On Sunday, May 26th, the 103rd edition of the Indianapolis 500 gets underway at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Speedway, Indiana. This is the world’s most popular race and Sunday’s installment of the Indy 500 promises to be action packed for 200 laps. Well, that’s if the rain can stay away. Right now, forecasts predict thunder storms on Sunday.
As for the race itself, there are numerous drivers vying for the checkered flag. Last year, Will Power won the Indy 500 and, according to Indy 500 betting sites, he’s one of the betting favorites to win it this year as well. His teammate Simon Pagenaud will start on the pole and has some momentum coming into this race after winning the Grand Prix of Indianapolis earlier this month. Ironically, Power won the Grand Prix last year and the Indy 500. Can Pagenaud accomplish the same impressive feat?
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the hallowed grounds of all types of motorsports racing. Not only does IndyCar hold their annual Indy 500 event here, but NASCAR also holds their popular Brickyard 400 race at this track as well. The IMS was completed in 1909, but it wasn’t an auto-race that opened this venue. Instead, it was a balloon competition in June 1909. The oval track wasn’t completed until August 1909, and the first “Indy 500” race wasn’t held until 1911. It’s taken place every year on Memorial Day weekend except for the 6 years during both World Wars. The track itself is a basic quad oval track at a distance of 2.5 miles per lap. The 2019 Indy 500 race breaks down as follows:
Total Miles: 500 miles
Total Laps: 200 laps
Lap Distance: 2.5 miles
The “green flag” for the Indy 500 is set to drop around 12:45 PM ET. The event will air on NBC for the first time and it’s getting the royal treatment from the network. NBC is going all out with their production of the Indy 500, which includes bringing in on-air hosts Mike Tirico, Danica Patrick and Dale Earnhardt Jr.
What to Watch for at Indianapolis
With all of the excitement heading into motorsports’ most famous weekend, the following storylines are worth keeping an eye on:
Will we get a 1st time winner?
Will we have the pole winner take the checkered flag?
Can Helio Castroneves tie the all-time win mark of 4?
Can Will Power win back-to-back Indy 500’s?
Will a rookie win the Indy 500?
The biggest storyline heading into this weekend’s race is the weather. As of now, local weather forecasts call for a 75% chance of rain during the race. These looming storms have many teams, drivers and fans concerned over whether or not the race will take place on Sunday. Indianapolis Motor Speedway president Doug Boles made the following comments about potential weather issues:
“It’s hard to speculate on what’s going to happen. It’s likely Sunday morning will be the first time that we have any definitive statement on what we think is going to happen. Instead of giving you information that we don’t know what it’s going to be like, I’d rather wait until that Sunday when we see the conditions, and we’ll let you know. Obviously, if it’s raining, and then we’ll have to decide what the next steps are.”
Last year, there were forecasts of rain for the Indy 500, but by time the green flag dropped, it turned out to be a nice day with no rain.
What Happens If There Is Rain?
Every attempt will be made to run this race with or without rain. However, if the rain is too heavy then the Indy 500 could see one of the following possibilities:
Postponement: If the race is rained out then organizers will move this prestigious event to Monday, which is Memorial Day. If it’s raining on Memorial Day then the race would be moved to Tuesday. Only 3 times in the history of this race has the Indy 500 been completely postponed: 1915, 1986 and 1997. The 1997 race was started on Monday and completed on Tuesday. The other two races were completed on the following Saturday.
Partial Postponement: If the race has not completed at least 102 laps then it will be postponed until Monday or the next day when it’s not raining. This has only happened twice in the history of the Indy 500: 1967 and 1973.
Shortened Race: For an Indy 500 to be official, they have to run at least 102 laps. If they can run 102 laps (255 miles) on Sunday, then the race will be concluded with any prolonged rain delay. There have been 7 times that the Indy 500 was shortened due to rain: 1926, 1950, 1973, 1975, 1976, 2004, and 2007.
