Regan Smith to replace injured Aric Almirola in NASCAR All-Star race

Ausiliatrice Cristiano
Mag 19, 2017

Richard Petty Motorsports announced Wednesday Regan Smith as the fill-in driver for Almirola in the team's No. 43 Ford for this weekend's All-Star Race events at Charlotte Motor Speedway. He was immediately air-lifted to the University of Kansas Medical Center where he was diagnosed with the fractured vertebra and held overnight before returning to the Charlotte area on Sunday. He'll have to win either of the three stages in the 50-lap qualifying race to get the No. 43 into the All-Star Race later that evening. The top of Almirola's auto had to be cut away for him to be removed from the vehicle and airlifted to the hospital. No timetable is known for when Almirola may return, nor who will drive the No. 43 vehicle past the All-Star Race.

RPM has called a news conference for Friday to provide an update on Almirola's condition.

Denny Hamlin suffered a L1 vertebra compression fracture after crashing at Auto Club Speedway in 2013. Smith had spelled Dale Earnhardt Jr. for one race in 2012 when the Hendrick Motorsports driver was diagnosed with a concussion and missed two events.

Charlotte's showcase of speed and sound builds to an exhilarating crescendo with the 58th running of the venerable Coca-Cola 600 - the world's ultimate test of man and machine - on May 28.

Smith, who will drive Almirola's vehicle in the Open race in the hope of making into the All-Star event, is the 2008 Cup Series Rookie of the Year with 211 starts. He's accumulated that win, four top fives and 13 top-10 finishes in 211 Cup starts.

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