Stock car racing used to be a very niche sport, mainly limited to the southeastern United States. NASCAR’s biggest event, the season-opening Daytona 500, is called the Great American Race. Open-wheel racing, on the other hand, has long been a worldwide sport. Formula 1 is still incredibly popular in South America, Europe and Asia.
In the United States, the biggest racing event on the calendar each year used to be the open-wheel Indianapolis 500. Every Memorial Day weekend, many millions of Americans would be glued to their televisions to watch household names such as Mario Andretti, A.J. Foyt, Al Unser Sr., Rick Mears, Johnny Rutherford and more compete in the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing” at the most storied track in the USA, the brickyard of Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
For whatever reason, open-wheel racing has largely fallen off the map from an interest standpoint in the United States, far surpassed by NASCAR (which now also runs a major race at Indianapolis). However, the Indianapolis 500 still resonates and the 102nd running is Sunday afternoon. The favorite on the odds to win the 2018 Indianapolis 500, drink the celebratory milk and kiss the brickyard is Alexander Rossi at +800 at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.
Rossi, who drives for Andretti Autosport and was a rare American to race in Formula 1 back in 2015, is second in the IndyCar series points race this season and owns a win and four top-five finishes in the five races. Rossi won the 100th Indianapolis 500 two years ago, the first American rookie to win it since Louis Meyer in 1928.
The defending champion is Takuma Sato, but he’s a +3000 longer shot to go back-to-back. Sato was the first-ever winner from Japan and looks to become the first to repeat since Helio Castroneves in 2001-02. Sato is driving for his third team in three years in Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing; he won last year with Andretti Autosport.
The two big storylines Sunday are Castroneves looking for his record-tying fourth Indy 500 victory and Danica Patrick in her final race of any kind before retirement. Castroneves is +1000 to add to his victories in 2001-02 and 2009. The only four-time winners are Foyt, Unser Sr. and Mears. The Brazilian Castroneves has just one victory in the IndyCar series the past four years.
Patrick made history in 2008 by winning the Indy Japan 300, the first victory by a woman in the IndyCar series. She was also named rookie of the year for the 2005 Indy 500 in which she finished fourth. Her best finish at Indianapolis is third in 2009 but hasn’t raced there since 2011 as Patrick transitioned to NASCAR and wasn’t able to win on that circuit. She’s +2500 to win on the 2018 Indianapolis 500 odds.
Pole-sitter Ed Carpenter is +1200 to win his first Indy 500. The Indianapolis resident is an owner/driver and gave Patrick a car to race.
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Source: Heavy Sports