Previous Indy 500 Winners
Throughout the previous 102 installments of this race, 70 different drivers have won the Indy 500. Of those 70, 19 drivers have won more than one Indy 500. A.J. Foyt, Rick Mears, and Al Unser Sr. are tied for the most ever Indy 500 wins. 7 additional drivers have won this race 3 times with Helio Castroneves going for his 4th win this weekend. As mentioned, Will Power won the 2018 Indy 500. The following is a list of previous winners dating back to 2000:
Juan Pablo Montya in 2000, 2015
Helio Castroneves in 2001, 2002, 2009
Gil de Ferran in 2003
Buddy Rice in 2004
Dan Wheldon in 2005, 2011
Sam Hornish Jr. in 2006
Dario Fanchitti in 2007, 2010, 2012
Scott Dixon in 2008
Tony Kanaan in 2013
Ryan Hunter-Reay in 2014
Alexander Rossi in 2016
Takuma Sato in 2017
Will Power in 2018
Indy 500 Betting Odds
The following Indianapolis 500 betting odds are courtesy of MyBookie:
Josef Newgarden (+800)
Will Power (+800)
Alexander Rossi (+800)
Simon Pagenaud (+800)
Scott Dixon (+900)
Helio Castroneves (+1000)
Ed Carpenter (+1100)
Spencer Pigot (+1200)
Colton Herta (+1200)
Marco Andretti (+1400)
Takuma Sato (+1600)
Ryan Hunter-Reay (+1600)
Ed Jones (+1800)
Sebastien Bourdais (+2000)
Graham Rahal (+2500)
Indy 500 Betting Favorites
According to most Indy 500 betting sites, the following drivers are considered the odds on favorites to win on Sunday. Lastly, I have updated some of the drivers with additional odds to give you an idea of their ranges with different sportsbooks.
Josef Newgarden (+800)
Newgarden leads all drivers in the standings and has 1 win on the season as he won the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg after leading 60 laps. Newgarden has an average finish of 4.8 on the year and has run well over the first 5 races of the season. Now, he will turn his attention to the Indy 500 where he has never won at before.
In his career at the Indy 500, Josef has 1 podium, 1 Top 5, 3 Top 10’s and a 17.5 average finish. He also has 2 DNFs. With that said, Newgarden finished 8th last year and led 3 laps.
This year, Newgarden qualified for the 8th position, which is the middle spot in the 3rd Row. Only two other drivers have ever won from this spot. The last time that happened was in 1999, when Kenny Brack won the race after the leader Robby Gordon ran out of gas.
Will Power (+700 to +800)
After 5 races, Will Power sits 6th in the standings and has yet to win a race this season. He has an average finish of 10.4 over those first 5 races and has led 64 laps, which is good for 4th out of all drivers. As mentioned above, Power is the reigning Indy 500 champ and looks poised to win this year as well.
Power has 11 Indy 500’s under his belt with 1 win, 2 Podiums, 3 Top 5’s, 6 Top 10’s, and an 11.9 average finish with 2 DNFs. Over the last 5 Indy 500’s, Power has 4 Top 10’s, 2 Top 5’s, 2 Podiums and a win. He’s raced well at this track since 2014 and I expect him to be a contender on Sunday.
Will Power qualified for the 6th position, which doesn’t work in his favor considering only 5 drivers have ever won from this spot. Further complicating the matter is that only 5 other drivers have ever won consecutive Indy 500 races: Shaw, Rose, Vukovich, Unser Sr., and Castroneves who accomplished this feat last (2001-02).
Alexander Rossi (+800)
Rossi shook up the world when he won this race as a rookie back in 2016. Although he hasn’t won since then, Rossi finished 7th in 2017 and 4th last year. He has an average finish of 4.0 despite a mediocre 15.3 starting average. Rossi qualified for 9th, which means he will start on the outside of Row 3 when the green flag drops. Only 1 other driver has ever won this race from the 9th position and that came back in 1993 when Emmerson Fittipaldi led the last 16 laps of the race to claim his second Indy 500 win.
On the season, Rossi sits 3rd overall with 1 win on the season and an average finish of 8.4. He dominated the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach as he led 80 of the 85 total laps. That bumped his season total of laps led up to 85, which is the most among drivers.
Simon Pagenaud (+700 to +800)
Depending on which sportsbook or online betting site you look at, Pagenaud is either tied among the favorites or the odds on favorite to win the Indy 500 and that’s due to a great qualifying run where he won the pole position. This is key because 20 drivers have won from this spot in the 102 previous editions of the Indy 500. The last one came in 2009, when Helio Castroneves won the pole and his 3rd career Indy 500.
For his career, Pagenaud has just 3 Top 10’s and an average finish of 12.1 in 7 career races. Last year, he finished 6th after starting 2nd overall. So, he has an idea of what it takes to run a race from the front row and not winning. But, can he parlay that knowledge and experience into a win this Sunday?
