INDIANAPOLIS – Stefan Wilson suffered a broken back in a crash with Katherine Legge during Monday’s Indianapolis 500 practice, and the injured driver will not be allowed back in his car for the 107th running of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”
The two British drivers were going through Turns 1 and 2 about an hour into the two-hour session when the rest of the field seemed to be slowing down. Legge quickly closed in on Wilson and hit the back of his car, running into a wall. Legge hit the back of his car, but Wilson pointed head-on as he made contact with the SAFER barrier.
Security personnel spent about 10 minutes carefully extricating Wilson from his car. He was placed on a stretcher, immobilized and wearing a neck brace, he gave a quick thumbs up before loading him into the ambulance and taking him to the hospital.
Dreyer & Reinbold Racing said Wilson fractured his 12th thoracic vertebrae and was hospitalized.
“I can tell you that he is doing well,” said Dr. Julia Vaizer, chief medical officer at IndyCar and Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
It is unclear who will enter Wilson’s car for Sunday’s race, although JR Hildebrand has been running. He has made 12 consecutive starts, nearly winning as a rookie in 2011 before finishing second, but hasn’t been able to put it together this year.
Three of Hildebrand’s starts in the Indy 500 were with Dreyer & Reinbold, including an 11th-place finish in 2018.
Wilson’s brother, Justin Wilson, was the last IndyCar driver killed on the road. He was competing in the 2015 race at Pocono when Sage Karam crashed in front of him, and a piece of the car hit Wilson in the helmet and sent him into the wall.
Legge is the only female driver in this year’s field, and was the only Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driver to make the 33-car grid on the first day of qualifying. Christian Lundgaard and Jack Harvey were joined on Sunday as Harvey hit teammate Graham Rahal in the final seconds of the race.
Legge’s team said they would try to fix their car in time for Carb Day on Friday, when teams get one last chance to finish the race. It was already removing broken pieces from the chassis when Monday’s session ended.
“I know it’s another challenge for this team,” Legge said. “The day before yesterday, those guys don’t deserve it. It’s not good.”
Will Power lapped the circuit at 229.22 mph on Monday, giving Team Penske confidence, which just puts the 2018 Indy 500 winner in the Fast 12 qualifiers. Scott Dixon, Takuma Sato and sitter Alex Palou were Chip Ganassi Racing’s mainstays as the team performed well in the heat expected on race day.
“We’ve been dealing with a turnover problem. I think we got on top of that,” said Power, who had 88 turnovers, second-most in the division. “I think the car is very good. I think we’re in a good place, a very good place.”
Pato O’Ward, who will start fifth for Arrow McLaren, retired from early practice as the team tried to identify a problem.
“We just got a big difference from set to set,” he said. “It’s just frustrating because you know, one run will be good and one will be, ‘What is this?’ We’ll just have to analyze and see what’s going on, see if it’s a problem on our side or not.”
Dale Coyne Racing was also racing after an electrical problem in David Malukas’ car.
“We only drove once or twice. We’re trying to get it,” Malukas said. “We’ll have plenty to do on Carb Day.”