Chevrolet Indycar at the Thermal Club: Team Chevy Race Advance

In a historically unique event for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, Team Chevy heads west to The Thermal Club for the non-points-paying second round of the 2024 season.

The Thermal $1 Million Challenge is the first race on the 3.067-mile, 19-turn Twin Palms layout for INDYCAR. Despite a weekend with no points on the line, this still is an important event for Team Chevy.

The manufacturer is carrying momentum from the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg into the $1 Million Challenge, having swept first through fourth in the season-opening event. The Bowtie Brigade also showcased strength through hard work and collaboration in the offseason.

With a strong run and solid finish in the first round of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES season, Santino Ferrucci, driver of the No. 14 Sexton Properties Chevrolet for AJ Foyt Racing, discusses the upcoming unique weekend, with testing prior to the heat-race formatted event.

“I think testing is really important for us, especially with our new [technical] partnership, so having more of a two-day test followed up by sprint race weekend, I think, is really nice,” said Ferrucci. “It’s a little bit more fun. We get a couple more days in California. So I’m quite happy with the idea of the series to move forward with what they’re doing. I think that with the gains that we saw in St. Pete with the Chevy engine, it’s going to be quite good moving into Thermal.”

With prior heat-racing experience in his career, Ferrucci notes that while the format may be similar, the $1 Million Challenge will be different. “I feel like it’s going to race like a qualifying weekend. Basically, as if you made qualifying the racing. It’s very comparable to what we have now for qualifying procedure. Just instead of qualifying for lap time, you’re now racing.”

During the two 10-lap (or 20-minute) heat races, pit stops are only allowed for emergency service and teams are allotted one new set of Firestone Firehawks. The top-six finishers from the heat races will then transfer to a 12-car, 20-lap main event Sunday that will see a total purse of $1.756 million, the largest in NTT INDYCAR SERIES history outside of the Indianapolis 500.

The $1 Million Challenge race weekend at The Thermal Club near Palm Springs, Calif. kicks off with open testing from noon p.m. to 2 p.m. ET and 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. ET on Friday. Saturday sees two additional open testing sessions from 12 p.m. ET to 2 p.m. ET and 4 p.m. ET to 6 p.m. ET, followed by qualifications at 8 p.m. ET. Heat events and the 20-lap all-star race air starting at 12:30 p.m. ET on Sunday on NBC. All test sessions and qualifications will be live on Peacock, INDYCAR Radio, and SiriusXM Channel 160.


Pato O’Ward, No. 5 Chevrolet at Arrow McLaren:

“I’m ready to go to The Thermal Club, where we’re racing for some cash. It’s going to be a cool event, I’m sure. The facility is world class and I think there are a lot of people that are excited to see the NTT INDYCAR SERIES racing here. I’m looking forward to this new event and making it a good weekend for our team.”

Callum Ilott, No. 6 Chevrolet at Arrow McLaren:

“I’m looking forward to Thermal quite a lot. It’s going to be an interesting weekend that not a lot of us are used to, but it’s an exciting, new challenge that we have. Obviously, we all tested there at the beginning of last year, and it’s quite a fun race track. I’m not sure how it’s going to be on the racing side, but by the way the heat races and final race are set up, it’s more like sprint racing anyway, so qualifying is going to be quite important. It’s going to be good fun, for sure. I’m looking forward to getting to work with Arrow McLaren again in the No. 6 NTT DATA Chevrolet.”

Alexander Rossi, No. 7 Chevrolet at Arrow McLaren:

“Going back to The Thermal Club is something that I think everyone has been really excited about. It’s rare that you get a completely new format in motorsports, especially when there is $1 million on the line. It’s going to be a cool event and I look forward to seeing what we can achieve.”

Gavin Ward, Team Principal at Arrow McLaren:

“After testing at The Thermal Club last year, I’m excited that we’re going back this year for a really different and cool event. I don’t think anyone in the series has ever been part of something like this before, and I have to give props to the NTT INDYCAR SERIES for trying something new. We’ll all get the opportunity to get a lot of testing in, which I think we need if we’re going to race here. Even though this race isn’t for points, it’s a great chance for us to build off the foundation we laid in St. Pete and bring home some cash while we’re at it.”

Christian Rasmussen, No. 20 Chevrolet at Ed Carpenter Racing:

“I’m looking forward to going to The Thermal Club! I have only heard great things about the facility and can’t wait to experience it myself. Also with one full race weekend under my belt, a lot of the ‘firsts’ are out of the way which should benefit us.”

Rinus VeeKay, No. 21 Chevrolet at Ed Carpenter Racing:

“Any day we can get in the racecar is great and the $1 Million Challenge makes it even more fun! It’s an entirely different kind of weekend than anything I have been a part of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. I love The Thermal Club, the track is great and the whole scene is pretty cool. We were pretty quick off the truck at Thermal last year during testing, so hopefully that continues this year and we can fight for a part of the million dollars!”

Sting Ray Robb, No. 41 Chevrolet at AJ Foyt Racing:

“Thermal offers a unique track format in the NTT INDYCAR Series schedule in which Chevy strengths could be highlighted. It will be interesting to see the progression through the weekend with several on-track sessions. Looking forward to that shootout action behind the wheel of the Chevy powered 41.”

Romain Grosjean, No. 77 Chevrolet at Juncos Hollinger Racing:

“Thermal will be a really good. (It’s an) opportunity for us to work on our road course set up. We had a very strong start of the season and I’m looking forward to unlock more speed and race a very unique race in Thermal.”

Agustin Canapino, No. 78 Chevrolet at Juncos Hollinger Racing:

“We are going to Thermal for the weekend with a double mindset. First, to take advantage of the large number of (test) sessions to follow our evolution and at the same time, try to be as fast as possible to fight for the prize. It is a very challenging, fast and technical circuit, so it will be a very interesting weekend.”