Graham Rahal Will Replace Injured Stefan Wilson in Indy 500 After Getting Bumped

Sadly, Wilson just can’t seem to catch a break.

byJerry Perez|
Racing photo

After an intense weekend that saw Graham Rahal bumped out of the 2023 Indy 500 by his own teammate Jack Harvey, the last thing anyone expected was a massive crash on Monday to give the second-generation racer a last-minute opportunity to race. Unfortunately, this opportunity came at a high cost to Stefan Wilson, who was ruled out of the 500 after said crash.

Wilson was involved in a heavy collision Monday after Katherine Legge crashed into his car from behind, sending Wilson airborne and hard into the Turn 1 SAFER Barrier at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Legge was promptly cleared at the on-site medical facility, while Wilson was sent to a nearby hospital for further screenings. Dreyer & Reinbold/Cusick Motorsports confirmed Monday night that Wilson was found to have fractured his 12th thoracic vertebrae and could not be cleared for race duty.

Tuesday morning, Wilson's team announced what had been rumored since the night before, and confirmed that Rahal would effectively replace Wilson on Sunday. Once it was made clear that Wilson would not be able to race, the team got in touch with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing and began negotiations. As RLL co-owner Bobby Rahal put it, he is grateful that all parties involved pulled together to make the best out of a terrible situation.

“First, I feel bad for Stefan that he is hurt," said Rahal in a team press release. "I’m sure he was very excited after qualifying for the race and had done a great job all month. It’s a real shame that this happened. I wish him the best and hope he has a speedy recovery. I’m sure we will see him again.

"When Dennis called, we went to work to make this happen. The most amazing thing is how all these different groups, out of respect for the sport and the Indy 500, agreed to agree and go forward even though it may have been somewhat of a difficult decision. The fact that everyone pulled together to make this happen for Dennis, and also for Graham, makes us very thankful," he added.

Legge, an experienced and successful racer in various categories—and the only female racer in this year's Indy 500—issued an apology on her Instagram account:

"Well what can I say. I’ll start with sorry. Sorry to Stef, the team, my crew and to my awesome partners and supporters. Today sucked, the cars in front of me checked up and I was too close to Stef to see just how much. I’m down to 220 in 4th and on the brakes going into 1… I couldn’t slow down fast enough. This should give you perspective on how slow they actually were… Not excuses just an explanation. Onwards and upwards. Focused on the race."

But while Legge and Rahal get to focus on performing their best on Sunday, it's Wilson who once again must deal with heartache come Memorial Day weekend. Wilson is known within the racing community for being one of the nicest, most down-to-earth guys around, and also an extremely hard worker. Even more, he spends the entire year finding the sponsorship necessary—most of it from honorable charities and non-profits—to go racing once per year, and yet once more he'll be watching the race on TV.

In 2017 Wilson literally surrendered his seat so Fernando Alonso could race with the promise that Andretti would offer him a spot in 2018. Later on, Wilson had to pull the plug on his plans after not finding enough backing to race. In 2021 he finished last after another unlucky race saw him crash in the pitlane. And now, after securing the funding and actually qualifying for the race, this happens.

Wilson has yet to make an announcement regarding future plans, but given his incredible fighting spirit and his burning desire to honor his late brother Justin Wilson, who died in an IndyCar race at Pocono in 2015, it's safe to assume that he'll be back fighting in 2024.

Got a tip? Email us at