Smith to replace Almirola at Charlotte

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.

On Saturday, NASCAR driver Aric Almirola's No. 43 Ford twisted into a fiery contortion in a horrifying crash at the Go Bowling 400 in Kansas. He had to be cut out his auto and airlifted to the hospital, where doctors determined he broke a vertebra.

"I'm pretty pissed off about it, to be honest with you", Almirola said.

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

"I immediately knew that they were in my line of path, so my auto was loose into the corner all night anyway, but I was entering the corner, I saw the wreck - was very aware the wreck was there - and I got on the brakes and turned the steering wheel to the left and my vehicle got loose".

"The doctors told me just be careful and don't let anybody give me a hug and all that kind of thing", Almirola said. "I've got a lovely family and I want to be able to run around outside and throw the baseball with Alex and I want to go to father-daughter dances with Abby and I'm not going to do anything to jeopardize that". I saw it. I braced for the wreck.

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"They used it as an opportunity to go and take some pictures of me", Almirola said.

"I'm not going to risk that", he said.

"I'm focused on this weekend right now and we're going to do the best we can for their partners and for their team this weekend and see how things progress going forward, but I'm gonna focus on this weekend and do a good job for them this weekend", said Smith outside the hauler. "From that moment on I felt like I was on railroad tracks".

Heisel said the vertebra was "crunched" and they needed to get some of the blood out of the bone. The standard healing time for the injury is eight to 12 weeks. "I felt like somebody stuck a knife in my back". "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 vehicle for this weekend".

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.

Smith, who will drive Almirola's auto in the Open race in the hope of making into the All-Star event, is the 2008 Cup Series Rookie of the Year with 211 starts.

  • Regina Holmes