Who will win the Indy 500 in 2021? Odds, expert picks & betting favorites for race at Indianapolis

Picking the winner in any racing sport is always difficult. The 2021 Indy 500 will be no exception. As the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing” returns to its customary late-May date after it was moved to August because fo the COVID-19 pandemic, there are plenty of drivers with favorable odds that will have bettors licking their chops.

However, racing is an unpredictable sport. From weather conditions to automobile issues to potential in-race crashes, anything can happen on the track. And in the last 10 Indy 500s, nine different drivers have won. So, there isn’t much consistency; it just depends on the day.

Still, there have been a handful of races during the 2021 IndyCar series that can be helpful indicators for potential winners. That plus qualifying times and previous finishes at Indianapolis Motor Speedway will shed at least some light on potential winners, or drivers that the sportsbooks may be slightly undervaluing.

Below are the complete Vegas odds to win the Indy 500 in 2021, plus our top three picks of drivers who could end up taking the checkered flag.

Indy 500 odds to win 2021 race

Scott Dixon is the favorite to win the 2021 Indy 500. It marks the second time in as many years that he has emerged as the betting favorite. Dixon finished first in qualifying and will be the pole-sitter for this race. He edged Colton Herta for the top spot by .03 mph and recorded the fifth-fastest qualifying time among pole-sitters in Indy 500 history.

Below are the complete odds to win the Indy 500 in 2021, courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook.

Of the top five drivers listed among DraftKings’ betting odds, two will start the race outside of the top 10. Pato O’Ward will start 13th after failing to make it to the Fast Nine Shootout. Meanwhile, Josef Newgarden had a rough qualifying day and will race out of the 21st spot in the 33-car field.

Last year’s winner, Takuma Soto, comes in with respectable 20-1 odds. The 2017 and 2020 champion will race out of the 15th spot after winning the race from the third spot last year.

Another notable name, 2018 Indy 500 champion Will Power, barely managed to qualify for the race. He made it in on bump day and will be starting from the 32nd spot. That will make it difficult for him to win, but the bookmakers aren’t willing to count him out just yet.

Indy 500 expert picks

1. Scott Dixon

Look, picking the favorite is never fun, but there’s a lot to like about Dixon in this year’s race.

Dixon led for 111 laps of the 2020 Indy 500 and had a seven-second advantage at one point early in the race. While Soto eventually passed him, Dixon stayed in the race but effectively saw a 195th-lap caution help end his chances of competing.

Dixon’s car was fast in qualifying and he has a victory at Indianapolis back in 2008. He already has a victory under his belt this season, as he won the Grand Prix of Texas’ first race on May 1. At the very least, Dixon should be in the running, as he has 12 top-10 finishes in 18 races to date. And previously when winning the pole, he has won (2008), finished fourth (2015) and finished 32nd after a crash (2017).

2. Rinus VeeKay

Is it a risk to take a 20-year-old competing in just his second Indy 500? Yes. But is it one worth taking? At 18-1 odds, VeeKay seems like a solid value.

VeeKay won at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 15 as part of the Grand Prix of Indianapolis. He finished first after starting seventh, and he managed to lead for 33 laps, the second-most of any driver in the race.

The Indy 500 is a different beast since it’s much longer, but In both 2018 and 2019, the winner of the Grand Prix also won the Indy 500.

VeeKay is an up-and-coming racer and has four top-10 finishes in five races this year. He should have learned from his first Indy 500 experience last year and will have a chance to be better this time around. And since he’s racing in the No. 3 spot but has just the eighth-best odds to win, he is definitely a good bang for your buck choice.

3. Scott McLaughlin

Our sleeper pick is a bold one. We wanted a Team Penske driver and we’ve got one. We’re going with a rookie in McLaughlin.

The 27-year-old New Zealander has 33-1 odds to take home the title at his first Indy 500. He is running from the 17th spot — the furthest up-front position of any Team Penske driver — and just finished eighth in the Grand Prix of Indianapolis. 

Rookies have only won the Indy 500 on three occasions, but all have occurred since 2000 and Alexander Rossi’s won as a rookie back in 2016. So, it is doable, and Team Penske president Tim Cindric has faith that McLaughlin can compete.

“I think Scott has as good a chance as any rookie here has ever had,” Cindric said. “But… you can’t really put a value on the experience around here.”

Certainly, experience matters. But if you’re willing to take a risk, McLaughlin is one that could certainly pay off if he can work his way toward the front earlier on in the race.

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