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Indy 500 news and notes

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"Gentlemen and ladies, start your engines" will be the call at the Indianapolis 500 this year, as a pair of female drivers are featured in its 33-car lineup -- one a second-tier hopeful and legitimate contender, the other a true long shot.

Odds on popular pinup girl Danica Patrick range from a low of 15/1 at the Las Vegas Hilton to 30/1 at, with various stops between the two.

She's 20/1 at and and plus $25.00 at BetCRIS.

Sarah Fisher, another Indy veteran, generally is 200/1 at sportsbooks that include her in their lineups -- some list prices on 20 drivers and lump the rest into a field bet -- and 250/1 at Bodog.

BetCRIS' roster includes 14 drivers and a 20/1 field wager.

The United Kingdom's Dan Wheldon, the 2005 champion, widely is a favorite to wheel into victory lane in the event's 91st running.

Bodog has Wheldon at 9/4, followed by Scott Dixon at 5/2, Tony Kanaan at 4/1 and defending champion Sam Hornish Jr. and two-time Indy champ Helio Castroneves at 5/1.

Bodog is one of the few books that offer odds-to-win on all drivers.

Its lineup includes a number of former champions at long odds, including two-time champ Al Unser Jr. (250/1), Buddy Lazier (150/1) and Buddy Rice (100/1).

Also in the field are members of several prominent racing families, including A.J. Foyt IV (150/1), Michael Andretti (16/1) and Marco Andretti (12/1).

Wheldon is a 5/2 choice at, with Castroneves 4/1, Hornish 9/2 and Kanaan and Dixon 5/1. and the Hilton have Wheldon at 3/1 and the next four the same as

Las Vegas bookmaker Micah Roberts of Station Casinos lists his finish order as (1) Hornish, (2) Kanaan, (3) Wheldon, (4) Castroneves and (5) Dario Franchetti.

Franchetti's odds at various bet shops range from 8/1 to 12/1.

Patrick is the focus of one Bodog prop that asks where she will finish.

First through third is 7/2, fourth through eighth is 2/1, ninth through 16th is 3/1, 17th through 22nd is 9/1, 29th through 33rd is 12/1 and will not finish is 2/1.

There is no price on a 23rd through 28th place showing.

In driver matchups, Patrick is a minus $1.35 choice over Thomas Sheckler (plus $1.05) and minus $1.10 dog versus Marco Andretti (minus $1.20) at Bodog and a minus $1.35 pick over Victor Meira (plus $1.15) at the Hilton.

Bodog has Wheldon at minus $1.40 over Hornish (plus $1.10) and minus $1,25 over Castroneves (minus $1.05).

Once considered among sports' greatest annual spectacles, the Indy 500 no longer is a shoe in even as the Memorial Day Weekend's biggest auto race.

That honor well may fall to NASCAR's Coca-Cola 600, where Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson are vying for the favorite's role.

Both events will be contested on Sunday, with the Indy at Indianapolis Motor Speedway running first, followed almost immediately by the Coca-Cola at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C.

Several drivers have attempted to run in both races, but current NASCAR star Tony Stewart is the only one to have completed both.

Established starting times now makes it impossible for drivers to even ponder doing double duty.

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