Indy 500 Futures Odds
by Robert Ferringo - 05/14/2008
The 92nd running of the Indianapolis 500 is scheduled for Sunday, May 25 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indiana. And while there is still two full weeks of prep and practice leading up to one of the most hallowed venues and events in American sports history it's never too early to size up the field and Indy 500 futures odds to try and decipher what will occur on the Brickyard's 2.5-mile oval.
As per usual, the Indy 500 has a very definitive international flavor. Like most great jobs in America - such as call-in customer service reps and yard workers - racing at the Indianapolis 500 has been outsourced to foreign folks. Americans have kissed the bricks in two of the last four years, but have only taken the checkered flag in seven of the last 20 years and three of the last 11. And scoping out the early qualifiers, it looks like another pair of foreign puckers will be smooching the bricks on race day!
Below I've broken down the early contenders for this year's "Greatest Spectacle in Racing". There is still nearly two weeks of prep left before the race itself so I'm expecting quite a bit of flux in the odds. These are the futures numbers, courtesy of Bodog, and are only part of the plethora of wagering options available for one of the most prestigious races in the world.
If it helps, think of betting on an Indy Car race like betting on a horse race. It's Triple Crown season, and Indy takes a similar perspective for gamblers to crack. Except, instead of some mare with a traceable pedigree and a midget with a whip at the controls we have skinny foreigners with several hundred horsepower and NASA-type engineered vehicles. Other than that it's the same type of betting - only with much cooler props.
With that in mind, here's a short list of Indy 500 futures odds and analysis:
Danica Patrick (9-to-1) - This saucy little vixen needs to just keep her car from smashing into co-workers and leave the heavy lifting to the big boys. She recently managed her first career victory at the Indy 300 and is starting in the coveted No. 5 slot at Indianapolis. However, I don't think she's ready to make The Leap at Indy. She has always run well here, finishing No. 4 in 2005 and then posting back-to-back No. 8 finishes the last two years. But she is too hesitant as a leader and I don't think this is the year she breaks through.
Buddy Rice (65-to-1) - The 2004 winner is getting no love at these huge odds! But maybe that's because he really has no shot. He's starting in the middle of the pack and has been feast or famine, bowing out of each of the last two runnings due to accidents.
Dan Wheldon (3-to-1) - The savvy Brit won this race in 2005 and placed second in 2004. He also has a No. 4 finish to his name from 2006 and is starting next to teammate Scott Dixon this year in the No. 2 position. Barring an accident, Wheldon is a pro and is pretty much guaranteed a slot in the Top 8.
Helio Castroneves (5-to-1) - Here is your best bet on the board. Spiderman just knows how to run the Brickyard. He went back-to-back in 2001 and 2002, finished second in 2003 and third last year. With the exception of an accident-shortened run in 2006 he has finished in the top 10 in all of his races here and has been in the Top three in four of his seven starts. The one thing he will have to overcome from the fourth position is the fact that the IRL points leader has an average finish of 18 since 1996.
Marco Andretti (8-to-1) - I do think that Marco will be in it at the last lap but I hate the fact that you have to pay for the name with these odds. He really should be around 12-to-1. The son of racing stud Michael Andretti and grandson of legend Mario Andretti started in the No. 9 slot last year but finished a disappointing 24th when he was involved in that huge accident on lap 162-163. He also managed a second-place finish as a rookie in 2006. But like I said, the odds are too light for this long shot.
Scott Dixon (2.5-to-1) - Depending on how you look at it, the pole sitter has either performed very well or very poorly at Indianapolis. The pole sitter has won six of the last 20 races here and Dixon is trying to make it a 1-in-3 play this year. I actually don't like his odds being this high despite him having the fastest car. However, he did take the poll and the checkered this year in Miami, he is second in the current points standings, and he finished in the No. 2 slot here last year and was No. 6 in 2006 so Dixon may be ready to break through.
Tony Kanaan (5-to-1) - After a disappointing run here last year I think Kanaan could be primed for a bounceback performance. Kanaan has worked his way into the Top 5 in three of his last five runs here but has never managed to kiss the bricks. He is a lot like Castroneves in that he just always seems to be hanging around the front on the last lap. Those are the type of guys I like having my money on.
Vitor Meira (35-to-1) - Vitor is a perennial disappointment at the Brickyard. He is always hanging around in the Top 10 but never seems to make a move to break through that wall. The closest he managed was a second-place finish in 2005 where he almost cashed in at these exact same odds.
Ryan Briscoe (10-to-1) - Here we have a bit of a dark horse. Briscoe is the kid who was a hard charging, hard driving, hard living youngster that didn't seem like he'd ever meet his potential. However he's starting in the No. 3 slot and notched a fifth-place run here last year. He is just 16th in the standings but he has been improving in each race and could be a factor here, especially if one or two of the top dogs get knocked out.