Indy 500 Betting Preview: Dixon Favored From Pole Position

Written By Drew Ellis on May 27, 2021 - Last Updated on December 7, 2023
Indy 500 odds Michigan

The Greatest Spectacle in Racing returns to Memorial Day weekend this year.

On Sunday, the 105th Indianapolis 500 will take place from Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

As always, we have you Michigan sports bettors covered on what you need to know for the race.

How to watch the 2021 Indianapolis 500

  • What: 2021 Indianapolis 500
  • When: Sunday, May 30
  • Where: Indianapolis Motor Speedway
  • Track Type: Oval
  • Race Distance: 500 miles
  • Start Time: 12:45 p.m.
  • TV Broadcast: NBC, beginning at 11 a.m. ET
  • Radio Broadcast: SiriusXM, INDYCAR Radio
  • Online viewing:
  • Weather Forecast: Sunny, high 70 degrees, minimal chance of rain

Dixon, Herta among the race favorites

The favorite to win Sunday’s race is the man that will be starting up front.

Scott Dixon won pole position for the race last weekend and now finds himself as the betting favorite.

DraftKings Sportsbook MI and BetMGM Sportsbook MI each list him as +350 to win.

Colton Herta is next up for both at +700. Things start to differ from there in regards to odds. Here’s who rounds out the top-7:

  • Patricio O’Ward: +1000 DK; +850 MGM
  • Josef Newgarden: +1400 DK; +1200 MGM
  • Alex Palou: +1400 DK; +1200 MGM
  • Alexander Rossi: +1400 DK; +1200 MGM
  • Tony Kanaan: +1600 DK; +1400 MGM

Dixon with storied history at the Brickyard

Scott Dixon is accustomed to starting from the pole position, as he will for the fourth time in his Indy 500 history.

Few drivers in this field have as much experience in this race as him. This will be his 19th Indy 500 race.

Of the 19 races, Dixon has won just once, which occurred in 2008. However, he started in the pole position there as well.

The pole position has produced the most winners of this race by a wide margin. Starting from the first position has delivered 21 winners. Next is third, which has produced 13.

Thus far in 2021, Dixon is the IndyCar points leader. He has one win and four top-5 finishes through five races this season.

While a win may not have you excited to wager on, Dixon has 12 top-10 Indy 500 finishes. Your betting options besides a win are:

  • Top 3: +120
  • Top 5: -177
  • Top 10: -420

Castroneves can join elite company

Brazilian driver Helio Castroneves will be competing for his fourth Indy 500 victory on Sunday. Only three drivers in history – A.J. Foyt, Al Unser Sr. and Rick Mears – have achieved that feat.

Oddsmakers see him as a big longshot to win that fourth title on Sunday. He is listed at +3000 to win by DraftKings and BetMGM.

Since his last win in 2009, Castroneves has only cracked the top 5 twice, finishing runner-up in 2014 and 2017. He has finished outside the top 10 the last three years.

Castroneves hasn’t competed in a race this year, dusting off his skills for a shot at his fourth Indy 500 title.

On Sunday, Castroneves starts from the eighth position, which has produced two winners.

Herta, O’Ward, Newgarden seek first win

21-year-old Colton Herta is appearing in just his third Indy 500, but is getting a lot of love from oddsmakers.

He finished eighth in last year’s event and 33rd in the 2019 race. He starts in the second position next to Dixon this year. That spot has produced a total of 11 winners in race history. This year, Herta has one win, but three finishes outside the top 10.

Patricio O’Ward is making just his second Indy 500 appearance. He finished sixth in his debut in 2020.
O’Ward will start from the 12th position, which has produced two winners in history.

This season, O’Ward has been pretty hit or miss. He has one win in five races with three top-5 finishes, but has finished 15th or worse in the other two.

Newgarden has been close to a victory, placing in the top-5 three times. However, he has never claimed the checkered flag of the Indy 500.

He starts with an uphill climb, beginning back in the seventh row in 21st position. That spot has only produced one winner, which was back in 1924.

This season, Newgarden is also seeking his first win. He has two runner-up finishes with a fourth place and sixth place in five races.

Sato looks to repeat

The 2020 Indy 500 took place back on Aug. 23 due to COVID-19 and saw Takuma Sato come through with his second victory.

Sato will now look to become the first driver to repeat as Indianapolis 500 champion since Castroneves did so in his first two appearances in 2001 and 2002.

Oddsmakers don’t feel strongly about Sato’s chances. DraftKings lists him at +2000, while BetMGM lists him at +1800.

Sato will be starting Sunday’s race from the fifth row in the 15th position. Four winners have come from the 15th spot, most recently in 2015.

Outside of Sato’s two wins, he has just one third-place finish in 2019, and has finished outside the top 10 in his eight other appearances.

Photo by Michael Conroy / The Associated Press
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Drew Ellis

Drew Ellis is the Lead Writer of PlayMichigan, the No. 1 source for online gambling news in Michigan. A lifelong resident of the state, Ellis has been working in various forms of media since 1998, including more than a decade in the sports betting industry prior to transitioning into US casino markets in 2020.

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