Hinchcliffe grabs pole, trails favorites on Indianapolis 500 odds

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After surviving a life-threatening crash during a practice session prior to last year’s race, James Hinchcliffe hopes to make a victorious return to the Indianapolis 500 this weekend when he starts on the pole at +1200 odds at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Hinchcliffe missed the final 11 races of 2015 after suffering serious leg injuries in last year’s crash, but has shown steady improvement in the five races this season leading up to Sunday afternoon’s 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The 29-year-old Canadian had his best outing of the season earlier this month, finishing third at the Grand Prix of Indianapolis for which he sported +700 odds at the sportsbooks, and making his first podium appearance since winning at last year’s Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana.

Currently sitting eighth in the IndyCar standings, Hinchcliffe has twice started second in the Indy 500 but has yet to capture the checkered flag, with his sixth-place finish two years ago currently his career best.

It has been a shaky start to the season for Will Power, who currently follows Hinchcliffe in the standings. Power opened the season with a strong third-place finish in Phoenix, but was a disappointing 19th in the Grand Prix of Indianapolis.

However, memories of the veteran’s second-place finish last year on Memorial Day weekend have helped lift him to the top of the odds to win the Indianapolis 500 as a +600 favorite.

Power is joined at the top of the odds by defending Indy 500 champion Juan Pablo Montoya, and the current IndyCar standings leader Simon Pagenaud.

Last year’s win was the second of Montoya’s career, with his first coming back in 2000. The veteran opened his campaign with a win at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, paying out handsomely at +1000, and he followed up with a pair of top-five finishes.

Pagenaud rides a three-race win streak, including the Grand Prix of Indianapolis, but will be starting eighth on the grid this weekend and has never finished better than eighth in the Indy 500.

Reigning IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon is second in the standings, trailing Pagenaud by 76 points, and sits alongside three-time Indy 500 champion Helio Castroneves at a strong +650 to win the race this weekend.

Tony Kanaan follows at +900, ahead of Josef Newgarden, who joins Hinchcliffe at +1200, with Sebastien Bourdais at +1600, and both Marco Andretti and Ryan Hunter-Reay at +2000.

Scott Dixon slight favorite in Indianapolis 500

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Recent history shows being the pole-sitter may not foreshadow who wins the Indianapolis 500, but being among the fastest in qualifying is essential to being the one who sips the milk in Victory Lane.

Scott Dixon, who had the fastest qualifying times since 1996 in open-wheel racing’s signature event, has both the pole and top odds to win the Indy 500 at +600 at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. However, none of the last seven pole-sitters have gone on to win the race. Eleven of the last 14 champions, though, were in the Fast Nine, which is the name given to those who were in the group that earned the opportunity to fight for pole position.

The race takes place on Sunday.

Dixon has an Indy 500 win (in 2008) to his credit and has steadily been a top-five finisher in the IndyCar Series this season. There is more value to be had with Formula One convert Fernando Alonso (+800) and Will Power (+800), who will respectively start in Rows 2 and 3. Alonso, of course, has never handled an IndyCar among other drivers, but has impressed all month and was fifth-fastest in qualifying.

Power won the 2017 IndyCar Grand Prix at the same track on May 13, but is starting ninth. Neither Power nor any of the Team Penske drivers were impressive during qualifying, as teammates Helio Castroneves (+1000), Juan Pablo Montoya (+1200) and Josef Newgarden (+1500) are all starting well back in the field. Newgarden, who will start in Row 8, is one of the most consistent drivers in the series.

Owner-driver Ed Carpenter (+1500) and defending champion Alexander Rossi (+1500) will start in Row 1 with Dixon. Carpenter has had only one top-10 finish in his last seven attempts in this race, but certainly could be in contention. There has been a run on Rossi picks since he qualified third, as he was listed at +2900 before qualifying due to having finished no higher than fifth in any race since his unexpected win last Memorial Day weekend.

The rest of the fastest nine is rounded out by Marco Andretti (+1200) and Tony Kanaan (+1200), Takuma Sato (+1500) and JR Hildebrand (+3000). Picking Andretti at online gambling sites means going against the ‘Andretti curse,’ as the famed racing family is a combined one-for-71 in the race. Hildebrand is a one-time runner-up (2011) and was sixth in the 2016 race.