Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama: Betting Preview

By: Joe Branch
April 16, 2021

For each NTT Indycar Series Race this season we will have a betting preview that takes a look at on track favorites, value picks, and longshots.  

Indycar is without a doubt, one of the best motorsports to wager on because of the depth of the field and the fact that there are 10-15 legitimate potential winners every race.  

Betting Terminology 101

When you look at your favorite sports betting app to bet this weekend’s race, you will notice that all of the race winning odds are listed in 100’s. What does this mean?

If a driver is listed at +500, this means that they are 5 to 1 odds to win the race. So if you were to place a $1 bet and that driver won the race, you would be paid out a total of $6.

When betting Indycar you typically will see the odds appear on a betting app like DraftKings, the Wednesday or Thursday before the race.  

Pre weekend odds are usually based more off of how the season is going and a driver’s overall reputation.  

A lot of times you can find a lot of value in these bets because the odds makers aren’t really taking into consideration performance at that particular track.  These value bets, you will want to make before the first session goes green.  

After the first session of the weekend goes green, the apps usually take the odds down and they don’t put them back up until after qualifying.  

Because of this if you see a driver that you think will qualify really well, you will want to make sure and get your bet in before the first session starts.  In contrast, if you think a driver will race better than they will qualify, it is better to wait until after qualifying to place your bets on that driver.  

Finally let’s look at our first action of the season, The Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama!!!  Not only is this the first race of the season but due to the pandemic this race was cancelled last season, so there is a ton of unknown here. However, the unknown usually provides some great value for sports bettors.

 Each race, my strategy is always to pick 1 favorite, 1 value, and 1 long shot.  This varies based off the type of track and value that I can find within the field. 


The odds on favorite to win this weekend’s race as of right now is Josef Newgarden at +400 (4 to 1) with defending series champion Scott Dixon right behind at +500 (5 to 1).  

These are the two drivers you would expect to see at the front of the field on most weekends and Newgarden’s previous success at Barber is probably what gives him the nod here.  Josef has won the last 3 of 5 races to take place at Barber Motorsports Park.

All that being said, there’s not much value in betting Newgarden before qualifying.  Even if he qualifies on the pole his odds will go to 3 or 3.5 to 1, so you’re not losing much by holding off, if he doesn’t qualify in the top 3 you will probably get better odds on him Sunday morning.

Colton Herta begins his third NTT INDYCAR SERIES season with a new ride (Chris Owens/INDYCAR)

 Another favorite worth keeping an eye on is Colton Herta at +850 (8.5 to 1).  Colton will definitely be a competitor for the Firestone Fast 6.

In 2019, Herta started 9th with the Harding/Steinbrenner entry and was running strong before retiring with a mechanical issue.  He was the fastest Honda in the 21 car open test that took place at Barber last fall.

Herta at +850 provides some good value as he definitely has the potential of putting it on pole Saturday afternoon.

Value Picks

The value picks are where you can make some consistent money over the course of the season, this week gives us a ton of value to choose from.

 First of all, value definitely starts with Takuma Sato +2000 (20 to 1).  Sato is the defending race winner at Barber, he started and won from the pole in 2019.

Sato led an RLLR lockout of the front row then led 74 of 90 laps in his 2019 Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama (Chris Owens/INDYCAR)

He and the Rahal Lanigan Letterman Racing team has proven to be very solid at the natural terrain road courses over the past few years.  Teammate Graham Rahal also shows some good value at +1200 (12 to 1) which inches him close to the “favorites.”

A sleeper for this this weekend is Ed Carpenter Racing’s sophomore Rinus Veekay +2200 (22 to 1).  The series has been to Barber for two separate tests since November and Rinus has been the fastest in both of those tests. This will however be his first Indycar race at Barber.

Other value drivers worth a look are the Arrow McLaren drivers of Felix Rosenqvists +1200 (12 to 1) and Pato O’Ward +1400.(14 to 1).

Long Shots

Long shots are quite often the most fun to bet.  With the “anything can happen” nature of Indycar, it’s definitely possible to hit one from time to time.  

This week there is some real value in Jack Harvey +5000 (50 to 1) and Conor Daly +8000 (80 to 1).  

Daly returns to ECR for 14 of 17 races in 2021 (Joe Skibinski/INDYCAR)

Jack has been finding good pace over the last season and is going to compete for some wins this season.  Jack was 5th quick in the November test, his odds will definitely get lower after qualifying.

 Conor was one of 12 cars to test at Barber in February, that alone is an advantage, coupled with the fact that his teammate was P1.  Conor will have good pace this weekend and if he finds himself up front, he definitely has the talent to stay there.

Joe’s Picks

Favorite: Graham Rahal (12 to 1)-Podium odds not yet posted

Value: Rinus VeeKay (22 to 1) and Takuma Sato (20 to 1)

Long Shot: Jack Harvey (50 to 1) and Conor Daly (80 to 1)

Odds are from Draft Kings as of 4/15. Follow Joe on Twitter for in-race updates and more.

Header Image By Joe Skibinski/INDYCAR


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