Cleared by Doctors and NASCAR Following a Multi-Step Process
MOORESVILLE, N.C. (July 12, 2017) – Richard Petty Motorsports (RPM) driver Aric Almirola, who suffered an acute compression fracture to his T5 Vertebra after a multi-car accident at Kansas Speedway in May, will return to Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series competition this weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
The injury, which has a standard healing time of eight to 12 weeks, took eight weeks for Almirola to recover. Throughout the recovery process, Almirola did physical therapy, swam and tested in a simulation and on track environment. A test yesterday at Charlotte Motor Speedway was the final step in a multi-step process to return to the No. 43 Smithfield Ford.
“It felt great to be back in the racecar yesterday,” said Almirola. “After racing in the Monster Energy Series for five and a half years, it got to be routine, and I took it for granted. When something gets taken away from you at a moment’s notice like that, it has certainly made me appreciate my passion for racing and my desire to compete at this level. The thrill of running 200 miles per hour in a stock car was something that I had honestly lost a little bit. After being out of the car for eight weeks, the passion is back, now more than ever.
“Physically, I felt great in the car and had no pain associated with the injury during yesterday’s test” Almirola continued. “I’d like to sincerely thank all of the medical personnel that have helped me through this process, my family, my friends, my team and all the fans that supported me. I’m very grateful to Bubba (Wallace), Regan (Smith) and Billy (Johnson) for all of their efforts subbing for me both on and off the track. I’m excited to get back to racing against all my friends and peers in the Monster Energy Series.”
Almirola will return to the seat of the “Petty Blue” No. 43 Smithfield Ford Fusion at the one-mile track where he has scored one Top-Five and two Top-10 finishes.
DANBURY, Conn. (July 12, 2017) – Richard Petty was already “The King” in 1984. Beyond being the sport’s most approachable and popular driver, Petty’s 198 wins was the most of any driver, by 93 over David Pearson. He was already “The King”, but he wanted more. In July of 1984, Petty scored his 200th, most historic, and final, NASCAR victory at Daytona International Speedway.
This September, STP and Aric Almirola will be honoring Petty’s record-setting 200th win at the Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway on Sunday, September 3 with the throwback paint scheme mirroring Petty’s 1984 STP Pontiac.
“All of the 200 wins were special but the 200th definitely stands out,” said Petty. “We needed every win before to get to 200 but to have the President there was pretty special. It was a story book win on the last lap, in Daytona, on the Fourth of July with the President of the United States there. I enjoy seeing the Throwback deals in Darlington, and this a great one to have on our car this year.”
The race was historic for a multitude of reasons. Not only was the 40th President of the United States, Ronald Reagan, the first acting United States President to attend a NASCAR event, but he also gave the command to start engines from a telephone on Air Force One as it flew over the backstretch of the track. Reagan stayed for the event, greeting Petty in the press box before Victory Lane ceremonies. And, following the race, the President treated drivers and teams to a picnic dinner.
Almirola, who was just under four months old at the time of Petty’s 200th win, understands the historic importance of his throwback paint scheme.
“When you think of Richard Petty, one of the first moments you think of is his 200th win at Daytona International Speedway,” said Almirola. “It was like a storybook being on the Fourth of July and with President Reagan there. That race is even more special to me with my first Cup Series win coming 30 years later to the weekend in the same Victory Lane. I really enjoy the throwback weekend, and it will be very special to throwback to such a substantial moment in NASCAR history. I always like to have a little fun with it off the track. Although, I’m not sure I’ll be able to top the Fu Manchu this year. We’ll work on it though.”