One other note, Pagenaud has never finished worse than 19th overall and has 5 Top 14 finishes in his career. He has also led laps in two Indy 500 races.
On the season, Pagenaud sits 4th overall. He has an average finish of 8.4 with 1 win on the season. However, that win just came a few weeks ago at the Grand Prix of Indianapolis, which was the last race. So, he has a lot of momentum coming into this weekend and will certainly be a driver to keep an eye on.
Scott Dixon (+900 to +1200)
Of the betting favorites, Dixon is the only one without a win on the season. However, he has run really well so far. In 5 races, Dixon has 4 Podium finishes, has led 41 laps, and has the best average finish at 4.4. Other than his 13th place in Austin, Dixon has finished 2nd on three separate occasions and also finished 3rd.
Dixon is one of the Indy 500 veterans who have over 15 appearances. This will be Scott’s 17th Indy 500 race. Only Castroneves with 18 and Kanaan with 17 have more appearances than Dixon. With that said, Scott has won this race once, which was back in 2008. Furthermore, he also has 4 Podiums, 7 Top 5’s, 11 Top 10’s, an average finish of 10.4 and 4 DNFs.
Dixon has won the pole in two of the last four races. However, he didn’t run well in qualifying as Dixon ended up with the 18th starting position. No driver has ever won from this position. The best this position has ever done was 2nd place on 3 occasions. Scott has never started worse than 16th before, and in that race (2013), he finished 14th overall.
Last year, Dixon finished 3rd overall despite starting 9th. Can he pull off a great performance and become the first ever driver to win from the 18th spot?
The Best Indy 500 Betting Value
The following drivers offer betting value for the Indy 500 due to their current betting odds, their past success at these hallowed grounds, and their 2019 season so far:
Helio Castroneves (+1000 to +1400)
Helio is the first foreign-born driver to win 3 Indy 500 races. This Sunday will be his 19th appearance and he’s looking to join the elite club of 4-time winners with A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears. Despite being just a part-time driver nowadays, this historic chase for “4” has Helio excited and ready for the Indy 500 on Sunday:
“I feel as strong as ever, even without being a full-time INDYCAR driver. The way my teammates have helped develop the car and helped me with things. I’m ready for it,” he said. “If I wasn’t, I wouldn’t be here. The fans have been so great to me and I want to deliver something for them that they will never forget and for them to say, ‘I was here for history.’”
Helio crashed out last year. But, in 2017, he finished 2nd after qualifying 19th. This year, he qualified 12th. That’s just the 5th time in his career that he’s starting outside of the first 3 rows. In the 4 previous occasions where he finished outside of the front 3 rows, Helio would go on to finish 1st, 1st, 17th and 2nd. If there’s any driver who doesn’t need to worry about starting further back, it’s Helio. And, that’s something that wasn’t lost on him when he made the following comments about his starting position this Sunday:
“I don’t think it’s a big deal, per se. I won here before starting in 11th (in 2001) and 13th (2002). I had a great race in 2017 starting in 19th (and finishing second to Takuma Sato).
Over the last 6 Indy 500 races, Helio has an average finish of 9.1 with 1 DNF. He finished runner up twice during that span. Overall, he has 7 Podiums to go along with the most Top 5’s (8) and the most Top 10’s (14) of all-time.
Can the 44-year old Castroneves make history on Sunday?
Ed Carpenter (+800 to +1100)
Ed Carpenter is the perfect example of always being the bride’s maid, but never the bride. He has won 3 career Indy 500 poles in 15 appearances, but has only finished as high as 2nd place overall. And, that came last year when he lost out to Will Power. Additionally, Carpenter has an average finish of 16.2 and 5 DNFs which includes crashing out of 3 of the last 5 Indy 500 races.
With that said, Carpenter had an excellent result with qualifying and will start in the 2nd spot, just to the right of Pagenaud. Of the previous 102 Indy 500 races, 11 of them have been won from the 2nd overall starting position. The last time that happened was when Juan Pablo Montoya won the Indianapolis 500 from the #2 spot in 2000. Montoya dominated that race by leading 167 laps as a rookie. For Carpenter, he has only led a total of 139 laps in his 15 appearances with the majority of them coming last year (65).
Although he hasn’t had a great deal of success at this track, the 2019 race is shaping up nicely for him. In addition to starting 2nd, his drivers Spencer Pigot will start 3rd and Ed Jones will start 4th. That’s a scary sight for the rest of the field as they have to deal with 3 teammates.
