David Caraviello for Bookies.com

By David Caraviello | | 5 mins

Indy 500 Odds, Expert Picks & 2021 Betting Predictions

Indy 500 Odds, Expert Picks & 2021 Betting Predictions

The Greatest Spectacle in Racing will once again be held on Memorial Day weekend, once again have thousands of fans watching from the grandstands, and once again present all the color and pageantry the Indianapolis 500 has to offer. It can be exhilarating to watch – but it is a real challenge for fans of sports betting.

Though the Indy 500 has been a major event on the American sports calendar for decades, it can be very tough for casual bettors to tell a Simon Pagenaud from an Alex Palou. Unless you’re a deep-in-the-weeds, open-wheel follower, most of the names are not familiar. Drivers spend a whole month preparing for this single event. And then there’s the fast, technical track itself, which can knock out even top contenders seemingly on a whim.

Indy is a tough place to drive, a tough place to win, and a tough place to bet. While cars fielded by Roger Penske and Chip Ganassi are among the favorites at the top sportsbooks year after year – including Ganassi’s Scott Dixon, topping the odds board for Sunday – consider that last year’s winner, Takuma Sato, was a +2500 option. He carried the same odds in 2017, when he won it the first time.

So don’t discount value prospects just because the bigger names dominate the headlines prior to race day.

Indianapolis 500 Odds

Driver WinTop 3Top 10
Scott Dixon +380 +120-417
Colton Herta +725 +190-239
Patricio O’Ward +1000+300-154
Alexander Rossi +1300+400-122
Alex Palou +1400+400-122
Josef Newgarden+1600+400-122
Tony Kanaan +1800+450-113
Rinus VeeKay+1800+450-110

Odds current as of publication from PointsBet and subject to change.


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Indianapolis 500 Expert Picks

Rinus VeeKay to Win (+1800, BetMGM)

He’s a 20-year-old Dutchman unfamiliar to most Americans, and he finished 20th last year in his only previous Indianapolis 500 start. But Rinus VeeKay (short for van Klamthout) is a fearless leadfoot on a track that rewards raw courage, as we saw in a no-lift qualifying run that vaulted him to the outside of the front row on the starting grid. Could he crash? Sure – he did just that in an April test at Indy, spinning into the wall after grazing the apron in an incident where he broke a finger. But VeeKay’s combination of speed and value is difficult to resist at +1800 with BetMGM.


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Alexander Rossi Top-3 (+400, FOX Bet)

The 2016 Borg-Warner Trophy recipient is always a contender at Indianapolis. His average finish of 8.2 is easily best among all active drivers with more than one career start at the Brickyard, and he’d never finished worse than seventh until crashing last year. While Rossi’s starting position of 10th is hardly ideal, he’s powered by a Honda engine that to this point has been the class of May, he was near the top in a few practice sessions, and he’s remarkably consistent at Indy. Rossi’s track record suggests he’ll be in contention Sunday, unless he gets caught up in a wreck, and FOX Bet has him at +400 for a top-3 finish.


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Scott McLaughlin Top-3 (+900, DraftKings)

Penske cars are typically the class of the field at Indianapolis, so it was a surprise to see them qualify no better than 17th. That spot belongs to McLaughlin, who is making his first 500 start, and the IndyCar rookie raised some eyebrows with his speed in practice. It’s hard to weave through traffic at Indianapolis, even if the Penske Chevrolets are supposedly built to do just that. The Captain’s peerless resume suggests one of his cars will be in the mix at the end, and McLaughlin, who is available at +900 with DraftKings is in the best position to get there. The most recent rookie to win was Rossi in 2016.


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Indianapolis 500 Betting Tips

Penske is the king of Indianapolis, and not just because he now owns the track – the Captain has a record 18 victories in the 500, most recently in 2018 with Will Power and 2019 with Pagenaud. But as referenced earlier, qualifying speeds left some doubt about his chances for this Sunday’s race, with Pagenaud starting 26th and Power squeezing in on the last row. So betting a Penske might not be the guarantee it previously was.

Another Indy stalwart is Ganassi, who has won four times as a car owner, and fields the pole winner and odds favorite Dixon. But Dixon almost always qualifies well; he now owns four poles and a career average starting spot of 7.7 at Indy, but still just one victory (in 2008) to show for it. Colton Herta, second in both odds and starting position, finished eighth last year in his first Indy 500 start with a top-flight team.

Casual bettors might also be tempted by an array of familiar names: Tony Kanaan, Helio Castroneves, Juan Pablo Montoya and Marco Andretti. Of those Indy veterans, the real sleeper from our free picks might be Tony Kanaan, who topped one practice session, and was third behind Dixon and Herta in another. Driving for a proven team in Ganassi, Kanaan earned a solid starting spot in the middle of Row 2.

Indianapolis 500 Time, Date and TV

When: Sunday, May 30, 12:45 p.m.

Where: Indianapolis (Ind.) Motor Speedway


About the Author

David Caraviello for Bookies.com
David Caraviello
Veteran sports journalist David Caraviello has covered college football, college basketball, motorsports and golf, covering all three US golf majors, the Daytona 500 and SEC football.