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Handicapping The 500

Alexander Rossi is the best bet to win the Indianapolis 500. © [Andy Clary / Spacesuit Media]

Alexander Rossi is the best bet to win the Indianapolis 500. © [Andy Clary / Spacesuit Media]

By Allan Brewer

Having won the pole position for the 2018 Indianapolis 500 it is quite surprising that hometown hero Ed Carpenter is not the favorite for Sunday’s 102nd running of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing on the oval in Speedway, Indiana. In fact, there are a number of other drivers who Las Vegas gives a better chance to win than the man with the fastest car.

Ryan Hunter-Reay.  © [Andy Clary / Spacesuit Media]

Ryan Hunter-Reay. © [Andy Clary / Spacesuit Media]

Andretti Autosports’ Alexander Rossi is the Vegas favorite at 8-1, followed closely by Ryan Hunter-Reay, Will Power and Helio Castroneves at 10-1. Carpenter comes in at 12-1 for the win in the great race.

Rossi is a stunning pick as the overall favorite considering his poor qualifying effort left him starting in the middle of the very last row of the Indy 500. The wise guys think Rossi will climb through the field steadily during the nearly 3-hour race and claim his second Indianapolis 500 championship. On the other hand, the sages of the Brickyard have seen way too many first-lap and subsequent lap crashes catch up the back-markers early on in the 500 to get carried away with enthusiasm for a last-row entrant.

It’s hard to see anyone earning the nod over Team Penske’s Helio Castroneves, who is going for his fourth victory at the Brickyard on Memorial Day. There are two other familiar names joining at 10-1 in the person of Rossi teammate Ryan Hunter Reay, and another Penske member, Will Power.

Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon has suffered a modest fall from grace at the window. He will start the 2018 Indianapolis 500 practice as a 12-1 pick to win the race. Dixon has passed a tranquil month of May in Indianapolis and qualified sitting two rows in arears of the leaders with the outside position on the third row. He has the difficult but not insurmountable challenge of staying out of trouble on the start that comes with that position on the grid, sandwiched between the true contenders and the eager challengers behind.

Also at 12-1 for the Indy 500 is Josef Newgarden, the reigning IndyCar Series champion and arguably the hottest racer in the season up to this point. It’s only a matter of time before this young knight rides over the rest of the field in his Penske-fielded machine and wins this race. Will this be the year? Simon Pagenaud (12-1), Marco Andretti (12-1), Tony Kanaan (12-1) and Sebastien Bourdais (12-1) join Newgarden as legitimate contenders as well.

And what of Danica Patrick, the only woman to win an IndyCar race, with six career top-10 finishes in the Indianapolis 500? She’s the sentimental favorite for many, but Patrick, the only woman to win an IndyCar race and who has six career top-10 finishes in the Indianapolis 500, hasn’t raced in this event since 2011.

The Indy 500 payoff climbs substantially from there with young Sage Karam at 15-1 for a victory that would definitely drop jaws. The rest of the field will go off at 30-1 or greater odds on Sunday.

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Allan Brewer covers IndyCar and other racing series for RacingNation.com. Allan is a fixture at the race track, armed with keyboard and camera, eager to take you inside open-wheel sport where the news is being made. He comes to RacingNation.com with multiple professional awards from the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association (AWWRBA). He began his motorsports writing career at FastMachines.com; and solely published IndyProRacer.com and A1GP.com, two award-winning websites for open-wheel racing’s junior leagues, prior to becoming IndyCar correspondent at Motorsport.com. He has also covered Formula 1, NASCAR, Formula E, the Indy Lights Series and its predecessor Indy Pro Series, NHRA events and major auto shows. His major interest outside of competition is automotive technology and its application to the cars we drive every day on the public highways.