Barber odds: Power favorite, de Silvestro longest shot

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Oddsmakers in Las Vegas have picked an obvious favorite for this week’s IZOD IndyCar Series race at Barber Motorsports Park (Sunday, 3 p.m. EST, NBC Sports Network). But they’ve made an odd choice for the field’s long shot.

Will Power, who seeks his third straight Barber win, is going off at 7/4 odds. That’s no surprise.

But at the other end of the spectrum, Simona de Silvestro (right) is the last rated driver in the field with 60/1 odds of winning. I’m not sure the oddsmakers took notice of her performance in St. Petersburg when she qualified third and finished sixth in her first race with KV Racing Technology and a Chevrolet engine.

Four drivers (Sebastien Bourdais, Alex Tagliani, EJ Viso and Charlie Kimball) are at 50/1.

The Lotus engine that saddled de Silvestro, Bourdais and Tagliani is, like last year’s race, consigned to history. And lest we forget Bourdais put in Lotus’ best race of the year at Barber a year ago, qualifying 17th and finishing an incredible ninth with a car down an estimated 50 horsepower to Chevrolet and Honda.

The field is 12/1 (JR Hildebrand, Sebastian Saavedra, James Jakes, Ana Beatriz, Ed Carpenter, Tristan Vautier and Josef Newgarden) as those seven drivers were not given individual odds. AJ Allmendinger, making his open-wheel return, also goes off at 12-1.

Another good bet – as hinted Wednesday here on MotorSports Talk – is Marco Andretti, who’s had some success at Barber in the past and rolls off at 40/1.

F1 2017 driver review: Lance Stroll

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Team: Williams

Car No.: 18
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 1
Best Finish: P3 (Azerbaijan)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 40
Championship Position: 13th

Lance Stroll’s arrival in Formula 1 at the start of the 2017 was a far from smooth one despite a significant private testing program being undertaken in the months leading up to his grand prix debut.

Even with older hand Felipe Massa at Williams, Stroll looked uneasy behind the wheel of the FW40 car through the opening run of races as he failed to reach the checkered flag in any of his first three starts.

The Canadian was left deflated after his first decent effort in Bahrain was cut short after a clash with Carlos Sainz Jr., calling it his “rock bottom” moment – but things would turn around on home soil.

Stroll produced a stunning fight through the field to take an excellent P9 in Canada, proving his talent seen in Formula 3 the previous year and shushing many of his critics.

Better would follow two weeks later in Baku when Stroll became the youngest rookie in F1 history to score a podium, dodging a crazy race to finish third. It would have been second had he not lost a drag race against Valtteri Bottas to the line.

Stroll’s form then fluctuated greatly. He was sublime on occasion, the best examples being Monza, when he started a remarkable P2 on the grid and ended as the top midfielder in P7, or Mexico where he took a brilliant sixth.

But there were too many weekends he was a little anonymous. Sure, Williams didn’t have the best car this year, but perhaps a little better was expected from Stroll.

2018 will be an even bigger challenge as he looks to the lead the team when a new teammate arrives – and at only 19, it is a lot to handle. Nevertheless, there are positive signs to be found; you just need to look for them a little.

Season High: Taking a shock podium in Baku after dodging chaos in front.

Season Low: A poor opening two races in Australia and China.