Walsh: The Best Driver Matchup to Bet for the Indy 500

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Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: IndyCar series driver Scott Dixon

  • The 2019 Indy 500 will go green on Sunday at 12 p.m. ET (NBC).
  • Based on Friday's Carb Day practice, here's one driver matchup offering value for the Indy 500.

Drivers have spent the past two weeks practicing and qualifying for the 2019 Indy 500, including Friday’s Carb Day final practice. With practice in the books and the starting lineup set, the only thing left is the 103rd running of The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

For IndyCar teams, this means it’s time to get in those final changes to the racecars to ensure they’re ready for Sunday’s race.

For bettors, it means it’s time to finish off our Indy 500 betting cards and lock in as much value as possible before the race goes green.

When betting futures, the only goal is to find drivers capable of winning the race, or those whose odds are undervalued by the betting market.

However, when analyzing driver matchups, there is not only value in handicapping which drivers will be fast, but also determining which drivers may struggle and are therefore overvalued by current market prices.

Savvy bettors can then successfully fade (bet against) these drivers in head-to-head matchups.

After analyzing Carb Day practice, one driver popped in terms of who I want to fade in the Indy 500. Not only is this driver among the favorites, but he’s also a former winner of this race, making him a prime candidate for fade value.

Now that Indy 500 driver matchups are available at the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas, here’s how I’m taking advantage right now.

Ed Carpenter (-120) over Scott Dixon

Scott Dixon is a five-time series champion, an Indy 500 winner (2008) and is among the favorites to win this race at 12-1.

However, the Chip Ganassi Racing driver hasn’t been happy with the handling of his car throughout the month of May, which was magnified in Friday’s Carb Day practice — the final chance for teams to work on their cars before the start of the race.

According to PaddockTalk.com, here’s what Dixon had to say about his car following Carb Day:

“I don’t know what happened there with the PNC Bank car honestly. I hope we find something wrong with the car because it wasn’t great. It’s really bizarre, and nothing like we had all month, so we are unsure.”

Dixon went on to say there was “a fundamental issue on the car.”

Woof.

This wouldn’t be as big of a deal if it happened earlier in the month as the team would have had more track time to diagnose and resolve the issue. But now they have to guess what’s wrong, hope they fixed it and not truly know until the race is underway Sunday afternoon.

In addition, Dixon qualified in 18th place, which isn’t ideal since he’s starting mid-pack and will be forced to make passes — which is expected to be difficult already in the hot conditions — with a bad car.

On the other hand, Ed Carpenter said this about his car on Carb Day:

“I’m really happy with the day we had and I’m ready to line us all up and get the race going.”

Carpenter also has the benefit of the second starting position, so he’ll be up front and in clean air to start the race. Ed is no slouch at Indianapolis either after winning the pole last year, leading the most laps and finishing second.

This matchup is a classic case of a successful driver being overvalued due to name alone. But after looking at the data, Dixon is an easy fade for me, especially against a driver with Carpenter’s pedigree at Indianapolis.

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