AVONDALE, AZ – If I had some extra cash aside, I wish I did but I don’t, but if I did, the Verizon IndyCar Series race at the ISM Raceway on Saturday night could potentially net me, or someone else wise enough with some extra cash sitting aside to bet on the race, a ton of money. See, the series is rapidly rising up the popularity ranks. But, unfortunately, they’re not quite there yet on the mainstream market.
For bettors, well it’s a series that if you have a little bit of knowledge in it, could earn you some extra income. Here’s why.
The odds are out to win Saturday night’s Desert Diamond West Valley Casino Phoenix Grand Prix (9 p.m. ET/NBCSN/INDYCAR Radio Network) and the betting experts went with the traditional heavy favorites to win. The top four favorites are the Team Penske trio and Scott Dixon.
While those are legitimate favorites, ones that should be ranked there too, I’m just not totally sold either of those four will wind up in victory lane when it’s all settled on Saturday night.
See, the bettors will look at Penske drivers leading all 250 laps in last years race. They’ll look at Chevrolet, Penske’s manufacturer, leading all 500 laps on the 1.022-mile Arizona oval since the series came back in 2016. They’ll also look at Honda’s early advantage this season and pick the obvious top Honda driver as their favorite to win in Dixon.
Dixon (+400), Will Power (+650), Josef Newgarden (+650) and Simon Pagenaud (+750) are the top four favorites on the betting line. If I were to pick that group, give me Pagenaud, who oh by the way is the defending race winner.
But, there’s a whole other grouping that could earn you a lot of money if you throw some money their way and they actually win. Spoiler alert, I think they can win too.
Ryan Hunter-Reay (+850)
What about Ryan Hunter-Reay? He’s +850 and the sixth best odds. While Hunter-Reay hasn’t scored a top five finish yet on the Arizona oval, it’s only because he’s driven for a manufacturer that didn’t have the preferred aerokit the last two years. Now, his Honda is the superior engine. He’s among the best short oval drivers in the series and one that I can see winning on Saturday night.
Graham Rahal (+1150)
Rahal finished second in the season opening race at St. Pete and comes to Phoenix with a ton of momentum. He was among the quickest drivers in the open test back in February and finished fifth in the first race that the series came back to Phoenix back in 2016. His No. 15 Honda will have speed and he hopes to carry it all the way to victory lane.
Takuma Sato (+1650)
He’s not known as a “short oval ace” but why couldn’t he win on Saturday night? Sato, was actually the best overall driver in the test in February, coming home either first or second fastest in all four sessions. With these odds and that much speed, it’s worth taking a flier on him for this weekend.
Marco Andretti (+1650)
He hasn’t won in nearly seven years now, but his last win was on a short oval in Iowa. Andretti, was also strong at Phoenix back in February’s test with being seventh, seventh, 12th and fifth respectively in the four sessions. It’s the 25th anniversary of his grandfather’s final INDYCAR victory, which happened to also be at Phoenix and Andretti is carrying a tribute paint scheme in honor of that. It just seems like this could be his weekend.
Ed Carpenter (+2750)
It’s been a while since Carpenter last went to victory lane, but he’s one of the few drivers that have had more experience than others at Phoenix. The track suits his driving style and he’s always a threat to win on the ISM Raceway oval. He wasn’t real quick in the test, but the team has since found speed in the interim. He drove from the back to finish inside the top 10 last year. Look for him to contend for a win on Saturday.
Tony Kanaan (+3300)
The popular Brazilian also carries a long winless drought, but Phoenix is his track. He made three starts on the Arizona oval before the long hiatus, and in those three starts, he won two of them and finished third in the other. In the two years since the return, he’s finished fourth and sixth respectively. Plus, in the test, he had his No. 14 Chevrolet up front in being in the top five on the speed charts in three of the four sessions. He was quick in St. Pete and is hungry for a win. This is a great value play.