With the 101st running of the Indianapolis 500 just days away, it’s time to take a look at some of the drivers to watch in Sunday’s race. Here are the drivers you should keep your eye on during the fabled IndyCar race and their betting odds courtesy of Bovada.
FAVORITES TO WIN
Helio Castroneves (10-1): Castroneves is making just his second IndyCar start of the season after moving over to sports cars full-time for the 2018 season. But the Team Penske driver is one of the favoites on Sunday for good reason. A win would be his fourth Indianapolis 500 win, tying A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears for the most victories in the race. Castroneves hasn’t won since 2009 but has come close in the years since. He should be near the front at the end of the race.
Josef Newgarden (10-1): The defending IndyCar Series champion is looking for his first victory at Indianapolis. He’s one of the most talented drivers in the series and finished third in 2016 at Indy. A year ago he was caught up in a wreck late in the race. He starts fourth and it would be a big surprise if he doesn’t lead some laps.
Ed Carpenter (12-1): Carpenter is starting on the pole for the third time in his career. Is this the year that he finally gets an Indy 500 win? Carpenter has a good car once again and is due for a good finish at Indianapolis. He’s failed to finish the race in three of the last four seasons and has just three top-10 finishes in 16 starts. Time is running out for Carpenter to have a great run at Indy.
Scott Dixon (12-1): Dixon’s a former Indy 500 winner but you probably remember him for the horrific accident he somehow walked away from a year ago after his car catapulted into the air after hitting Jay Howard’s car.
Dixon’s the most cerebral driver in the sport and his smarts coupled with his driving ability makes him a threat to win anywhere on the circuit.
Ryan-Hunter Reay (12-1): Hunter-Reay is starting 14th and has led more than 25 laps in four of the last five Indianapolis 500s. He’s looking to reverse a troubling trend, however. Since winning the 2014 Indy 500, Hunter-Reay has finished 15th, 24th and 27th.
GREAT BETS TO TAKE A FLIER ON
Danica Patrick (25-1): Patrick starts seventh and is making her first Indianapolis start since she left IndyCars for NASCAR. But she’s proven to be a quick re-learner and is a great value at 25-1 given her six top-10 finishes in seven Indy 500 starts. She’s got a good Ed Carpenter Racing car and is listed as the 14th-best favorite. That’s surprising given her popularity. There are far worse bets you can make and can you imagine the craziness if Patrick ends her IndyCar career with a win?
Takuma Sato (30-1): The defending champion of the 500 has worse odds than Patrick. What’s up with that? Well, Sato is driving for a different team in 2018 (Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing) than in 2017 when he won driving for Andretti Autosport. And Sato had never finished in the top 10 before he won a year ago. 30-1 is still a very good value for a defending race winner.
Robert Wickens (30-1): Wickens came very close to winning the 2018 season-opening race in St. Petersburg before he spun out as Alexander Rossi tried to pass him for the lead. That was Wickens’ first IndyCar race as well. He’s proven to be a quick learner in IndyCars and is carrying the Schmidt-Peterson Motorsports banner after teammate James Hinchcliffe failed to qualify for the race.
Ed Jones (40-1): Jones is driving for Chip Ganassi Racing and is a teammate to Scott Dixon. He’s starting 29th and hasn’t shown the speed that Dixon has so far in 2018. But there’s some reason for optimism. Jones was third as a rookie in the 2017 Indy 500 after he started 11th. He’s got a lot more work to do this year, but he should have the car to get towards the front if he can avoid any early-lap craziness.
Max Chilton (250-1): It’s a bit odd that the driver with the most Formula 1 experience has the worst odds. Especially when that driver led 50 laps and finished fourth a year ago. What the heck? Well, Chilton was in a Ganassi car last year and this year he’s driving for new team Carlin Racing. And Carlin hasn’t been very good. But Chilton starts 20th — just five spots worse than he did last year — and small teams can make good showings at Indianapolis.
Alexander Rossi (8-1): Rossi is the betting favorite, for reasons we’re not fully sure of. Yeah, he won the 2016 Indy 500, but that was on fuel mileage. Yeah, he’s driving for one of the best teams in the sport in Andretti Autosport, but he’s starting 32nd. Rossi should be one of the favorites for the race, don’t get us wrong. But he’s the only guy with lesser odds than 10-1. That’s a bit perplexing. Look elsewhere.
Sage Karam (20-1): How in the world does Karam have better odds than Patrick? Karam is making his first start of the IndyCar season and is driving for a lesser team than Patrick is. And after finishing ninth in his first Indy 500, Karam has finished 32nd, 32nd and 28th in the last three 500s. Avoid him.
Matheus Leist (80-1): Leist hasn’t shown much in his first season in the IndyCar Series. The 19-year-old is most known for almost hitting an official on pit road earlier this season in Phoenix. He doesn’t have a shot at the win.
Jay Howard (80-1): We’re not sure how Howard’s odds aren’t the worst in the field. He’s making his first start of the season and his third in the Indy 500. In his previous two races he’s finished 32nd and 33rd. And he was a rolling chicane last year before Scott Dixon ran into him. Don’t waste your money betting on Howard.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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