Almirola Gives Update, Out 8-12 Weeks

Aric Almirola

Almirola gave an update on his injury and recovery period Friday at Charlotte Motor Speedway and is expected to miss somewhere between 8-12 weeks. (Photo: Getty Images)

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Aric Almirola will be sidelined for an extended period from injuries sustained in last week’s accident at Kansas Speedway.

Almirola suffered an acute compression fracture to his T5 Vertebra in the crash that happened in this past Saturday’s Go Bowling 400 at Kansas. The Richard petty Motorsports driver gave an update on his injury and recovery period Friday at Charlotte Motor Speedway and is expected to miss somewhere between 8-12 weeks.

"First off, I want to thank the track safety and medical team, all of the doctors and nurses at The University of Kansas Hospital for taking good care of me," said Almirola. "My family, friends and people in the NASCAR community who reached out to me, I truly appreciate your support, and, to all the fans for their prayers and support. 

“I want to thank my race team, everyone at RPM, and our great partners who have been supportive of me over the last five years and have continued to show support during this difficult time. I want to thank our doctors in Charlotte, Dr. Petty, Dr. Coric and Bill Heisel. They will be the team that leads my roadmap to my recovery. 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."

Dr. Heisel provided further explanation of Almirola’s injury and the procedure for treatment as well as recovery time.

“The bone is, for lack of a better term, crunched and it’s something that first and foremost we’ve got to get some of the edema or some of the blood out of the bone and that is something that is a time phenomenon as much as anything,” he said. “And then we have a lot of work to do from a physical therapy standpoint.  That days that Aric is not available to move around because of the pain and because of the guarding are days that he’s not using those muscles fully and we’re going to have to rehabilitate those. 

“So there’s definitively some physical therapy to come.  We want to deal with the acute pain phase first and foremost."

Almirola explained what happened in the crash that also involved Joey Logano and Danica Patrick.

“My car wouldn’t slow down, it wouldn’t steer,” he said. “It felt like I was on railroad tracks and I was headed straight for the wreck. I feel like an idiot even being involved in the wreck. But there was honestly nothing I could do. It was like it was on ice.”

RPM has tabbed Regan Smith to drive the No. 43 Ford this weekend in the Monster Energy All-Star Race but no decision has been made abut the future while Almirola is out.

One thing Almirola won’t do is rush back from injury.

"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. "I'm going to listen to the doctors. I'm young. I've got a lot of life ahead of me, and I've got a 4-year-old and 3-year-old at home -- I'm not going to do anything to rush myself back in a race car and risk not being able to feel anything from my belly button down for the rest of my life."

Almirola also made it clear during his media session to criticize photographers for taking pictures of him being extricated from his car and into the ambulance.

“I’m pretty pissed off about it, to be honest with you,” Almirola said. “I think that is extremely unprofessional. They had no idea was what wrong with me. They didn’t know if I was paralyzed or anything. They were literally three feet away with their shutters running wide open the entire time.

“I was obviously in a very vulnerable situation, and I’m disappointed, to say the least. They didn’t know if my legs were going to be attached, they didn’t know any of that.”

While Smith is in the car for this weekend’s All-Star festivities, the team has yet to map out a battle plan for the remainder of Almirola’s absence. There are several key components still to come together before a decision is made.

“We’re still working through that,” said Brian Moffitt, CEO of RPM. “We’re working with our partners.  The process was we wanted to make sure that Aric was OK when this happened.  Our worries were for him and what the future was gonna be and Janice and the kids.  We were mainly concerned about Aric when it happened.  We have a protocol that we go by and having Aric and Janice and all of our thoughts and prayers were first and foremost. 

“The process that we had was when we got back to North Carolina the King and (crew chief) Drew (Blickensderfer) 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, but right now we’re thrilled that Regan’s going to be in the car for this weekend.”

 

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