Motorsport: Kiwi Scott McLaughlin earns bumper payday with second-place finish at IndyCar million dollar challenge

Kiwi driver Scott McLaughlin has finished in second place at IndyCar's 'Sprint for the Purse' race in Palm Springs, California on Monday (NZ time).

The 20-lap non-points exhibition race in the desert was divided into two 10-lap segments, with a prize of US$1 million (NZ$1.6m) to be split among the 12 contestants.  

Team Penske's McLaughlin started fourth on the grid after the two qualifying heat races, quickly pushing his way to the front of the pack in a duel with top qualifier Alex Palou.

But the two-time defending champion was able to defend McLaughlin's advances, holding on to comfortably take the chequered flag.

McLaughlin finished 5.7s behind Palou to earn a payday of US$350,000 (NZ$584,013). Palou took home the biggest cheque, pocketing US$500,000 ($NZ833,000).

As he crossed the finish line, McLaughlin was captured on the team radio processing his financial windfall, discovering he'd earned US$100,000 more than what he'd believed was a US$250,000 prize for silver.

"Yes, I'd better put some money up at the bar tonight," McLaughlin told NBC.

Fellow Kiwi Marcus Armstrong came in fifth place but was left to rue a costly brake failure that saw him drop out of race contention, at one stage battling with Palou at the head of the field. 

McLaughlin currently sits third in the overall driver standings behind teammate Josef Newgarden in first and Pato O'Ward in second.

The competition remains in California for the Long Beach Grand Prix on April 21.