When you come to the end of a long season, the hope for fans is that you go into the final event with the title on the line. That is exactly where we are with the IndyCar season, with this weekend in Long Beach being the final race of the year. Mathematically, there are three drivers who are still in the hunt for the driver’s title, but the reality is that there are really only two who you would say have a legitimate shot. Josef Newgarden has already basically stated that he has no shot, and since he is one of the three with a chance, that means that it is coming down to Alex Palou versus Pato O’Ward. Let’s take a look at the three favorite drivers to see how they might make out this weekend in Long Beach so yo can bet against their IndyCar odds.
2021 Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach | IndyCar Betting Analysis
Alex Palou +400
He may not have won in Monterey last weekend, but Alex Palou did the next best thing, finishing 2nd to Colton Herta. You do have to say that Palou deserves to be where he is, which is at the top of the driver standings, as he has 3 wins this season and has closed out strong. Palou has a 1st and a 2nd in the last 2 races, which means that he has risen to the task when it mattered most. What is all the more astonishing is that no one really saw this coming. Palou is in just his 2nd full season in IndyCar and is coming off a season where he finished 16th overall. You really would have needed a crystal ball to see what he delivered this season. With a 35-point lead, Palou doesn’t really need to win this weekend, but I wouldn’t put it past him doing so.
Pato O’Ward +450
Realistically, this is Palou’s title to lose, but you cannot count out O’Ward even though he has not been particularly good over the past few races. You cannot forget, though, that he has spent some time at the top of the driver standings this season, and this will be seen as another step forward for a driver who finished 4th overall in 2020. His problem right now is that he has cooled off coming down the stretch, allowing Palou to pull ahead. It has now been 7 races since he last took a checkered flag, so you have to wonder if he can give it one last push and get the win that might win it all for him. His last run at Long Beach came in 2019, when he finished 12th.
Josef Newgarden +800
Newgarden looked to have the edge coming into the final few races, as he had the experience of winning a championship in his locker. While he didn’t totally fold, his 5th and 7th place finishes in the last 2 races were simply not good enough to get the job done. As we mentioned at the top of this piece, he is still mathematically in the picture, but he would need to win and have Palou and O’Ward have nightmare races. He could certainly take care of his part, as he has a pair of podium finishes in his last 3 runs at Long Beach.