Aric Almirola’s absence from his No. 43 car could be a lengthy one.
Almirola said on Friday at Charlotte Motor Speedway that the compression fracture to his T5 vertebra suffered in a wreck at Kansas Speedway will take approximately 8-12 weeks to heal. And he’s not planning on rushing back to the car. Given the reasons why, you can’t blame him in the slightest.
“We’re working on it, but everybody is telling me that with this type of fracture it’s 8-12 weeks, so I’m not happy about that, but Dr. Cork in Charlotte advised me that this is nothing to mess around with, definitely need to make sure that this is properly healed before I get back in a race car.”
Regan Smith is filling in for Almirola in Saturday night’s All-Star qualifying race, but a replacement for further races hasn’t been determined. Richard Petty Motorsports said Friday that a driver for the Coca-Cola 600 and any potential races after that would be announced next week.
Almirola’s attitude regarding his injury is one of common sense. But it’s also refreshing in a sport that’s long lauded its drivers’ “toughness” in driving through injuries. Yes, racing is a lucrative career that’s been very good to Almirola throughout his life. But it’s also not his entire life and he’s cognizant of that fact.
“Getting back in a race car two weeks too soon is just gonna add two more starts to my start column and the stat book, but if I were to get in another similar accident and not be properly healed, you’re talking about potentially being paralyzed from the belly button down, so I’m not gonna risk that,” Almirola said. “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, so I’m not gonna risk it. Whenever the doctors clear me, I’ll be ready to get back in a race car.”
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