Indy 500 Picks, Predictions, and Race Preview

Pato O'Ward has improved his Indy 500 finishes in each of the last three years and we're expecting another strong finish from the young driver in 2023. Find out how to take advantage in our Indy 500 betting preview below.

Last Updated: May 28, 2023 9:00 AM ET Read Time: 5 min
Pato O'Ward IndyCar Series Indy 500
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

The Indianapolis 500 is here, we're bringing you our full Indy 500 betting preview, including a lineup of free betting picks and things to pay attention to.

The field is chock-full of IndyCar youngsters and vets looking to make a splash at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, thus creating some betting value for us to jump on.

We break it all down in our Indy 500 betting preview below. 

Indy 500 best bets

Picks made on 5/24/23 at 5:00 p.m. ET.
Click on each pick above to jump to the full analysis.

Odds courtesy of DraftKings

Indy 500 favorites    

Alex Palou (+650)

Palou was +1,400 in April of last year. He started seventh here as a rookie in 2020 and was runner-up a year later after qualifying sixth. He started on the front row last year, led 47 laps, and finished ninth. That’s only because of some bad luck as well.

He was third in Texas last month and starts on the pole this Sunday. Palou also won the GMR Grand Prix two weeks ago here and is hopeful of the Month of May sweep. With that said, the pole sitter has gone on to win this race just once in the last 13 years and twice in the last 21 overall. 

Pato O'Ward (+700)

He won a race at Texas in 2021, nearly won this past April, and has finished sixth, fourth, and second respectively in his three Indy 500 starts. He starts in the exact same spot as last year’s winner Marcus Ericsson (fifth).

O’Ward has made 16 oval starts in his career with two wins, five runner-up finishes, and 12 Top-4 results, including 11 Top 4s in his last 12 tries.

Rinus VeeKay (+1,000)

The trends winner. We’ve seen 11 straight years with a different car number win. No. 50, No. 11, No. 28, No. 2, No. 98, No. 26, No. 12, No. 22, No. 30, No. 06, and No. 8. Also, five of the last seven years have seen the race winner being 0-fer in terms of season championships. Among the last six winners, four finished outside the Top 10 the year prior to their victory. VeeKay is the only driver that fits the bill for every category and he starts second. 

Indy is the spot where he got his first Top-5 finish, his first podium, his first pole, and his first career win, all of which occurred on the road course. Can he get an Indy 500 win after qualifying on the front row each of the last three years?

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Indy 500 sleepers

Takuma Sato (+1,200)

He has three Top-3 finishes in his last six Indy starts and has won the Indy 500 with two different teams. Why not a third? Sato was quickest in all three practice sessions on opening week last year, fourth on the Monday practice, and qualified 10th.

Now, he’s in a Ganassi car... that car was fast in Texas. He was first in two of the three qualifying week practices, seventh in the other, and starts eighth. Almost criminal to put him in a chance this good. His wins also come in three-year increments: 2017, 2020... 2023?

Tony Kanaan (+1,800)

Kanaan has five Top 10s in his last seven Indy tries, including a third-place finish last year. He’s starting ninth, in a McLaren that had strong pace last May, and is making his final Indy start. Enough said. 

Kyle Kirkwood (+2,500)

Taking over Rossi’s car that he did so well in, why not? He was 17th last year with Foyt and has been quietly fast this month. He told me his car is phenomenal, which is why the fact he's starting 15th doesn’t scare me.

Indy 500 fades

Scott Dixon (+800)

He’s won two of the last three poles but starts sixth on Sunday. Dixon led 111 of 200 laps in 2020 and led 95 laps last year. If not for an early race caution in 2021 and speeding on pit road late last year, he’d have won.

I also get being leery that despite all the success with five poles and the most laps led in the 106-year history of this race, he still hasn’t won here since 2008, either.

Scott McLaughlin (+1,200)

His two Indy 500 finishes are 20th and 29th, respectively, and he only qualified 14th this time around.

Josef Newgarden (+1,400)

Newgarden has scored just two Top-5 finishes in 11 tries here. He also qualified just 17th.

Indy 500 prop pick

Pato O'Ward to record podium finish (+240)

He's been a runner-up three times already this season, one of which was at a superspeedway last month in Texas.

O’Ward was also runner-up a year ago in Indy too, including improving his finish in all three years of this race by going from sixth to fourth to second. He also has 12 Top-4 finishes in 16 oval starts.

Pick: Pato O'Ward to record podium finish (+240 at bet365)

Indy 500 preview

Starting position is everything here. In 2019, Simon Pagenaud became the first pole winner to win the Indy 500 since 2009. Will Power won from third in 2018, Takuma Sato started fourth in his 2017 win and third in 2020, while Helio Castroneves was eighth in 2021, and Marcus Ericsson fifth a year ago. That's six straight years with the winner coming from the Top 3 rows, including five of the six from a Top-5 starting position to boot.

Also, just three drivers in 106 years have won this race from a starting position of 26th or worse. In fact, all three instances came from 1936 and prior. We’ve seen 35 straight races where the winner has started 19th or better. 

In regards to who can win from those starting spots, remember this: Ganassi, Penske, and Andretti have combined to win 14 of the last 18 Indy 500s and 18 of the last 23 since 2000. RLL is the outlier: they took two of the Top 3 spots in 2020 and have won two of the five the Big 3 didn’t win since 2000. 

Penske and Andretti aren’t represented in the Top 8 starting positions on Sunday. McLaren is, but the last non-Penske Chevrolet driver to win at Indy was Al Unser Jr. with Galles in 1992.

Indy 500 betting trends

  • We have had a new, first-time winner for the Indy 500 in seven of the last nine years. And since 2011, we’ve had a different winner each year with the exception of Takuma Sato (2017, 2020) here too. Going back to 2003, only Dario Franchitti, Dan Wheldon, Helio Castroneves, and Sato have won this race multiple times in that time frame.
  • 2021 was the first time in 10 years that a part-time driver won the Indy 500. Dan Wheldon did so in thrilling fashion that day in 2011 which came 10 years prior to Helio Castroneves joining the 4-win club last year. Wheldon’s win came 10 years after the last (Castroneves did it in 2001, too). Can one of the talented drivers on this list do so this year?
  • Since 1967, just three drivers scored their first career IndyCar win at the Indy 500: Arie Luyendyk (1990), Buddy Lazier (1996), and Alexander Rossi (2016). 13 drivers in this year’s field have yet to win a race. 
  • We’ve seen just 10 total rookies win in 165 past years and just three since 1967, with the last coming in 2016 on a fluke fuel call.
  • Also, the oldest driver to win this race was Al Unser at age 47. Tony Kanaan and Helio Castroneves are each 48, while Takuma Sato is 46.

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