2011 Indianapolis 500
Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Speedway, Indiana
Sunday, May 29, 2011, 12:00 pm Eastern, TV: ABC
Defending Champion: Dario Franchitti
The Sunday before Memorial Day is always a great day for auto racing fans as the three biggest organizations all hold one of their biggest races of the year. Formula 1 has the Monaco Grand Prix, NASCAR runs the Coca-Cola 600, and you also have the Indianapolis 500 on the same day. This year’s race will be even bigger as it is the 100th anniversary of the race.
One new wrinkle at the track is they changed the rules on restarts. For the first time ever they will allow double file restarts. No one knows how this will work in the tight confines of the speedway but it will be white knuckle all the way. The rule was modeled after NASCAR’S restart rules, but in the much bigger stock cars you can bump another car without necessarily wrecking them. In the Indy Cars, if you touch tires with someone, you will wreck them most likely. Expect some hairy situations on restarts until the drivers adapt.
Let’s take a look at some of the contenders and their odds to win the race courtesy of bodog. Here is the starting grid.
Scott Dixon (7/2) The thirty year old Australian is a two time Indy Car series champ, and won this race in 2008. He qualified second for the 2011 race. Dixon has 1 top 5 this season He will be dangerous and will be there at the end barring accident or engine trouble.
Dario Franchitti (4/1) The 38 year old Scotsman is both the defending champion in this race and the Izod points championship. He also won this race in 2007. This year he has one win and 3 other top 4 finishes. Despite that he is only second in points, 14 points behind Will Power. Never count him out as he loves this track and is red hot early in the season. Franchitti qualified 9th for this race.
Alex Tagliani (6/1) The 37 year old became the first Canadian to win the pole for the Indianapolis 500. He has never won a race on the Indy Car series, but he does have a top 5 and a top 10 in 4 races so far. Tagliani is 7th in points so far. It would be a great story if he won at Indy not only for him, but for team owner Sam Schmidt who was a driver on this series before an off-season training crash rendered him a quadriplegic in 2000.
Will Power (8/1) The 30 year old Australian qualified 5th for this race. He has 2 wins, a second, and a 10th place finish to start the season. Until this race he had qualified for the pole in all four races. Power is leading the points race early in the season. He has never won an Indy Car series title or at this track before. I wouldn’t call 8/1 a bargain exactly but Power probably should be the favorite for this race. He is my pick to break through and win his first Indy 500.
Helio Castreneves (10/1) The 36 year old Brazilian is a three time winner in this race, the last one coming in 2009. He has gotten off to a slow start this season with only one top 10 finish in four races. He is 17th in points this season. I don’t really like his chances this year, but he does well at this track and could be worth a play. Catstroneves qualified 16th for this race.
Dan Wheldon (11/1) Wheldon qualified 6th for the Indianapolis 500. He won the race in 2005, and has finished 2nd the last two years. The 32 year old Englishman has not raced this season. Rust could be a factor, but he could be a nice dark horse play.
Buddy Rice (12/1) The 35 year old American qualified 7th for this race despite not having raced since 2008. He won this race in 2004. It would be another great story if he won, but I don’t see it happening.
Oriol Servia (14/1) The 36 year old Spaniard qualified 3rd for this race. He has never won an Indy Car race before. This could be his breakout year as he has 2 top fives and 2 other top tens this season. He is third in the points, 58 points behind Power. He is a nice sleeper pick at 14/1.
Ryan Briscoe (16/1) After a slow start, Briscoe finished 3rd at Long Beach and second in Brazil. The 29 year old Aussie is 5th in the points so far this season. He qualified a disappointing 26th for the Indy 500, so it might be difficult for him to catch-up and win the race.
Tony Kanaan (22/1) The 36 year old Brazilian is off to a strong start this season with 3 top 10 finishes. He is 6th in the points, and qualified 22nd in this race. He has never won this race in a brilliant 14 win career. The Indy 500 is the only thing missing from his resume. I don’t think he will get it this year, but he might be worth a small play.
Danica Patrick (28/1) Despite having only one career win, Patrick is one of the most popular drivers in Indy Car racing. This could be her last Indianapolis 500 for a while as rumors are flying that she will switch to NASCAR full time next year. She has one 10 ten this year at Long Beach, and is 15th in the points. Patrick qualified 25th for this race. She has come close to winning this race with a couple of top 10s. This could be the year that she breaks through, but I wouldn’t count on it.
Other contenders and their odds are as follows, Townsend Bell (22/1), Vitor Meira (25/1), Marco Andretti (35/1), Ed Carpenter (45/1), Graham Rahal (50/1), Paul Tracy (50/1), Ryan Hunter-Reay (50/1), Tomas Schekter (70/1), John Andretti (80/1), Alex Lloyd (200/1), and Davey Hamilton (200/1).
It should be a great race. Weather could be a factor as there is a 30% chance of rain for Indianapolis. Enjoy the race and your holiday weekend.