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Regan Smith will replace Almirola in the Ford No. 43 auto at the Charlotte Motor Speedway in the qualifying session in preparation for the All-Star Race.

Regan Smith is taking over the wheel of the No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports auto this weekend because of a back injury to regular driver Aric Almirola.

"I'm pretty pissed off about it, to be honest with you", Almirola said before leaving the media room at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Smith now races full-time in the Camping World Truck Series, sitting 10th in points after four races. I want to thank our doctors in Charlotte, Dr. It's going to be challenging these next several weeks knowing that my team is preparing to go to the track, the industry is preparing to go race, and I'm not. I was mentally prepared to hop in a different race vehicle. I saw it. I braced for the wreck, and immediately when I hit Joey's auto, I felt pain in my back.

Doctors told Almirola that his high level of fitness training should be a huge benefit in recovering from this serious back injury. As Logano and Patrick crashed in Turn 1, bringing out the caution on lap 201, Almirola, the driver of the Richard Petty Motorsports No. 43 Smithfield Ford Fusion slid through the turn and impacted both drivers.

Aric Almirola has been advised he could miss up to three months of the NASCAR season with a fractured vertebra.

"One day you're a hero, one day you're a zero, although I don't classify myself as a zero just because I broke my back". They didn't know if I was paralyzed or anything. "But I think it does, it messes with your emotions". "And I promised that I'd be here to walk with him. I've got a lovely family and I want to be able to run around outside and throw the baseball with Alex and I want to go to father-daughter dances with Abby and I'm not going to do anything to jeopardize that".

Tony Stewart a year ago missed the first eight races of the season with a fracture of his L1 vertebra, though the injury happened about three weeks before the season opened.

"We're still working through that with our partners", Moffitt said, "so as soon as we know for the future, we'll be letting you guys know that". That days that Aric is not available to move around because of the pain and because of the guarding are days that he's not using those muscles fully and we're going to have to rehabilitate those.

One thing Goodyear didn't anticipate was teams using the option tires during mock qualifying runs in early afternoon on Friday in an attempt to simulate cooler conditions in Friday evening's qualifying session.