Published: Fri, May 19, 2017
Sport | By Wendy Sparks

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

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

After Aric Almirola fractured his T5 vertebra in a bad, fiery wreck during the Go Bowling 400 last weekend, Richard Petty Motorsports quickly realized it needed a replacement driver for Saturday's Monster Energy Open.

Almirola spent Saturday night in a Kansas City hospital after fracturing a vertebra during a fiery wreck at Kansas Speedway. He will provide an update on his injury and recovery plan on Friday morning at the speedway.

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On Lap 200 of 267 Saturday night at Kansas, Joey Logano had a right-front brake rotor break entering Turn 1 and turned right into Danica Patrick.

"When I was in the ICU in Kansas, I FaceTime'd my wife and told her I was OK", Almirola said (via Charlotte TV station WCNC). "For the most part, I'm OK".

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Almirola is 23rd in the NASCAR Cup standings, 62 points outside the 16-driver cutoff to qualify for the playoffs. TBR announced at the end of the season that it would scale back to a part-time schedule and Smith has driven all four Truck Series races in 2017 in the No. 92 truck. Saturday's event will be in his first on the NASCAR Cup circuit this season. Although Smith has yet to start a Cup Series race in 2017, over the last 10 years, he competed in at least half of the season's races six times and was a full-time driver in 2016.

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