NASCAR's Aric Almirola out 8-12 weeks with broken back

Richard Petty Motorsports announced the change on Wednesday night after the organization's primary driver, Aric Almirola, suffered a compression fracture of his T5 vertebra.

Aric Almirola needed to be cut from his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series auto and carried out on a stretcher following his involvement in a violent three-car crash on Lap 200 of the Go Bowling 400 on.

"I'm pretty pissed off about it, to be honest with you", Almirola said. He said he saw the fire on Danica Patrick's auto and when he felt an intense burning sensation in his back, coupled with pain, he thought his vehicle also was burning.

What goes through the mind of a race-car driver after a serious accident? "The thing I was most amazed with was how high my auto got off the ground".

"The next thing I knew, I was on oil or water or something because my auto wouldn't slow down, it wouldn't steer", Almirola said. "I've got a lot of baseball to play with my son and I'd like to dance with my daughter one day at her wedding". "And I got a really bad burning sensation in my back". That's most important to me.


"First off, I want to thank the track safety and medical team, all of the doctors and nurses at The University of Kansas Hospital for taking good care of me", said Almirola. I'm gonna listen to the doctors. That days that Aric is not available to move around because of the pain and because of the guarding are days that he's not using those muscles fully and we're going to have to rehabilitate those. "I just slid right into the wreck".

"I was obviously in a very vulnerable situation, and I'm disappointed, to say the least".

Almirola knew that the wreck was coming and braced for impact.

"And when I went up in the air and came back down it felt like someone took that knife and just twisted it in my back". "To have this happen and sort of derail all of the momentum and progress we had made is tough".

Smith, a one-time teammate of Almirola at now-defunct Dale Earnhardt Inc., and veteran of 211 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts, has been tabbed as a substitute before, notably replacing Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen in 2014 the night after Stewart struck and killed Kevin Ward Jr.in a sprint vehicle race. "As soon as we know for the future we'll be letting you guys know that, but right now we're thrilled that Regan's going to be in the vehicle for this weekend". Smith has 211 starts in Cup with one win, four top-five finishes, and 13 top-10's.


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