Palou dominates IndyCar's $1 Million Challenge at Thermal Club


Chip Ganassi Racing’s Alex Palou raked in the big bucks on Sunday, the reigning IndyCar champion winning in dominant fashion the series’ non-championship $1 Million Challenge at The Thermal Club.

Nestled at the base of the Santa Rosa Mountains near Palm Springs, the picturesque and challenging 17-turn, 3.067-mile (4.82-km) road course hosted IndyCar’s special event that included group qualifying sessions, two heat races and a 12-car “all-star” race with a whopping $1.756 million at stake.

The event generously offered teams and drivers the largest purse for an IndyCar round outside of the Indianapolis 500.

Meyer Shank Racing’s Felix Rosenqvist and Palou won Sunday’s opening heats, with the latter taking pole position for the afternoon’s Sprint for the Purse main event.

The CGR charger was in a league of his own as he led all 30 laps of the race and earned himself a $500,000 payday, crossing the finish line with more than a 5-second edge over Penske’s Scott McLaughlin.

“The car was amazing,” Palou told NBC Sports. “The 10 crew, all the CGR guys did an amazing job. Super proud.

“I was a bit surprised how the competitors treated the first 10 laps (by) saving tyres. I was like, ‘All right, that’s our game. I like it.”


Asked how he would spend his lavish check, Palou, who became a father in the offseason joked: “I need to buy a lot of diapers and pajamas, so probably I‘ll do that and have a small party with the boys.”

McLaughlin earned $350,000 for his runner-up effort, while Rosenqvist took home $250,000 as he claimed the final spot on the podium.

Colton Herta ($100,000) and Marcus Armstrong ($50,000) completed the top five, while every other finished won $23,000 for their day’s work.

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