An early look at who to wager on for next month’s Indy 500

INDIANAPOLIS — Now that testing is completed for next month’s 106th Running of the Indianapolis 500 (11 a.m. ET, NBC, INDYCAR Radio Network), the oddsmakers have updated the lines for the annual Memorial Day classic.

While you can’t take a lot away from testing normally, Thursday’s session looked a lot like race day for which you can gather a lot of data from and translate over to May.

The thing is, Chip Ganassi Racing and Team Penske look like the early contenders for the win.

The two teams have only combined to win each of the last 9 series titles to go along with 13 out of the last 14 overall. Not only that, they’ve combined to win 44 of the last 67 races in the series (66%) since this new UAK car came out. Since the Aeroscreen?

24 wins in 33 tries (73%). They’ve combined to win 9 of the last 11 races overall and if you count Texas last month, the only other superspeedway on the schedule, they combined to sweep the entire top 7 of the finishing order.

On the overall speed chart for the two-day test, they took 4 of the top 5 speeds and 7 of the top 10 overall. Is this their race to lose?

Throw Andretti Autosport in there, and these three organizations have won 13 of the last 17 ‘500’s overall and 17 of the last 22 (since 2000).

RLL and MSR are the only two outliers with RLL taking two of the top three spots in 2020 and have won 2 of the 5 that the “Big 3” didn’t since 2000. MSR won a year ago with Helio Castroneves.

Plus, the last non Penske Chevrolet driver to win at Indy was Al Unser Jr. with Galles in 1992.

For where the odds sit at this moment, here’s the best bets. You have to take in effect that this is pre qualifying. That will change everything next month since each of the last four winners have started in the top 8.

Best Odds For Now

Scott Dixon (+900)

This one I’d grab now. He had a dominating Month of May last year and as a result, was +350 going into race day. He’s +900 now and is coming off of a test to where he looked the same as 2021.

He led 111 of 200 laps in a runner-up finish in 2020, was on the pole last year and if not for his car running out of gas while under caution for the first stint would have had something to say about last year’s race. Dixon, has two top three finishes in his last four Indy 500 starts but hasn’t won since 2008 either. I think this could be his year and you can get him now for +900.

Scott McLaughlin (+1000)

Only reason I’d grab him now is you get a 4 digit number on him. I think he falls to a 3 digit number in May. He is confident, was 5th in the test, qualified on the front row and led the most laps in Texas. He won’t stay here for long.

Helio Castroneves (+1600)

He won at a +3000 last year but while he’s +1600, he may drop further if he has a great start to the month. He qualified Row 3 last year so if he does again, no way he stays at +1600. Castroneves, is less than a second away from being a six time winner. His first two Indy wins came back-to-back, can he do it again?

Alexander Rossi (+1800)

He was +1000 last year and you get him for almost double the odds. While the luck hasn’t been on his side, his cars have been better than the finishes have indicated. He was 27th and 29th respectively in his last 2 Indy starts, but both were due to issues while he was running up front. Prior to that, he had not finished worse than seventh in four starts including a win in 2016 and runner-up in 2019.

The reason to grab him now is, Rossi is a great qualifier here. He’s started in the top 10 in 4 of the last 5 years so if that’s the case again, these odds will drop.

Marcus Ericsson (+2000)

He was top five in Texas and qualified in the Fast Nine last year. Worth a look in getting a Ganassi driver for +2000)

Tony Kanaan (+2000)

Kanaan, has four top 10’s in his last six Indy tries. He was 3rd quick on Thursday. Enough said.

Simon Pagenaud (+2500)

This is in the steal of the century category. Pagenaud, is in a similar situation to what Castroneves was last year. He is now with MSR and coming off of a third place run last season with Penske at that. He has 3 top 6’s in his last 4 Indy starts including a win in 2019.

Takuma Sato (+2500)

He has 3 top 3’s in his last 5 Indy starts and has won the Indy 500 with two different teams. Why not a third? He is also a good qualifier here with 2 top 4 spots in the last 5 years driving for a team that qualified in the top half of the field with a rookie last season. Sato was P2 on Thursday’s test.

Romain Grosjean (+2500)

While I don’t necessarily like this odds, I think they drop. Grosjean, is fast and this car was in the top 10 qualifying in 4 of the last 6 years including the top 7 in each of the last 2. If he sniffs the top 10 in practice speeds, these odds drop.

