Smith to replace Almirola Saturday

I think if Joey's vehicle would have been three feet more down the race track 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.

Richard Petty Motorsports and Aric Almirola, who suffered a compression fracture to his T5 Vertebra after a multi-car accident at Kansas Speedway Saturday night, will host a media availability at Charlotte Motor Speedway to provide an update on his injury and his recovery plan.

Smith will drive the vehicle this weekend, but beyond that, Moffitt and team owner Richard Petty have not finalized their plans. NASCAR now is conducting a thorough review of the entire incident, including a sit-down dialogue with Almirola for his perspective.

"Getting back in a race auto two weeks too soon is just gonna add two more starts to my start column and the stat book, but if I were to get in another similar accident and not be properly healed, you're talking about potentially being paralyzed from the belly button down, so I'm not gonna risk that", said Almirola. "The doctors and neurosurgeon in Charlotte have written me a prescription to go and sit in a chair at the beach". Not just any Cup vehicle, I get to be in the No. 43 Petty Cup auto. I saw it. I braced for the wreck.

Richard Petty Motorsports driver Aric Almirola talked about his broken back and his future Friday in North Carolina. "When I left Homestead past year, I legit didn't know if I would ever sit in a Cup auto again".

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"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 was in way too much pain. "I felt like somebody stuck a knife in my back". "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". I feel like an idiot even being involved in the wreck.

"From the time I was eight years old, all I ever wanted to do was race", continued Almirola. He also has six wins in the XFINITY Series.

Doctors told Almirola that his high level of fitness training should be a huge benefit in recovering from this serious back injury. "The obvious thing is that the circumstances suck".

"Really, I'm just supposed to give it a break". The Almirolas spent a week in the NICU at Levine Children's Hospital. They had no idea was what wrong with me. "I've got a handsome 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".

  • Tabitha Byrd