Reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion Josef Newgarden became the latest driver to test INDYCAR’s windscreen prototype, turning laps in his No. 1 Team Penske Chevrolet at Indianapolis Motor Speedway following Monday’s open test on the 2.5-mile oval.
It was the second on-track test of the prototype, following one in February by Scott Dixon of Chip Ganassi Racing on the ISM Raceway mile oval outside Phoenix.
"It was fascinating," Newgarden said. "It was totally different for an open-wheel car. You're not used to having a windscreen that big in front of you, but it was interesting to try it out.
"The most interesting thing to me was the visor changes (on his helmet). Going from a fully smoke visor to a clear visor was better. It helped with the visibility and the clarity.
"There's small improvements to be made, especially with the clarity with the visors and the perception to see through it," Newgarden added. "It was easy to make it work, I didn't have any major issues with it, and I think INDYCAR did a nice job."
The windscreen is made of a proprietary material from PPG Aerospace called Opticor, similar to what the company uses to produce fighter jet canopies.
“Josef pointed out that it might take some things to get used to,” said Jeff Horton, INDYCAR’s director of engineering and safety. “But he also said he felt like if it was mandatory, he’d get used to it, no problem.
“One thing we realized is that Josef doesn’t have much sports car experience, while Scott Dixon at the last test had just raced the Rolex 24 (at Daytona International Speedway in January). We think (Dixon) being behind a windscreen for a week, then driving a car with another windscreen made a difference.
“Josef ran all day without a windscreen and we stuck one in front of him (after the open test ended). There’s a lot of things that factor into it. Still a positive test and (Newgarden) said nothing was a deal breaker. We’ll just keep working on it.”
Further extensive windscreen prototype testing lies ahead. INDYCAR has not issued a timetable for implementation of the windscreen on cars in competition.