Now that you can legally bet at IMS, who to bet on for Saturday’s GMR Grand Prix (3 p.m. ET, NBC, INDYCAR Radio Network)

INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is jumping into the gambling pool. It’s a great decision to do so as I’ve always said that now that sports gambling is now legal here, if you could find a way to bet on drivers while at the racetrack itself, similar to a horse track, then IMS could count the money all the way to the bank.

Well, it’s now happening according to the Indy Star. In the article, it states that Caesars will open a betting lounge in Pagoda Plaza. Fans who download the Caesars Sportsbook app and make a first-time deposit of $20 will receive $106 in free bets along with entry into the lounge. App users in the lounge will have access to complimentary food and drink, live entertainment and racing games.

With knowing that, lets make some money. Who should you bet on?

First, lets follow the trends.

All 11 road course races here have been won by a top 8 starter. Also, 12 of the 17 races last year saw the winner come from the top 4 Rows. Furthermore, 13 of the 14 races in 2020 saw the winner come from a top 9 starting position including 12 of the 13 from the top 8.

All 4 races this season have been won via a top 8 starter too. 98% (39-for-40) of the natural road course races since 2016 have been won via a top 10 starter too.

So, that means

  • Starting positions for natural road courses lately (since 2016) – 40 races (counting Barber this year)
    • 2016: 1st, 1st, 1st, 1st, 1st, 1st
    • 2017: 7th, 1st, 5th, 2nd 1st, 3rd
    • 2018: 1st, 1st, 1st, 1st, 20th, 1st
    • 2019: 4th, 1st, 8th, 2nd, 8th, 2nd, 1st
    • 2020: 7th, 9th, 7th, 1st, 1st, 2nd, 1st
    • 2021: 3rd, 7th, 5th, 1st, 2nd, 1st, 1st
    • 2022: 2nd

We can still likely break this down further. 5 of the final 7 races to 2021 saw the winner come from the top 3 starting spots. 8 of the 11 races run here have also seen the winner come from the top 2 Rows.

I’d go on a limb and say anyone in the Fast 6 is your winner. 80% of the last 40 natural road course races were won by someone in the Fast Six. But whom?

5 out of the 11 races have seen the pole winner win here including 7 of the 11 from the front row. 3 of the 4 races run this season has seen a front row starter triumph. 9 of the last 12 races on natural road courses were won from a front row starter including 5 straight.

There’s a 53% chance the pole winner wins. There’s a 68% chance the front row starters wins.

The thing is, just once in the last six road course races here has the pole winner actually won. It happened in 4 of the previous 5 though.

Also, since the new car came out in 2018, the “Big 3” have won 55 of the 68 races run (81%). Penske has won 28 times with Ganassi (16) and Andretti (11). But, RLL is next best with four victories while no one else has more than three.

Throw in RLL and AMSP and you get 63 of 68 races won by these teams. With the only exceptions being HSR’s pair of wins by Herta in 2019, DCR (1), ECR (1) and MSR (1).

Penske, has won 8 of the 11 Indy road course events and 3-for-4 this season. Scott Dixon has a top 2 finish in 4 of the last 5 GMR Grand Prix’s but is riding a 17 race winless streak and only has 1 win in his last 26 starts. Furthermore, Dixon has just 6 podiums in this span including 0 this year.

What about a podium?

Out of the last 15 podium spots, 14 of them came from the top 8. 11 of the 15 from the top 5. Go back to the road course races’ inception for INDYCAR and you get 33 podium spots for the taking. 29 of the 33 drivers started in the top 10 that day including 23 of the 33 from the top 5.

So, who to bet on then? Look no further here.

Can Penske go 4-for-5 to start the season? Photo Credit INDYCAR Media Site

Favorites

Alex Palou (+600)

No one had been close to Palou in natural road courses last year. He had three wins on them and was third last May and runner-up in Barber.

Josef Newgarden (+600)

He never had much Indy road course success until 2020. He was 0-for-6 in terms of top 10’s to start his career off with here then he went out and finished seventh in July of that year, won in October and fourth in the second October race. He was also fourth in May too. In August, he was eighth for his fifth straight top 10.

Will Power (+800)

This is his playground. Power, led all 75 laps in the second race of the doubleheader weekend in October 2020 only to lead 56 of 85 last August. He had a race winning car before bad luck struck in July of that 2020 year as well. He’s won five times on this course and has five poles as well. He has a top 4 in all 4 races run this year.

Romain Grosjean (+850)

He earned the pole back in May of last year, led the most laps and finished on the podium. Now he’s in a better car.

Will VeeKay go back to back on Saturday? Photo Credit INDYCAR Media Site

Sleepers

Scott McLaughlin (+1000)

He’s in a Penske car, qualified in the Fast Six and finished in the top 10 back in May of last year. McLaughlin, is even more improved this season too.

Rinus VeeKay (+1200)

He was fifth in July 2020, started on the pole and third in the first of two October races that year to go along with winning on this very track last May for three top fives in five Indy road course tries. VeeKay, won the pole in Barber, led the most laps and finished 3rd.

Marcus Ericsson (+2200)

0 top fives but he does have 4 top 10’s in his last 5 starts here.

Graham Rahal (+2800)

Worth a look, especially for these odds. Rahal, has a top 10 in all but one start here (his 1st one) including a pair of runner-up’s and 8 top 7’s in his last 10 tries.

Jack Harvey (+7500)

He’s at his best here. He’s never started worse than seventh including a podium in 2019 and 4 top eights in 6 tries.

Callum Ilott (+10000)

Why not here either? He was quickest in the 3rd practice at Barber and in the top 10 in the other 2. He’s had pace this season and on a track to not only where he’s tested at, but also one that European drivers adapt well to.

Christian Lundgaard (+12500)

He made the Fast 6 in his debut here last August. For these odds, why not?

Conor Daly (+20000)

It should almost be criminal he’s at these odds. Daly, qualified in the Fast 6 here last year and this car in general has been very fast on this Indy road course. If it/Daly can avoid a Lap 1 mishap, watch out. His teammate won this very race last May at that.

Fades

Colton Herta (+500)

Herta has four top fours in his last five road course starts here and is always fast. However, Andretti drivers have never won in 11 starts on the road course here too and are in the midst of some terrible luck. This number is too steep for me right now.

Pato O’Ward (+650)

3 top 8’s in his 5 starts but none better than fifth as it has seemed like they’ve just been missing something compared to the Penske’s. He’s a great play for a top 5 finish but not for an outright win.

Scott Dixon (+850)

He finally won in July 2020 for his fourth straight top two at the time. His finishes since? 9th, 8th, 9th and 17th respectively. He’s had 1 win in his last 26 starts on the season if you go back to last year too.

Alexander Rossi (+2000)

He’s quietly been good here. He’s finished 2nd, 3rd, 7th and 4th in his last four tries including 7 top 10’s in 9 starts. I think he’s a good top 5 play but not necessarily a win. He’s winless in his last 41 starts and has just 1 podium in his last 21 tries too.

Simon Pagenaud (+2200)

Used to be his playground too. He had three wins and five top fours in his first 7 starts on this track. But, over his last 4 he’s had no top fives with finishes of 16th, 10th, 6th and 16th respectively. Pagenaud, is also riding a 29 race winless streak to.

Felix Rosenqvist (+2500)

1 top 10 in 6 starts here with 3 of his finishes being 13th or worse. No top 10’s all season either.

Helio Castroneves (+5000)

He had 5 straight top sixes in his first 5 Indy road course starts but he’s been 20th or worse in his last four.

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