Indy 500 Pick: Expert’s 200-1 Long Shot for 108th Running of the Indianapolis 500 (Sunday, May 26)

Indy 500 Pick: Expert’s 200-1 Long Shot for 108th Running of the Indianapolis 500 (Sunday, May 26) article feature image

Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: IndyCar driver Christian Rasmussen of Denmark

Check out Nick Giffen's Indy 500 pick and prediction for the iconic IndyCar race on Sunday, May 26, 2024.

The Indy 500 is my favorite sporting event in the world. It's my personal Super Bowl, and I'm beyond excited that the next checkered flag that waves on a points-paying race in top-level motorsports series in North America is for the 108th Running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 26 (11 a.m. ET, NBC).

Joseph Newgarden is the defending winner. However, he's under extra scrutiny and without his race strategist and engineer after one of the harshest penalties in IndyCar history was levied against his No. 2 Team Penske team and his win at St. Petersburg was taken away for illegal use of the push-to-pass system.

Despite Newgarden's win last year at 12-1 odds (+1200), the Indy 500 doesn't always go to one of the more favored drivers. Multiple long shots have cashed since 2016 with Alexander Rossi winning as a 66-1 longshot as a rookie on fuel strategy. The very next year, Takuma Sato got the first of his two Indy 500 victories as a 50-1 longshot. And in 2021, Helio Castroneves grabbed his record-tying fourth win at 33-1 odds.

This year's favorites, according to the latest Indy 500 odds, include Alex Palou (+400), Kyle Larson (+650), Pato O'Ward (+700), Josef Newgarden (+900) and Scott Dixon (+1000).

However, I'm looking much further down the board for a super long shot who's going overlooked thanks to a rough rookie campaign so far.

Indy 500 Picks, Prediction, Best Bet

The driver I'm betting on currently sits 25th in the IndyCar point standings, has no finishes better than 19th, and is a rookie.

So why am I betting on Christian Rasmussen to win The Greatest Spectacle in Racing?

First, Rasmussen runs for Ed Carpenter Racing. ECR hasn't been super competitive at road and street courses, with just a lone win from Rinus VeeKay over the past decade. However, the team shines at ovals, especially Indianapolis.

ECR's team owner, Ed Carpenter, has three top-six finishes over his past six starts at the 2.5-mile track while Conor Daly, Newgarden and J.R. Hildebrand have also piloted ECR cars to top-six finishes at Indy over the past decade.

Just last year, two of the three ECR cars finished inside the top 10, and that came on the heels of VeeKay's third-place qualifying effort.

In other words, while Rasmussen – and ECR as a whole – have struggled on road and street courses, they've been much better on ovals, especially Indy.

Rasmussen's performance to date, which has come solely on the road and street courses, is probably not indicative of his potential speed at an oval like Indianapolis.

We have some data to back that up. Rasmussen was the ninth-fastest car overall in the April open test, and the fifth-fastest in the only session he participated in with the full field. All but one driver faster than him have odds of 20-1 or shorter at the Westgate SuperBook, and all reside among the top-10 race favorites. The one exception? His boss and teammate, Carpenter, who is listed at 60-1.

But there's more.

Rasmussen's oval history is spectacular. In the three lower series on the Road to Indy, Rasmussen has raced on an oval five times. His results are as follows:

  • 2nd
  • 2nd
  • DNF – crashed while running 3rd
  • 1st
  • 1st

It seems the 23-year-old Dane has taken to oval track racing quite quickly.

At 200-1 odds, we're getting a driver who is in equipment that has race-winning potential, who showed elite speed in the open test, and who has a strong set of results on oval tracks.

I'll take a flier. After all, we're not asking him to be the fastest. Just be near the front, and who knows what will happen. Indy has had underdogs win in crazy fashion over the years.

The Bet: Christian Rasmussen to win Indy 500 (+20000 at DraftKings & bet365)

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