LONG BEACH, Calif – We’ve reached the opening day of the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach (4 p.m. ET/NBCSN/IndyCar Radio Network) race weekend. With that being said, the oddsmakers have the opening lines ready for whom they think will contend for the win in the fourth race of the NTT IndyCar Series season.
I’ve broken them down and will give you a list of drivers who may be good ones to take for Sunday’s 85 Lap race.
Things To Note
We’ve had seven straight different race winners in Long Beach. If that trend holds true, then Will Power (2012), Takuma Sato (2013), Scott Dixon (2015), Simon Pagenaud (2016), James Hinchcliffe (2017) and Alexander Rossi (2018) won’t be victorious this weekend.
Also, we’ve had six straight years of different teams winning too. So, AJ Foyt Racing (2013), Ed Carpenter Racing (2014), Chip Ganassi Racing (2015), Team Penske (2016), Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports (2017) not Andretti Autosport (2018) will produce a winner either.
Furthermore, we’ve had three different teams win all three races this season, so ex nay Penske (Newgarden – St. Pete), Harding Steinbrenner Racing (Herta – COTA) and RLL (Sato – Barber) from this weekend too.
Who does that leave then? If you believe in trends, here’s the five who’s turn is up next.
Sebastien Bourdais (+900)
He’s a three time winner on the streets of Long Beach but none of which have come since his return to Indy Car. Bourdais, has won on all the street courses on the schedule since his comeback, minus Long Beach. In fact, out of his six series victories since that 2012 return, five of which have come on street courses.
It’s not like he hasn’t been close at Long Beach either. He came home runner-up in 2017 and if not for a crazy penalty last year, he was destined for another podium. Bourdais was sixth in 2015 and ninth in 2016. He boasts two consecutive top five finishes on the season including a third place run last week in Barber. Bourdais, fits the mold for the new trends.
Unfortunately though, the Frenchman wasn’t at his best on track on Friday. He was just 20th and 18th respectively in practice.
Santino Ferrucci (+6000)
Bourdais’ teammate was strong in the season opener on the streets of St. Pete. He brought his No. 19 Honda home with a top 10 result. With another street course and a trend on his side, don’t be shocked if they try to strategize their ways to victory lane. The reason I say “strategize” is because he was only 12th and 20th respectively in practice.
Pato O’Ward (+10000)
He too fits the mold. He’s +100000 and is very racy early on. Plus, O’Ward fits the mold of a sleeper winner. Mike Conway won this race as a sleeper in 2011 and 2014). Takuma Sato’s win in 2013 was a bit of a surprise. Why not O’Ward and these odds on Sunday? Carlin hasn’t won yet and would be a good pick for this trend. He was fifth overall on Friday.
Jack Harvey (+20000)
This is a great option pick here. Harvey, nabbed a top 10 finish in St. Pete and even qualified in the top 10 as well. Here he is at a track where he finished 12th at as a rookie a year ago. He fits the mold in terms of not just the team, but the driver too.
Max Chilton (+30000)
Chilton, has never won an Indy Car race before and has never scored a top 10 in three career Long Beach starts, but Carlin has not won in Long Beach before either nor a race in 2019 yet. So, he fits the mold. He was P11 on Friday’s overall speed chart.
Strong Other Options
Josef Newgarden (+450)
I hate to always have to use a favorite, but I mean come on, Newgarden has three top four finishes in all three races this season including a win on another street course race in the season opener at St. Pete. He also has two career podiums in Long Beach including a third place effort in 2017. Plus, he fits one trend for seven straight years of a different driver winning. A Newgarden win would make it eight. This is too good of an option to leave on the table, especially when he was ninth and fourth respectively in practice on Friday.
Scott Dixon (+550)
Again, another favorite per the odds and too good of one to pass up. Dixon, won this race in 2015 and has finished second, fourth and 11th respectively since. He has two runner-up finishes in three tries in 2019. On Friday, he was second and first respectively.
Felix Rosenqvist (+1000)
May be the best value among these four favorites here. The rookie finished fourth after leading 31 laps in the season opener on the streets of St. Pete. The car he’s driving finished third in this race last year with Ed Jones. If you go back to when Tony Kanaan was driving it, the No. 10 entry for CGR has three top six finishes in the last four years. With the speed in the car and the talent of Rosenqvist, this is a good favorite. He was seventh and third respectively in practice.
Ryan Hunter-Reay (+1100)
He started off questionable but moves way up. On Friday, he was in the top two in both practice sessions. That gives me higher confidence because since Hunter-Reay’s win in 2010, he’s struggled on the streets of Long Beach. In his last eight starts at the beach, he has one top 10 finish. That was a sixth place run in 2012. Five of his last six starts have resulted in a sub 17th place finish. He finished third in COTA this year but 23rd (St. Pete) and eighth (Barber) in the other two races. I like his chances despite all of that.
