Scott Dixon served as the test driver in INDYCAR’s simulation of the proposed Aeroscreen that will greatly enhance driver cockpit protection in the future. Dixon, a five-time NTT IndyCar Series champion and winner of 45 IndyCar races, tested a prototype manufactured by Roush Tuesday morning at the Dallara simulator in Speedway, Indiana.
The latest test comes just six weeks after INDYCAR announced a partnership with Red Bull Advance Technologies to design an Aeroscreen concept to protect drivers in the cockpit of their Indy car.
The simulator test allowed Dixon to provide feedback on entering and exiting the cockpit in addition to discuss the sight lines that will come from the framework of the Aeroscreen structure. The design of the Aeroscreen will enclose the cockpit but will be open on top. It consists of a ballistic Aeroscreen anchored by titanium framework.
Dixon’s test on Tuesday utilized the framework produced by Roush as the clear screen itself remains under development. The framework mounts in three areas around the cocking including the chassis centerline, two-rear side mounts and roll hoop integration – to provide enhanced load-bearing capabilities.
“It went pretty smoothly,” Dixon said on Tuesday. “This process has been ongoing, whether it’s the device we’re currently running to looking at the halo systems to the Aeroscreen to this partnership with PPG Aerospace and now Red Bull Technologies.
“It’s evolving. To actually have a piece we can use visually. The additions on this are some areas for cooling and the anti-fog system. We are just making sure the line of site isn’t impeded by any of these. It’s much like the current car with the AFP device. We are actually looking a bit higher out of the car.”
Dixon went through simulation programs that included running at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Barber Motorsports Park, Long Beach and Iowa Speedway.
An additional vane has been added to the outside of the screen to help the tipping point of the car after it hits the wall.
Although it is not the full construction piece, it gave Dixon an idea of extraction from the car.
“The extraction doesn’t seem to be any different than the halo,” Dixon said. “That was pretty easy. Visually, there is always the worry about not being able to see the flag stands, but it was actually almost the same as the AFP that we are currently running.
“It didn’t really impede my vision.
“I think the next step is to run the proper one, which I think is down the road in September on track.”
The Red Bull Advanced Technologies design will consist of a polycarbonate laminated screen that includes an anti-reflective coating on the interior of the screen, an anti-fogging device through an integral heating element and possibly tear-offs, all of which will be produced by integrated third-party companies. Another feature for the drivers will be a cockpit cooling option that will be designed by Dallara in conjunction with Red Bull Advanced Technologies.
The Aeroscreen is scheduled to be implemented for the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series season.
“The biggest concern, and it’s a bit of a myth about people talking about the halo and it not being useful for the Indy car because of line of site on the ovals,” Dixon said. “This design doesn’t impede that. What we have run in the past with the windscreen and how we run the angles and how it applies to the frame, there have been no issues previously. There will be an anti-fog system, as well, and that will help.
“Distortion and visual are the biggest things a driver looks at to make sure it doesn’t impede your vision or missing the flagstand. Those were all ticked off the list and there were no issues there.”
Dixon told NBC Sports.com the simulator was able to calculate the visual aspect of the actual clear Windscreen that will be mounted on the framework.
“I’m not sure which material they are going to go with, but there was no actual screen on there, but the additional pieces that will be added for the defog system was added,” Dixon said. “We’ll find out more about that on-track.
“I think it will visually be almost exactly the same as what we have. The AFP is pretty high, so it is exactly where the line of site currently is. The new system is the same in terms of thickness. Getting in the car is the only difference you will notice, but once you are belted in, visually, it will be about the same.”
Aerodynamic figures and center of gravity tests were also simulated during the test because the weight distribution of the car will change. Dixon expects more aero drag with the screen.
He also said the test included running with wheels missing, as well as crash and roll scenarios.
“It was a pretty in-depth test,” Dixon said. “They want to cover most of the bases before we run a lot of tests in the off-season to make sure we have looked at all scenarios.”
Actual on-track testing will be next later this year. INDYCAR intends to have the Aeroscreen on all cars for the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series season.
The addition of the Aeroscreen should dramatically protect the driver, but it won’t change a racer’s attitude.
