Callum Ilott is latest IndyCar driver to give thanks for aeroscreen after Texas incident

Callum Ilott aeroscreen IndyCar
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Callum Ilott is the latest NTT IndyCar Series driver to credit the aeroscreen for helping avoid a potentially serious injury or worse.

IndyCar president Jay Frye tweeted out video Wednesday night from Ilott’s close call with a part that flew off Jack Harvey’s car during his practice crash March 19 at Texas Motor Speedway.

“This incredibly high tech/game changer did its job again,” Frye posted on Twitter. “Thanks again for (an) incredible effort to all involved getting it done.”

The cockpit safety device implemented in 2020 by IndyCar deflected what Ilott described as a pushrod that flew down the backstretch from Harvey’s wreck while Ilott appeared to be slowing down from a top speed that typically is well in excess of 200mph on the 1.5-mile oval.

Ilott also tweeted his gratitude to IndyCar for the aeroscreen — echoing the sentiment of Ryan Hunter-Reay last season.

After a crash on the opening lap of the 2021 season opener at Barber Motorsports Park, Hunter-Reay said the aeroscreen “likely saved my life” while posting photos and videos to social media of the crash.

The right-front wheel of Josef Newgarden’s No. 2 Dallara-Chevrolet get airborne over Hunter-Reay’s No. 28 Dallara-Honda in the incident, but the wheel harmlessly deflected away because of the aeroscreen instead of hitting Hunter-Reay’s helmet.

Frye later told reporters that IndyCar had studied the crash involving Hunter-Reay “very thoroughly. The aeroscreen did an amazing job. It did what it was designed to do.

“I think if you look at the magnitude of what happened, and the condition that the current screen is in, it basically was untouched. There was some marks on the tearoffs, there was a wicker that goes down the front that was sheared off. Other than that it was basically unscathed.”

The aeroscreen worked during a similar airborne wreck in the July 17, 2020 race at Iowa Speedway involving Colton Herta and Rinus VeeKay during a restart incident at Iowa Speedway. VeeKay credited being unhurt in the crash to the aeroscreen.

Will Power also was protected from a loose left-front wheel that was jarred loose and went flying over his No. 12 Dallara-Chevrolet in a 2020 crash. Last year after the crash involving Hunter-Reay, Power told The Associated Press at St. Petersburg that the aeroscreen would have avoided the past two IndyCar driver fatalities: Dan Wheldon at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in 2011 and Justin Wilson at Pocono Raceway in 2015.

“To me, it would have prevented the last two deaths,” Power said. “I’m pretty sure for Justin, it would have bounced off (the aeroscreen) and Dan would have ricocheted off (the fence). You can’t say for sure, but it’s a huge advancement. Huge.”

Callum Ilott (Chris Owens/Penske Entertainment)

Ilott, 23, finished 16th of 27 cars at Texas in his racing debut on an oval the day after the crash involving Harvey (who missed the race because of concussion protocol). The Cambridge, England, native began racing in IndyCar last year after finishing runner-up in the 2020 F2 points standings as a member of the Ferrari Driver Academy.

Ilott is part of IndyCar’s six-driver rookie class in the 2022 season. He is ranked 16th in points through the first two races this year.

The Juncos Hollinger Racing driver also noted the aeroscreen of his No. 77 Dallara-Chevrolet sustained hardly any damage in the high-velocity impact with the part.

The IndyCar Series will be returning to the streets of Long Beach, California this weekend for the Acura Grand Prix (Sunday, 3 p.m. ET, NBC and Peacock)

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup

IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10-3 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 7 p.m. to USA Network. Peacock will have flag-to-flag coverage.



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