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. Gators rally past Kentucky, streak hits 31

    Blogs

    LEXINGTON, Ky. — For the second week in a row, Florida found itself storming the field in a game that came down to the last second. A 57-yard field-goal attempt by Kentucky kicker Austin MacGinnis came just a few feet short of making history and snapping a 30-year losing streak, as the No. 20 Gators escaped a …

    Florida wide receiver Brandon Powell (4) scores a touchdown during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Kentucky, Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017, in Lexington, Ky.
  2. Pen makes it way too interesting as Rays hang on for 9-6 win

    Blogs

    A couple of home runs provided the news pegs of the night for the Rays, but it was more topical to talk about what nearly happened as they hung on for a 9-6 win over the Orioles.

    Lucas Duda's three-run homer in the third inning was the Rays' record-breaking 217th of the season, as well as his …

  3. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Saturday's Rays-Orioles game

    The Heater

    RHP Jake Odorizzi admitted he probably should have gone on the DL sooner than late July for the back stiffness that was keeping him from throwing the ball where he wanted to. He has since found an impressive groove, with another strong outing Saturday.

  4. Matt Baker's takeaways from Florida State-N.C. State

    College

    RB Cam Akers still looks like a former high school quarterback at times. His first two touches (30 yards) were special, but the freshman juked instead of powering ahead on his third (an unsuccessful third-and-1 rush). That's why the Seminoles are easing him in, as they did with Dalvin Cook three years ago.

    Running back Cam Akers carries for a first down during the third quarter as FSU eases the freshman into the college game.
  5. An attempt to project what Rays will look like in 2018

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — We know what the Rays look like this year: a team that had enough talent but too many flaws, in construction and performance, and in the next few days will be officially eliminated from a wild-card race it had a chance to win but let slip away.

    Adeiny Hechavarria, high-fiving Lucas Duda, seems likely to be brought back.