Rinus VeeKay (+3000)

Indy is special to him. It’s the spot where he got his first top five, his first podium, his first pole and now his first win. Can he get an Indy 500 win? He qualified on the front row last year and finished eighth. ECR always qualifies well at Indy so snag him for these odds while you can.

Juan Pablo Montoya (+3000)

A two-time Indy 500 champion, who’s won for two different teams, driving for a third, with a great race car. He finished 10th last year in this same car and was very happy leaving the test.

Ed Carpenter (+4000)

The hometown hero is always good here. He has 3 top six finishes in his last four starts. He’s also a very strong qualifier here too with 6 top 4 starting spots, 5 of which in the top 2, in the last 9 years. No way that number stays here next month.

Conor Daly (+5000)

He led the most laps last year and if not for a tire falling out of the sky, he would have been in contention for a win in the end.

Marco Andretti (+5000)

He knows his way around this track. At some point, I just feel like he’s going to get a win here. For these odds, I’d snag him. He won the pole in 2020 and was 6th on Thursday’s test. These odds won’t stay here long if he’s quick in May.

Santino Ferrucci (+7000)

He finished seventh in 2019, fourth in 2020 and sixth a year ago in his three Indy appearances. He was near the top 10 on the speed charts this week.

Sage Karam (+10000)

Are you kidding me here? The guy who charged from 31st to 7th last year and was 13th on the speed charts is +10000?

Callum Ilott (+15000)

Worth a flier here. If it pays off, you win big. If it doesn’t, you don’t lose much. Ilott, was 3rd fastest on Wednesday.

Can Colton Herta finally get an Indy top 5? Photo Credit: INDYCAR Media Site

Be Wary

Colton Herta (+900)

His best finish in three tries here is eighth despite 3 top 10 starts. For these odds, I’d hold off.

Will Power (+1200)

His last 2 finishes have been 14th and 30th with 4 of his last six results being 10th or worse. He was worst out of the three Penske cars in Texas as well as this past weeks test too.

Graham Rahal (+2000)

He was third in 2020 and had a top five car before his wheel literally fell off during last year’s race. The only reason he’s in this category is because he’s struggled to qualify lately and if he fails to qualify well next month, you’d get him for a much better number.

Jimmie Johnson (+2500)

I’m a little skeptical here. This is a low number for a driver who said that while he was fast during the test, made 0 passes too. Do you really trust he’s ready to win an INDYCAR race? I think he’ll be solid but +2500 for him at this point is a little low for me. If you can find him at +3000 or even higher, I’d be more interested.

Felix Rosenqvist (+2500)

He’s had a top 10 here and ovals aren’t his strongsuit. 2 of his 3 Indy finishes have been 27th or worse.

Jack Harvey (+6000)

Not one of his better tracks on oval configuration with 4 of his 5 finishes being 16th or worse here.

AJ Foyt Racing

They’ve not won at Indy since 1999. They’ve not won an Indy Car race since 2013. I don’t see it out of them this year either so don’t take Kyle Kirkwood (+5000), JR Hildebrand (+20000), Dalton Kellett (+30000).

Maybe Wait Until Later

Josef Newgarden (+700)

Newgarden has scored just two top fives in nine tries here but this feels like his year. However, being +700, I don’t think his number drops much lower since the odds at Indy are usually around this zone for favorite anyhow. If he doesn’t qualify in the top 2 rows, you can probably get him for a better number later. If he does qualify well, I still don’t think this number drops much. The thing is, Newgarden has 2 top 5 starting spots in 10 Indy 500 tries including being 13th and 21st the last 2 years.

Alex Palou (+700)

He started seventh here as a rookie in 2020 and was runner-up a year ago after qualifying sixth. That’s why his 2021 number (+1400) dropped in half. However, like the case for Newgarden, I don’t see this dropping much lower than this. Maybe he goes to +600 or +550 but is that difference worth betting him now compared to longer shots?

Pato O’Ward (+1000)

He won a race at Texas last year and has finished sixth and fourth respectively in his 2 Indy 500 starts. The thing is, his starting spots here have been 15th and 12th respectively. That number could drop after qualifying weekend to a place you grab him to win more money in return.

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