CONCORD, N.C. — Aric Almirola said he expects to miss eight to 12 weeks to recover from a broken back suffered in an accident Saturday at Kansas Speedway.
Almirola will need to wait for the compression fracture of his T5 (middle back) vertebra to heal before he can get back into a race car.
“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,” the 33-year-old Almirola said. “I’m going to listen to the doctors. I’m young. I’ve got a lot of life ahead of me, and I’ve got a 4-year-old and 3-year-old at home — I’m not going to do anything to rush myself back in a race car and risk not being able to feel anything from my belly button down for the rest of my life.”
Richard Petty Motorsports has put Regan Smith in its No. 43 car for the NASCAR Monster Energy All-Star events this weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway, but the team has not determined who will replace Almirola when the regular season resumes next week at Charlotte.
Missing two months pretty much ends any playoff hopes for Almirola, who is 23rd in the NASCAR Cup standings, 62 points outside the current cutoff for the 16-driver NASCAR playoffs with 17 races left in the regular season. Because he won’t compete in every regular-season race as required by NASCAR rules, he will need a waiver from NASCAR to remain eligible for the playoffs. Even with a waiver, he would need to win a race and finish in the top 30 of the regular-season standings to qualify for the playoffs.
“Being out eight to 12 weeks and not have a chance at the playoffs — that stinks. … To have this happen and sort of derail all of the momentum and progress we had made is tough,” Almirola said. “It’s tough to swallow for sure.
“It’s fate or whatever. There’s nothing I can do about it.”
His recovery will depend on how long it takes for the bone to heal, said Bill Heisel, who oversees the OrthoCarolina motorsports program and is working in conjunction with doctors at…