Indy 500 Field 2012: Odds for Entire Starting Lineup

James WilliamsAnalyst IIIMay 25, 2012

Indy 500 Field 2012: Odds for Entire Starting Lineup

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    As we get ready for Sunday’s Indianapolis 500, the starting grid offers some very interesting things to ponder. We have the Chevrolet-powered cars taking nine out of the top 10 spots and clearly making a statement.

    We have five former Formula One (F-1) drivers in this year's field, including Rubens Barrichello, Takuma Sato, Justin Wilson, Sebastien Bourdais and Jean Alesi. Three of the drivers in the field are former Indy 500 race winners: Dario Franchitti (twice), Helio Castroneves (three times) and Scott Dixon (once). Finally we have three former IndyCar champions in the field: Tony Kanaan, Dario Franchitti and Scott Dixon.

    We have plenty of good storylines, but who is going to win the 2012 Indianapolis 500?

    Our friends at The Sports Book at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas provided Bleacher Report with the odds for this year’s race. Without giving anything away yet, the super team drivers are definitely getting lots of love from the bettors as Sunday’s race draws near. Team Penske, Andretti Autosport and Target Chip Ganassi Racing have more drivers among the favorites.

    Through the first four races, we have yet to see an IndyCar race on an oval and that opens up things up for a number of drivers who are excited about Sunday. I think some drivers are being either overlooked or at the very least undervalued. In the upcoming slideshow I will give the odds that Caesars provided, along with my comments on what the oddsmakers are telling us about the driver and the race.

    There are some drivers that are "Off the Board," meaning that the oddsmakers feel that they have little to no chance of winning. Moreover, from a gaming standpoint, little or no money has been placed on them, thus not making them worthy of being placed on the betting line.

    For the record, the highest odds placed on any driver in the field by Caesars is 100-to-1, which is clearly a long shot. Should you wish to pick those drivers that the oddsmakers feel have no chance, you can by taking "The Field" at 8-to-1 odds, in which case you get them all.

33. Jean Alesi

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    Odds - Off the Board

    Alesi is driving car No. 64, a Lotus.

    He is the oldest rookie in the field at Indy this year. Alesi is driving a Lotus that is clearly not as fast as the top cars in the field.

    The former F-1 driver knows his lack of speed is a huge problem. Lotus has not really put together a power plant that has been in any way competitive this season. I fully expect that by next year they will have the bugs worked out, but for now if Alesi finished the race running, it would be a victory for Lotus.          

32. Simona De Silvestro

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    Odds - Off the Board

    De Silvestro is driving car No. 78, a Lotus.

    She is in a Lotus-powered car and much like Jean Alesi, these cars simply can’t compete in this very deep field. She is a very gifted driver and good things will come to her, just not this year and not in this car.

    At 23, “The Iron Maiden” will be heard from in the next few years. 

31. Bryan Clauson

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    Odds - Off the Board

    Clauson is driving car No. 39, a Honda.

    After crashing during qualifying, he will start in a backup car. He is a rookie and is driving a Honda for Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing. Clauson has skills, but coming from so far back in the field is just too much for him to hope to accomplish in a backup car.

30. Katherine Legge

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    Odds - Off the Board

    Legge is driving car No. 6, a Chevrolet.

    She a rookie driving for Dragon Racing and just got her Chevrolet-powered car less than 10 days ago.

    The team was in a legal battle with Lotus and now they have the Chevy power. Legge held back in qualifying because her goal was to make the field first, then worry about winning.

    She has a good car, but not a lot of time behind the wheel of this car to give her a real chance at contending. She will be around next year. By then, she should be a factor.

29. Mike Conway

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    Odds - Off the Board

    Conway will drive the No. 14 car, a Honda.  

    Driving the car that sports the number made famous by his team owner A.J. Foyt, it will be a challenge for Conway to compete. Being so far back in the field, making up ground on faster cars will be almost impossible.

