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. Checklist to help Bucs swagger into the postseason

    Bucs

    To boost their playoff prospects, the Bucs need to beat Atlanta at least once, as they did last year. Twice would be even nicer. (Loren Elliott, Times)
  2. Baddest of them all? Steelers LB James Harrison, hands down

    Bucs

    "No badass list is complete - or should begin anywhere else other than with - James Harrison," says Eric Edholm, an NFL writer who has worked at Yahoo Sports. (Associated Press)
  3. Good to be bad? Dirk Koetter's call for bold, brash Bucs

    Bucs

    Is being a badass team all about swagger and toughness? "Our whole thing is about competing," Bucs coach Dirk Koetter says. (Loren Elliott | Times)
  4. Ole Miss football coach Hugh Freeze resigns over 'inappropriate conduct' (w/ video)

    College

    OXFORD, Miss. — Mississippi coach Hugh Freeze was at Jackson Country Club on Wednesday night, giving his yearly rah-rah speech about the Rebels overcoming adversity and getting ready for the college football season.

    If Hugh Freeze hadn’t resigned, Ole Miss says it would have fired him for violating his contract’s moral turpitude clause.
  5. Fennelly: With playoff chase in high gear, it's time for Rays to make a move

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG

    Thursday was an off-day for the Rays, who are coming off a solid western swing. I assume there was no rest for the tag-team Rays baseball brain trust of Matt Silverman, Erik Neander and Chaim Bloom, whose job it is to improve this team in advance of the trade deadline. They've done a good job …

    Evan Longoria is glad to see the Rangers coming to town: He’s batting .296 against them with 15 homers and 56 RBIs in 69 career games.