Broken back expected to keep Aric Almirola sidelined 8-12 weeks

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Richard Petty Motorsports (RPM) driver Aric Almirola, who suffered an acute compression fracture to his T5 Vertebra after a multi-car accident at Kansas Speedway last Saturday night, will be forced to miss races in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series during his recovery.

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.

Further information regarding the driver of the # 43 Ford after Saturday race will be announced next week.

"I didn't think I was that lucky, but after talking to all the doctors in Kansas and Charlotte I realize how lucky I was", he said. "But I think it does, it messes with your emotions". "When I left Homestead past year, I legit didn't know if I would ever sit in a Cup auto again". A former baseball standout in high school, Almirola always has been one of NASCAR's most fit competitors.

"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. If I would have got into the back of her and run into her fuel cell or something like that, it could have been a lot worse than it was. I feel like an idiot even being involved in the wreck.

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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.

"We're still working through that", said Brian Moffitt, CEO of RPM.

"We're working with our partners". Our worries were for him and what the future was gonna be and Janice and the kids. Smith quickly responded with "absolutely" before getting everything ready for this weekend. That days that Aric is not available to move around because of the pain and because of the guarding are days that he's not using those muscles fully and we're going to have to rehabilitate those.

Smith is familiar with being selected as a last-minute replacement, having been tabbed by Chip Ganassi Racing, Hendrick Motorsports, and Stewart-Haas Racing (twice) since 2012 to substitute for Kyle Larson, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kurt Busch, and Tony Stewart, respectively. He's now campaigning for Ricky Benton in the No. 92 Ford in the Camping World Truck Series. Almirola has one career win and 10 top-5 finishes in 226 career starts, and he won the Xfinity Series race at Talladega Superspeedway on May 6.