The scene is set for the 105th Indianapolis 500 to be a clash between youth and experience, and what promises to be a wide open race will be played out in front of a 40 per cent capacity crowd of 135,000 at US motorsport’s most famous venue.
Nine former winners of the race are among the 33-strong field, but two of the front-row starters, Colton Herta and Rinus Veekay, would break Troy Ruttman’s 69-year-old record as the youngest ever victor should they prevail.
Wide Open Season so Far
The first five races of the 2021 IndyCar season have seen five different race winners and five different pole-sitters, only one of whom, Herta, managed to convert his pole to victory at St Petersburg.
Four of those winners are under 24 years of age, and three of them were tasting IndyCar victory for the first time in a season which has seen youth emerge to challenge the veterans of the series.
Dixon Favourite After Last Year’s Near-miss
Herta, 21, starts second on the grid on Sunday, the Andretti Autosport driver having been pipped by 0.03mph by 40-year-old Scott Dixon, who averaged 231.685mph over four laps of the legendary 2.5-mile four-turn oval circuit in qualifying.
Dixon, Indy 500 winner in 2008 and six times the series champion, becomes the first driver to take two pole positions this season, and the championship leader heads the betting for the race at
The New Zealander was unlucky not to gain his second win in the race last year. Dixon led for 111 of the 200 laps, and was challenging Takuma Sato hard to regain the lead in the closing stages when a serious accident elsewhere in the field caused the race to end under caution.
Flying Dutchman Finding Form at the Right Time
Twenty-year-old Veekay starts third for Ed Carpenter Racing, one place ahead of Carpenter himself.
The Dutchman is IndyCar’s most recent winner, having taken victory in the GMR Grand Prix on the Indianapolis combined road course earlier this month.
Veekay finished 20th on his Indy 500 debut last year having started fourth, following a penalty he received for an error in the pitlane. At
14/1, he is worth keeping on your side to make amends.
Alex Palou is another driver who would become the race’s youngest ever winner, and the Spaniard has some eye-catching form in 2021.
Palou claimed his maiden win in the series in the season-opener in Alabama, took pole position in Texas and finished third to Veekay last time out. He is the only driver to have led at least a lap of every race this season and, starting on the outside of the second row, is also worth an interest at
Course Specialist Sato Could be Value
Of the veterans, beyond Dixon, perhaps Sato warrants the closest interest at
In the last four years, the Japanese 44-year-old has won the Indy 500 twice and finished third once.
Starting on the fifth row gives him some work to do, but it’s a long race and Sato’s Honda-powered Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing car should be competitive.
Sato sits only 12th in the standings but his form this year has been no worse than prior to any of his stellar Indy 500 performances.
*All odds correct at time of writing