Tampa NASCAR driver Aric Almirola talked Friday about his injury suffered in a crash at Kansas Speedway last week, a fractured vertebra that has him out up to three months and vowing to heed doctor warnings and not rush back because further injury could lead to paralysis. Almirola, crew chief Drew Blickensderfer, vehicle 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.
"I had no grip, and I assumed that when Danica's auto blasted the outside wall that it must have knocked the radiator, and oil and stuff got in the outside groove and it ran down the race track and I was in it, so that's how I ended up in the wreck", Almirola said on Friday at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
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Aric Almirola (43) crashes into Danica Patrick and Joey Logano during the NASCAR Monster Cup auto race at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kan., Saturday, May 13, 2017.
"I'm not going to risk that". "So I wasn't going to let him down". "When I threw it forward, I was in a lot of pain with my back already and that made it worse extending my hands out in front of me. The thing I was most amazed with was how high my vehicle got off the ground". I immediately knew that they were in my line of path, so my vehicle was loose into the corner all night anyway, but I was entering the corner, I saw the wreck - was very aware the wreck was there - and I got on the brakes and turned the steering wheel to the left and my auto got loose, and the next thing I knew I was on oil or water or something because my auto wouldn't slow down, it wouldn't steer.More news: Over A Dozen Students Injured In Lancaster School Bus Crash
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RPM has called a news conference for Friday to provide an update on Almirola's condition. He was joined by Richard Petty Motorsports CEO Brian Moffitt and Dr. William Heisel, director of OrthoCarolina Motorsports. When the auto came back to Earth, Almirola took a second hit which he described as "a knife twisting" in his back. "I will be meeting with them throughout the healing process, and it will be up to them to give me clearance to get back in the racecar". As a result of the accident, Almirola has sustained a broken back while he will "need to wait for the compression fracture of his T5 vertebra to heal before he can get back into a race auto", according to Bob Pockrass of ESPN. They know we're going to screw up.
Almirola's absence nearly surely will take him out of the championship picture, but the driver has a longer-term perspective, one that will allow him to heal completely before he returns. "I think that is extremely unprofessional".
Tony Stewart previous year missed the first eight races of the season with a fracture of his L1 vertebra, though the injury happened about three weeks before the season opened. "But right now we're thrilled that Regan's going to be in the auto for this weekend". "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 auto for this weekend".
As the first driver on the track for the second round, he set the tone with three mistake-free laps and a solid pit stop.
It was Larson's first pole in his first attempt at All-Star qualifying.