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Aric Almirola to miss next 8-12 weeks with broken back

Aric Almirola to miss next 8-12 weeks with broken back

Richard Petty Motorsports has selected Regan Smith to replace injured Aric Almirola in the No. 43 auto for Saturday's All-Star night festivities at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Almirola was involved in a fiery crash during Saturday night's NASCAR race at Kansas Speedway. The top of Almirola's auto had to be cut away for him to be removed from the vehicle and airlifted to the hospital.

"I'm glad to be able to sit here and talk to you all this morning", Almirola said. 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.

The driver of the No. 43 vehicle 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. Obviously, seeing Danica's vehicle on fire, if I would have got into the back of her and run into her fuel cell ... it could have been a lot worse than it was.

"I've been racing since I was 8 years old and I crashed plenty of times in a go-kart", 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. When I stand up it feels better because it elongates the spine. Like, 'Hey, I get to go out there and be in a Cup auto. "But right now, we're thrilled that Regan's in the vehicle for this weekend". "It felt like I was on railroad tracks and I was headed straight for the wreck".

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Almirola expects his recovery to take eight to 12 weeks. I'm young. I've got a lot of life ahead of me.

Almirola knew that the wreck was coming and braced for impact.

Almirola said he attempted to avoid the wreck but couldn't due to his auto getting in some oil or water, which prevented him from steering it. "The obvious thing is that the circumstances suck".

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.

"We're still working through that with our partners", Moffitt said, "so as soon as we know for the future, we'll be letting you guys know that".

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