20 May, 2017
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.
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.
While Smith is in the vehicle for this weekend's All-Star festivities, the team has yet to map out a battle plan for the remainder of Almirola's absence. NASCAR now is conducting a thorough review of the entire incident, including a sit-down dialogue with Almirola for his perspective.
"I've been racing since I was 8 years old and I crashed plenty of times in a go-kart", Almirola said. "So I wasn't going to let him down". Not just any Cup vehicle, I get to be in the No. 43 Petty Cup auto. "For the most part, I'm OK".
"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. He dropped his window net, but when he disconnected his steering wheel and threw it on the dash his back pain intensified.
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After the impact with Logano sent his vehicle in the air, Almirola's Ford "violently" hit on the left-side frame rail and the left-side jack post.
Almirola expects his recovery to take eight to 12 weeks.
"If I sit for too long, I've got to stand up". In the meantime, I'm going to focus on getting my body back to 100 percent. "I've got a four year old and a three year old at home", Almirola stated. "When I threw it forward, I was in a lot of pain with my back already and that made it worse extending my hands out in front of me".
Doctors told Almirola that his high level of fitness training should be a huge benefit in recovering from this serious back injury. "I felt like somebody stuck a knife in my back". He finished third, second and fourth, respectively, as a full-time Xfinity Series driver for JR Motorsports from 2013-2015, collecting five wins during that span.
"Really, I'm just supposed to give it a break". "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".