IndyCar drivers like safety, still learning new aeroscreens

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IndyCar driver Will Power prepares to drive in IndyCar Series Open Testing, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020, in Austin, Texas. Drivers have mostly praised the new aeroscreen design, a safety innovation for driver protection in the cockpit. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

AUSTIN, Texas – IndyCar was supposed to have two full days of preseason testing this week for drivers and teams to get all the data, feel and confidence they could with the new aeroscreens installed on the cars for the upcoming season.

What they got instead was mostly two days of cold, wet frustration and only a snapshot of what's to come.

The chilly, damp weather that settled over the Circuit of the Americas wiped out much of IndyCar's only open testing sessions scheduled ahead of the March 15 season opener in St. Petersburg, Florida. When temperatures finally rose above 50 degrees (10 celsius) Wednesday afternoon, teams scrambled to spin as many laps as they could.

"I could go back to Indiana and be cold and wet," Andretti Autosport driver Alexander Rossi complained to IndyCar.com as drivers waited through a long delay.

Teams and drivers wanted this week to study the impact of the aeroscreen, a combination of a halo-like structure similar to those used in Formula One, and a wrap-around windshield. The device was designed to protect drivers' heads in the open cockpits.

The addition makes the 2020 IndyCar look more like something more likely to be launched from the deck of an aircraft carrier than driven out of a garage.

“It’s a fighter jet on wheels,” Graham Rahal said. “I think it’s really cool.”

Some drivers had already done test runs with the aeroscreen, but for many others this week was their first chance. Drivers were nearly universal in praising it.