The Indianapolis 500, held annually over Memorial Day Weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indiana, is one of the most popular and significant races in American motorsports betting.
Among auto races, the Indy 500 stands unmatched in terms of tradition, a primary reason why it can attract crowds of 300,000 — and it all started on a brick surface in the early 1900s, remembered today in the “yard of bricks” that comprises the start/finish line.
There’s a lot to take in at the Indianapolis 500, with all that spectacle greeting one of the biggest crowds in American sports. To help cut through all the distraction, here are five things to consider when wagering on the premier event in U.S. open-wheel racing.
And not necessarily just the names atop the odds list. In modern times, the Indy 500 is a race dominated by three owners, and knowing their entries is paramount when laying action.
Roger Penske has won it a record 17 times entering 2019, including two of the past four years, and his drivers are always top contenders. Michael Andretti never won the Indy 500 as a driver, but his cars have won it six times. Chip Ganassi entries have won twice from 2009-2019.
This season, we mean. The Indy 500 is the first oval-course race of the IndyCar slate, so there’s nothing from earlier in the year that provides a true barometer of how drivers will stack up over the month of May. So much about the Indy 500 is unique, and that includes the event itself.
Drivers so far have seen nothing like those long, blistering Indianapolis Motor Speedway straights that test both nerves and horsepower thresholds. The track is fast and mean and punishing. If you bet based on results at street layouts and road courses, do so at your own peril.
As a crown jewel of motorsports, the Indy 500 often attracts big names from other racing disciplines that have yearned to give the event a try. NASCAR stars Cale Yarborough, Bobby Allison, Kurt Busch and Tony Stewart have all crossed over, as have Formula 1 mainstays Graham Hill and Jim Clark.
These are typically top drivers with well-funded efforts that attract a lot of media attention, so they’re not showing up just to run in circles. In recent years, for instance, two-time F1 world champ Fernando Alonso (who raced in 2017 but failed to qualify in 2019) and ex-NASCAR racer Danica Patrick have been in the field.
It’s a long month with a lot of track time, and by the time the green flag drops it’s pretty clear who the favorites are.
No question, the track is a bear, and it tests setup as much as it does driver. Engine failures — or worse — do occur, simply because of forces that are impossible to appreciate unless you’re sitting up close watching cars try to navigate this narrow 2.5-mile oval.
Odds will surely shift based on practice performances, but there’s nothing that better indicates who the top contenders will be.
The Indianapolis 500 is traditionally a top-heavy race, with just three owners who produce most of the winners, and a track capable of tearing lesser equipment apart.
Alexander Rossi and Takuma Sato may not have been household names when they won in 2016 and 2017 — in fairness, few IndyCar drivers are — but they drove for an Andretti team that often dominates the race.
There may be some tempting options down in long shot territory, but history indicates they won’t have the equipment to mount a serious charge.
After winning the 1936 Indianapolis 500, Louis Meyer was so parched he grabbed a bottle of buttermilk to quench his thirst in Victory Lane. A dairy executive noticed, and a tradition was born — one of many that surround the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.
There’s the annual rendition of “Back Home Again in Indiana,” capable of bringing many a Hoosier to tears. There’s that distinct 2.5-mile layout, which hasn’t changed since the facility opened in 1909, featuring four sharp, flat turns, two long straights and a pair of tricky “short chutes.”
There’s the Borg-Warner Trophy, commissioned in 1935 by the auto company of the same name, and unique in that it features the faces of the winning drivers.
|Year||Indy 500 Winner||Odds|
|2015||Juan Pablo Montoya||11/2|
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