“This will protect the driver’s head a lot more, but the impacts are still going to be the same,” Dixon said. “We, as drivers, don’t really think about that.
“We think about going as fast as possible.”
NHRA Texas winners: B. Torrence, Hagan, Anderson, Savoie
Defending NHRA Top Fuel champion Steve Torrence is a proud Texan who hates to lose. But if there’s one person Torrence likely doesn’t mind seeing win if he can’t reach the winner’s circle – particularly if it’s on home turf – it’s father Billy.
Steve was cheering his father on as the latter boosted his own championship hopes Sunday by winning the Top Fuel category in the final eliminations of the 34th annual AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals in the Dallas suburb of Ennis, Texas.
Billy Torrence (3.775 seconds at 319.67 mph) defeated Jordan Vandergriff (4.299 seconds, 246.03 mph in his first career final round) for his fourth win of the season, including his second win in the first four races of the six-race Countdown to the Championship playoffs. With the fifth Top Fuel triumph of his career, the elder Torrence moved into fourth in the Top Fuel standings, just 71 points behind his son with two races remaining in the Countdown.
Even though Billy’s son lost in the opening round Sunday, he still leads the Top Fuel standings, holding a 33-point lead over second-ranked Doug Kalitta and a 46-point lead over third-ranked and the weekend’s No. 1 qualifier, Brittany Force.
Sunday marked the third consecutive win in this year’s playoffs for the father-son combo and their second straight triumph at Dallas (Steve won there last year as part of an unprecedented sweep of the six-race Countdown en route to the championship).
“It’s home turf and we love to race here,” Billy Torrence said after visiting the winner’s circle. “We’ve raced here our whole career and we have a lot of fans here. There’s no better place to race than Dallas, Texas, and we did have the best car today.
“It has been very humbling, and we’ve been very blessed and fortunate to have the success we’ve had. We’ve got a great group of guys on both cars and our success is just a testament to the work these guys do. I think that we’re probably the second-best car in the country, with Steve having the best. We’ve had a stellar season.”
In Funny Car: Matt Hagan (3.909 seconds at 327.59 mph) roared to his third win of the season – as well as his third at the Motorplex – and the 32nd victory of his career, defeating Bob Tasca (3.928 seconds at 323.12 mph). Hagan also moved up to fourth in the standings.
“We had a great race car today,” Hagan said. “Qualifying was pretty tough, but to turn on four win lights was pretty huge. (Tasca) is a great driver and those guys are good, so I’m glad things turned out the way they did.
“We’re just trying to keep some momentum going, keep doing our job and control what we can control. It was a pretty special weekend. We’ve just got to keep digging and keep working. I love this sport and it’s been a big part of my life for 10 years. I knew (crew chief Dickie Venables) was tuned in and you could see he was confident, and that builds confidence in me.”
Robert Hight continues to lead the Funny Car standings, followed by Jack Beckman (70 points back) and No. 1 qualifier John Force (74 points back).
In Pro Stock: Greg Anderson (6.609 seconds at 209.75 mph) defeated longtime rival Jeg Coughlin Jr. (6.610 seconds at 207.56 mph) to earn his third win of the season, fifth of his career at the Motorplex and 94th of his overall Pro Stock career.
It was the 102nd time Anderson and Coughlin, who qualified No. 1 for the weekend, have met each other in a race, including the 21st time in the final round.
“We’ve had so many titanic clashes with so much on the line, and I knew it would be close,” said Anderson, who is seventh in points. “It’s a total team effort and that’s what it takes to win a national event in Pro Stock right now. You’ve got to have perfection every time out there.
“We made a lot of changes this week and we hit on it. It showed it on Saturday and I knew coming into today we had a chance. Now it’s a matter of if I can drive the car well enough. I can’t tell you who’s going to win this thing because everybody right now can beat everybody else.”
Erica Enders held on to her lead in the category, but saw the margin over second-ranked Matt Hartford drop to only 28 points. Coughlin is third (-65 points) and Anderson is seventh (-99 points).
In Pro Stock Motorcycle: Jerry “Alligator Farmer” Savoie (6.881 seconds at 195.90 mph) took a big step towards potentially earning his second PSM championship in the last three seasons, defeating three-time champion Eddie Krawiec (6.901 seconds at 195.62 mph).
