The 2021 NTT IndyCar title chase moves to Laguna Seca Raceway, in Monterey, Cal, for the 2021 Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey at Laguna. It will mark the season’s penultimate event, the result of which could see a handful of drivers eliminated from the title race before the season-culminating Grand Prix of Long Beach.
The race is slated for Sunday marking the second time in decades that the series will come to Laguna Seca. This also presents us with a challenge for our betting prediction since we have no data on the track, albeit the online sports betting providers have made the job easier by painting a clear picture of who should shine this weekend.
Palou Back On Top
The biggest takeaway from the Portland race – which Alex Palou won – is how much early cautions can impact the IndyCar races. Still, drivers who know how to take advantage of those situations usually benefit.
That was noticeable with Palou, Alexander Rossi, and Scott Dixon, who took advantage of the early caution to pit and got awarded for that later in the race. The second thing we could take from the recent races is just how quickly the championship picture can change.
On my way to California. Can’t wait for my first race at Laguna Seca, such a special place. 🤩
Just 2 races left, let’s get it done. 🦍#OneGoal pic.twitter.com/lOGS7Crnqe
— Alex Palou Montalbo (@AlexPalou) September 16, 2021
Palou went from trailing by 10 points to leading by 25; granted, that was largely thanks to Pato O’Ward’s flop, as he finished 14th. Regardless, that only goes to show that one race can turn everything upside down and that you never know what will happen over the weekend.
By winning in Portland, Palou is back on top of the standings, and while the championship is still wide open, It’s hard to look past Palou as a potential winner at WeatherTech Raceway. He has never raced at Portland before, which isn’t optimal, but he has the momentum on his side and is on top of the standings for a good reason.
It’s hard not to be impressed with Josef Newgarden and his performance in Portland. He overcame a poor qualifying session to finish in fifth, and with that, kept himself in the race for his third NTT IndyCar Series championship title.
Newgarden will rarely be regarded as one of the favorites to win the race, mainly because he always seems to be there but rarely on top. However, the 30-year-old Team Penske driver has already proved his worth this season, with two wins at Hondy Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio and the Bommarito Automotive Group 500.
What’s more, he should have won in Detroit and Road to America and has had a solid showing at Laguna before, placing eighth in 2019. But, the biggest reason why we like Newgarden is the belief in his voice during the post-race interview last weekend, when he made it very clear that he is still in the fight.
“Going into Laguna Seca 34 points out of the lead is definitely doable,” said Newgarden.
“We are in the fight for the championship, and that’s all we can ask.”
Will Newgarden manage to deliver is anyone’s guess, but he has done it before, and who are we to doubt the two-time IndyCar champion?
If you check the IndyCar odds for this weekend, you might find several attractive options for the 2021 Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey at Laguna. Still, there are only two names that interest us – Palou and Newgarden.
Many might start fading Palou since it seems unlikely that he can go back-to-back, especially after his iffy showings at World Wide Technology Raceway (20th) and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (27th). However, he is still the current IndyCar leader, and you don’t get here by mistake.
Palou has won three races and has placed inside the top five in eight (57% of all races of the season). On the topic of solid showings, Newgarden has two wins across his last five starts and has three runner-up finishes and 11 top-10s on the season.
Laguna will be his best chance to tighten the race for the title, and we expect him to seize the opportunity and take one step closer to his third NTT IndyCar Series title. Picking between the two drivers isn’t easy, but if you’re looking for IndyCar sports betting action for this weekend, you can’t go wrong with either.
Pick: Alex Palou to win (+400)
Pick: Josef Newgarden to win (+600)