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Indianapolis 500

Drivers - Preview - History - Analysis

5/25/08

By Ryan Patterson

It’s going down in Indianapolis, Indiana this Sunday! The annual running of the Indianapolis 500 is this memorial day weekend. The female fireball of the sport, Danica Patrick, is slated at 7-1 to win the race. Patrick became the first woman to win an IndyCar race on April 20, 2008 when she captured the Indy Japan 300. She isn’t going to rest on her laurels though, so be on the lookout for her. Scott Dixon, the phenomenal New Zealand driver, is the lukewarm favorite at 3-1. In 2003 he captured the IRL championship as a rookie. Dixon already has a win this year which came in Homestead race, and will be on the pole for this one. Keep your eyes open for him when it gets down to the wire.

The race will take place at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, in Speedway, Indiana. The city of Speedway is completely surrounded by Indianapolis, and has a population of about 12,000. The town derives its name from the racetrack. The track itself is the second oldest in the world. The track has 4 turns and is 2.5 miles in length. The track is also home to the Nascar Sprint Series Allstate 400 at the Brickyard. The total capacity of the track is 400,000 people.

The first Indy 500 was held on May 30, 1911 and was won by Ray Harroun. The first race attracted 80,200 fans, who paid $1 each to see the spectacle. An annual tradition had then been established. European car makers soon entered the fray. European auto makers such as Fiat and Peugot won the race from 1913-1919. This would be a great start for them, before they began a long hiatus. The Europeans would not return to the race in full force until the 1960s.

The Indianapolis 500 has some of the best traditions in all of sports. The final practice session before the race has been dubbed “Fast Friday”. Typically the fastest times before the race will be seen on this day as teams are getting ready for the big event. The final qualifying event has come to be known as “bump” day. This is because only 33 drivers may start in the race, and some drivers are “bumped” from the field. The morning of the race, at 6 AM, an explosion is set off to signal the opening of the gates. Another pre race tradition is held for charity. The “Last Row Party” is held every year for the final three qualifiers in the field. They are traditionally the slowest in the race, but several winners have partaken in the event at some point in their careers.

Back to the gambling side of things, Marco Andretti (7-1) is one of the most capable drivers on the circuit and is looking for that breakthrough win this race. He has said he will only go to Formula 1 after winning the Indy 500. Marco’s father, Michael Andretti, won the 1991 IndyCar World Series, and his grandfather Mario Andretti is a racing legend. There will no shortage of good advice for this guy. This could be his year, and at 7-1 why not give him a shot?

Another interesting contender is the Englishman Dan Wheldon (9-2). He is the 2005 IndyCar champion and he also won the Indianapolis 500 that year. He is well known for his fiery temperament. His 6 wins in 2005 broke the record for most wins in an IRL season. The record was previously held by Sam Hornisch, Jr. Wheldon tied with Hornisch, Jr. for the championship in 2006, but lost the tiebreaker, ultimately landing in second place. Make sure to keep an eye on Dan Wheldon in the Indy 500.

That’s sums up the Indy 500 for this year. Bettorsworld.com would like to wish you and yours a safe and happy memorial day weekend. Make sure to get your bets in early and check the Indy 500 odds and the Coca-Cola 600. They should both be very exciting races. Good luck and thanks for reading!

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