By: Spencer Neff
May 22, 2023
Following a crash during yesterday’s practice for the 107th Indianapolis 500 presented By Gainbridge, Dreyer and Reinbold Racing/Cusick Motorsport’s Stefan Wilson was diagnosed with a fracture of the 12th thoracic vertebrae in his back.
Due to the injury, Wilson was hospitalized overnight and was ruled out for Sunday’s race. In need of a driver for the No. 24, entry, DRR and Cusick returned to a familiar name.
Fortunately, Wilson is expected out of the hospital in a matter of days.
“First and foremost, the only thing that matters is that Stefan is doing well considering the circumstances,” said Don Cusick, Founder & CEO of Cusick Motorsports.
“We are completely gutted for Stefan and now will miss his favorite racing event, the legendary Indy 500. We wouldn’t be here without him, and we are committed to supporting him every step on the way to recovery and beyond. Dreyer & Reinbold Racing and our partners have been nothing but supportive and I couldn’t be more thankful
Graham Rahal, who’s No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing entry was bumped by teammate Jack Harvey two days ago in the Last Row Shootout, will take over the entry for Sunday. The No. 24 will be utilizing a backup chassis.
Per INDYCAR rules, he will be moved from Wilson’s qualifying spot of 25th to 33rd because of the driver change. Rahal will be on the 11th row with Dale Coyne Racing with Rick Ware Racing’s Sting Ray Robb and the aforementioned Harvey.
“We are very sad that Stefan was injured Monday and now is unable to compete this Sunday in the No. 24 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing/Cusick Motorsports/CareKeepers Chevrolet,” said Dennis Reinbold, DRR team owner.
“Stefan put so much effort into this race that it is just heartbreaking for this to have happened.”
“However, we are announcing that Graham Rahal will now drive the No. 24 car this Sunday. We have known Graham for over a decade as he drove our car in 2010 at Iowa Speedway. He suffered through a tough weekend here, but we believe Graham can perform very well this Sunday.
“And I want to thank Bobby Rahal and his entire Rahal Letterman Lanigan team for granting us the opportunity to have Graham join us this week. We also want to thank everyone in the IndyCar Series garage area for offering their assistance after Stefan’s unfortunate incident on Monday. So many people came to us and asked if we needed anything yesterday. It shows the camaraderie within the NTT IndyCar Series. We are anxious to get Graham on the track now in the No. 24 machine.”
Rahal, who will be making his 16th appearance in the “500” will be driving a Chevrolet-powered car for the first time, having driven for Honda since the 2008 IRL/ChampCart reunification. He does have experience with the Dreyer and Reinbold team. In 2010, he subbed at Iowa Speedway following Mike Conway’s injuries at the Indianapolis 500.
In the 250-lap race, the second-generation driver started 17th and finished ninth. In 15 previous “500” starts, his best finish was third (2011 and 2020).
“I’ll admit it was a very tough weekend for me and the United Rentals/Fifth Third Bank/RLL team,” said Rahal.
“We tried everything, and we just didn’t have the speed. I’m very sad that Stefan was injured in practice on Monday. I wish him a quick recovery. I want to thank Dennis and Don for giving me this opportunity in the No. 24 car. I’m anxious to work with the team and prepare for the greatest race in the world, the Indianapolis 500.”
Rahal and the No. 24 will have their first on-track session during Carb Day final practice on Friday at 11 a.m. ET (Peacock).
Header Image By Matt Fraver/INDYCAR