Simon Pagenaud (+1100)
The Frenchman hasn’t had the best of luck as of late. While 16 top 10 finishes over his last 20 starts, dating back to the start of the 2018 season, out of those 16 are only four top five finishes. Yes, he has two top 10’s in three starts out of the gates in 2019, but neither were in the top five – hence these kind of odds.
Pagenaud has typically been strong at Long Beach. He was unfortunately punted from his Row 2 starting spot on the opening lap last year. Prior to that though, the Team Penske driver had six straight top eight finishes in Long Beach including a win in 2016. These are good odds to reach for. He was eighth in both practice sessions on Friday.
James Hinchcliffe (+1400)
Hinchcliffe, has two sixth place finishes in three races this season. If not for contact with Felix Rosenqvist in COTA, he was destined to be 3-for-3 in terms of top 10’s in 2019. Hinchcliffe, is a past winner in Long Beach (2017) to go along with scoring three consecutive top 10 finishes on the race track. These are good odds to grab. He was sixth and ninth respectively in practice.
Graham Rahal (+1600)
This follows the trend of a new driver to win this season as well as a new team/driver to win in Long Beach. Rahal, finished fifth in this race last year and 10th the year before. He was runner-up back in 2013 too. With a fast car out of the gates in 2019 and a driver who excels on street courses, look no further than Rahal to score a win. He was fourth and seventh respectively in the two sessions on Friday.
Zach Veach (+3000)
Veach has had a bit of a sophomore slump, but his confidence level is up heading into this weekend. That’s because he finished fourth in this very race a year ago and knows that if they didn’t make a few mistakes in last year’s race, they could have had a podium at the very least. Andretti has a good street course program and that should benefit Veach, especially at these odds. He was 14th overall on Friday.
Ed Jones (+8000)
He’s had a fast car in practice, just not luck in qualifying. But, Jones has been so strong on street courses in the past, including at Long Beach overall. In two career Long Beach starts, Jones has finished sixth (2017) and third (2018) respectively. Mike Conway won in this very same situation as a part time road/street course driver for this very same team in 2014. For +8000, go Jones’ way this weekend.
Tony Kanaan (+30000)
Yes, Kanaan hasn’t won since the 2014 season finale in Fontana. Yes, AJ Foyt Racing hasn’t won a race since Long Beach in 2013. But, that just says that they’re due. The stars could align this weekend. Kanaan, has three top eight finishes in his last four Long Beach starts including an eighth place run in his No. 14 Chevrolet last year. In his last 10 overall Long Beach starts, Kanaan has brought his car home in the top 10 in seven of them. No, he’s never won on the 1.968-mile street course, but he fits the trend well for an eighth straight winner. For these odds, throw a buck or two his way, especially since he was 13th and 12th respectively in practice this weekend.
Will Power (+500)
Power is frustrated and hungry. He had a great car in the season opener at St. Pete only to finish third. He then led the first 46 laps of the second race of the season in COTA but his dominance was hampered by an ill timed caution and a broken gear on his final pit stop. The last race in Barber he struggled. Now, they’re going for gold.
Power, said ahead of this weekend that they have a car capable of a podium. That’s good because he finished runner-up in this very race a year ago. In fact, he has two wins (2008, 2012) and three runner-ups (2009, 2014, 2018) to go with a solid street course program in 2019. The reason though I say he’s not quite touchable? He was only 10th and 15th in practice on Friday.
Alexander Rossi (+500)
I doubt you want to leave the Andretti Autosport driver off the table but he’s been feast or famine in Long Beach. Rossi, won this race last year and was really good on street course races a year ago but only finished fifth in the season opener at St. Pete. Penske and Ganassi looked to have a leg up on the Andretti cars on the streets of St. Pete and factor that Rossi has failed to get a podium finish in 2019 and has finishes of 20th and 19th in his other two Long Beach starts, I may need to see more this weekend to move him up. He was fifth and sixth respectively in practice on Friday, so lets see how Saturday plays out.
Takuma Sato (+2500)
Yes, he’s coming off of a win and has two victories over the last five races, but Sato hasn’t exactly excelled at Long Beach outside of his win in 2013. He finished 18th in 2017 and 21st last year. Plus, if you go back to 2014, Sato has four finishes of 18th or worse in his last five tries. That’s where he was in practice as he was just 14th and 17th respectively.
Marco Andretti (+8000)
I have two of the four Andretti drivers on here. Nothing against them or their team, I just need to see more in practice this weekend. Andretti, has never scored a top five on the streets of Long Beach before but does have four top 10 finishes in his last six tries. He was 15th and 10th respectively in practice.