- Danica Patrick is back at the 2018 Indy 500, but she won’t be a favorite
- The winner will very likely come from Andretti Autosport or have won before
The Indianapolis 500 is back, this time with 35 entries confirmed. The race will start on May 27th, in Indianapolis, and it will be the 102nd running of the race. Odds aren’t available quite yet, but we’ve already had a practice session and a few tests, so we can start to lay out some drivers, teams, and trends to watch.
Simon Pagenaud fastest in practice
French professional racing driver Simon Pagenaud is racing in his seventh Indy 500 this year, and looking fast in practice. Pagenaud completed 87 laps at the May 15th test, including the only lap under 40 seconds. He was more than a mile an hour faster than three-time champion Helio Castroneves, and ran more laps.
Obivously pace in practice isn’t a great predictor of race results or even pace on race day, but it still means something that Pagenaud was so much faster than the competition. After six kicks at this particular can, maybe it’s time for Pagenaud to get a win?
Pagenaud won’t be a favorite, his results can’t carry those kind of odds, but he won’t be far off.
Odds Simon Pagenaud wins the 2018 Indy 500: 9/1
Andretti Autosport is something of a dynasty
You could be forgiven thinking that teams don’t matter as much in IndyCar, as the chassis, engines and tyres come from suppliers. You’d be wrong, however, as Andretti Autosport has somehow found an advantage that won them three of the last four races. Whether it’s experience, or knowledge of the track, or setup data, or frequently courting the most talented drivers on the grid, Andretti Autosport knows how to drink milk and win at Indy.
This year, Andretti bring former winners Alexander Rossi and Ryan Hunter-Reay, both of whom will be listed as favorites when the odds sheets come out.
Odds Andretti Autosport wins the 2018 Indy 500: 13/7
Danica Patrick returns
Danica Patrick passed her rookie orientation refresher course and returns to the Indy 500 for the first time since 2011. She’s running the Chevrolet-powered car for Ed Carpenter racing, and looking decent in practice. Patrick’s fastest lap in practice was good enough for 20th, putting her in between Will Power and Carlos Munoz. It’s a decent practice performance, and it’ll be interesting to see how she does in qualifying.
It’s clear from her practice times that while she might have spent the last six years in stock cars, she’s still very capable of mixing it up in open-wheel cars. She won’t be a favorite, she’s never been a favorite, and frankly shouldn’t be, but she’ll be a comfortable longshot.
Odds Danica Patrick wins the 2018 Indy 500: 25/1
I was wrong about Takuma Sato last year and I’m sorry
Last year, I said some very mean things about former Formula 1 driver Takuma Sato. If I’m honest, I’m a bit of an F1 snob, so my knowledge of Sato amounts to some promising drives with Super Aguri and losing a Toro Rosso seat to Sebastian Bourdais.
He then won the race, proving me extremely wrong, and teaching me a thing or two about racing at Indy. Namely: anything can happen, there’s a lot of crashes, and the least likely outcome is a parade. He also proved the betting public wrong, winning as a +1500 underdog.
I would also like to point out that, while I definitely said some dumb things about Takuma Sato, I did not say the dumbest thing about Takuma Sato, in that I did not get fired by the Denver Post.
Obviously he won’t be listed at such long odds this year, but there’s still good reasons to fade Sato. He’s no longer driving for Andretti Autosport, with whom he won last year.
Odds Takuma Sato wins the 2018 Indy 500: 10/1
There are six former winners in the race
Despite the attention the Indy 500 gets worldwide, and the ability for a foreign driver to drop into the race a la Fernando Alonso, you see the same list of drivers over and over again. Past winners have an easy time finding seats, and the longevity of contenders is incredible. Helio Castroneves first raced here in May of 2001, and doesn’t look like he’ll be stopping any time soon.
Castroneves is joined by former winners Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan, Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, and Takuma Sato. That’s a murderers row of drivers, and there’s a strong possibility that one of them will win again. The only favorites who haven’t won already are Joseph Newgarden and Will Power.
Odds the 2018 Indy 500 is won by a previous winner: 3/7