After crash, Wilson to miss Sunday’s 107th Running of the Indianapolis 500, details with my takeaways

INDIANAPOLIS — Stefan Wilson will have to sit out Sunday’s 107th Running of the Indianapolis 500. Following his incident during Monday’s practice at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with Katherine Legge, Wilson was transported to IU Health Methodist Hospital for further tests. It was then that it was disclosed that Wilson suffered a fracture of the 12th thoracic vertebrae and will stay overnight at the hospital for further tests and observation.

Based on this type of injury, Wilson will not be allowed to compete in this Sunday’s 107th Indianapolis 500 Mile Race
At 2:11 p.m., Wilson, driving the No. 24 DRR/Cusick Motorsports/CareKeepers Chevrolet, was struck from behind by Legge’s IndyCar and forced into the outside safer barrier in turn one at the 2.5-mile oval.

Legge made front-to-rear contact with Stefan Wilson in Turn 1. It forced Legge to do a quarter-spin to the right and made right rear contact with the SAFER Barrier in the opening corner.

Wilson did a simultaneous three-quarter spin to the right and made front end contract with the same SAFER barrier. Legge would continue down the track and made secondary contact with the Turn 2 SAFER barrier. She would climb out of the No. 44 Dallara-Honda without assistance.

“The cars in front of me were checking up and I lifted as much as I could, downshifted, and hit the brakes, but that wasn’t enough,” she said.

Will Power notes that he’s not shocked either with the drivers checking up here as that’s always an issue. It’s the drivers needing to get used to the longer brake pedal instead.

“That’s always the case. You’ve got to be really on top of — because the brake pedal is super long,” he notes. “When a big pack checks up, it can surprise you, so I always — if I see a bunch of cars up front, I always leave a gap and are aware that you can come in and have nowhere to go.

“That’s just these days because people — it’s not like the race where you can never lift. There’s people lifting out of line, trying to get back in, people on different tire life and such. Yeah, it can all pack up for you really quickly if you’re not ready.”

Marco Andretti said that he felt like the incident likely occurred a lap earlier as everyone was checking up and going so slow out there.

“Literally a lap before that happened, we were in this string of cars, and I’m like, I can’t believe how slow the pack is going,” he said on the incident in Turn 1. “Like it caught me out in 3. I was way on the brakes, and I couldn’t believe how slow they were going.

“So I think from the looks of it, I only saw it from sitting in the race car, it looked like she just got caught out by how slow they were going.”

Stefan Wilson during the Indy 500 open test. Photo Credit: INDYCAR Media Site

Wilson’s Best Shot

Hopefully Stefan Wilson gets another shot in this ride next year. That’s because this was arguably his best opportunity at Indy glory.

“I’ve been very impressed with how hard Dreyer & Reinbold Racing has worked at and focused on the Indy 500,” said Wilson last November when this announcement was made. “It’s such an honor for me to join them in partnership with Cusick Motorsports and work on our collective goal of trying to win the Indy 500. There’s a great opportunity here for us to all grow together. I hope this leads to more 500’s, and maybe even more races together.”

By being an Indy only operation, it allows them the luxury of preparing for just one race, on one discipline of tracks and can throw all their eggs in one basket. It clearly worked in 2022. It can work in 2023.

“We feel like we have as good a shot as anyone. We specialize in the 500,” says Reinbold. “We don’t specialize on those other tracks. We specialize at the Indy 500. We’re confident in our ability to get out there and prepare and do what it takes to be in the mix.

“We were in the mix last year, fortunately, with Santino and Sage as well running in the top five to six cars with Santino and around the 12th place car for much of the race last year.

“So we know what it takes and the preparation, dedication, offseason testing to get to that level, and it’s not inconsequential. There’s a lot that goes into it. You have to have the driver that can deliver on that once you get in that position. We feel good about it.”

While Wilson has appeared in the Indy 500 for a team like Andretti Autosport twice, this entry was shaping up to be his best shot at winning. DRR has been phenomenal at Indy lately. Sage Karam finished 7th in this car in 2021 while Santino Ferrucci was 10th a year ago in the 2nd entry.

“Yes, I do,” Wilson said on if this is his best shot of winning this race. “I can’t thank Andretti enough for what they did for me in the years that I ran with them, but this time it has a little different feeling to it. I can’t thank Team Chevy enough as well. I’m excited to work with team Chevrolet again.

“As we’ve all said, this effort, there is so much focus on the 24 car and from internally and the team that it feels like we’re all pulling in the same direction, and we’ve got a lot of runway to plan and get prepared for May.

“So, yeah, I’m really excited. What they showed last year, and the previous year, really, the race cars they have, the race setup, is really strong, and their qualifying form this year was really strong as well.

“So with all that stuff we’re working on in the offseason, we’re only going to make that better. Yeah, I think, like I said before, this team really needs to get a lot more credit for what they’ve achieved in the last couple of years.”

As a team tenured in the Indianapolis 500 and NTT INDYCAR SERIES, Dreyer & Reinbold Racing has been competing in the famed 500-mile event since 2000 and qualified 45 cars over its course of competition. Dreyer & Reinbold Racing and Stefan Wilson also have a family tie together as Wilson’s late brother, Justin, drove as a full-time entry for the team in the 2010 and 2011 seasons in the IndyCar Series. 

The elder Wilson had 12 top 10 finishes in 28 starts with DRR including a pair of runner-up finishes at that. One of those 12 top 10’s was a 7th place run in the 2010 Indy 500.

“There’s history here with this team,” Stefan Wilson continued. Justin [Wilson, Stefan’s late older brother] spent two years with DRR back in 2010-2011 and secured podiums. I got to know Dennis (Reinbold), Brett De Bord and Chase Selman really well back then, so it just feels great to be rejoining them in a sense. I also have to say a big thank you to Don Cusick, who has put more faith in me than anybody else in my career. I’m honored to represent Cusick Motorsports and all our partners and will do my utmost to make the most of this fantastic opportunity.”

Monday Practice Strikes Again

This Monday practice was a welcomed addition to the Month of May schedule as I annually rave about it being the best practice session of any series at any race during the entire season. It’s essentially race day.

2,005 laps were turned in 120 minutes on Monday.

However, this practice session has also seen it’s fair share of carnage. The first year of this practice was in 2014. Kurt Busch crashed. Luckily he walked away. A year later was James Hinchcliffe’s tragic accident that sidelined him for nearly a year.

In 2018, Robert Wickens crashed in Turn 2.

Last year, the first major incident of the month came just before 2:30 p.m. Dalton Kellett crashed in Turn 1 hard and briefly lifted his car up. Now, you get today’s incident.

Wilson’s Misfortunes

Stefan Wilson always just wanted a shot. In 2017, he had a ride with Andretti lined up. He out of the betterment of the sport, hopped out of his guaranteed ride to allow Fernando Alonso a seat. That benefitted him to a ride for 2018. He led late but had to pit. This was going to be his best shot. Now, he’s injured and will miss the race.

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