    Conway has a car that will finish the race barring an accident, but he can hope for a top-10 finish.

28. Ed Carpenter

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    Odds - 25/1

    Carpenter will drive the No. 20 car, a Chevrolet.

    He has made Caesars' odds board at 25-to-1. Many like Carpenter because of his rapid improvement over the season thus far. His Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet is the class of those starting so far back in the field.

    Where the oddsmakers feel best about Carpenter is his patience, he is not a hard charger, but he's good at taking his time and picking his spots. Carpenter has 500 miles to work his way through the field and only time will tell if his patience will be rewarded. 

27. Oriol Servia

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    Odds - 40/1

    Servia will drive the No. 22 car, a Chevrolet.

    He has the oddsmakers’ attention at 40-to-1 and is a long shot. The driver for Dreyer and Reinbold Racing has proven that he deserves attention. Like all drivers starting so far back, traffic will be his biggest problem.

    Unlike Ed Carpenter, who will be running behind him, he has neither the car nor the patience to win the race, but his aggressive style will get him noticed.

26. Wade Cunningham

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    Odds - 100/1

    Cunningham will be driving the No. 41 car, a Honda.

    At 100-to-1, Vegas is telling us that he is not a factor. His Cat/ABC Supply Honda was fast enough to qualify ahead of some more talented drivers than the rookie. However, there is nothing in his resume that gives us any hope that he can win the 500.

25. Sebastien Bourdais

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    Odds - Off the Board

    Bourdais will be driving the No.7 car, a Chevrolet.

    He is driving for the Dragon Racing in their Chevrolet and it is perhaps the one car the oddsmakers missed. Don’t get me wrong; he is a long shot, but he might have been undervalued.

    To me, Bourdais might be a 25-to-1 shot, because he does have very good driving skills along with a good car. Not a super car, but good enough that if things break his way, he could be running with the big boys all day long.

24. Sebastian Saavedra

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    Odds - Off the Board

    Saavedra will be driving the No.17 car, a Chevrolet.

    He will be driving for Andretti Autosport, so that proves that the kid can race. But he is running in their fourth team car and while he will have plenty of support, he is unlikely to be a factor.

23. Simon Pagenaud

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    Odds - 100/1

    Pagenaud will be driving the No. 77 car, a Honda.

    He is at 100-to-1 odds and for good reason. The rookie has been impressive at times this year but the Schmidt-Hamilton Motorsports Honda driver is not at his best on the ovals. He is talented and always surprising, but not likely to be a factor in this year’s race.

22. Michel Jourdain

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    Odds - Off the Board

    Jourdain will be driving the No. 30 car, a Honda.

    He is another road race specialist. He will be In the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda and they know Indy. But his lack of success in oval racing makes him a non-factor in this Indy 500.

21. Justin Wilson

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    Odds - Off the Board

    Wilson will be driving the No. 18 car, a Honda.

    Young Mr. Wilson will pilot the Dale Coyne Racing Honda and this might sound like a broken record, but his lack of success on an oval puts him at a disadvantage at Indy.

    He is not comfortable racing in this style of format and is likely a non-factor come Sunday.

20. Townsend Bell

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    Odds - Off the Board

    Bell will be driving the No. 99 car, a Honda.

    There is no doubt that Bell in Sam Schmidt Motorsports Honda is worthy of consideration. This will be the first time this he has raced this car and worked for this team. The question is not about Bell’s talent, it is about the quality of the car.

    If he can keep things going well, Bell could be a surprise player in this race.

19. Takuma Sato

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    Odds -  100/1

    Sato will be driving the No. 15 car, a Honda.

    He is the top driver for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda and is in the top 10 in points this year. His odds at 100-to-1 seem high to me because he has the team, the talent and the ability to be a contender on Sunday.

    Don’t sleep on Sato; he deserves better odds.

18. J.R. Hildebrand

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    Odds - 22/1

    Hildebrand will be driving the No. 4 car, a Honda.

