INDIANAPOLIS — Sunday marks the beginning of the 2023 NTT INDYCAR Series season. BetMGM is nice enough to grace us with a futures bet and that’s for the outright winner of May’s 107th Running of the Indianapolis 500.
Want in early on some opening lines? I got you.
We’ve seen a lot of parity lately in this race. Since 2011, only Takuma Sato has won this race more than once. That would in theory eliminate Tony Kanaan, Juan Pablo Montoya, Alexander Rossi, Sato, Will Power, Simon Pagenaud, Helio Castroneves and Marcus Ericsson. However, you also get some good odds on them right now too.
Also, at one point of this race, Andretti Autosport and Team Penske had combined to win the Indianapolis 500 in 6 straight years. They’re 0-for-3 since. In fact, they combined to lead just 3 of 200 laps last year Despite having 8 of the 33 combined starters, they finished 5th (Alexander Rossi), 13th (Josef Newgarden), 15th (Will Power), 20th (Devlin DeFrancesco), 22nd (Marco Andretti), 29th (Scott McLaughlin), 30th (Colton Herta) and 31st (Romain Grosjean). That’s 3 of the bottom 5.
For Penske in general, they’re now 0-for-3 here on the oval since Roger Penske took over the keys to the place in January 2020.
Penske qualified 13-22-25-28 in 2020, finished 5-11-14-22. They’d lead a grand total of 16 laps that day. A year later, they’d qualify 17-21-26-32 and finish 3-12-20-30 with just 3 laps led all day.
Last year, they failed to lead a single lap and now have led a grand total of 19 over the last 3 years combined (600 laps).
Chevrolet had the preferred power in this race in 2018 and again in 2019. They’ve swept the front row both years. In 2018, they led nearly 150 of the 200 laps run. For 2019, they combined to lead 155 of the 200 laps.
Then in 2020 it was all Honda. This time Honda swept the front row and took 11 of the top 12 starting spots. They’d lead 180 of the 200 laps and sweep the top four finishing spots and take 8 of the top 10 finishers overall.
How much could Chevrolet close the gap back up?
They did by a lot. They led over 100 laps in 2021, but it was also closer between the 2 manufacturers. Each had 3 cars in the top six while Honda had better qualifying pace, it was virtually even in race pace.
Last year, Chevy had led nearly 80% of the laps and won all 4 races entering the Month of May. Honda however instead swept the month including producing 6 of the top 9 finishers in the 106th Running of the Indy 500. They also led 166 of the 200 laps too.
The Honda’s looked good in practice during the opening week before too Chevy turned the wick up in qualifying on Saturday to sweep the provisional front row. On Sunday, the Honda’s adjusted and took 4 of the top 6 starting spots.
In Monday’s race practice, Honda had 11 of the top 14 speeds. For Carb Day, Honda went 1-2-3-4 again.
Did Chevy do enough to flip the script after being shutout of the last two Indy 500’s?
Since 1967, just 3 drivers scored their 1st career INDYCAR win in the Indy 500. It was Arie Luyendyk (1990), Buddy Lazier (1996) and Alexander Rossi (2016). There are 14 drivers that are still searching for their first NTT INDYCAR Series win (Agustin Canapino, Sting Ray Robb, Benjamin Pedersen, Katherine Legge, Conor Daly, Kyle Kirkwood, Romain Grosjean, Devlin DeFrancesco, David Malukas, Christian Lundgaard, Jack Harvey, Santino Ferrucci, Stefan Wilson and Callum Ilott).
Also, the oldest to win this race is Al Unser at 47. Tony Kanaan is 48 now and Helio Castroneves will be 48 in May. Takuma Sato will be 46.
We’ve seen 11 straight years with a different car number win. No. 50, No. 11, No. 28, No. 2, No. 98, No. 26, No. 12, No. 22, No. 30, No. 06 and No. 8. Also, 5 of the last 7 years has seen the race winner being 0-fer in terms of season championships.
Scott Dixon (+600)
He’s won the last two Indy 500 poles and 5 in total. I’m afraid that if you don’t snag him early, it may be too late in May. Dixon led 111 of 200 laps in 2020. He led 95 laps last year. If not for an early race caution in 2021 and speeding on pit road late last year, he’d have won.
While I get also being leery with despite all that success with 5 poles and the most laps led in the 106 year history of this race, he also still hasn’t won here since 2008 either.
Pato O’Ward (+700)
He won a race at Texas in 2021 and has finished sixth, fourth and second respectively respectively in his 3 Indy 500 starts.
Alex Palou (+1000)
Palou was +1400 in April of last year. He started seventh here as a rookie in 2020 and was runner-up a year later after qualifying sixth. He started on the front row last year, led 47 laps and finished ninth. That’s only because of some bad luck as well.
