IndyCar $1 Million Challenge results: Alex Palou dominates a tame race at The Thermal Club

IndyCar $1 Million Challenge results: Alex Palou dominates a tame race at The Thermal Club

The expected chaos for the cash never quite materialized as Alex Palou led wire to wire to win the IndyCar $1 Million Challenge at The Thermal Club.

After a crash eliminated Romain Grosjean and Rinus VeeKay in the first lap of the first heat race on the 17-turn, 3.067-mile road course, the rest of the 40 laps over two heats and the main event produced no major trouble. Palou started from the pole in the second heat and the main event, leading all 30 laps he raced.

"Obviously my car was amazing," the two-time IndyCar champion said. "I had everything I needed. I was comfortable. Yeah, probably I didn't sweat as much as other days."

From a purse of $1.765 million (the largest outside the Indy 500), Palou earned $500,000. Scott McLaughlin took $350,000 for second, followed by Felix Rosenqvist ($250,000), Colton Herta ($100,000) and Marcus Armstrong ($50,000).

With so much money and no championship points at stake, many NTT IndyCar Series drivers had forecast a potential demolition derby for and exhibition event that was billed as an all-star format. So there was some relief the action was tamer than expected.

Rosenqvist suggested that allowing all 27 cars in the Sprint to the Purse finale (instead of paring to 12 cars) might help raise the intensity.
"IndyCar has been very open with this event," Rosenqvist said. "They told us, 'Hey, let's keep an open mind going into this.' I thought it was great. So much fun to be out there doing something different that we do every weekend. You learn new things. It's also a good test for what you can bring to the product going forward."

McLaughlin praised IndyCar's experimentation with allowing push to pass in qualifying and more liberal usage in the race.

"I think this is a good opportunity to try completely different things," he said. "I think that's awesome from a standpoint of you have to nail the lap. This field is so tight that if you miss it by a 10th or two, could find yourself at 15th if it was a proper shootout.

"I think it's definitely something we could think about for the Fast Six qualifying format (in points races), not just here. I feel like we've done the same format for a long, long time. Don't get me wrong, it's great. But could we add something different to what we've done in the past to spice up the action."

Palou believes that races should count for points once the season begins, saving exhibitions for outside the championship run.

"I don't know why this is a non-points race being the second race of the season," Palou said. "So I don't see why we would do that more in the future and why we would keep this race as a non-points. If we come back here, we need to have it as a points race.

"If we do an exhibition, a proper exhibition, where it's off the (regular-season) calendar, I think then it makes sense that we don't put any points."


Race results

Lap leader summary

Lap chart

Section times

Top section times

Event summary

Heat 1 results

Heat 2 results


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