Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey: Betting Preview

By: Joe Branch
September 17, 2021

Just two races remain in the 2021 NTT Indycar Season and we now have a clear favorite in the championship.  Chip Ganassi Racing’s Alex Palou won his third race of the season last week in Portland giving him a 25 point lead over Pato O’Ward.  

This weekend is a three day show which usually means odds are reset after each session.  The first practice takes place Friday at 5:30 PM ET.  Qualifying takes place on Saturday at 5:05 PM ET.  

The Favorites

For the first time this season points leader Alex Palou enters the race weekend as the odds on favorite to win the race at +500 (5 to 1).  Palou is the only driver to have three wins this season and they have all come on natural terrain road courses like Laguna Seca.

+500 is pretty good value for a favorite coming into a weekend, Palou and CGR have also qualified very well on these types of tracks so there is no reason to believe that these odds would get any better after Saturday.

Palou and the No. 10 team celebrate after Sunday’s race in Portland (Chris Jones/INDYCAR)

Colton Herta is next on the odds list at +550 (5.5 to 1).  Colton dominated and won the race in 2019 from the pole position, although this season, most of his success has seemed to come on street courses and not the natural terrain road courses.  

Two other favorites come in at +600 (6 to 1), Josef Newgarden and Scott Dixon.  Both of these former champions are still alive in this year’s championship and will be pulling out all of the stops in Monterey. 

+600 is the best opening value for either driver in a while.  I especially like the value it provides for Dixon as he seemed to find the qualifying pace that had been missing most of the season, last week in Portland.  Dixon qualified 2nd here in 2019 and finished 3rd.  


Coming off of his best finish of the season, Alexander Rossi comes into the weekend at +1400 (14 to 1).  Rossi was quoted this week saying that he thinks they found something over the summer break.  The Andretti Autosport driver had similar odds last to open up last weekend and was down to around 7 to 1 on most sports books after qualifying towards the front of the field.  

Rahal finished 10th after he led 36 laps at Portland, the most of any driver on Sunday (Chris Jones/INDYCAR)

Value can be found in Graham Rahal this weekend at +2000 (20 to 1).  In the past, you would always want to wait until after qualifying to bet on Graham as he and the team struggled to put that one lap together.  However, last week at Portland he made the Firestone Fast 6, the first he’d done so since the Indianapolis Grand Prix in July of 2020.  If they finally found some qualifying pace, Graham is a threat to win week in and week out. 

One other place that you could find some value is with Romain Grosjean at +1800 (18 to 1)  Grosjean missed the braking zone in turn one last week and took out a few drivers including himself.  Before that Grosjean had barely put a wheel wrong all season and has been knocking on the door of his first win.

Long Shots

There are even more drivers than usual that are coming in at +5000 or worse this weekend, including five Indycar race winners.  These drivers include Bourdais, Hunter-Reay, Castroneves, Hinchcliffe, and Sato.  

Castroneves (2000) is the only driver in that group to have previously won at the 2.238-mile, 11-turn road course in Salinas, California. He won the 2000 CART event at the venue.

Harvey and Michael Shank Racing were one of a handful of teams to test at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca on March 1 (Chris Owens/INDYCAR)

Value can again be found in Jack Harvey this week at +5000 (50 to 1).  He qualifies better than these odds every week so I’m surprised that they keep giving him the 50 to 1 marker.

From the list of former winners above, I love the idea of taking cheap flyers on Ryan Hunter-Reay at +8000 (80 to 1) and Takuma Sato at +10000 (100 to 1).

My Picks

Favorites: Scott Dixon (6 to 1 to win and 1.6 to 1 to podium)

Value: Alexander Rossi (14 to 1 to win and 4 to 1 to podium) and Graham Rahal (20 to 1 to win and 5.5 to 1 to podium)

Long Shots: Jack Harvey (50 to 1 to win and 14 to 1 to podium) and Ryan Hunter-Reay (80 to 1 to win and 22 to 1 to podium)

Header Image By Stephen V. King/INDYCAR Odds from DraftKings (9/15)


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