It’s been almost two months since Richard Petty Motorsports driver Aric Almirola was involved in a serious wreck at Kansas Speedway. But he’ll make his way back to the track this weekend, just not the way he would like to return.
Aric continues to recover from the broken back he suffered in the collision with Danica Patrick and Joey Logano, so he won’t be behind the wheel at the Coke Zero 400 in Daytona this weekend, but he will be on hand to support his fellow drivers. And that might be more difficult than driving.
Aric told the Tampa Bay Times, “It’s very frustrating. To go there and spectate is going to be really challenging.”
Of course it is. Aric took the checkered flag at the Coke Zero 400 and won the Xfinity series in Daytona last year. He also earned a fourth place finish at the Daytona 500 in February. Still, he will be there!
Doctors gave the Richard Petty Motorsports driver an eight to 12 week window for his recovery period, which means he could be back on the track in Kentucky on July 8. But for this season, his chances of racking up another win at Daytona are gone.
Still, he is grateful considering that, at the moment of impact, his future was uncertain. “I didn’t think I was paralyzed, because I could wiggle my toes and feel my feet,” he says. “But I was concerned. The pain was severe. As an athlete, as a competitor, as a car driver, you instantly start thinking, ‘Wow, is this the end for me? Will I ever be able to race again?’ There are so many unknowns when you haven’t made it to the hospital yet.”
But Aric has come a long way, and in an interview with NASCAR indicated he has a timeline for when he’ll get back in the cockpit. “We’re trying to schedule a test now in a couple of weeks,” he says. “If the test goes well and I don’t have any pain in my back, I should be able to get back in a race car and go race.” He’s looking at Charlotte or Darlington for testing and, if that goes well, we could see Aric racing again in Louden or Indianapolis.