Regan Smith is substituting for Almirola in the No. 43 Ford at Charlotte Motor Speedway in the qualifying event for the All-Star race.
Almirola was injured in a wreck with Joey Logano and Danica Patrick at Kansas Speedway last weekend. He had to be cut out his vehicle and airlifted to the hospital, where doctors determined he broke a vertebra. At the moment of impact, Almirola felt a sharp pain in his back; A moment he said "felt like somebody stuck a knife in my back". He said he saw the fire on Danica Patrick's auto and when he felt an intense burning sensation in his back, coupled with pain, he thought his vehicle also was burning. While trying to avoid the accident, his vehicle went loose hitting some oil and water resulting in being unable to steer the auto. Immediately when I hit Joey's vehicle, I felt pain in my back.
Here are the 8 most eye-opening things Almirola said in a 30-minute media session. "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". "I want to thank the good Lord for looking out for me". "For the most part, I'm OK".
"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. "So I wasn't going to let him down".
Almirola admitted he probably should have avoided the wreck, but he said he went high right as the incident started to unfold.
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"I was obviously in a very vulnerable situation, and I'm disappointed, to say the least. For all relative circumstances, I guess things worked out the best they could". The standard healing time for the injury is eight to 12 weeks. I braced because I knew it was coming and as soon as I made impact with Joey's vehicle it felt like someone put a knife in my back.
Almirola said he attempted to avoid the wreck but couldn't due to his vehicle getting in some oil or water, which prevented him from steering it.
"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".
Regan Smith was tabbed to drive the iconic No. 43 Smithfield Foods Ford for Almirola this weekend. A week later, he was hospitalized overnight in Kansas before flying home to North Carolina to receive another diagnosis. "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".