It was Savoie’s third win of the season and 12th of his career. It’s also his second win in the first four playoff races and fifth straight appearance in the final round at the Motorplex. He’s now third in the PSM standings, 94 points behind five-time champion Andrew Hines.
“It was a great day and we knew we had a good bike coming in,” Savoie said. “We said if we held our composure we could win this thing. For the most part, tracks favor certain riders and we’ve been blessed here. It’s a great place and today was great.
“Bottom line, I want a championship just as bad as anybody else, so whoever is in my way I’m going to do everything I can to try and beat them. I felt good and we’ve got a great team. To me, this win gives you more hope and means a lot. This gives you that window of opportunity where you could win a championship again.”
NOTES: Only two races remain this season: Las Vegas in two weeks (Oct. 31 – Nov. 3) and Pomona, California four weeks from now (Nov. 14 – 17).
TOP FUEL: 1. Billy Torrence; 2. Jordan Vandergriff; 3. Brittany Force; 4. Austin Prock; 5. Leah Pritchett; 6. Antron Brown; 7. Shawn Reed; 8. Lee Callaway; 9. Steve Torrence; 10. Terry McMillen; 11. Doug Kalitta; 12. Kebin Kinsley; 13. Mike Salinas; 14. Cameron Ferre; 15. Clay Millican; 16. Richie Crampton.
FUNNY CAR: 1. Matt Hagan; 2. Bob Tasca III; 3. John Force; 4. Robert Hight; 5. Tommy Johnson Jr.; 6. J.R. Todd; 7. Jack Beckman; 8. Shawn Langdon; 9. Tim Wilkerson; 10. Ron Capps; 11. Paul Lee; 12. Blake Alexander; 13. Cruz Pedregon; 14. Jim Campbell; 15. Jeff Arend; 16. Jonnie Lindberg.
PRO STOCK: 1. Greg Anderson; 2. Jeg Coughlin; 3. Deric Kramer; 4. Matt Hartford; 5. Erica Enders; 6. Chris McGaha; 7. Aaron Stanfield; 8. Bo Butner; 9. Jason Line; 10. Fernando Cuadra Jr.; 11. Val Smeland; 12. Kenny Delco; 13. Shane Tucker; 14. Fernando Cuadra; 15. Alex Laughlin; 16. Richie Stevens.
PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: 1. Jerry Savoie; 2. Eddie Krawiec; 3. Angelle Sampey; 4. Andrew Hines; 5. Steve Johnson; 6. Karen Stoffer; 7. Scotty Pollacheck; 8. Matt Smith; 9. Hector Arana; 10. Ryan Oehler; 11. Angie Smith; 12. Hector Arana Jr; 13. Kelly Clontz; 14. Michael Ray; 15. Jianna Salinas.
FUNNY CAR: 1. Robert Hight, 2,437; 2. Jack Beckman, 2,367; 3. John Force, 2,363; 4. Matt Hagan, 2,325; 5. Bob Tasca III, 2,315; 6. Ron Capps, 2,302; 7. J.R. Todd, 2,274; 8. Tommy Johnson Jr., 2,243; 9. Shawn Langdon, 2,239; 10. Tim Wilkerson, 2,188.
PRO STOCK: 1. Erica Enders, 2,395; 2. Matt Hartford, 2,367; 3. Jeg Coughlin, 2,330; 4. Jason Line, 2,327; 5. Deric Kramer, 2,323; 6. Bo Butner, 2,321; 7. Greg Anderson, 2,296; 8. Alex Laughlin, 2,239; 9. Chris McGaha, 2,217; 10. Val Smeland, 2,124.
PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: 1. Andrew Hines, 2,464; 2. Karen Stoffer, 2,383; 3. Jerry Savoie, 2,370; 4. Eddie Krawiec, 2,365; 5. Matt Smith, 2,297; 6. Hector Arana Jr, 2,274; 7. Angelle Sampey, 2,248; 8. Angie Smith, 2,181; 9. Ryan Oehler, 2,159; 10. Hector Arana, 2,128.