The IndyCar season is a little more than halfway home and Simon Pagenaud (pictured) has dominated the racing thus far. He’s a heavy favorite to win the points title, but can still be caught, and if you think things may go sideways for the Frenchman, the odds are juicy.
The series Rookie of the Year also seems like a foregone conclusion, though Alexander Rossi has seen his lead narrow recently. Without a lot of drama at the top of the standings, I’m forced to look elsewhere for intriguing storylines. Lucky for me, NASCAR champ Brad Keselowski obliged with his hints at a potential foray into open-wheel racing.
Will the powers that be hang on to their leads in the standings? Will Kes try his hand at the NASCAR/Indy double? Let’s look at the odds.
Odds to win 2016 Driver’s Championship
Simon Pagenaud (1/3)
Pagenaud finished first or second in each of the first five races this year and is 80 points clear of his nearest competitor. He’s kept up his strong season lately, too, finishing runner-up (less than a second behind Will Power) in the second race at Detroit two weeks ago. His odds are short, but he has been good all year and has a significant lead.
Scott Dixon (10/1)
Last year’s champ is currently second in points. He won in Phoenix early in the year but then fell off for several races before a fifth-place at the second race in the Motor City.
Helio Castroneves (10/1)
Only six points behind Dixon, Castroneves has not won this year and his best racing came earlier in the season. Not much gives me confidence he can challenge for a title, aside from his resume, of course: he’s been among the top-five in the standings each of the last four seasons.
Josef Newgarden (12/1)
Newgarden is racing well at the moment with four top-five finishes in the last six races; but he’s almost 100 points behind Pagenaud. Now in his fifth year on the tour, the Tennessee native has improved his standing every season. While a 2016 title looks out of reach, keep him in mind for next year.
Pagenaud has a huge lead with only half a season to go. You won’t get value at this point, but better to lay the odds and have the winner than toss out cash on a long shot.
Odds to win 2016 Rookie of the Year
Alexander Rossi (2/3)
The Indy 500 winner holds a 65-point lead over all other first year drivers. He’s finished between 10th and 15th seven times this year, but, outside of Indy, doesn’t have a single top-ten.
Conor Daly (8/3)
The son of Formula One driver Derek Daly, Conor is coming on strong. He finished second at the first race in Detroit and sixth in the second race. He now has three top-tens in the last five races. His three back-of-the-pack finishes earlier in the year are what cost him. With half the season gone, he’ll have to stay this hot or hope Rossi’s consistency trails off.
Max Chilton (25/1)
He’s only been in the top-ten once this year and has been 20th or worse in three of the last four races. He trails Rossi by over 100 points and needs to start producing better results.
Like Pagenaud, Rossi has a huge lead. If there were more season remaining, I could get behind Daly. But there likely isn’t enough time for him to make up the ground on the consistent Rossi. Again, you’re not getting great value on Rossi, but putting your money elsewhere likely means kissing it goodbye.
Brad Keselowski odds
Odds Keselowski takes part in an IndyCar race in 2017: 1/1
He’s talked about it, done some simulator training, and added the necessary upper-body weight. His NASCAR team owner, Roger Penske, also owns an IndyCar team, which would make the transition pretty seamless. While it’s very unlikely he will race IndyCars full time (he has no interest in “quitting his day job” as a NASCAR phenom) a foray into the sport seems pretty likely.
Odds Keselowski attempts the Indy/NASCAR “double”: 7/5
If he’s going to race an IndyCar, odds are that he’ll race the Indy 500, by far the most prestigious on the series calendar. Unfortunately, it’s on the same day as NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte, but Kurt Busch proved that you can do both (pretty darn well).
(Photo credit: David Merrett [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.)