    The number that sticks in his mind will be 799. That is the number of turns that he executed perfectly in last year’s race before crashing in turn four and losing the race on the final lap.

    His Panther Racing Honda team wants another chance and at 22-to-1, Vegas thinks he will be factor, not a favorite. I think he will be a factor and can win the race. 

17. James Jakes

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    Odds - Off the Board

    Jakes will drive the No. 19 car, a Honda.

    He will be at the wheel of the Dale Coyne Racing Honda and the problem is that Indy 500 is run on an oval. Jakes is one of those drivers—like so many others in this field—that just has not done enough driving on ovals to be a factor in this race. 

16. Dario Franchitti

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    Odds - 5/1

    Franchitti will drive the No. 50 car, a Honda.

    Vegas loves this two-time winner at 5-to-1, despite starting so far back in the field. His Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda is poised to be a contender.

    That said, this could come down to how the Honda engine runs against Chevrolet. Franchitti can drive with the best of them and clearly he knows Indy, but the Honda does not have the power of the Chevys, but gas mileage could be the factor.

    The gas issue might give Franchitti the edge he needs. 

15. Scott Dixon

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    Odds -  5/1

    Dixon will drive the No. 9 car, a Honda.

    While Dixon has won an Indy 500, many people have thought that he would be a multiple winner at the Brickyard. He has the car and the ability to pull it off this year. As with many Honda drivers in the field, the goal will be to pit wisely and to make sure to stay close to the lead.

    There no doubt that barring a crash, Dixon will be in the hunt for a second checkered flag at Indy come Sunday.    

14. Charlie Kimball

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    Odds - Off the Board

    Kimball will be driving the No. 83 car, a Honda.

    There is no doubt that he is a driver that can win at Indy. The oddsmakers have missed big time on Kimball. He will be at the wheel of a Honda with a solid team from Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing.

    His orange-and-blue car will be in the thick of things all day and he could very well be a sleeper in this year's 500.

13. Ana Beatriz

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    Odds - Off the Board

    Beatriz will drive the No. 25 car, a Chevrolet.

    Looking for Danica Patrick's replacement? Well, she will be driving the Andretti-Conquest Racing Chevrolet. Beatriz is a very talented young woman with skills and a car that has plenty of power and can contend.

    Will she win the race? No, but she has a very good chance of leading some laps and with a bit of luck a top-10 finish is very possible.

12. Graham Rahal

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    Odds - 22/1

    Rahal will be driving the No. 38 car, a Honda.

    The question around Indy at this time of the year: Why Graham win the 500 THIS year? He is one of the most talented young drivers in the field and his Honda is fast, plus he is part of one of the "Super Teams," Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing.

    So can he win THIS year? The answer is "yes" and at 22-to-1, he looms as a very good bet.

11. Alex Tagliani

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    Odds -  40/1

    Tagliani will be driving the No. 98 car, a Honda.

    There is no doubt of this young driver's talent. He is very aggressive and someone who could really be a factor at Indy. There is no doubt that he has car his Honda with the backing of Team Barracuda - BHA is plenty strong enough.

    The real question remains: Does he have the patience that it takes to win at Indy? Right now, I don't think so, but he will tease us with some competitive racing all day Sunday.

10. Rubens Barrichello

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    Odds - 80/1

    Barrichello will drive the No. 8 car, a Chevrolet.

    This Brazilian is way too new to the Indy scene to pull off a win. He showed during qualifying that he can get the car to run fast, but in traffic, this KV Racing Technology Chevy that Barrichello is driving is not an F-1 car and this Indy not Monaco.

    Sorry, but no chance he wins on Sunday.                     

9. E.J. Viso

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    Odds - Off the Board

    Viso will drive the No. 11 car a Chevrolet.

    He is someone with great promise but simply no chance of winning the race this year. His oval record is not good enough to be considered a factor at Indy and his resume is way too light to make him a contender.    

