Even with all the different safety features that NASCAR has introduced and implemented over the years, drivers still face the risk of injury every time they step foot inside of a stock car. A prime example of the still-apparent dangers of the sport happened back in 2017, when Aric Almirola suffered a serious back injury after a three-car wreck at Kansas Speedway during the Go Bowling 400 in Kansas City.
Racing for Richard Petty Motorsports at this time, Almirola called this crash the worst one of his career, and it’s easy to see why.
Below, you can check out the video where Almirola explains his thoughts about the accident, and how it changed his career completely.
WATCH: Aric Almirola Wrecks at 2017 Kansas Race
Aric Almirola’s intense Kansas crash went down during lap 199 of the Saturday night NASCAR Cup Series race.
The brake rotor on Joey Logano’s race car failed, causing him to collide with Danica Patrick, and both drivers slammed into the wall. Almirola was coming in hot from behind, and didn’t have enough time to react before the right front of his car crashed directly into Logano’s car.
The initial collision was violent enough, but the sudden change in speed caused the rear end of Almirola’s Ford to go flying about six feet into the air, before slamming back onto the pavement.
The crash brought out the red flag. Astoundingly, both Logano and Patrick were able to walk away uninjured. Almirola was not so fortunate.
Instantly after the collision, Almirola knew he was in bad shape. He screamed over the radio to explain the pain in his back.
Later, his car needed to be cut up in order for first responders to safely remove him. He was placed on a headboard and transported to the infield care center before going to the hospital, where doctors determined that he sustained a compression fracture of his T5 vertebra. The next day, he was flown back to Mooresville, North Carolina to continue working with doctors.
It was later determined that the collision was made worse due to the fact that Almirola’s car sat so low on the track. With NASCAR not requiring a post-race height inspection, teams typically try to get that car as low as possible for the race. Because of this, when the rear end of the car came back down, it landed directly on the frame rail and jack post, making the collision much more severe.
This is essentially what ended up causing Almirola’s spinal fracture, and NASCAR officials scrambled to figure out a safer solution for future races.
With such a serious injury, Almirola needed to play his cards right if he ever wanted a hope of returning to NASCAR. If he suffered another crash while recovering, he would’ve risked permanent paralysis. With great motivation, Almirola dove right into the recovery process, and eventually got back in the driver’s seat once fully healed.
Today, he has a whole different appreciation for the sport. It just goes to show the risks involved on the race track, regardless of the safety protocols.