Sunday’s 107th Running of the Indianapolis 500 (11 a.m. ET, NBC, INDYCAR Radio Network) top trends, race favorites, sleepers, fades, etc

Track History/Race Trends

  • In the aero kit era, starting position never really matter at Indy. But, with this universal car that debuted in 2018, it now does. Simon Pagenaud in 2019 became the first pole winner to win the ‘500 since 2009. Will Power won from third in 2018. Takuma Sato started fourth in his 2017 win and third in 2020 while Helio Castroneves was 8th in 2021 and Marcus Ericsson fifth last year. That’s six straight years with the winner coming from the top 3 Rows including 5 of the 6 from a top 5 starting position at that.
  • Combined, Ganassi, Penske and Andretti have won 14 of the last 18 Indy 500’s and 18 of the last 23 (since 2000). RLL is the outlier who took two of the top three spots in 2020 and have won 2 of the 5 that the “Big 3” didn’t since 2000.
  • Plus, the last non Penske Chevrolet driver to win at Indy was Al Unser Jr. with Galles in 1992.
  • We have had a new, first-time winner for the Indy 500 in seven of the last nine years. Also, since 2011, we’ve had a different winner each year with the exception of Takuma Sato (2017, 2020) here too. Going back to 2003, only Dario Franchitti, Dan Wheldon, Helio Castroneves and Sato have won this race multiple times in that time frame.
  • 2021 was the 1st time in 10 years since we last saw a part time driver win the Indianapolis 500. Dan Wheldon did so in thrilling fashion that day in 2011 which came 10 years prior to Helio Castroneves joining the 4-win club last year. Wheldon’s win came 10 years after the last in which Castroneves did it in 2001 too. Now, can one of the talented drivers on this list do so this year?
  • 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).
  • We’ve seen just 10 total rookies win in 165 past years, 3 since 1967 at that. The last came in 2016 on a fluke fuel call.
  • There are 13 drivers that are still searching for their first NTT INDYCAR Series win (Agustin Canapino, Sting Ray Robb, Benjamin Pedersen, Katherine Legge, Conor Daly, 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 and Helio Castroneves are each 48. Takuma Sato is 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.
  • Only 1 driver has won this race from the Outside of Row 9 (Fred Frame in 1932) and just 3 drivers in 106 years have won this race from a starting position of 26th or worse. In fact, all 3 instances came from 1936 and prior.
  • No one has won the Indy 500 from starting spots (18th, 23rd and 24th) either.
  • The last driver to win from 25th? Johnny Rutherford in 1974.
  • The last time a driver won from 21st? 1924.
  • In fact, we’ve seen 35 straight races to where the winner came from 19th or better here.
  • Among the last 6 winners, 4 of the 6 finished outside the top 10 the year prior to their victory.
  • The last time the No. 7 won here was in 1949 by Bill Holland.
  • 5 of the last 7 years the race winner has been 0-fer in terms of career season championships.
  • AJ Foyt Racing hasn’t won at Indy since 1999. They’ve not won an Indy Car race since 2013. 


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 despite Honda going 1-2.

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?

In Texas, the only other superspeedway on the schedule, it’s been all Ganassi and Penske. 

The last eight races on that track, Penske and Ganassi have dominated all. In those last eight years, Penske and Ganassi have combined to have taken 17 of the 24 podiums spots and have led 78% (1,489-for-1,902 laps).

Last year, they led 219 of the 248 laps run. A year prior, it was all 212 laps of Race 1 and 188 of 248 in Race 2. In 2020, it was 198 of the 200 laps. In 2018, it was 204 of the 248 and in 2017, it was 233 of the 248. The only exception was in 2019 when they only led 87 of the 248 laps.

That means since 2020, they’ve combined to have led 965 out of the 1,158 laps turned (83.3%) and taking 12 of the 15 podium spots (80%).

Team Penske and Chip Ganassi Racing have also alternated wins there in each of the last six years too and 8 of the last 10 overall at that. 

Penske drivers went 1-2 last year and led 209 of 248 laps (84%). They went 1-6 this time around last onth, leading 123 of 248 laps (49.5%). They’ve also now had a driver finish either first or second in in each of the last 8 Texas races too.

Ganassi played second fiddle to Penske last year in Texas but in Indy, it was Scott Dixon leading 95 laps, Alex Palou 47, Marcus Ericsson 13, Tony Kanaan 6 and Jimmie Johnson 2. That’s 163 of 200 laps (82%) and the win.

If you combine Indy and Texas Penske and Ganassi have won 4 of the last 8 Indy 500’s and 7 of the last 8 in Texas. Throw Andretti Autosport and McLaren into that equation since this has basically become the “Big 4” and you get 14 of the last 18 Indy 500’s and 18 of the last 23 (since 2000) won by them. RLL is the outlier who took two of the top three spots in 2020 and have won 2 of the 5 that the “Big 3” didn’t since 2000.

