NASCAR's Aric Almirola out 8-12 weeks with broken back

The Petty team on Thursday named Regan Smith as interim driver for Saturday's All-Star night festivities at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Aric Almirola said he expects to miss 8-12 weeks to recover from a broken back suffered in an accident Saturday at Kansas Speedway.

In the three-car Kansas crash on lap 200 of the Go Bowling 400 race, Almirola was conscious and alert while being put on a backboard after the roof was cut out of his vehicle.

The driver of the No. 43 auto spoke to the media for the first time since the wreck - which involved Joey Logano and Danica Patrick, who were not injured - and detailed what was going through his mind when he slammed into their cars. "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". "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". It was the most helpless feeling because I saw the wreck.

"The incentive to make sure that I can run around in my front yard with my kids is enough for me to not rush back", Almirola said. "The doctors and neurosurgeon in Charlotte have written me a prescription to go and sit in a chair at the beach".

Almirola admitted he probably should have avoided the wreck, but he said he went high right as the incident started to unfold. Not just any Cup vehicle, I get to be in the No. 43 Petty Cup auto.

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"I was obviously in a very vulnerable situation, and I'm disappointed, to say the least".

After the impact with Logano sent his auto in the air, Almirola's Ford "violently" hit on the left-side frame rail and the left-side jack post. "I felt like somebody stuck a knife in my back". "To have this happen and sort of derail all of the momentum and progress we had made is tough". A week later, he was hospitalized overnight in Kansas before flying home to North Carolina to receive another diagnosis.

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

Smith, a 10-year Cup veteran, has not raced in the top NASCAR series this season, though he has competed in four Truck series races.

Smith, a one-time teammate of Almirola at now-defunct Dale Earnhardt Inc., and veteran of 211 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts, has been tabbed as a substitute before, notably replacing Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen in 2014 the night after Stewart struck and killed Kevin Ward Jr.in a sprint auto race.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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