Almirola gives update on back after injury

By Matt Courson
March 16, 2018

FONTANA, Calif.—Aric Almirola says that his back is “more than 100 percent better” after being involved in a fiery crash last year at Kansas Speedway in which he suffered a compression fracture to his T5 Vertebra.

“I feel like I am better than 100 percent,” Almirola said to a group of reporters at Auto Club Speedway Friday.

“I feel like I’m more physically fit and in better shape than I was pre-accident just because after my accident I had to be really diligent with my rehab and my physical therapy just to be able to hurry up the process to be able to get back in the car.

“And I just kind of kept that mentality and kept that workout regimen going, so I feel like right now Im probably in the best shape of my life.”

Auto Club Speedway is known as one of the roughest tracks on the circuit due to bumps in the racing surface. When Almirola was going through therapy, the driver sat in Ford’s seven-post shaker rig, which simulates the bumps at a racetrack.

“The very first test that I did on the seven-post shaker rig after I broke my back to make sure that my back felt OK enough to get back in the race car was we ran the track mapped file from Auto Club Speedway because its the roughest race track that we go to,” Almirola said.

“So six weeks after I broke my back I went to Ford’s seven-post shaker rig and sat in my race car on that shaker rig with the car running a mock lap around this race track (Auto Club Speedway) and I remember thinking to myself, ‘Holy cow, is it really that rough?’ And then we showed up back here and the answer is yes, it really is that rough.”

Almirola has been a part of a lot of change in 2018. It was announced in November that Almirola would replace Danica Patrick in the No. 10 Ford, bringing Smithfield over from Richard Petty Motorsports.

The 34-year-old driver was leading on the last lap of the Daytona 500 earlier this season until Austin Dillon ultimately moved him out of the way to reach Victory Lane.

Almirola currently sits 10th in points, 35 points above the playoff cutline.


Chris Madrid/TRE

Franklin Romero/TRE