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

Regan Smith to substitute for injured Aric Almirola at NASCAR All-Star Race

While trying to avoid the accident, his vehicle went loose hitting some oil and water resulting in being unable to steer the auto.

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

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.

Almirola said NASCAR and RPM reviewed all available data on the incident and that a dislodged spring could have made the impact worse.

"Getting back in a race vehicle 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", said Almirola. "I'm going to listen to the doctors". "It felt like I was on railroad tracks and I was headed straight for the wreck". "For the most part, I'm OK".

"I should have missed the wreck", Almirola said Friday, indicating the racing surface suddenly turned slick. He dropped his window net, but when he disconnected his steering wheel and threw it on the dash his back pain intensified. I knew it was coming.

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"So I just sat there and waited for the medical team to help get me out".

"Everybody is telling me that with this type of fracture it is eight to 12 weeks, so I'm not happy about that", Almirola said.

"I'm glad to be here, too".

"And when I went up in the air and came back down it felt like someone took that knife and just twisted it in my back". "Now that I've made it to the highest level, that's all I ever do".

For the time being, doctors said he can't pick up anything weighing more than five pounds, which is especially troubling for a father of a 3-year old and 4-year-old who are accustomed to spontaneous rides on dad's hip.

"I think 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. For all relative circumstances, I guess things worked out the best they could". They had no idea was what wrong with me. "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".

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