2021 Indianapolis 500 betting preview: Bettors really like Scott Dixon's chances

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105th Indianapolis 500

12:30 p.m. ET (NBC)

A lot of people are betting the Indianapolis 500 favorite.

Six-time IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon will start first on Sunday and has the lowest odds of any driver at +350. Dixon’s odds started at +550 at BetMGM but shifted downward as bettors flocked to him. Nearly 10% of the tickets at BetMGM are on Dixon and almost 14% of the handle — the total money wagered — is on Dixon to win the race.

No other driver comes relatively close to Dixon. The second-most bet driver is third-place starter Rinus VeeKay (+1800). Just over 7.5% of wagers are on VeeKay and 8.2% of the handle has been bet on the young Dutch driver.

Graham Rahal (+1800) is the driver with the second-biggest betting handle. 9.8% of the handle at BetMGM is on Rahal to win. Both Rahal and VeeKay started at +2000.

VeeKay is also one of BetMGM’s biggest liabilities. The book will be rooting against VeeKay, Ed Carpenter and Helio Castroneves on Sunday.

If you’re looking to bet a few drivers on Sunday, here are our suggestions.

The favorites

Scott Dixon, +250

Colton Herta, +700

Pato O’Ward, +850

Josef Newgarden, +1200

Alexander Rossi, +1200

Alex Palou, +1200

There aren’t too many surprises among this group. Dixon, Herta, O’Ward and Palou have all won races so far this season. Rossi is an Indy 500 winner and can be one of the most dynamic drivers in the series. Newgarden is a two-time IndyCar champion and has finished in the top five in the points standings in each of the past five seasons.

[Complete 2021 Indianapolis 500 preview]

Good mid-tier value

Takuma Sato, +1800

Ryan Hunter-Reay, +2000

Will Power, +2500

Each of these drivers has won at Indy before. Sato is looking to become a three-time winner and, quite frankly, I figured his odds would be higher. Power’s odds are so high because he qualified 32nd of 33 drivers and almost missed the race. He should have a much better car during the race than he did in qualifying, so he’s not a bad bet if you’re confident he can make his way through the field either via speed or pit strategy.

Don’t bet these drivers

Juan Pablo Montoya, +3000

Helio Castroneves, +3000

Both drivers are fantastic at Indianapolis. Castroneves has three wins and Montoya has two wins. But both are running part-time in the IndyCar Series this season and are racing for new teams in 2021. Montoya’s wins came with Chip Ganassi Racing and Team Penske while Castroneves won all three of his races with Penske. Those are the two best teams in the IndyCar Series. Replicating the Indy magic with either Arrow McLaren (Montoya) or Meyer-Shank Racing (Castroneves) seems like a longshot.

Looking for a long shot?

Marco Andretti, +5000

James Hinchcliffe, +5000

Andretti cut back to a part-time schedule in 2021 and qualified outside the top 20. But he’s been fast at Indianapolis many times before and it would feel weirdly fitting to the Andretti story at Indianapolis to see him win after going part-time. Hinchcliffe has finished inside the top 11 in three of his last four Indy 500s. Each drivers’ odds are reflective of his chances to win, but they’re by far the best bets of the drivers in the back third of the odds.

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