Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa's Aric Almirola says paralysis fear guides NASCAR return plans

CONCORD, N.C. — Tampa NASCAR driver Aric Almirola talked Friday about his injury suffered in a crash at Kansas Speedway last week, a fractured vertebra that has him out up to three months and vowing to heed doctor warnings and not rush back because further injury could lead to paralysis.

"Everybody is telling me that with this type of fracture it is eight to 12 weeks, so I'm not happy about that," said Almirola, 33. "Getting back in a race car two weeks too soon is just going to add two more starts to my start column and the stat book. But if I were to get in another similar accident and not be properly healed, you're talking about potentially being paralyzed from the belly button down.

"I'm not going to risk that. I've got a lot of baseball to play with my son, and I'd like to dance with my daughter one day at her wedding. Whenever the doctors clear me, I'll be ready to get back in a race car."

Almirola celebrated an Xfinity series win at Talladega with his family May 6. A week later, he was hospitalized overnight in Kansas after the crash in the Cup series Go Bowling 400 before flying to North Carolina, where he has a home, for another diagnosis.

Almirola said Friday he'd stopped taking painkillers 48 hours before his news conference in order to sound coherent. It has been a roller-coaster week, with the Talladega victory underscoring the promise his Richard Petty Motorsports team has shown.

"We've seen momentum, and everything was looking so good, and everybody at the team is happy, everybody just keeps digging harder and working harder," he said. "So to go through Talladega and have Janice and the kids in victory lane with me, and then to have a great run on Sunday (in the May 7 Geico 500), and then literally seven days later to be on a helicopter heading for the hospital — there's nothing that describes it better other than that's our sport.''

Wednesday, with his doctor's permission, Almirola attended a "Catwalk for a Cause" charity fashion event and stiffly walked with Devin, 5, who has leukemia. "I promised that I'd be here to walk with him,'' Almirola said. "So I wasn't going to let him down."

Tampa's Aric Almirola says paralysis fear guides NASCAR return plans 05/19/17 [Last modified: Friday, May 19, 2017 9:50pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Storm routs Cleveland

    Storm

    TAMPA — Alvin Ray Jackson intercepted two passes, returning one for a touchdown, and recovered two fumbles as the Storm routed Cleveland 57-27 Saturday night in its home regular-season finale at Amalie Arena.

  2. Miscue sends Rays to another stinging loss to Rangers (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays gave away DJ Kitty onesies Saturday night. Then they gave away the game.

    Rays centerfielder Mallex Smith misses a drive hit by Adrian Beltre with two outs in the sixth, allowing the tying runs to score. Beltre puts Texas ahead 4-3 when he scores after two wild pitches.
  3. Rowdies shut out Charleston

    Soccer

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Rowdies know a thing or two about stalemates, with five of their past 10 games ending in a draw.

    Rowdies in the first half during the game between Tampa Bay Rowdies and the Charleston Battery at Al Lang Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., on Saturday, Jul 22, 2017.
  4. Rays journal: Former closer Sergio Romo acquired from Dodgers

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays made a move to help the bullpen Saturday night when they acquired RHP Sergio Romo, who had been designated for assignment last week by the Dodgers.

    Reliever Sergio Romo has 84 career saves, including 38 in 2013, but has struggled this season with the Dodgers, posting a 6.12 ERA in 25 innings before being designated for assignment.
  5. Dale Earnhardt Jr. backs wife's "not worth risk'' opinion on Daytona

    Auto racing

    INDIANAPOLIS — Dale Earnhardt Jr. on Saturday defended his wife's Twitter post — and blamed himself for putting her in a position where she believed she had to speak out and upset some of his fans.

    Amy Earnhardt worries about Dale Jr.’s concussions.