BELLE ISLE, MI – All the preliminary action is done. It’s time for the second of two 70 Lap Verizon IndyCar Series races in Belle Isle. Two practice sessions, two qualifying sessions and race No. 1 are behind us for the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix race weekend. With all that now behind us and one more race ahead, here are five favorites and five sleepers to watch later today. Favorites –
Alexander Rossi (+450)
He’s been great on street courses over the last few years. He finished third in the season opener in St. Pete and won at Long Beach. Rossi, has also finished inside the top 10 now in four of his five Belle Isle starts, including a fifth and seventh place run respectively last year. He was fourth and eighth respectively in practice on Friday in his No. 27 Honda and qualified fourth while finishing third in Saturday’s race.
He earned his third career pole for Sunday’s race and in his previous two pole awards, he won the race including on in Long Beach in April.
Rossi is a no brainer favorite.
Scott Dixon (+450)
Despite Dixon not leading a lap at all this season coming into Detroit, I had him as a favorite. He’s been very good under the circumstances. While some consider it a down year for the Chip Ganassi Racing driver, he’s turning up the wick when it matters the most. He finished in the podium in both races at Indy last month and has four straight top six finishes at Belle Isle. He was also second in each practice session on Friday.
On Saturday, he started second again, this time he led 39 laps and won. He qualified fifth for Sunday’s race.
His No. 9 Honda can win both races this weekend.
Robert Wickens (+1150)
He’s been great on street circuits in 2018. He led 69 out of 110 laps in the season opener on the streets of St. Pete and if not for late race contact should have won. Now, he starts on the front row and doing so after finishing in the top 10 on Saturday. He’s got a chance for his first career win on Sunday.
Will Power (+1350)
He said on Saturday that his car had speed and balance, it just wasn’t enough to beat the Honda’s. For race No. 2, he will start third, so he has great track position. I look for Power to try a three stop strategy and win the race due to that. Plus, keep this in mind, Power won the second duel in 2016 and finished third in the second duel last year. In the first duels of those race weekends, he finished 20th and 18th respectively.
Don’t give up on Power yet.
Ryan Hunter-Reay (+500)
Just because he’s starting 10th doesn’t mean we need to overlook him. He will likely go on a three stop strategy again today and that nearly netted him a win yesterday. Hunter-Reay has had a very strong car this weekend as he was seventh and first respectively in the two practices and he qualified fifth and 10th now too. He finished runner-up on Saturday. He can win.
James Hinchcliffe (+2250)
He said he was slowed up by a car in qualifying on Saturday and that cost him a top five starting spot. Then, on his first pit stop, he was hit with a pit road exit penalty. He still finished 11th. The speed is there and that showed in qualifying on Saturday as Hinchcliffe starts sixth. His teammate Robert Wickens will start second.
The SPM boys have speed.
Marco Andretti (+2250)
Andretti started the weekend with the worst odds in the field. For Sunday’s race, he now has among the best. That should tell you enough. Andretti, was fifth in both practice sessions on Friday and then qualified his No. 98 Honda on the pole for Saturday’s race. While he was only passed once on track, he finished fourth.
The speed is there. Don’t overthink this
Graham Rahal (+1150)
If not for a wreck on Saturday, he was destined for another podium. Rahal’s car has the speed in it and it should be enough to contend again on Sunday. He qualified in Row 4 in Saturday’s race but charged up through the field hard. I suspect he will be a contender again on Sunday. Rahal was in the top six in both practice sessions on Friday and had four top four finishes in his last six Belle Isle starts now. He starts ninth today.
Ed Jones (+4400)
He’s among the best values in the field. He has the third longest odds to win and he’s starting in Row 2. That’s coming off of improving five positions to finish sixth on Saturday. Furthermore, Jones finished eighth and third respetively in the other two street course races this season and his teammate (Scott Dixon) won the race on Saturday. This could net you a lot of money if he wins.
Takuma Sato (+4400)
He’s starting 20th, so he’s going to be off strategy. Plus, Sato has had seven straight top 11 finishes now in Belle Isle including a fifth place finish on Saturday. Don’t count him out on Sunday.