IndyCar has a surprising championship favorite after Barber

Josef Newgarden is still the favorite to win the 2024 IndyCar championship, despite the tumultuous week he has experienced.
Barber Motorsports Park, IndyCar
Barber Motorsports Park, IndyCar / Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

Team Penske's Josef Newgarden did not do much to capitalize on the pace he showed during opening practice for the IndyCar race at Barber Motorsports Park this past weekend just hours after addressing the media for the first time since the push-to-pass scandal was brought to light.

This time last week, the two-time series champion and reigning Indy 500 winner was the championship leader following a win on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida and a fourth place finish on the streets of Long Beach, California.

But 45 days after the St. Petersburg race, he was disqualified, along with third place teammate Scott McLaughlin, for taking advantage of the team's manipulation of the overtake system, and he fell to 11th place in the championship standings.

A 16th place finish at Barber, where he is a three-time winner, knocked him down into a 15th place tie with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing teammates Christian Lundgaard and Graham Rahal.

Yet at DraftKings Sportsbook, the driver of the No. 2 Chevrolet is still listed as the championship favorite.

Josef Newgarden favored to win 2024 IndyCar title

Entering the year, Newgarden was the second favorite to win the championship behind reigning champion Alex Palou. He was listed at +450 behind Palou at +350.

After his dominant St. Petersburg win, his odds shortened all the way to +200. Yet after the disqualification and loss of 53 points, they only moved back to +220, keeping him as the favorite.

After a lackluster weekend at Barber which saw absolutely none of his rivals do him any favors on the race track, he is still the favorite at +250, followed closely by Palou at +280.

Palou sits in third place in the championship standings, 50 points ahead of Newgarden, following a season which saw him become the first five-win champion since 2016, the first driver to clinch a title before the season finale since 2005, and the first driver to finish no lower than eighth during a 17-race season since 1922. He has not placed lower than fifth through three races in 2024.

Points leader Colton Herta of Andretti Global is 53 points ahead of Newgarden, yet he is listed at +700. Team Penske's top driver, Will Power, trails Herta by just one point and is listed at +1000.

Chip Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon (fourth place in standings) is listed at +750. Pato O'Ward (sixth) is listed at +650.

Full odds can be found here. Odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.

While Newgarden still being the favorite may be a bit surprise, there seems to be a sense of optimism that, despite a rough weekend at Barber and a rough week in general, he can rebound.

The driver of the No. 2 Chevrolet has won five of the six most recent oval races going back to 2022, and there are seven oval races on the schedule this year, the most since his IndyCar career began in 2012. Five non-superspeedway oval races, events in which he has been particularly dominant throughout his career, are included on the second half of the calendar.

IndyCar: Josef Newgarden's points plummet continues at Barber. IndyCar: Josef Newgarden's points plummet continues at Barber. dark. Next

The next race on the IndyCar schedule is the Sonsio Grand Prix, which is set to be broadcast live on NBC from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course beginning at 3:00 p.m. ET on Saturday, May 11. Newgarden has one win at the Indy road course in 15 starts. If you have yet to begin a free trial of FuboTV, do so now and don't miss any of the action!