entering the premier prototype category of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in 2021.

“I think what’s so special about this team is we are a small team compared to some of our opponents, but the atmosphere, the way we work, enables people to get the best out of themselves, and I think that’s why we’re such high achievers,” Blomqvist said. “I think there’s no egos. It’s a very open book, and that just enables each and every one of us to reach our potential. I think that’s why we’ve achieved so much success in really a short time at this level of competition.”

It’s the 16th IMSA victory for MSR.

The 61st running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona marked the debut of the Grand Touring Prototype category that brought hybrid engine technology to IMSA’s top level.

In other categories:

LMP2: James Allen passed Ben Hanley on the final lap and delivered a victory in the No. 55 ORECA by 0.016 seconds. It’s the second IMSA victory for Proton Competition, which last won at Sebring in 2012. It was the first Rolex 24 victory for Allen and co-drivers Gianmaria Bruni, Fred Poordad and Francesco Pizzi.

GTD Pro: Cooper MacNeil won in the last start of his IMSA career as the No. 79 Mercedes-AMG GT3 scored the first Rolex 24 at Daytona for WeatherTech Racing and the team’s fourth career victory.

MacNeil, who co-drove with Maro Engel, Jules Gounon and Daniel Juncadella, earned his 12th career victory and first at the Rolex 24.

“Winning by last IMSA race is tremendous,” MacNeil said.

GTD: The No. 27 Heart of Racing Team delivered the first Rolex 24 at Daytona for Aston Martin, which has been competing in endurance races at Daytona International Speedway since 1964. Drivers Marco Sorensen, Roman De Angelis, Darren Turner and Ian James (also the team principal) earned the victory in the English brand’s 13th attempt.

It’s also the first Rolex 24 at Daytona win for Heart of Racing, which has seven IMSA wins.

LMP3: Anthony Mantella, Wayne Boyd, Nico Varrone and Thomas Merrill drove the No. 17 AWA Duqueine D08 to victory by 12 laps for the team’s first class win in IMSA.


STATS PACKAGE FOR ROLEX 24 HOURS OF DAYTONA:

Fastest laps by driver

Fastest laps by driver after race (over the weekend)

Fastest laps by driver and class after race

Fastest lap sequence

Lap chart

Leader sequence

Race analysis by lap

Stint analysis

Time cards

Pit stop time cards

Best sector times

Race distance and speed average

Flag analysis

Weather report

NEXT: The 2023 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season will resume with the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring March 18 with coverage across NBC, USA and Peacock.