8. Tony Kanaan

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    Odds - 12/1

    Kanaan will drive the No. 11 car, a Chevrolet.

    He is one of the most popular and talented drivers at Indy. He has been the favorite to win the race many times. His KV Racing Technology Chevy is set up fine and there is no doubt that "T.K." can win this race.

    He has come close with two second-place finishes and a fourth, so clearly comfort at Indy is not the issue. If he gets a smooth ride, then T.K. might get his first Indy win.    

7. Josef Newgarden

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    Odds - Off the Board

    Newgarden will drive the No. 67 car, a Honda.

    I have interviewed Newgarden twice for Bleacher Report and each time I come away more impressed. He is a rookie, but he does not act like one. His team is Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing—not a powerful team, but he seems to be able to get the most out of his car. He trusts his crew and is both calm and confident.

    The oddsmakers may have missed one this time. Newgarden will be around the front of the field all day long and do all he can to be in a position to win at the end.  

6. Helio Castroneves

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    Odds - 5/1

    Castroneves will drive the No. 3 car, a Chevrolet.

    How can you not have this guy at or near the top of your list to win? He has done it three times before and he comes to Indy in a Chevy that Team Penske has set up just to win this race. He will be a factor all day and he has the quiet confidence of a champion.

    He wants to be a four-time winner at Indy and I would not bet against him.   

5. Will Power

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    Odds - 6/1

    Power will drive the No. 12 car a Chevrolet.

    There has never been a more dominant driver on the IndyCar Series than Power. He comes to Indy on a three-race winning streak and thus far his Team Penske Chevy has done everything he has asked of it. Power has had issues at Indy and he is far and away one of the best road racers in the world.

    The question remains: Can he finally break through at Indy? This will be his best chance and no doubt he will be in the hunt at the end. 

4. Marco Andretti

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    Odds - 10/1

    Andretti will be driving the No. 26 car, a Chevrolet.

    Well, does it surprise anyone that an Andretti has a chance at winning the Indy 500? Marco was born to win this race. His grandfather Mario won it and his father Michael came close many times.

    His car, an Andretti Autosport, has been dialed in for this track. He will be there at the end and we will see if he can pull off another win for the family.  

3. Ryan Hunter-Reay

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    Odds - 8/1

    Hunter-Reay will drive the No. 28 car, a Chevrolet.

    All season, he has been running near the top of the field but has yet to win a race. No one doubts that he must be considered a a possible winner at Indy. What the gang at Andretti Autosport has done this year to make sure their top drivers have all the tools needed to win is amazing.

    Clearly, the Andretti team has put their main focus on Indy and putting one of their "young guns" in Victory Lane is the goal.    

    Hunter-Reay is one of those young guns who could come away Sunday with an Indy 500 win.  

2. James Hinchcliffe

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    Odds - 20/1

    Hinchcliffe will drive the No. 27 Chevrolet.

    There is no doubt that Hinchcliffe is being overlooked by the oddsmakers in Vegas. He is another one of the Andetti Autosport team and he came within a eyelash of putting his Chevy on the pole. 

    Hinchcliffe is ready to make a name for himself and the young man from Canada could be a good bet to win this year at Indy.

    One thing for sure is that he and his Andretti teammates can't be ignored. He will be there at the end and if the door is open for him, he will take the checkered flag. 

1. Ryan Briscoe

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    Odds - 4/1

    Briscoe will be driving the No. 2 Chevrolet.

    Winning the pole was a game-changer for Briscoe. If it is possible, he is the one Team Penske driver that has been quiet this season. However, that silence all went away by taking the pole. Vegas made him the race favorite.

    The old saying, "Heavy is the head that wears the crown," should not apply to Briscoe, as he is ready to handle starting the Indy 500 from the point. For him to win, the key will be driving a smart race and working with his Penske teammates.

    This looks like an old-fashioned shootout between the Penske and Andretti gangs and Briscoe could be the man standing in Victory Lane come Sunday.