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Stefan Wilson transported to hospital ‘in good spirits’ after Indy 500 practice crash

Stefan Wilson and Katherine Legge both hit the wall hard after getting tangled up during Indy 500 practice.

(UPDATE: Stefan Wilson is out of the Indy 500 after his hospital evaluation discovered a fractured vertebrae from the crash)

INDIANAPOLIS -- In the first crash on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval this month in preparation for the 107th Indy 500, Stefan Wilson was placed on a stretcher and transported to the hospital after colliding with Katherine Legge in Turn 1 during practice Monday.

The crash occurred around 2:10 p.m. ET with 50 minutes remaining in the two-hour session when Legge ran into the back of Wilson just above the white line on the entry to the corner as they approached a line of cars. The two cars made contact near the apex of the turn, and that sent both machines shooting up to the outside wall.

Both cars made very heavy contact with the outside wall, Legge’s No. 44 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Dallara-Honda briefly lifted off the pavement before sliding through the south chute. Legge was able to get out of the car near Turn 2 once the AMR Safety Team arrived.

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After slamming the wall head-on in his No. 24 Chevrolet, Wilson needed assistance from the AMR Safety Team. After about 10 minutes, he was placed on a stretcher and loaded into the ambulance. According to the IMS public address announcer, Wilson was being taken directly to Methodist Hospital for further evaluation.

The Sheffield, England, native gave a thumbs up to the crowd from the stretcher while being wheeled to the ambulance.

Dr. Julia Vaizer, director of medical services for the NTT IndyCar Series, told NBC Sports’ Dillon Welch that Wilson was alert and communicating with medical personnel throughout the incident.

“I can tell you he’s doing well,” Vaizer said. “He’s being transported to local hospital for advanced imaging and further evaluation, but he’s in good spirits.”

Legge said she was OK after being evaluated at the IU Health Infield Medical Hospital.

“The cars in front were all checking up,” Legge told NBC Sports’ Dillon Welch. “I lifted as much as I could and downshifted, hit the brakes, but it wasn’t enough as they were checking up. So I ran into the back of Stefan, and we both ended up in the wall.”

Legge’s car will be repaired by Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, which failed to qualify Graham Rahal’s car Sunday for the Indy 500. RLL teammate Jack Harvey bumped Rahal from the 33-car starting lineup, joining Legge and Christian Lundgaard (who all qualified in the last two rows).

“I know it’s another blow to the team, though after yesterday, those guys don’t deserve it,” Legge said. “That’s not right.”

In a release from the team later, Legge said she had downshifted twice before impact and said she was “fine and happy to know that Stefan is, too.”

It was the first crash at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway since the track opened for Indy 500 practice last Wednesday (after a Tuesday session was rained out).

Defending series champion Will Power said he was just in front of the crash but was unable to see how it started. He also encountered cars rapidly decelerating during the practice.

“That’s always the case,” Power said. “You’ve got to be really on top of (it) because the brake pedal is super long. When a big pack checks up, it can surprise you, so if I see a bunch of cars up front, I always leave a gap and are aware that you can come in and have nowhere to go.

“It’s not like the race where you can never lift. There’s people lifting out of line, trying to get back in, people on different tire life and such. Yeah, it can all pack up for you really quickly if you’re not ready. I just think always at this place, you’ve got to be on your toes always. You can never relax. It’s so fast. It’s so easy to get a push-off, so easy to sort of clip a wall. Someone has a mistake in front of you, it’s just a fast place.”

Wilson, 33, was slated to start his fifth Indy 500 and his third consecutive. He is the younger brother of Justin Wilson, who died after being struck by debris from a crash involving Sage Karam in the Aug. 23, 2015 race at Pocono Raceway.