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Graham Rahal back in Indy 500, subs in for injured Stefan Wilson

"I'm very excited at the opportunity, but I feel terribly for Stef too," Rahal said.

INDIANAPOLIS — The first major moment of the month of May out at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has seen a shakeup in the field of 33. 

A late-day crash on Monday saw Katherine Legge collide with Stefan Wilson, sending him to the hospital. A day later, Graham Rahal was back in the Indianapolis 500 in his place.

Dreyer & Reinbold Racing and Cusick Motorsports made the announcement on Tuesday morning that Rahal would indeed be driving the No. 24 Chevy on Race Day.

From being bumped out of the field of 33 on Sunday, to getting the call to replace Wilson late on Monday, it's been a whirlwind of emotions for Rahal.

"Everything in life happens for a reason. Sometimes it doesn't make a whole lot of sense," Rahal explained. "When I got the call from Dennis [Reinbold] yesterday afternoon, right away, I felt compelled that this was, for some reason, my calling was to be here and to be able to help as best I could and to fill in."

It doesn't come without bittersweet emotions. A crash between Wilson and Legge on Monday sent Wilson to the hospital, resulting in a fractured 12th thoracic vertebra which left him unable to race on Sunday.

"It's a weird situation for me. I mean it just is," a perplexed Rahal said. "My wife was asking me and I told her, I'm very excited at the opportunity, but I feel terribly for Stef too."

Dreyer & Reinbold Racing announced Tuesday evening that Wilson would undergo surgery Wednesday to repair the fracture. 

It took a team effort to make this possible. Cooperation from sponsors, teams, and most importantly Chevy and Honda to allow for this to happen. Dennis Reinbold and Don Cusick were touched by the process and adamant that Wilson is OK and on board.

"It's been a moving experience," Reinbold said. "A lot of emotions through the last 24 hours and just really touched by all the support that we've had."

"I did speak with Stef this morning," Cusick said. "Obviously, he's fairly crushed emotionally, but supportive of what we're doing here. We can't wait to get him better and get him back out here."

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing co-owner Bobby Rahal, Graham's father, echoed those sentiments in a statement Tuesday night.

"The fact that everyone pulled together to make this happen for Dennis, and also for Graham, makes us very thankful," Rahal said. "I am also thankful that Dennis asked Graham to join him and his team and appreciate the commitment and excitement from Mike, Dave, United Rentals and Fifth Third Bank to see this  happen. We wish them the best in the race."

Graham Rahal feels honored, humbled, and respectful of Wilson and his new team for the 107th running of the Indianapolis 500.

"Make no mistake, as I've said and made it clear, this is certainly Stef's ride and I'm fortunate to be in the position to help and fill in," Rahal said. "Hopefully, we can have a really, really great Sunday."

Rahal is close with the Wilson family. He's been driving a Honda his whole career, so, being sure Chevy and Honda could work it out was a key piece in this situation.

Bittersweet emotions leading to Rahal starting 33rd on Race Day.

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