Rosenqvist scores pole position while Blomqvist’s strong qualifying run places him fifth on the grid for heat race 2

Thermal, Calif. (23 March 2024) – The Thermal Club $1 Million Challenge may be a new event on the 2024 NTT INDYCAR SERIES calendar, but Felix Rosenqvist and Meyer Shank Racing (MSR) found nothing new about their qualifying results as the Swede scored the pole for Sunday’s heat race 1 in today’s qualifying at the 17-turn, 3.067-mile circuit near Palm Springs.

As he did two weeks ago in the season opener in St. Petersburg, Rosenqvist took his No. 60 AutoNation / SiriusXM Honda to the front row in qualifying, leading the session that set the starting grid for Sunday’s first heat race. The results of the heats will determine which 12 drivers qualify for the feature race, with the top six from each heat advancing to the 20-lap main event.

Rosenqvist and MSR bounced back from an issue in Saturday’s final test session as the Bon Jovi Radio (SiriusXM Ch. 312) themed car was unable to use its push-to-pass feature. The team worked through the session and during the hours leading to qualifying to diagnose the problem, giving Rosenqvist the opportunity to have all his Honda power at his disposal in the 12-minute session.

The short session meant that teams realistically had two flying laps to settle the score, but Rosenqvist worked quickly to put up a time of 1:38.5831 (111.999mph) to lead his session.

Tom Blomqvist (No. 66 AutoNation / Arctic Wolf Honda) ran in the second qualifying session and finished a strong fifth in a truncated outing that was reduced to a one-lap shootout due to a mid-session crash. The British-born driver will start on the inside of the third row in tomorrow’s second heat after carding a time of 1:39.0920 (111.435mph).

Sunday’s two heat races will be contested over 10 laps, or 20 minutes, with the first six finishers from each heat moving on to the feature race. Sunday’s finale will consist of two 10-lap segments, with teams allowed to refuel and make any changes during the break.

The winner of the second segment will take home $500,000 with $350,000 going to the runner-up and $250,000 to the third-place driver.

The Thermal Club $1 Million Challenge will air on NBC on Sunday starting at 12:30 p.m. ET. SiriusXM will also host live IndyCar Radio coverage of both sessions on XM Ch. 218.

Meyer Shank Racing Driver Quotes:

Felix Rosenqvist: “We tried to stay cool after a tough morning session, we took a deep breath and worked on the problem. But the team did a great job getting ready and we ended up with another great car. The test sessions have been great for us as a team this weekend. We’re jelling, we are figuring out what we need to do to be fast and I feel good. It’s an angry pack to be ahead of (for tomorrow’s heat race), but if we can get away clean at the start, we should be OK because the (tire) degradation isn’t too bad. But the guys are going to be coming at us hard.

Tom Blomqvist: “I’m really happy. I am slowly, but surely going in the right direction. Yesterday was really difficult for me, but we made really good steps overnight with the car. I’m just focusing on getting more comfortable every lap and learning what I need from the car to go fast.”