20 May, 2017
Regan Smith is substituting this weekend for Almirola in the No. 43 Ford at Charlotte Motor Speedway in the qualifying event for the All-Star race.
Almirola fractured the T5 vertebra in the middle of his back in a crash in last Saturday's race at Kansas Speedway.
Aric Almirola is less than a week removed from being involved in a horrific crash at Kansas Speedway, but the driver of the No. 43 auto is still out trying to be a positive influence in the world.
"I'm glad to be able to sit here and talk to you all this morning", Almirola said.
"I think if Joey's vehicle would have been 3 feet more down the racetrack and I would have hit him in the door number, that would have been very violent, and I think Joey would have been seriously injured", he said. Obviously, seeing Danica's vehicle on fire, if I would have got into the back of her and run into her fuel cell ... it could have been a lot worse than it was.
"The doctors told me just be careful and don't let anybody give me a hug and all that kind of thing", 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". Looking back on the crash, he feels there is nothing he could have done differently. That's most important to me.More news: REAL ID Finally a Done Deal in Minnesota
Richard Petty Motorsports driver Aric Almirola talked about his broken back and his future Friday in North Carolina. I didn't think I was that lucky, but after talking to all the doctors in Kansas and Charlotte, I realize how lucky I was.
"I'm focused on this weekend right now and we're going to do the best we can for their partners and for their team this weekend and see how things progress going forward, but I'm gonna focus on this weekend and do a good job for them this weekend", said Smith outside the hauler.
"I've been very moved and touched by the amount of people who have reached out and come by to visit and expressed their concerns and cares", Almirola said.
"I appreciate to get the call", Smith said.
Almirola said he attempted to avoid the wreck but couldn't due to his vehicle getting in some oil or water, which prevented him from steering it. "From that moment on I felt like I was on railroad tracks". I braced for the wreck and immediately when I hit Joey's (Logano) vehicle I felt pain in my back.
"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. Being out 8-12 weeks and not having a chance at the Playoffs, obviously that stinks, especially coming off Talladega". No timetable is known for when Almirola may return, nor who will drive the No. 43 auto past the All-Star Race.