The Indianapolis 500 is arguably the most important car race in US history. They have been running this iconic event at The Brickyard in Indianapolis since 1911. Among the legendary winners are A.J. Foyt (4-time winner), brothers Bobby and Al Unser (7 combined wins), Rick Mears (4-time winner), and Hélio Castroneves with 4 wins spanning 21 races from 2001 to 2021.
Traditionally, the 500 mile open-wheel race is held on the Sunday preceding the Memorial Day Holiday. This year’s race, sponsored by Gainbridge, will be run on May 29th. Last year’s champion Castroneves will be back to defend his title, presuming he makes it through qualifying laps.
America’s Love Affair With the Indy 500
In Europe, motorsports attract the attention of both general sports fans and bettors alike. From the historic Le Mans to the Formula 1 races run through the streets of some of the world’s great cities, European racing fans have always come out in great numbers. It’s a slightly different story stateside. Aside from loyal NASCAR fans, the average American typically doesn’t embrace motorsports as a mainstream form of sports entertainment.
That is until Indy 500 week shows up on the calendar.
From office pools to Las Vegas sportsbooks, there has always been a gambling tie to the “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” With more than 30 states now allowing residents to legally wager on sports, this year figures to be the most exciting betting car race in US history.
2022 Indy 500 Contenders
The big story in this year’s Indy 500 is the presence of former NASCAR Champion Jimmie Johnson. It’s not easy to make the transition from stock-car racing to Indy-car racing but if anyone can do it, Johnson would be that man. The fact he won four NASCAR races at The Brickyard should serve him well for starters. It definitely helps to be familiar with the nuances of this particular course. If he survives the first day of qualifying, Johnson could be a legitimate contender to take the checkered flag.
Of course, Castroneves will be a sentimental favorite in his quest to become the race’s first 5-time winner. But that doesn’t mean he is a betting favorite. He will have his hands full as a target of other former race winners like Takuma Sato (2017, ‘20), Alexander Rossi (2016), Juan Pablo Montoya (2000, ‘15), Tony Kanaan (2013), Scott Dixon (2008), Simon Pagenaud (2019), and Will Power (2018).
From a betting perspective, here is a list of the top 10 contenders:
Scott Dixon +650
Pato O’Ward +650
Alex Palou +900
Josef Newgarden +900
Colton Herta +1200
Takuma Sato +1200
Will Power +1400
Marcus Ericsson +1500
Jimmie Johnson +1500
Scott McLaughlin +1500
Note: Castroneves is currently listed at +2500. Of course, odds change daily and vary by sportsbook so shop around the best online sportsbooks for the most competitive prices.
How to Bet the Indy 500
For first-time IndyCar watchers, there are multiple wagering options. The most obvious is an outright bet on the winner of the race. But that’s just scratching the surface. For enthusiasts who want to delve a little deeper, there are countless proposition bets also offered in the days leading up to the race.
For bettors who might be interested in prop bets, here are some examples of the options:
Head-to-head matchups between two drivers
Final time of the race – over/under
Number of cars to finish the race
Another betting option that is rapidly gaining in popularity is in-race wagering. Again, not all apps will have the same number of live options yet but it is definitely a part of online betting that is evolving rapidly. Within the next 2-3 years it is expected in-play wagering will make up a significant portion of the overall online sports betting handle.
Prediction: Fate makes it tough to pick a winner of any IndyCar race, never mind the Indy 500. But here is a wagering thought: why look past a 4-time winner like Castroneves at +2500 or better? Surely that’s worthy of at least a saver bet.