Monday, February 19, 2018
Sports

Tampa NASCAR driver Aric Almirola out of hospital; return unclear

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Tampa's Aric Almirola was released Sunday from a hospital in which he spent the night after suffering a compression fracture in his back in a fiery wreck late Saturday involving Danica Patrick and Joey Logano in a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup race.

The three collided in a frightening pileup with 67 laps left in the Go Bowling 400 at Kansas Speedway. Safety workers cut the roof and roll cage off Almirola's car to remove him, then placed him on a backboard and airlifted him to the University of Kansas Medical Center.

"Almirola is mobile and will follow up with his doctors in Charlotte," Richard Petty Motorsports said in a statement Sunday concerning the 33-year-old driver.

RPM added that the fracture was to his T5 vertebra and that he was to return to his North Carolina home on Sunday. It is not known when he will be able to race again.

The exhibition All-Star race is Saturday at Charlotte, with the regular season resuming May 28 with the Coca-Cola 600.

Logano and Patrick were examined and released from the infield care center, with Logano later posting on Twitter prayers for Almirola.

"That was scary," driver Clint Bowyer said. "You hate to see anybody that you race against and know, know their kids and everything else, get cut out like that. It's scary for everybody."

Logano said he wasn't exactly sure what caused the crash. "Something broke on my car, I don't know what it was," he said. "I just hope … Aric is all right."

Patrick drew criticism for her comments after the crash.

"We were having a really good race and having fun out there and had a lot of speed," Patrick said. "All I know is that I all of a sudden crashed. … I am just frustrated for the lack of breaks I get. It seems like every time things are going better and something happens, I get crashed or am in a crash.

"While I'm okay, one of these times, one of these really big accidents, someone is not going to be okay, Aric is not okay and his car looked the best of everybody. You never know when it is going to be the wrong hit."

Martin Truex won the race. He roared away from Ryan Blaney and Kevin Harvick on a late restart, then did it again when Jimmie Johnson spun out with two laps to go.

Truex has had a series of mishaps at Kansas Speedway over the years. "I'm not going to lie to you. As a racer, you don't forget," he said. "You don't forget those days, the ones that got away or you screw up and gave one away or anything like that. You never forget those. They always stick with you."

FORMULA ONE: Lewis Hamilton beat Sebastian Vettel to win the Spanish Grand Prix in Montmelo, tightening the series' intense title fight. Vettel edged past the pole-sitting Hamilton at the first corner, but the British driver overtook Vettel's Ferrari with more than 20 laps left while running on a faster set of tires as Mercedes' pit strategy paid off. "What can I say? Fantastic job. The strategy was on point with the pit stops," Hamilton told his team via radio after crossing the finish line. Hamilton's second win in five races cut Vettel's lead from 13 points to six heading into the Monaco Grand Prix.

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