NASCAR's Aric Almirola out 8-12 weeks with broken back

Regan Smith: Regan Smith in #43 for Almirola at Charlotte

If you want some insight just ask Aric Almirola, who will miss the next eight to 12 weeks of Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series competition after suffering a compression fracture of his T5 vertebra last Saturday night at Kansas Speedway.

Almirola was involved in a fiery crash during Saturday night's NASCAR race at Kansas Speedway. Emergency crews carefully cut Almirola out of his vehicle, and the 33-year-old driver was airlifted to a nearby hospital for evaluation.

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. I braced because I knew it was coming and as soon as I made impact with Joey's auto it felt like someone put a knife in my back.

"For me, I think the most challenging part is never getting comfort or relief", Almirola said. "I've got a handsome 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 want to thank the good Lord for looking out for me". It was the most helpless feeling because I saw the wreck.

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"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", said Almirola, via ESPN. I'm gonna listen to the doctors.

"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. "It felt like I was on railroad tracks and I was headed straight for the wreck". I'm young. I've got a lot of life ahead of me.

After the impact with Logano sent his auto in the air, Almirola's Ford "violently" hit on the left-side frame rail and the left-side jack post. That "knife in my back" moment was made worse when he landed because it felt like "somebody took that knife and just twisted it up in my back". Regan Smith will drive the No. 43 Smithfield Ford in this weekend's Monster Energy Open Race.

Smith, who will drive Almirola's vehicle 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.

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