INDY: Alex Palou dominates at new non-points race at Thermal Club

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Alex Palou of Spain earned himself a tidy $500,000 payday by winning the Thermal Club $1 million challenge, the IndyCar Series’ new non-points exhibition race, on Sunday near Palm Springs, Calif.

Palou, the defending series champion, drove his No. 10 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda to a pair of victories at the Thermal Club, a private motorsports club in the California desert.

The unique format split 27 drivers into two heats, and the top six racers from each heat then competed in the 20-lap Sprint for the Purse. Palou won the second heat by 5.3375 seconds over New Zealand’s Marcus Armstrong.

Palou earned pole position because his qualifying time beat that of the Heat 1 winner, Sweden’s Felix Rosenqvist. That placement was crucial, as Palou took the lead and never let go, finishing the sprint 5.7929 seconds ahead of New Zealand’s Scott McLaughlin.

“The car was amazing,” Palou said after the victory. “I was a bit surprised how the competitors did the first 10 laps, saving tires. I was like: ‘All right, that’s our game. I like it.'”

Palou, who welcomed his first child with his wife Esther in December, had an idea for how to spend some of his winnings.

“I need to buy a lot of diapers,” Palou quipped.

McLaughlin won $350,000 for second place, Rosenqvist took third for a $250,000 check and Colton Herta and Armstrong rounded out the top five finishers.

Josef Newgarden, the series’ points leader after winning the first and only points race to date, placed eighth.

–Field Level Media

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