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IndyCar Indy 500

Stefan Wilson suffered fractured vertebra in Indy 500 crash

Stefan Wilson’s Indianapolis 500 is over after it was confirmed he suffered a fractured vertabra during his brutal crash in practice on Monday.

Wilson’s Dreyer and Reinbold Racing-run car was hit from behind by Katherine Legge’s Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing machine after cars ahead of them stacked up at Turn 1.

Both cars spun and subsequently hit the wall at differing angles at high speed. While Legge’s struck the wall side-on, allowing her to escape unhurt, Wilson’s hit the SAFER barrier head-on.

As the AMR safety crew attended to him, they immediately called for a back brace and stretcher before he was extricated from the car in a carefully-executed procedure that took over 10 minutes. He gave a thumbs up as he was loaded into the ambulance.

The 33-year-old from Sheffield in the UK was taken to the medical center and then transported on to a local hospital for advanced imaging, where the injury was diagnosed.

Stefan Wilson, Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Chevrolet qualification photo

Stefan Wilson, Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Chevrolet qualification photo

Photo by: Geoffrey M. Miller / Motorsport Images

A statement from his entrant Cusick Motorsports, which was partnering with Dreyer & Reinbold for the first time this year, read: “After being transported to IU Health Methodist Hospital for further tests, 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.”

 

The 12th thoracic vertebra (T12) bears the most weight of that region of the spine, and while it is the strongest of those bones it is also the most susceptible to a stress-related injury.

Wilson had qualified for what would have been his fifth Indy 500 start in 25th place.

UPDATE: In a statement released late last night, Cusick and Dreyer & Reinbold will name its new driver for the Indy 500 in a press conference at 10am on Tuesday morning.

Graham Rahal is the only driver who failed to qualify for the race in his RLLR-run car. He said on Monday that he wouldn’t consider buying a qualified driver out of a starting spot on the grid so he could take part. One big hurdle would be that D&R is a Chevrolet-powered team and Rahal's squad uses Honda, while sponsorship considerations would also have to be agreed.

If the team were to go with a driver other than Rahal, such as JR Hildebrand (who has raced three times for D&R in the Indy 500) for example, a special refresher test would likely have to be arranged before Carb Day.

In 2015, James Hinchcliffe was sidelined after a violent crash on the Monday after qualifying. Ryan Briscoe was selected as his replacement, and officials put together a special one-hour session for him to get acclimated with the car on Thursday.

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