Open-wheel racing, specifically Formula 1, is still very popular in Europe and Asia. However, American interest in that type of racing has waned over the past two decades or so and been surpassed by NASCAR. The Indianapolis 500 once was one of the biggest annual events on the U.S. sports calendar.
“The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” is still a big deal, but it’s about the only time that open-wheel racing will get noticed in the USA. The 101st edition of the race is Sunday from the 2.5-mile Brickyard and finds polesitter Scott Dixon as the +600 betting favorite on the Indianapolis 500 odds at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.
Dixon, from New Zealand, had a four-lap average of 232.164 mph in the No. 9 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda to earn his third Indianapolis 500 pole. Dixon won from the pole in 2008 and finished fourth in 2015 after starting from inside Row 1. His four-lap average was the best at Indy in 21 years. Dixon is second in the IndyCar standings this year with 181 points and has finished in the Top 5 in all five races. He finished ninth at Indy last year.
As a quick aside, just hours after winning the pole, Dixon and three-time 500 winner Dario Franchitti were robbed at gunpoint at a Taco Bell near Indianapolis Motor Speedway. They were unharmed.
Aussie Will Power is the +800 second-favorite along with Formula 1’s Fernando Alonso. Power won the Grand Prix of Indianapolis on May 13, with his No. 12 Team Penske Chevrolet finishing 5.283 seconds ahead of Dixon. It was Power’s 175th career start and 30th victory of his 13-year career, breaking a tie with teammate Helio Castroneves and the legendary Rick Mears for 11th place on the all-time win list.
Power started that race on the pole and will go from the No. 9 spot Sunday. He is looking for a first Indy 500 victory. No Aussie has won the race. Alonso starts fifth.
The last repeat winner of the Indianapolis 500 was Castroneves in 2002. Defending champion Alexander Rossi is listed at odds of +1500 to go back-to-back. The American was one of the most unlikely winners ever of this race in 2016 as a +6600 longshot. Then a rookie, Rossi essentially ran out of gas as he took the checkered flag. The other leaders had pitted for fuel, giving Rossi and his No. 98 Andretti Autosport Honda the lead just a few laps from the finish.
Rossi became the ninth rookie to win the 500 and first since Castroneves in 2001. He hasn’t been to Victory Lane since and hasn’t even led a single lap in 2017. Rossi starts third Sunday.
Castroneves is +1000 at online gambling sites to join A.J. Foyt, Al Unser Sr. and Rick Mears as the only four-time winners of the Indianapolis 500. The Brazilian last won the race in 2009 and most recently won anywhere in 2014. He was 11th a year ago and starts 19th in the 33-car field Sunday.