At Texas, they’ve won 16 of the last 19 with RLL, DCR and ECR being the only other winners in that span. 

Scott Dixon now has 5 Indy poles, 2nd most ever. Photo Credit: INDYCAR Media Site


Alex Palou (+650)

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. He was third in Texas last month and starts on the pole this Sunday. Palou also won the GMR Grand Prix two weeks ago here and hopeful of the Month of May sweep. The only problem is, the pole sitter has won this race just once in the last 13 years too and only twice in the last 21 races in general. 

Pato O’Ward (+700)

He won a race at Texas in 2021, nearly won this past April and has finished sixth, fourth and second respectively in his 3 Indy 500 starts. He starts in the exact same spot as last year’s winner, Marcus Ericsson (5th). O’Ward has made 16 oval starts in his career with two wins, five runner-up finishes and 12 top four results including 11 top four’s in his last 12 tries.

Alexander Rossi (+1000)

He started off +2500 in 2022. He opened at +1800 this year. 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 which he’s had a solid month and starts 7th. He says he feels the momentum and honestly has it too after snagging a podium in the GMR Grand Prix as well. 

Rinus VeeKay (+1000)

The trends winner. Fits the bill for a new number. Fits this bill for being a finisher outside the top 10 last year. Fits the bill of a top 8 starting position (2nd). Why not? 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 three years.

Takuma Sato (+1200)

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…That car was fast in Texas.  He was first in two of the three qualifying week practices, seventh in the other and starts 8th. Almost criminal to put him in a chance this good. His wins also come in three-year increments. 2017, 2020…2023?

Top Sleepers

Santino Ferrucci (+1200)

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. He starts fourth and in the pit stall that’s won 2 of the last 3 Indy 500’s. Ferrucci told me that he can be more aggressive again in a full-time seat. Watch out.

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. He was seventh, first and fourth in practice this week and rolls off 10th.

Tony Kanaan (+1800)

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 starts ninth.

Kyle Kirkwood (+2500)

Taking over Rossi’s car that he did so well in. Why not? He was 17th last year with Foyt and has been quietly fast this month. He told me his car is phenomenal which is why him starting 15th doesn’t scare me.

Ed Carpenter (+3000)

The hometown hero is always good here. He has 3 top six finishes in his last five starts.

Simon Pagenaud (+4000)

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.

Helio Castroneves (+4000)

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. He was in the top 10 at Texas last month too. 

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.

Ryan Hunter-Reay (+5000)

This car was strong last year, Hunter-Reay looks good this year and can steal a win on Sunday. The former champion won in 2014.

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 including a top 5 in his last two starts on them. He rolls off 23rd.

Marco Andretti (+6000)

I’ll always pick an Andretti for these odds.

Can Colton Herta during practice of last year’s Indy 500. Photo Credit: INDYCAR Media Site

Be Wary

Scott Dixon (+800)

He’s won two of the last three poles but starts sixth on Sunday. 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.

I also get being leery with despite all that success with 5 poles and the most laps led in the 106-year history of this race, he still hasn’t won here since 2008 either.

Felix Rosenqvist (+1100)

While he finished fourth last year, 2 of his previous 3 Indy finishes were 27th or worse. That’s why despite a front row start, I’d punt.

Scott McLaughlin (+1200)

His 2 Indy 500 finishes are 20th and 29th respectively. He only qualified 14th.

Josef Newgarden (+1400)

Newgarden has scored just two top five finishes in 11 tries here. He only qualified 17th too.

Will Power (+1600)

His last 3 finishes here have been 14th, 30th and 15th respectively with 5 of his last 7 results being 10th or worse. He struggled also in Texas last month. I’d fade him for now.

Colton Herta (+1800)

His best finish in four tries here is eighth despite 3 top 10 starts. He was 30th last May and rolls off a disappointing 21st on Sunday.

Romain Grosjean (+3000)

Finished 31st last May as a rookie and has been quiet this month. The sophomore rolls off 19th.

Christian Lundgaard (+10000)

Still getting used to high speed ovals. He started 31st and finished 18th a year ago. RLL cars are just off this year as he qualified 31st again.

Devlin DeFrancesco (+10000)

He brought the car home in one-piece last year (20th). He starts 26th.

Callum Ilott (+15000)

His car was off in the test, off in practice week but managed to still get in. He starts 28th.

Jack Harvey (+15000)

Not one of his better tracks on oval configuration with 5 of his 6 finishes being 16th or worse here. He was a last second qualifier last Sunday.

Katherine Legge (+30000)

Just her third year here and the RLL cars seem slow.

The Rookies

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, RC Enerson and Sting Ray Robb.

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