The NTT INDYCAR SERIES heads to The Thermal Club in California for the $1 million Challenge.

Ahead of this weekend’s non-points race, Paddock Eye took part in a conference call with Penske Entertainment Corporation President and CEO Mark Miles, INDYCAR SERIES President Jay Frye and Thermal Club member and Cusick Motorsports team owner Don Cusick.

Speaking to Paddock Eye about the event this weekend, Miles said:

My take would be we don’t know exactly what will be harvested from it, but as Don has said, others have said, it’s a great connection to the members, which we’ll see what comes of that. It’s on national television, so we have a chance to get maybe some new eyes looking at INDYCAR that might not have absent the kind of unique format for this.

I think people want to see us innovate. To do it in this way without the points on the line to us made sense. We’re excited to see what comes of it.

Jay, in terms of attracting potential new teams, do you think that if this happens next year, would you open the door up for maybe one-off entries?

That’s a good question. Probably not because, again, when we do an open test, it’s about the current full-time teams. They’re required to come to open tests. The open test is basically an INDYCAR-sanctioned event. So we want that to be kind of special and kind of unique.

Obviously having — last year was a record having 27 full-time entries for an entire season. We have 27 again this year. So it’s back-to-back years of that. That’s a really good thing.

We also have — there’s quite a bit of interest right now from some new teams to come in, which is great. Again, it’s just kind of managing how it’s all going to look for the future.

Don, finally for yourself, as a member, how excited are you to have INDYCAR and for you guys to showcase Thermal for what it is with the track itself?

Yeah, well, if I was a dog, my tail would be wagging really hard. I can tell you that. It’s really fun. We’ve been looking forward to it pretty much from the day that INDYCAR left last year in February until now.

Yeah, it’s a huge event, and it’s super exciting, and it’s fun to be here and see it all happen. I’m looking forward to hosting people and showing them the track and being a part of this event. It’s really a cool deal.

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