Ryan Hunter-Reay (+1600 to +2000)
Ryan Hunter-Reay did poorly in qualification and will start 22nd overall. Fortunately for Ryan, he’s an experienced driver at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with 11 races on his resume. He won this race in 2014 after starting 19th. For RHR, he’s started 20th or worse on 3 occasions and finished 6th, 32nd (crash), and 23rd. Last year, RHR started 14th and finished 5th overall. He does have 2 Podiums, 3 Top 5’s, and 4 Top 10’s on his resume. He also has a 16.5 average finish.
RHR has gotten off to slow start this year and hasn’t won a race as of yet. He sits in 9th place overall with just 1 Podium and an average finish of 11.2.
On a side note, there have been two drivers in the history of the Indy 500 to have won this race after starting 22nd overall. However, those wins came in 1927 and 1935.
The Top Longshot to win the Indy 500
Depending on the sportsbook Takuma Sato is listed at a range of +1600 to +3000 odds. If you can get him at the upper end of this range or higher, then you are getting a great option for a longshot. After qualifying, Sato is slotted in at 14th. Of the 102 previous races, only 20 drivers have won from beyond the 14th spot. Furthermore, only 1 driver has ever won from the 14th spot and that was back in 1955.
With that said, Sato has 9 Indy 500 appearances and won the race in 2017 when he started 4th overall. That was his only podium, Top 5 and Top 10 finishes as well. Last year, Sato crashed out of the race. This year, Sato comes into the race 5th in the standings with 1 win on the season. He’s also led the 3rd most laps of all drivers in the series and has an average finish of 9.8 in the 5 races run so far.
Will We See a Rookie Win the Indy 500?
On Sunday, 7 rookie drivers will take the starting line for the Indianapolis 500. Of these 7 drivers, Colton Herta has the best shot for a rookie to win this race. Herta qualified 5th and will start in the middle of Row 2. On 7 different occasions, a driver starting 5th has won this race.
For Herta, he’s already won this year having taken the checkered flag at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. Herta led 15 laps and was fortunate that Will Power had mechanical issues because Will had led the other 45 laps.
With that said, a rookie has won this race on 9 occasions with Alexander Rossi the last to accomplish this feat back in 2016:
Ray Harroun in 1911
Jules Goux in 1913
Rene Thomas in 1914
Frank Lockhart in 1926
George Souders in 1927
Graham Hill in 1966
Juan Pablo Montoya in 2000
Helio Castroneves in 2001
Alexander Rossi in 2016
The 103rd Indy 500 Checkered Flag
I could be overthinking this, but I believe the weather is going to be a factor in this race on Sunday. Whether we get a shortened race or a postponement, this year’s Indy 500 isn’t going to escape the rain like it did last year. With that in mind, I turn my attention to the three drivers in Row 1: Pagenaud, Carpenter, Pigot.
Carpenter (15) has more experience than both Pagenaud (7) and Pigot (3) combined. However, Pigot also drives for Carpenter as does the #4 driver Ed Jones in his 3rd Indy 500. Because I believe this race is under threat of being shortened, someone from the front row will end up winning. Of the 102 previous editions, 43 winners have come from the first 3 positions. If you add the 4th spot, then that numbers goes up to 50. So, nearly half of the winners have started in the Top 4.
Carpenter is a part time driver at best and is really just focused on the Indy 500 and his race team. I don’t see him winning it this year. Pigot and Jones are talented young drivers, but they both have not run well in 2019 so far. Pigot is 15th in the standings with a 12.4 average finish and zero laps led. Plus he hasn’t finished in the Top 10 at all. The same can be said for Jones, who sits 16th and has an average finish of 15.2.
Of the Top 4 drivers, only Simon Pagenaud has won this year and that came at the Grand Prix of Indianapolis a few weeks ago. So, he clearly has the momentum coming into this race and the prestigious pole position.
Because of the weather and the fact that he has the pole position, I’m going with a safe play and taking Pagenaud to win. I would love to Pick Helio Castroneves to make history, but there are too many factors against him and he might not have a full 200 laps to work with.
As a longtime freelance writer, avid sports fan, former athlete, and experienced sports bettor, Rick Rockwell has risen up the ranks at GamblingSites.org to become the self-professed "King of the Blog" in his first year with the site. ...
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