IndyCar drivers searching for ways to beat the heat with new aeroscreen


IndyCar drivers will be getting some needed relief from aeroscreen-induced heat this weekend at Road America with a cooler forecast and a smarter approach to the cockpit layout after a grueling race last Saturday.

Conor Daly tweeted that he lost 12 pounds during the oppressive heat on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. Though temperatures were in the 90s, the new aeroscreen that essentially encloses the cockpit also severely reduced airflow.

The weather was as hot in the June 6 opener at Texas Motor Speedway, but the stifling conditions inside the car become magnified on a road course with several low-speed corners vs. constantly whipping around an oval at 200-plus mph.

NTT IndyCar Series officials have been working with drivers and teams to improve cooling, adding another air duct and repositioning their drink bottles away from radiators to keep liquids cooler.

WEEKEND SCHEDULE: When cars will be on track

SATURDAY’S TV INFO: How to watch the race Saturday

ENTRY LIST: Who will be racing at Road America

“I think it’s going to be huge,” Arrow McLaren SP driver Pato O’Ward said during a team media availability Friday. “I think more than anything when you’ve got guys who have been in the series for a while saying that’s the hottest ever race they’ve done in an Indy car, there’s nothing but to believe them.

“As much as we work out as we can get fit and be prepared, we need oxygen to get into the muscles to feel good at the end of the race. I think it’s going to be huge having nice cold water for once. Because before then, it was hotter than tea. Steaming hot. The only reason you’d do it was to get some fluid in you because you lose so much during the race.”

The forecast for Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, should help: When the green flag falls on the first race of a weekend doubleheader Saturday, temperatures are expected to be in the low 80s.

Ed Carpenter Racing rookie Rinus VeeKay said Road America, which is 1.5 miles longer than the IMS road course but with the same number of turns, also should provide more airflow because of its longer straightaways, but he also would like another hose to provide venting through his helmet.

“We have been able to give the water bottle a different location so it gets a little bit more airflow and stays colder,” VeeKay said. “I think that will help. Of course, you need to hydrate as good as possible. It’s going to be hot in the car anyway. I think it’s never going to be perfect.”

Simon Pagenaud said he lost 8 and a half pounds during the GMR Grand Prix. With back to back doubleheader race weekends at Road America and Iowa Speedway, the Team Penske driver believes fitness will be a priority for the field.

“I’m on my way to recovery, but it is definitely the life of an athlete,”  Pagenaud said. “I just want to make sure going into Road America I want to present fully hydrated and full strength.  I’m excited because I’ve worked really hard for this and its paying off.

“We are in the early stages of the aeroscreen. I have been one of the ones preaching this and in favor of the aeroscreen because it adds safety. We are pioneers in safety. We are the first to go forward with this type of device. Unfortunately it was too hot in the last race. But IndyCar is already looking at adjustments to try and help the drivers with cooling, venting and drink bottles placement and size. They know what to do.  We knew there would be some kinks along the way in the early stages certainly. I think we will be OK.”

Andretti Autosport’s Colton Herta said Daly’s loss in water weight was “insane but it’s just your water weight.” Herta expected many drivers would be taking IVs after the first race at Road America and Iowa and perhaps after the second race, too.

“The only way you can really recover is just by getting fluids,” said Herta, who added teams are “constantly working on it. I would say nothing major has happened in the last week. They obviously know what the problem is now. They’re looking for solutions to fix it. I don’t think it’s something that you’re going to fix in a week. Hopefully throughout the season we can find some stuff to make it better.”

Arrow McLaren SP rookie Oliver Askew said IndyCar had been very receptive to drivers’ opinions.

“Honestly, I think this issue has gone on far too long, especially now with the aeroscreen, it’s become more of an issue because our bodies are much hotter inside the car,” Askew said. “We’re not sure if the new (bottle) placement is going to work, but we hope so. Luckily this weekend, it won’t be as hot, but I think we can expect Iowa next weekend to be just as bad as the IMS GP.

“It’s been a big test for us. You can also take into account that none of us have been in a car. We’re not race fit at the moment. Hopefully as the season goes on, we’ll have less and less issues.”

Jack Miller wins the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix as Fabio Quartararo stops his downward points’ slide


Jack Miller ran away with the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi as Fabio Quartararo stopped his downward slide in the championship when a last-lap accident from his closest rival in the standings caused Francesco Bagnaia to score zero points.

Starting seventh, Miller quickly made his way forward. He was second at the end of two laps. One lap later, he grabbed the lead from Jorge Martin. Once in the lead, Miller posted three consecutive fastest laps and was never seriously challenged. It was Australian native Miller’s first race win of the season and his sixth podium finish.

The proximity to his home turf was not lost.

“I can ride a motorcycle sometimes,” Miller said in NBC Sports’ post-race coverage. “I felt amazing all weekend since I rolled out on the first practice. It feels so awesome to be racing on this side of the world.

“What an amazing day. It’s awesome; we have the home Grand Prix coming up shortly. Wedding coming up in a couple of weeks. I’m over the moon; can’t thank everyone enough.”

Miller beat Brad Binder to the line by 3.4 seconds with third-place Jorge Martin finishing about one second behind.

But the center of the storm was located just inside the top 10 as both Quartararo and Bagnaia started deep in the field.

Quartararo was on the outside of row three in ninth with Bagnaia one row behind in 12th. Neither rider moved up significantly, but the championship continued to be of primary importance as Bagnaia put in a patented late-race charge to settle onto Quartararo’s back tire, which would have allowed the championship leader to gain only a single point.

On the final lap, Bagnaia charged just a little too hard and crashed under heavy braking, throwing away the seven points he would have earned for a ninth-place finish.

The day was even more dramatic for the rider who entered the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix third in the standings. On the sighting lap, Aleix Espargaro had an alarm sound, so he peeled off into the pits, dropped his primary bike and jumped aboard the backup. Starting from pit lane, he trailed the field and was never able to climb into the points. An undisclosed electronic problem was the culprit.

For Quartararo, gaining eight points on the competition was more than a moral victory. This was a track on which he expected to run moderately, and he did, but the problems for his rivals gives him renewed focus with four rounds remaining.

Next week, the series heads to Thailand and then Miller’s home track of Phillip Island in Australia. They will close out the Pacific Rim portion of the schedule before heading to Spain for the finale in early November.

It would appear team orders are not in play among the Ducati riders. Last week’s winner Enea Bastianini made an aggressive early move on Bagnaia for position before the championship contender wrestled the spot back.

In his second race back following arm surgery, Marc Marquez won the pole. His last pole was more than 1,000 days ago on this same track in 2019, the last time the series competed at Motegi. Marquez slipped to fifth in the middle stages of the race, before regaining a position to finish just off the podium.

In Moto2 competition, Ai Ogura beat Augusto Fernandez to close the gap in that championship to two points. Fernandez holds the scant lead. Alonso Lopez rounded out the podium.

Both American riders, Cameron Beaubier and Joe Roberts finished just outside the top 10 in 11th and 12th respectively.