INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — British driver Stefan Wilson spent an entire year hoping to drive in this year’s Indianapolis 500.
All he has to do now is qualify.
Cusick Motorsports and DragonSpeed announced Thursday they’ve hired the 32-year-old British driver, virtually assuring race organizers they’ll fill the traditional 33-car starting grid.
“The journey to the 2022 Indianapolis 500 has been a rollercoaster ride for Cusick Motorsports, our partners and myself,” Wilson said in a statement. “A few short weeks ago it didn’t look like this was going to happen for us, but I’m so relieved all of the pieces came together to get another shot at this race.”
Team officials were expected to speak later Thursday.
The hiring of Wilson brings a familiar name with emotional ties back to Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He will attempt to make his fourth career start again driving the No. 25 car — the same number his older brother, Justin, used when he died from injuries suffered during an IndyCar race at Pocono in August 2015.
He’ll be working for the second straight year with Cusick’s team — this time in a black, blue, red and white-paint scheme with a Chevrolet engine and trying to avoid the early pit-lane crash that knocked him out of last year’s race in 33rd..
“Last year was an incredible first on-site experience for Cusick Motorsports and our partners, and we’re so glad to have them with us,” Don Cusick said. “We have some unfinished business from last year with Stefan Wilson and our partners, so we cannot wait to get the event going.”
Qualifying will be held May 21-22. The race is scheduled for May 29.
Stefan Wilson has been competitive at Indy before. He was leading the 2018 race with four laps to go when his car ran out of fuel. He wound up finishing a career-best 15th.
The announcement ends weeks of speculation about who would become the 33rd entry. Mark Miles, the CEO of IndyCar’s parent company Penske Entertainment, said in April he expected at least one more car and possibly two to join the fray.
With Wilson on board, if qualifying weekend goes as planned 11 rows of three cars should take the green flag.
The car was provided by A.J. Foyt’s team and will be sponsored by Lohla Sport and Sierra Pacific Windows and Gnarly Premium Cut Jerky.
Cusick and Wilson have been workied together this season on the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup circuit and made their sportscar debut at the Rolex 24 at Daytona. Wilson also competed at Sebring, The Glen and Petit Le Mans.
And DragoSpeed owner Elton Julian has bigger aspirations than just one IndyCar race.
“This opportunity means so much to us,” Julian said. “Putting this program together with Don Cusick, Stefan Wilson, and the Cusick Motorsports partner group brings us back to Indy even earlier than we hoped, and a step closer to becoming a full-time IndyCar team.”