IndyCar Racing

Rosenqvist, Palou Capture Poles for Thermal Heat Races – Motorsports Tribune

Rosenqvist, Palou Capture Poles for Thermal Heat Races – Motorsports Tribune


THERMAL, Calif. – Felix Rosenqvist and Alex Palou each battled gusty winds and changing track conditions Saturday to claim poles for the two heat races Sunday setting the field for The Thermal Club $1 Million Challenge.

Rosenqvist and reigning NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion Palou will be at the head of the field for their respective 10-lap heat races Sunday on the 17-turn, 3.067-mile desert circuit near Palm Springs, California. The top six finishers in each of those heats will compete in the Sprint for the Purse, a two-segment, 20-lap feature race that awards $500,000 to the winner.

SEE: Heat 1 Qualifying Results | Heat 2 Qualifying Results

Live coverage of the two heat races and non-points Sprint for the Purse starts at 12:30 p.m. ET Sunday on NBC, Peacock and the INDYCAR Radio Network.

“It’s an angry pack behind in the mirror,” Rosenqvist of starting from the front in the heat. “I think it’s about the start and getting away, but, man, everyone’s going to go for it. That’s the beauty and the curse of this format. Everyone is just going to give it all, and that’s what we did now and ended up first.”

Rosenqvist continued his strong performance from the season opener earlier this month in St. Petersburg by taking the top spot for the first 10-lap heat with a best lap of 1 minute, 38.5831 seconds in the No. 60 AutoNation/SiriusXM Honda despite problems with his push-to-pass mechanism during testing earlier today. The Swede qualified second and finished seventh in the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding in the first points-paying event of the season and his first with Meyer Shank Racing.

“We tried to stay calm after the morning; we had kind of a messy session,” Rosenqvist said. “I just tried to forget that session, take a deep breath and do it all again.

“It’s so tricky out there, man. The wind is changing every lap. There’s dust on the track. I was first out (in qualifying), so I was worried there was going to be poor grip. But I could focus on my tire warmup like we did yesterday, and I felt a bit more confident when I went for the lap. I guess all we had to do is put it together, and the speed is there. Awesome.”

Scott McLaughlin will join Rosenqvist on the front row for the first heat race after his best lap of 1:38.6068 in the No. 3 XPEL Team Penske Chevrolet. Rinus VeeKay will be on the inside of Row 2 in the first heat after his qualifying lap of…

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