2011 Indianapolis 500 Expert Picks – Dario Franchitti Deserves to be Frontrunner: Sunday will mark the 100-year anniversary of the Indianapolis 500, and Dario Franchitti holds the honor of being the favorite to take the checkered flag. At 4/1 odds, the payoff for bettors isn’t enormous, but considering his recent numbers at Indianapolis and overall, the smart money may still lie with Franchitti. After all, there is no questioning his current status as the top driver in the series.

In each of his last three seasons in IndyCar Series, Franchitti has claimed the title. During his three title campaigns, he has posted 12 victories and has posted an average finish of 4.8 or better. Franchitti made 51 starts in those three seasons, notching an incredible 39 top-five finishes and 46 top-10s. In other words, winning and running up front has become second nature for him.

At Indianapolis, it has been a similar story. He has a 7.9 average finish in seven starts at the track, along with five top-10 finishes. More importantly, Franchitti has hoisted the Borg-Warner Trophy, including last season when he dominated the Indy 500. He has led 255 laps at the track in his career, which ranks as his second-most at any track. At larger oval tracks overall, Franchitti has collected nine of his 17 career wins.

If his momentum from last year’s victory wasn’t enough, Franchitti’s hot start to the 2011 season has him eying a second straight Indy win and a fourth straight series crown. In addition to his victory in the season opener, he has finished in the top five in all four events thus far. Not to mention the fact that all four of those races were held on road courses, meaning Franchitti will return to his bread and butter this weekend with an oval track like Indianapolis.

For bettors, the most important thing in the long run is making money. While it would be nice to hit it big with a longshot pick, the fact is that sometimes the heavy favorite deserves to be the favorite. This doesn’t mean you that can’t put some money on a sleeper option or two on this year’s Indy 500 Odds, but it is recommended that you put some money on Franchitti as a safety valve. He is the best driver out there right now, and he has been plenty strong at Indianapolis lately. Franchitti is one frontrunner that can’t be ignored.

Odds to win the Indy 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Speedway, Indiana – Sunday, May 29, 2011
101 Dario Franchitti +400
102 Helio Castroneves +1000
103 Scott Dixon +400
104 Will Power +700
105 Ryan Briscoe +1400
106 Marco Andretti +2800
107 Danica Patrick +2500
108 Dan Wheldon +1200
109 Tony Kanaan +2500
110 Paul Tracy +5000
111 Mike Conway +3000
112 Ryan Hunter Reay +4000
113 Alex Tagliani +600
114 John Andretti +10000
115 Bruno Junqueira +8000
116 Ed Carpenter +3500
117 Tomas Scheckter +5000
119 Graham Rahal +7500
120 Oriol Servia +1100
121 Vitor Meira +4000
122 Field +700

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