Indy 500: Favorite Rossi tries to defy first-time winner trend

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Starting on the pole, starting inside the top five or being a past winner is no predictor of who will win the Indianapolis 500, and favorite Alexander Rossi is only one of those three things. Rossi, who won IndyCar’s showcase race in 2016, is the +800 favorite on the odds to win the 2018 Indianapolis 500 at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Four of the last five editions of “The Greatest Spectacle In Racing,” which is scheduled for Sunday, have featured a first-time winner. The pole-sitter has not won in the last eight years and only twice in this span has the champion been in the first five cars on the starting grid at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Another wild card is that IndyCar has switched to a new aerodynamic package, which could lead to less passing. Rossi is starting in the 11th and final row, which might be a red flag about his chance of taking the checkered flag.

Nine of the top 11 racers in the grid will be in Chevrolets, so that might be a good place to start with narrowing down to a driver (or two). Three-time winner Helio Castroneves (+1000) is a solid second favorite on the Indianapolis 500 odds, but he is starting behind Penske teammates Simon Pagenaud (+1200), Josef Newgarden (+1000) and Will Power (+1000), who are respectively 2-3-4 on the grid after being among the Fast Nine from qualifying.

Power has the mantel of being the best driver on the circuit who has yet to win the Indianapolis 500 and many motorsports observers believe it is just a matter of when the 27-year-old Newgarden ends up drinking the celebratory milk in Victory Lane. Pagenaud, however, has never finished higher than eighth.

Pole-sitter Ed Carpenter (+1200) has not had a top-10 finish in 10 years, so it might be best to fade him in outright winner props. Sebastien Bourdais (+1200) has already achieved a victory by coming back strongly on the circuit after a crash at Indianapolis last year but winning has a too-good-to-be-true air.

If bettors want to go with a consistent veteran who offers a big payoff, Tony Kanaan (+1500) is a past winner who has finished in the top 10 eight times.

Danica Patrick (+2500) will start from Row 3 for the last race of her trailblazing career. While it is her first IndyCar race in seven years, the skew of practice time should offset the rust and give her a reasonable shot at a top-10 finish.

Among the high-risk, high-reward darkhorses, veteran Charlie Kimball (+3000) has two top-five finishes in the race to his name and, yes, he drives a Chevrolet. Another sleeper is Spencer Pigot (+4000), who is starting in Row 2 and had the sixth-fastest qualifying speed of the Fast Nine.

For more odds information, betting picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes or listen to it at OddsShark.libsyn.com.