INDIANAPOLIS — Unfortunately, Stefan Wilson won’t be able to participate in Sunday’s 107th Running of the Indianapolis 500 (11 a.m. ET, NBC, INDYCAR Radio Network).
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.
So, many are now wondering, what happens next?
Does Graham Rahal get back in?
Not necessarily. The car is still qualified for the race. The No. 24 Dallara-Chevrolet is qualified for the Inside of Row 9 (25th). Wilson won’t be in it, but someone else can.
With a substitution, the car will have to drop to 33rd (Outside of Row 11) at the start but can still race.
According to the NTT INDYCAR SERIES rulebook, rule 4.3.3, it states:
“Provided INDYCAR approves the substitution, and the change takes place prior to the parade and pace laps, the original Driver entered for the Race may be substituted by:
“Oval Events – Another approved Driver who has already participated in practice, or a special session for the current Event.”
If a wild scenario works out for Rahal to rejoin the field and it’s either with DRR or in a move that he goes to an RLL car and an RLL driver to DRR, no one needs a special session. However, that’s a lot of hoops to jump through too in a short amount of time. More on this scenario later.
If it’s another driver that hasn’t raced on an oval since last year’s Indy 500, then they’d have to find time to do a refresher before Carb Day.
The refresher consists of two phases.
Here’s the rule:
“If a Driver has not participated in an oval Event in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES since the prior year’s
Indianapolis 500® Mile Race, INDYCAR will determine if any additional testing shall be required. In addition to Car control, placement and interaction with other Cars on-Track to the satisfaction of INDYCAR, the refresher test consists of the 30 laps that make up the second and third phases of the ROP. No such Driver will be eligible for a Qualifications attempt prior to completing the refresher test.
“Phase 2 requires a driver to complete 15 more laps at speeds between 210-215 mph. The final stage, Phase 3, requires a driver to complete 15 laps at speeds over 215 mph.”
In 2017, James Davison subbed for the injured Sebastien Bourdais after the Frenchman was injured in a bad crash during qualifying. Davison did his refresher course on the morning of the Monday race week practice.
In 2016, Ryan Briscoe subbed for Hinchcliffe and on the day before Carb Day, he took part in his special session.
Who Makes Sense
It makes the upmost sense to have JR Hildebrand in the ride. He was already here anyways and on standby for another scenario that has since worked itself out. Hildebrand has ran three of his last five Indy 500’s with this team including a best finish of 11th in 2018. He started 32nd and finished 16th in 2020.
Hildebrand though would have to do a refresher course. He hasn’t raced since last year’s Indy 500.
The only other drivers who could be eligible to race without a refresher is Rahal, Jimmie Johnson and Dalton Kellett.
Rahal would also make sense in the fact that he’s a taller driver like Wilson and could fit in without many changes. Also, he and Ryan Hunter-Reay, the other DRR driver, are good friends. The thing is, how much of a conflict of interest will it be for a long-time Honda driver to be racing for Chevrolet?
That’s why he and even Katherine Legge shifting over could be difficult. Legge is an Acura driver in sports cars and that could pose problems driving for a Chevrolet team too.
But, Legge and Rahal have funding. Hunter-Reay’s car doesn’t. Could there be a scenario to where one of the RLL drivers jumps in the 24 but with their funding too and Wilson’s sponsorship goes to Hunter-Reay’s 23?
This is a fluid situation that’s evolving by the minute.
Thank you for this informative reporting. I’m a lifelong race fan, therefore, I’m a lifelong race journalism fan too (starting with Chris Economaki). I’ve also written and reviewed copy for live sports and TV for 30+ years, so I became distracted as the grammar and spelling debris piled up in this article.
I’m sorry to call you out like this but we all have tighter deadlines these days. That said, I’ve now discovered Race Review Online 🙂
Race fans can never have too many places to go for coverage–big thanks for your efforts to make that so as business models change faster than you can say Offy and pushrod.
Here are some resources I rely on when writing fast: