CONCORD, N.C. — Aric Almirola says he expects to be out between 8 and 12 weeks as he recovers from a fractured T5 vertebra that he suffered May 13 at Kansas Speedway.
Almirola, driver of the No. 43 Ford for Richard Petty Motorsports, was involved in a three-car crash with Danica Patrick and Joey Logano at the 1.5-mile superspeedway. The crash, which also saw Patrick’s car burst into flames upon impact with the wall, started when a part failed in Logano’s car, turning into the left-rear quarter panel of Patrick’s car.
The 33-year-old driver spoke about with members of the media about the crash on Friday at Charlotte Motor Speedway and said there was nothing he could have done to avoid being involved in the incident.
“If you put the replay at full speed I was just shy of two seconds behind the accident. In race car driver terms that is a long way. I should have missed the wreck,” Almirola explained. “I committed to turn one and when I got there the cars I was racing around took the bottom, so I committed to the very outside lane.
“Simultaneously, when I committed to the outside lane I saw the accident up ahead and they came across the race track abruptly and went into the outside catch fence and I immediately knew that they were in my line.
“My car was loose into the corner all night anyway. So I was entering the corner, I saw the wreck and was very aware that the wreck was there. I got on the brakes and turned the steering wheel to the left and my car got loose and the next thing I was on oil or water or something because my car wouldn’t slow down, it wouldn’t steer. From that point I feel like my car was on railroad tracks and I was just headed straight for the wreck.”
Almirola explained he felt pain in his back as soon as he made the first impact in the crash and it only intensified in the seconds after that.
“Immediately when I hit Joey’s car I felt pain in my back. It felt like someone stuck a knife in my back,” Almirola said. “Then I realized my car was airborne because I could see the asphalt. When it came back down it felt like somebody took that knife and twisted it up in my back.
“I don’t know what exactly caused the fracture in my back. I don’t know if it was the frontal impact or the vertical (impact). Both were big impacts.”