Almirola, who suffered a fractured vertebra in his back in an accident Saturday at Kansas Speedway, will be replaced by Regan Smith this weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Bob Pockrass reports. The top of Almirola's auto had to be cut away for him to be removed from the vehicle and airlifted to the hospital. "It wouldn't steer", Almirola said, according to FOX Sports. He said he saw the fire on Danica Patrick's auto and when he felt an intense burning sensation in his back, coupled with pain, he thought his vehicle also was burning. I think if Joey's auto 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. Immediately when I hit Joey's vehicle, I felt pain in my back.
"The doctors told me just be careful and don't let anybody give me a hug and all that kind of thing", Almirola said. If I would have got into the back of her and run into her fuel cell or something like that, it could have been a lot worse than it was. I looked around and saw I wasn't on fire that the burning sensation in my back was an enormous amount of pain.
"I wanted to see it, but I didn't want to see it that night", Almirola said. I'm gonna listen to the doctors. Once safety personnel arrived, Almirola explained his condition and "they went through all of their proper protocol to get me out of the auto safely without moving my spine and stabilizing my spine". Fortunately for the 33-year-old NASCAR driver, he will be out for eight to 12 weeks with a broken T5 vertebra rather than something more dramatic. I braced for the wreck and immediately when I hit Joey's (Logano) auto I felt pain in my back.
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"I felt like from that point my vehicle was on railroad tracks and I was just headed straight for the wreck", Almirola said. "I felt like somebody stuck a knife in my back". Regan Smith will drive the No. 43 Smithfield Ford in this weekend's Monster Energy Open Race. "To have this happen and sort of derail all of the momentum and progress we had made is tough". "The process that we had was when we got back to North Carolina the King and Drew 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".
"As soon as we know for the future, we'll be letting you guys know that", Moffitt said. Smith made 211 starts and tallied one win (Darlington 2011), four Top Fives and 13 Top 10s in his 10 year career in the Monster Energy Series.