Alonso could star at Brickyard but teammate is value
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Two-time F1 world champion Fernando Alonso will be the centre of attention in the 101st running of the Indianapolis 500 but one of his new teammates could rate better value for the race.
It's understandable that the speedy Spaniard has attracted support after his impressive start to transatlantic racing. Having never raced on an oval track before May 3, Alonso lines up fifth on the grid - and said he could have gone even faster in qualifying but for a technical issue.
It would be sensational if the McLaren man could pull off a victory, but you can't make a value case to back him at just 7-1 on his US debut. He was even favourite with UK and Irish firms before recent support for Scott Dixon.
There's no denying that Alonso's Andretti Autosport team are getting plenty of speed from their Honda engines (something he is not used to in F1) though, and backing his teammate Marco Andretti at 12-1 appeals.
Andretti was second on his 2006 Indy500 debut and has since been third three times and fourth once, but is yet to break the Andretti curse - the bad luck that has dogged his illustrious family in the famous race.
The American was fastest in the first practice session but says he has been working on maximising his race pace since. Still, he showed enough speed to qualify for the Fast Nine Shootout before taking eighth on the grid.
The main concern for the Honda drivers must be reliability - they have seen seven engines blow this month and Alonso's power unit was hastily changed before qualifying.
A Chevrolet-powered driver who could be a value selection is JR Hildebrand. The American looked set for a debut victory at Indianapolis in 2011 only to crash on the final turn, handing victory to the late Dan Wheldon.
He has finished in the top ten for the last three years and was quick in qualifying, fourth to teammate Ed Carpenter in the initial session before taking sixth on the grid.
There has been only one oval race this season, at Phoenix where Hildebrand took third behind Simon Pagenaud. Andretti was one of five Honda drivers wiped out by a first-lap crash.
1pt e-w 12-1 general
1pt e-w 40-1 Sky Bet