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. Rays pitchers rave about Twins pitching coach, ex-mentor Neil Allen

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — There have been a lot of coaches who have had a hand in helping Chris Archer get to the big leagues and to the front of the Rays rotation, and as he took the mound Friday night at Target Field, he had reason to nod appreciatively toward the home dugout.

    Minnesota Twins pitching coach Neil Allen jogs back to the dugout after paying starting pitcher Tyler Duffey a visit on the mound in the first inning of a baseball game against the Texas Rangers on Thursday, July 7, 2016, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
  2. State baseball: Bishop McLaughlin bows out in Class 3A semifinals

    Baseballpreps

    FORT MYERS — One inning into Bishop McLaughlin's Class 3A state semifinal against Fort Myers Canterbury, things could not have gone much better for the Hurricanes. They grabbed a quick one-run lead and Canterbury ace Sam Keating was forced out of the game with a nagging neck injury.

     Chris Berglund (18) of Bishop McLaughlin, at bat during second inning of the FHSAA class 3A semi-final on Friday May 26, 2017 at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers, Fla. Canterbury, Fort Myers, defeated Bishop 7 to 4. Canterbury will play in the 3A championship tomorrow.
  3. Bucs WR DeSean Jackson knows only one direction: full speed ahead

    Sports

    TAMPA — DeSean Jackson is the "1."

    Actually, Jackson, the Bucs' latest weapon for quarterback Jameis Winston, with his blazing speed and game-changing splash plays, wears No. 11 in games.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver DeSean Jackson participates in an "open OTA practice" at One Buc Place, the team's training facility, in Tampa, Fla., on Tuesday, May 23, 2017.
  4. Video preview: Rays open tough road trip facing Twins tonight

    Blogs

    After splitting a four-game series against the Angels to wrap up a winning homestand, the Rays tonight open a nine-game, 10-day roadtrip with the first game of the weekend series with the Twins:

  5. For starters: Rays, Archer take on surprising Twins to open road trip

    Blogs

    UPDATE, 6:37: Cash said it was a combination of wanting to keep Dickerson, who is a team-best . 358 against lefties, in the lineup and Santiago's splits. ... Cash said there was nothing new on the injured players back at the Trop, with Brad Boxberger still slated to throw live BP on Monday in Port Charlotte, …