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

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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.

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.

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 vehicle race. In a frank and emotional interview, Almirola pulled no punches.

"I've been racing since I was 8 years old and I crashed plenty of times in a go-kart", Almirola said. 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. Not just any Cup vehicle, I get to be in the No. 43 Petty Cup auto. It was the most helpless feeling because I saw the wreck.

"They used it as an opportunity to go and take some pictures of me", Almirola said.

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. If I stand for too long, it starts to hurt and then I've got to sit down. The standard healing time for the injury is eight to 12 weeks. Looking back on the crash, he feels there is nothing he could have done differently.

"This fracture is at a higher level than the injuries that Denny sustained or that Tony sustained". Returning home, Almirola met with top doctors in the Charlotte area to determine a recovery plan. Devin, a 5-year-old boy battling Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, had been scheduled by Pollex to walk down the event's signature runway with Almirola on Wednesday night. He also has six wins in the XFINITY Series.

"Really, I'm just supposed to give it a break". "The obvious thing is that the circumstances suck".

Almirola said he is so grateful to everyone who has reached out to him in the days following the accident and spends hours responding to the kind text messages and phone calls from all those expressing their care. They want me to lay low the next couple weeks. "I've got a lovely 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".

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