Aric Almirola Faces Lengthy Recovery; RPM Working on Plans

Regan Smith to substitute for injured Aric Almirola at NASCAR All-Star Race

Almirola will be replaced by NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Regan Smith during Saturday's Monster Energy Open at Charlotte, though RPM hasn't yet announced a long-term substitute. 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.

After being released from the hospital last Sunday, Almirola was said to be mobile and headed back to Charlotte for further evaluation.

Almirola fractured a vertebra in a crash Saturday night at Kansas Speedway and could miss up to three months of the NASCAR season.

"I'm not going to risk that". Everything happened so fast in the moment, so I was pretty sure how it went down, but not exact of all the details.

Almirola, 33, doesn't require any surgery and doesn't even need to wear a back brace but unlike a lot of injuries, the pain doesn't subside simply by resting or remaining immobile. When I got there the cars that I was racing around went to the bottom, so I committed to the very outside lane and simultaneously when I committed to the outside lane I saw the accident up ahead and they came across the race track very abruptly and went into the outside catchfence.

"We've seen momentum and everything was looking so good and everybody at the team is happy, the morale in the shop is good, everybody just keeps digging harder and working harder because when you see those results it just drives more ambition", he said.

Almirola told the Charlotte Observer that he promised a 5-year-old boy named Devin, who is battling Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, that the two would meet there.

Friday morning at 11 a.m.at the track, Almirola will meet with the media for an update on his progress and prognosis. "I need to take the time and whenever the doctors clear me, I will be ready to get back in the race vehicle". "For all relative circumstances, I guess things worked out the best they could".

Almirola is up and walking, but he does have a crushed vertebrae in his back. "When I looked back late last season I didn't know what I'd be doing this season". 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.

Driving for Richard Petty, NASCAR's all-time winningest driver, is a new experience for the veteran pilot.

"As soon as we know for the future, we'll be letting you guys know that", Moffitt said.

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