Best bets for the 2019 Indianapolis 500

Simon Pagenaud has short odds (6-1), but he still offers decent value as the pole sitter. Photo by Khris Hale/Icon Sportswire

The Indianapolis 500 has had 102 editions over more than a century since it was first run in 1911, interrupted only by things such as world wars.

So, there should be plenty of evidence of how to pick winners, right? Not so fast, my friend (well, maybe like 230 mph, that's pretty fast).

The race has undergone a transformation over the past decade, becoming far more competitive. It's no longer a race of follow the leader. Going back to 2010, there's been a lead change each year during the final 10 laps; the average final lead change over those years has come with 4.2 laps to go. And in each of the past seven years, there's been at least 30 lead changes over the race's 200 laps. That happened once over the race's first 95 years.

So, while history might not offer a clear trend, there's no shortage of data. Although the IndyCar Series runs mostly on street and road courses, drivers spend two weeks getting ready for the Indy 500, and there are plenty of practice sessions and data to work with over the fortnight. Plus, we've seen many of these drivers run at the 2.5-mile oval before, so we can see how they work in race conditions.

There will be 33 drivers in the starting field, and the competition will be fierce. In qualifying, less than 3 MPH separated the fastest and slowest cars .

So, digging into a driver's track history and their performance over these last couple weeks, here's some of the best value plays in the field.

Drivers with short odds

Simon Pagenaud (6-1): It's easy to pick a pole sitter, and it's easy to pick the favorite. But that's not a reason to totally stay away, especially when you're getting somebody who doesn't have much shorter odds than the other front-runners.