LEEDS, Ala – It’s shaping up to be a longshot winner for Sunday’s Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama (4 p.m. ET/NBCSN/IndyCar Radio Network). See, the favorites, well they’re all starting outside of the Firestone Fast Six.
The reason this is so significant is because seven of the nine NTT IndyCar Series races at the Barber Motorsports Park have been won from a driver starting in the first 3 Rows.
Here are the odds of those in those six starting spots.
+5000, +2800, +650, +2500, +1200 and +12500 respectively.
The odds on favorite is Josef Newgarden (+275) was only 14th, 18th and 17th respectively in practice. He rolls off 16th. Yes, he may have won two straight on the 2.38-mile road course and three of the last four, but with those odds and how he’s lacking pace this weekend, he’s not a smart bet.
Neither is his teammate Simon Pagenaud. He’s +1200 but starts 14th. He was only 10th, 15th and seventh respectively in practice and combined with Newgarden, they have won the last four races at Barber. With their odds and where they’re starting, don’t touch them.
What about the Andretti Autosport duo of Alexander Rossi (+500) or Ryan Hunter-Reay (+750)? Rossi, was in the top 10 of all three practice sessions this weekend but only qualified eighth. Hunter-Reay was in the top 10 in two of the three sessions but starts 11th.
Rossi, has just one top five finish of his career at Barber, so buyer beware. Hunter-Reay finished runner-up in this race last year and has four top five finishes in his last six tries, but the stakes aren’t good when you start outside of the top 10.
So, who are the ones to bet on?
Alexander Rossi (+500)
I know what I said above but come on? He was in the top 10 in all three practice sessions and has been strong this year. He was fifth two years ago and starts eighth. He can get it done from there.
Scott Dixon (+650)
He may not have ever won at Barber before but he does have five runner-ups and two more third place finishes. Dixon, qualified his No. 9 Honda third for Sunday’s 90 Lap race. He was also fourth, 10th and third respectively in practice too.
Sebastien Bourdais (+1200)
Why not here? Bourdais, starts fifth after finishing fifth in the last race at COTA and also coming home fifth in this race last year. The Dale Coyne Racing driver was second, fourth and second respectively in practice this weekend to go along with having three top eight finishes in his last four Barber starts.
James Hinchcliffe (+2500)
Hinchcliffe, has the top overall car this weekend. If he didn’t get off course in the third round of qualifying, he’d likely be on the pole. The Canadian driver instead starts fourth. That’s after being third, first and first respectively in practice this weekend and having five consecutive top seven finishes at Barber including a third place run last year.
Graham Rahal (+2800)
Rahal, starts on the front row. He has two runner-up finishes in his career at Barber too. Furthermore, Rahal has three top seven finishes in his last four Barber starts.
Takuma Sato (+5000)
He won on a natural road course at Portland last year. Sato, starts on the pole which has produced four race winners in nine tries at Barber. The RLL driver was also eighth, 13th and fifth respectively in practice this weekend and has two consecutive top 10 finishes on this race track.
Spencer Pigot (+12500)
This is a great risk. Pigot, has been fast this weekend including being seventh and sixth respectively in the final two practice sessions. He is the top Chevy driver in the starting lineup in sixth too.
Santino Ferrucci (+12500)
Why not here too? The rookie driver was third in practice on Friday and qualified 10th. His teammate has a fast car and Ferrucci is strong on natural road courses.
Pato O’Ward (+15000)
Who says we can’t see two straight rookie drivers win? O’Ward may start 18th but if a caution goes his way, he has the speed to stay up front. The Carlin driver was seventh, eighth and 11th respectively in practice this weekend.