Stefan Wilson will run 101st Indianapolis 500, but for whom?

Stefan Wilson will return to KV Racing for the 101st Indianapolis 500. Photo Credit: John Cote/Courtesy of IndyCar
Stefan Wilson will return to KV Racing for the 101st Indianapolis 500. Photo Credit: John Cote/Courtesy of IndyCar /

Stefan Wilson will return to IndyCar to contest the 101st Indianapolis 500, but which team will take him on for the month of May?

Stefan Wilson announced Monday that he will return to the Verizon IndyCar Series for the 101st Indianapolis 500 after securing sponsorship for the series’ premier event, but has yet to declare which team he’ll drive for.

Wilson, the brother of late IndyCar star Justin Wilson, started 30th and finished 26th in the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 for KV Racing.

But that organization is in trouble – they’re still looking for a full-time driver to fill the No. 11 seat vacated by Sebastien Bourdais – so Wilson and his sponsors at the Indiana Donor Network are not yet saying with what team he’ll be driving next May.

"“Now it is a case of finalizing everything and finding a team to partner with,” Wilson told Racer on Monday, adding, “Picking the right team to work with is so important, and that’s what I’ll be working on until it’s done. I’m really excited to have another opportunity, because there’s a lot more to come from me at Indy.”"

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It’s uncommon to see a driver declare their intent to run with a primary sponsor before they have a race team, but it’s hard to imagine that Stefan Wilson won’t land somewhere before the green flag drops at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

It will be just his third IndyCar race – he also contested the 2013 Grand Prix of Baltimore for Dale Coyne Racing – but he ran 32 races over four years in Indy Lights, including two wins and five other podium finishes between 2009 and 2012.

He has talent, albeit inconsistently on display (the 2011 season was his only complete Indy Lights campaign), and he’s racing for a good cause – not to mention has crossed off the business part of the equation by bringing sponsorship with him.

So the real question is where could Wilson land in May? A return to KV wasn’t explicity ruled out Monday, but other options include Ed Carpenter Racing, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and going back to Coyne.

Carpenter should have a second car available now that its Indy 500 driver JR Hildebrand is now the team’s full-time pilot. Schmidt did field a third entry this year and that spot is also open since Oriol Servia has signed with Rahal Letterman Lanigan. And returning to Coyne would reunite Wilson with Bourdais.

The only move that would seem unwise is heading back to KV because of that team’s uncertain situation, but even there he would at least know the players.

“We did a solid job, and I was really happy with the way the car was set up on race day, but I just [felt] we were lacking some speed,” Wilson said of his 2016 attempt. “Some of that speed comes from development of the chassis, the body fit, and all of the other stuff that make a big difference in finding those last couple of miles per hour.”

Of the four organizations Schmidt put both its cars in the Fast Nine at the 100th Indianapolis 500, including James Hinchcliffe capturing the pole. Carpenter also qualified sixth with Josef Newgarden so both could provide the missing speed that Wilson is looking for.

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For IndyCar fans, having Stefan Wilson back on the grid for the 101st Indianapolis 500 is certainly a feel-good story. Hopefully next May he’ll land with the right team and get the better results that he’s capable of.