IndyCar is facing a problem that other racing series aren’t

Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi Racing, IndyCar, Indy 500 (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)
Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi Racing, IndyCar, Indy 500 (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images) /

While NASCAR championship odds and Formula 1 world championship odds are easy to find, the same cannot be said for IndyCar championship odds.

Sports betting continues to rise in popularity across the United States, specifically as it continues to become legalized across the United States. Several forms of motorsport, particularly NASCAR and Formula 1, have taken advantage, with odds posted for both championships and for each event at every major sportsbook.

However, even for as quickly as it is gaining in popularity, IndyCar is still lagging behind in this category, and in a big way. This has been an ongoing problem for America’s premier open-wheel racing series over the last few years, even amid the meteoric rise of sports betting.

In some ways, the 2023 season has seen some improvements. A lot of sportsbooks have posted race odds ahead of the last few events. In fact, Indy 500 odds were up since before the season even started at some sites.

Of course, we would hope that that would be the case for the largest single-day sporting event on the planet. It should be expected.

But as for the individual race odds (excluding the Indy 500), they typically don’t show up until just before the first practice session. And inevitably those odds change almost right away, given the fact that there are always lessons to be learned from practice sessions. That gives fans very little time to look things over and place wagers.

The bigger problem that remains, though, is that you can’t bet on the 2023 IndyCar champion.

Sportsbooks haven’t had IndyCar championship odds posted since before the season. There has been no sign of any title odds for the most competitive racing series in the world since the winter, before the season got underway on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.

You can even still bet on the Formula 1 world championship, even though just seven races into the 22-race season, Max Verstappen is already a -4000 favorite to win it and Red Bull are the -8000 favorites to win the constructor title. Betting on these championships is effectively counterproductive, but you can still do it.

Let’s face it. As elite as Alex Palou has been, he isn’t that big of a favorite on the IndyCar side. IndyCar is too competitive of a series, which is what makes the continued absence of its championship — and its sporadic race by race appearances — in sportsbooks that much more baffling.

There is money to be made for the sportsbooks here, and there is money to be won by IndyCar fans — and even probably fans who don’t know anything about IndyCar, for that matter. Before a year or two ago, you’d never hear of someone turning off a playoff game in overtime because the over hit. Yet nowadays, it happens.

The big question that gets asked is if making betting more widely available is actually going to increase the sport’s audience. After all, you don’t have to look far to find sports fans who probably get annoyed by the dozens of DraftKings and FanDuel ads you see during commercial breaks during every live sporting event.

The simple, safer answer is that it might. But the more accurate answer is that it will absolutely make more fans interested in it. Open up any sportsbook and you’ll see sports you can bet on that you didn’t even know existed. You can bet on Indian table tennis, for crying out loud.

Inevitably, expanding IndyCar’s betting presence is going to increase awareness and interest in the sport at the very least. The 2023 season has marked a good start.

But more needs to happen moving forward, and it starts with the championship.

And that means updates after every single race.

Next. All-time IndyCar wins list. dark

The next race on the IndyCar schedule is the Sonsio Grand Prix at Road America presented by AMR, which is scheduled to take place on Sunday, June 18. USA Network is set to broadcast the race live beginning at 1:00 p.m. ET. Begin a free trial of FuboTV now and don’t miss it!

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