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.