IndyCar Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Odds, Picks: The 300-1 Bet to Lock in Now for Sunday’s Race
Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images. Pictured: NTT IndyCar Series drivers Josef Newgarden and Colton Herta celebrate
The NTT IndyCar Series kicks off its 2022 campaign on Sunday with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (12 p.m. ET, NBC).
Alex Palou is the defending series champion and looking to fend off Josef Newgarden, Pato O'Ward, Scott Dixon, Colton Herta and a host of other drivers.
Twenty-six full-time entries are expected to run this year in an incredibly competitive field. That includes six rookies, five of whom will run the full schedule, and a sixth, Tatiana Calderón, who will run 12 of the 17 races.
The focus here is on one of those rookies.
Bookmakers often have a hard time setting lines for rookies with the lack of data around a smaller market.
That's where we have the edge.
I've been eying this young driver for months, waiting until this day that books post lines on the IndyCar season opener.
I'll have more bets for you come race day, but this opportunity is too good to wait on. This line will move, possibly even before track activity begins on Friday.
But I have little doubt that this opportunity will be long gone when we see practice times and qualifying.
The time has come.
I present to you one of my favorite IndyCar bets of all-time.
Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Picks
*Odds as of Wednesday night
The last time I was on a 300-1 longshot in a motorsport, it ended in brutal fashion.
But I'm betting on another 300-1 longshot to win this weekend at St. Petersburg.
Kyle Kirkwood is quite possibly one of, if not the best IndyCar prospect I've come across in my lifetime.
He's the first person to ever win championships in each of the three series in the Road to Indy.
Not only did he win three titles, he did so in dominant fashion. Just look at this record.
All of that yellow you see there, those are wins. And they all come at road and street courses.
You might look at these results and say Kirkwood has started slowly, and you'd be right.
Kirkwood won only four total times in the first three weekends of each series, which included 16 total races (some races were doubleheaders, which I am counting as a full weekend).
After that he won an insane 27 times in the 34 races outside of the first three race weekends.
The difference here is that IndyCar has a lot of track time. Not only will Kirkwood get plenty of laps in multiple practice sessions on race weekends, but Kirkwood also turned nearly 300 laps in preseason testing at Sebring.
On day one of that test, Kirkwood posted a time in the middle of the pack. However, on day two Kirkwood turned it up into a fifth-place time out of the drivers that made laps.
Sebring is actually an amazingly comparable track for St. Petersburg. Here's how Curt Cavin of IndyCar.com describes it:
…the 1.7-mile short course resembles St. Petersburg’s temporary street circuit in that it has bumpy braking zones with changes in surfaces, tight corners and a long straight on an airport runway. Are the tracks similar enough to be apples vs. apples? No. But Sebring is the best preparation for St. Petersburg.
On that second day, Kirkwood bested both of his teammates by more than 0.7 seconds. That's another theme that has been a staple of his.
In 2020, he won nine of the 16 races on the Indy Pro 2000 schedule. The rest of his teammates combined for two podium finishes and no wins.
In the 2021 Indy Lights season, he won the championship, winning 10 of the 20 races in the process. His teammates finished the year fifth, sixth and seventh in the standings, combining for zero wins.
One of those teammates from the 2021 campaign is Devlin DeFrancesco. DeFrancesco finished sixth in the standings and now takes over the No. 29 ride at Andretti Autosport.
Krikwood even beat DeFrancesco's time at the Sebring test, despite DeFrancesco competing in top-level equipment while Kirkwood's equipment has traditionally been bottom-tier.
You see, Kirkwood is hopping into the flagship No. 14 car for A.J. Foyt Enterprises, which is another reason his odds to win are so steep at many books.
A.J. Foyt Enterprises has exactly one win since the Champ Car/IRL merger in 2008 in what is now the IndyCar Series.
That win came from Takuma Sato, a former Formula 1 driver and two-time winner of the Indy 500. Sato won in his third-ever start for Foyt. He did so on the streets of Long Beach, another temporary street circuit with bumpy braking zones, changes in surface, tight corners and a massively long straight.
Last year, four-time Champ Car champion Sebastian Bourdais took that car to two top-five finishes. That's impressive from a then 41-year-old who is clearly past his prime.
Kirkwood can absolutely match and even exceed the feat Bourdais achieved last year. A Sato-like run isn't out of the question.
That brings us to this weekend; Kirkwood is exuding confidence.
Based off this confidence in both car and lap times, as well as his unprecedented resume in the ladder series, I expect him to start in the front-half of the field.
With some speed and maybe a little bit of luck, he could pull off a shocking victory in his debut.
He opened 500-1 at Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook, and Caesars Sportsbook has him at 300-1 odds. That 300-1 number means this bet needs to be successful only 0.33% of the time to be profitable in the long run.
I have Kirkwood at about a 3% chance of winning.
I want to be betting Kirkwood before he wins at these long odds – not after he wins, and we no longer get these prices.
I'd bet Kirkwood down to 50-1.
The Bet: Kyle Kirkwood to win (+30000)