Cusick targets IndyCar entry at Thermal Club

Indianapolis 500 entrant and Thermal Club resident Don Cusick is working to place Cusick Motorsports on the grid of next March's $1 Million Challenge at the private road course located in Thermal, California.

The March 22-24 non-championship event presents an opportunity for the NTT IndyCar Series to fill a gap in its calendar between events while giving IndyCar teams and Thermal Club residents a chance to collaborate on a unique competition format where IndyCar drivers in their Chevy- and Honda-powered DW12s will be linked with amateur drivers racing spec BMW M2 CS Racing models.

"I like the format that's been come up with for this, and we’re having conversations with two IndyCar teams tomorrow about entering a car for us," Cusick told RACER. "We're working on the BMW M2 side and finding an amateur to work with because they'll do a blind draw and pair those drivers with IndyCar drivers. Then wherever the amateur finishes in combination with wherever the professional in the IndyCar finishes, that’s going to determine who wins and who doesn’t."

The format for the Thermal Club $1 Million Challenge will see a qualifying session and two heat races which will take the top six finishers from both heats and transfer them into the All-Star Showcase. From there, a total purse of $1.25 million will be distributed among the top finishers and Thermal Club members who've entered the event and joined forces with an IndyCar or, in Cusick's case, potentially become an entrant with their own team.

Provided Cusick is able to strike a deal with an IndyCar team to field an entry, his driver Stefan Wilson will make his return to open-wheel racing after suffering a back injury during practice for May's Indy 500.

"Stefan's chomping at the bit to get back into a car, and he should be more than ready to go if we can pull everything together for him to drive," Cusick added.

A limited number of tickets will be made available for the event, and it's believed members of the IndyCar Nation fan club associated with the series could have first access to purchase the tickets.

"Roger Penske's executive team and the entire group at Thermal with Tim Rogers and Nick Rhoades have been putting in a bunch of time and effort to make this thing happen," Cusick said. "We're really excited to have IndyCar returning to Thermal for something special that hasn't been done before."