Full Betting Preview for the 2018 Indy 500 – Odds and Picks
Published on May 24, 2018
The field for the 2018 Indianapolis 500 is finally set with 33 cars ready to compete for IndyCar lore. One huge name that won’t be part of the grueling 500-mile race, however, is James Hinchcliffe.
The star driver announced this week that after attempts to get into the race, he and his team had accepted defeat.
While the absence of a star talent like Hinchcliffe theoretically drives a dent into the Indy 500’s appeal from an entertainment perspective, this is still a loaded field that should deliver an amazing race.
Does it deliver any amazing betting opportunities, though? Let’s take a look.
Alexander Rossi paces a competitive field that includes four of the last five Indianapolis 500 winners.
Rossi won the event as a rookie back in 2016 and hung tight (7th) again in 2017. He’s among the most talented drivers in the field and is a solid threat to win again, but he’ll have his work cut out for him to get a win after qualifying 32nd and drawing the last row.
Considering a driver has secured a win just three times from 17th position or worse since 1987, bettors may want to consider some alternative flier bets.
They certainly won’t be lacking for options or value. Here are the latest Indy 500 odds over at Bovada:
The fact that Rossi is the clear favorite and bettors still get +800 odds tells you that this thing is pretty wide open.
Winning multiple Indy 500 races is not an easy accomplishment, though, so any backing of Rossi should be met with a little bit of caution.
In fact, just 19 drivers have had the luxury of drinking the milk (or orange juice) at the end of the Indianapolis 500 in its history (about 27%) more than once.
None of this means Rossi shouldn’t be regarded as the top favorite or that he won’t win. At +800, he’s absolutely worth wagering on.
However, much like with any other event with so many potential outcomes (and a competitive field), multiple bets might be the way to go.
Taking a stab at a couple favorites as well as a few sleepers is one strategy to consider.
Right after Rossi, there are a handful of drivers that Vegas and the top IndyCar experts agree are Rossi’s main competition.
In no certain order, they are Helio Castroneves, Ed Carpenter, Josef Newgarden, Scott Dixon, Will Power, and Tony Kanaan.
Carpenter may be the most interesting case of the lot, as he’s stolen the pole position three times in 15 Indy 500 races. He’s never won, but he did finish 5th in 2008, and he absolutely has the talent to deliver on the big stage.
Power is regarded by many as the best talent in the field that has yet to win. He and Carpenter may cancel each other out on the “narrative” side of things, but he’s still a talented driver chasing that elusive Indy 500 title.
You can’t forget about Newgarden or Dixon, either.
Newgarden finished third here in 2016 and is the reigning IndyCar series champion. He’s tried to take down the Indy 500 six times before and has cracked the top 10 twice.
Considering how great he’s been over the past year (four wins), it’s fair to wonder if this is his time to shine.
Dixon could be due for the big win, too.
The 37-year-old New Zealander has a storied career with 94 trips to the podium and one win back in 2008. He’s run well here over the course of his career, with ten top-10 finishes and six runs inside the top five.
If you’re looking for experience, odds, and talent, you could make worse bets.
There is also Castroneves, who is probably the biggest name of the crop. The 43-year-old Brazilian has won the Indy 500 three times, and with a win on May 27th, he’d put himself in elite company.
Truly, he’s already there, but Castroneves nabbing a fourth Indy 500 victory would see him accomplish a feat just three other drivers have ever realized in the event’s history.
Tony Kanaan (+1500) shouldn’t be ignored, either. He’s dancing between being a top contender and a fun sleeper, as he offers nice value but even at 43 years old still looks like a legit threat.
A winner here in 2013, Kanaan has also cracked the top five in each of his last two runs. He’s a viable intermediate play.
There are certainly other elite driving talents with fast cars and good crews that could be regarded as top challengers, but at some point, you need to mark some lines.
You also need to consider odds, and as Vegas boosts the betting value, you always need to consider which Indy 500 sleepers are worth betting on.
It’s not a coincidence that Danica Patrick starts the sleeper list off, as she comes in with very fun odds after finishing inside the fast nine.
That puts Patrick in a very solid spot in this year’s Indianapolis 500, her first race in IndyCar’s most popular event since 2011.
This is the sport that made Patrick famous, as she’s secured a win before and has actually had a lot of success in the Indy 500 as well. Patrick finished 10th here back in 2011 and has finished that high or better in six of her seven runs.
Most won’t be eager to bet on the 36-year-old as she returns to Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but she ran well ahead of the race and has been very successful here in the past (3rd in 2009).
If you’re hunting for more Indy 500 value bets, look to Takuma Sato (+3000) and Spencer Pigot (+4000). Sato obviously won here in 2017, while Pigot found himself in the fast nine this year.
Sato could be a trendy wager due to his thick odds despite winning a year ago. Still, consecutive winners are rare at the Indy 500, and racing fans haven’t seen one since Helio Castroneves won in 2001 and 2002.
Other big names that offering elite value and could be surprise finishers are Charlie Kimball (+4000) and J.R. Hildebrand (+4000).
Kimball has two top-five runs at the Indy 500 over his last three races, while Hildebrand finished second here in 2011 and has four total runs inside the top 10.
Overall, if I had to pick one sleeper to back, I’m going with Patrick.
Patrick left NASCAR after not being able to achieve elite success, and IndyCar is her jam. Considering her recent run and her past production here, she is a very fun bet at +2500.
Like I said before, it’s important to look at these massive events from all angles and consider virtually every aspect before making your pick(s).
I’d put an emphasis on betting on more than one driver, too, since there are 33 options for you here.
With so many talented drivers and past winners competing, it makes for one heck of a race, and really anything can happen.
Experience can be key here, but I’m a believer in narratives. Rossi is the favorite, but the top sportsbooks don’t like him by much, and anyone at +800 is no lock.
If I’m betting on the Indy 500, I’m certainly throwing some money at Rossi but also tossing a little cash on 1-2 of my other top favorites and 1-2 of my favorite sleepers.
I’d limit the overall money being spent and also cut down your driver picks to just a handful, though.
With all that being said, my favorite overall driver here has to be Will Power.
Power may be running out of time to nail this race, which he’s been very successful in but has yet to win. He also just won this year’s Indy Grand Prix, so positive momentum could back him here as he chases another elusive title.
I would also toss some bets on Rossi, Patrick, and Carpenter, but Power at +1000 is probably my favorite play going into this year’s Indy 500.