Broken back expected to keep Aric Almirola sidelined 8-12 weeks

Broken back expected to keep Aric Almirola sidelined 8-12 weeks

Broken back expected to keep Aric Almirola sidelined 8-12 weeks

Veteran driver Regan Smith will pilot the No. 43 in the Monster Energy Open Saturday, as well as the All-Star Race if he can win a transfer spot. Almirola, crew chief Drew Blickensderfer, auto owner Richard Petty and RPM chief executive officer Brian Moffitt agreed to let Regan Smith drive Almirola's No. 43 Ford Fusion in Saturday's Monster Energy Open. Almirola along with RPM executives will hold a press conference Friday at Charlotte.

Smith, who will drive Almirola's auto in the Open race in the hope of making into the All-Star event, is the 2008 Cup Series Rookie of the Year with 211 starts.

"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. He was joined by Richard Petty Motorsports CEO Brian Moffitt and Dr. William Heisel, director of OrthoCarolina Motorsports.

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"We had already met Devin a few weeks ago", said Almirola. "I want to thank God".

"For me, I think the most challenging part is never getting comfort or relief", Almirola said.

Almirola says he felt pain in his back on the initial impact with Logano and then the rear end of his auto lifted high enough that he could see the pavement below him. Immediately, when I hit (Joey Logano's) auto, it felt like a knife in my back. "I think that is extremely unprofessional".

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"Well, I saw that Danica was on fire and when I got in the accident I got this intense burning sensation in my back coupled with pain, so I thought I was on fire", Almirola said.

Almirola knew that the wreck was coming and braced for impact. Everything happened so fast in the moment, so I was pretty sure how it went down, but not exact of all the details. "It kind of took my breath away and I kind of looked around while I caught my breath and realized that I wasn't on fire, so I just sat there and waited because I knew I had a lot of back pain and I needed to get help getting out of the race auto". Immediately when I hit Joey's auto, I felt pain in my back. "I've got a attractive family and I want to be able to run around outside and throw the baseball with Alex and I want to go to father-daughter dances with Abby and I'm not going to do anything to jeopardize that".

"The process that we had was when we got back to North Carolina, the King and Drew (Blickensderfer, crew chief) and Aric and I sat down and came up with a list of people after we knew what the diagnosis was, and we're still working through that with our partners", Moffitt said. "But right now, we're thrilled that Regan's in the vehicle for this weekend". I knew I wasn't going to be able to get out on my own power. Smith has replaced Stewart, Kurt Busch, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., and Kyle Larson before this weekend.

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