Marcus Ericsson (+1200)
Ericsson was 2nd, 4th, 7th and 5th respectively in the 4 practice sessions last year, qualified in Row 2 and won in the end. He also finished 3rd last year at Texas as well. While it’s been over two decades (2001, 2002) since someone won back-to-back Indy 500’s, the super Swede has the team and talent to do so this May.
Tony Kanaan (+1400)
Kanaan, has five top 10’s in his last seven Indy tries including a third place finish last year. He’s in a McLaren who had strong pace last May and is making his final Indy start. Enough said. He opened up at +2000 last year and already down to +1400 now.
Alexander Rossi (+1800)
He started off +2500 in 2022. While Rossi may have had finishes of 27th and 29th respectively in his previous 2 Indy 500 starts entering last May, both of those 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. He was 5th last year and now joins McLaren too. For these odds, worth a look.
Takuma Sato (+2000)
He has 3 top 3’s in his last 6 Indy starts and has won the Indy 500 with two different teams. Why not a third? Sato was quickest in all 3 practice sessions on opening week last year, 4th on the Monday practice and qualified 10th. Now, he’s in a Ganassi car…
Rinus VeeKay (+2500)
The stats don’t show he’ll win, but never say never. The odds now are for why I want to snag him early. 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 the last two years so if he shows pace again in May, these odds will surely drop.
Ed Carpenter (+2800)
The hometown hero is always good here. He has 3 top six finishes in his last five starts and like VeeKay, has qualified really well as of late. He has 5 top four starting spots in the last 6 years. These odds will drop. For a team with at least 1 driver in the final round qualifying shootout for 10 straight years now, it’s almost a guarantee at least 1 of their 3 gets back there again this May.
Helio Castroneves (+2800)
He’s now a member of the four-time club. He’s less than a second away from being a six-time winner at that. Castroneves had a top 10 finish (7th) a year ago. To get a 4-time winner for these odds. Worth the risk.
Simon Pagenaud (+2800)
Pagenaud has finished 3rd and eighth in his last two Indy 500 starts. He also has 3 top 6’s in his last 5 Indy starts including a win in 2019.
Conor Daly (+4000)
He led the most laps in 2021 and if not for a tire falling out of the sky, he would have been in contention for a win in the end. Daly led seven more laps last year in a sixth placed effort.
Marco Andretti (+5000)
I keep picking him every year and one of these times he’s going to prove me right. I’ll always take an Andretti at Indy for these odds.
Kyle Kirkwood (+5000)
Taking over Rossi’s car that he did so well in. Why not? He was 17th last year with Foyt.
David Malukas (+5000)
A strong Month of May last year showed his finish not indicative on how well he actually did. Malukas has taken a liking to ovals.
Santino Ferrucci (+6600)
He finished seventh in 2019, fourth in 2020, sixth in 2021 and 1oth a year ago in his four Indy appearances. Foyt hasn’t had bad superspeedway cars either. Could be the best value in the field right now.
Devlin DeFrancesco (+20000)
An Andretti car for these odds? Why not? He brought the car home in one piece last year (20th).
Callum Ilott (+25000)
I don’t think he has much of a shot, but every wise bettor knows that for these odds, take him now. What’s a $1 or $2 his way? If he wins, you’ll enjoy the payout. If he flops, you’re not out much.
Colton Herta (+800)
His best finish in four tries here is eighth despite 3 top 10 starts. He was 30th last May.
Josef Newgarden (+800)
Newgarden has scored just two top five finishes in 10 tries here.
Scott McLaughlin (+1000)
His 2 Indy 500 finishes are 20th and 29th respectively.
Will Power (+1200)
His last 3 finishes have been 14th, 30th and 15th respectively with 5 of his last 7 results being 10th or worse.
Graham Rahal (+2800)
He was third in 2020 and had a the field covered before his wheel literally fell off during the 2021 race. However, RLL struggled in qualifying a year ago and until I see what they’ve got in Texas, I’d fade him now in the efforts you can get better odds later.
Felix Rosenqvist (+3300)
While he finished fourth last year, 2 of his previous 3 Indy finishes were 27th or worse.
Romain Grosjean (+3300)
Finished 31st last May as a rookie.
Stefan Wilson (+5000)
Not saying he doesn’t have a chance as DRR has shown up with good cars here at Indy, but +5000 opening odds for a driver that was +30000 last year is too steep for me. I need to see more.
Christian Lundgaard (+6600)
Still getting used to high speed ovals. He started 31st and finished 18th a year ago.
Jack Harvey (+10000)
Not one of his better tracks on oval configuration with 5 of his 6 finishes being 16th or worse here.
There’s been three rookie winners here since 1967. The last coming in 2016 on a fluke fuel call. I’d avoid Agustin Canapino, Benjamin Pedersen and Sting Ray Robb.