Aric Almirola has been rehabilitating his injured back for a month now, and hopes to return to Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series competition as early as the summer race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Almirola’s doctors told him that the latest scans of his fractured vertebrae looked very promising, NBC Sports reports. So promising, in fact, that his goal is to be back behind the wheel of the No. 43 Ford Fusion by either the New Hampshire 301 on July 16 or the Brickyard 400 on July 28 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The Richard Petty Motorsports driver suffered a compression fracture of his T5 vertebrae May 13 following a terrifying crash involving Joey Logano and Danica Patrick. Almirola is undergoing laser therapy to help heal the vertebrae that reportedly was fractured all the way around, as well as massage therapy and swimming to help improve his range of motion — all of which appear to be working.
“You want to start doing everything you used to do,” Almirola told NBC Sports. “I feel great standing here. I want to go up in the gym and I want to grab the 60-pound dumbbells and go sit down and start bench pressing, but I can’t do that. I feel like I could right now because there’s no pain. I physically can’t do that. The torque on my back, the load on my spine, I can’t take that right now.”
The 33-year-old, though, is a father of two, so he isn’t the only one who’s had to adjust to his physical limitations.
“We’ve been going on a month of telling them, ‘No, daddy can’t do that, I’m sorry my back is hurt,’ ” Almirola said, via NBC Sports. “Now, they’re just accustomed to it. I think it’s going to be weird for them now when my back is actually healed.”
Almirola initially was replaced by Ragan Smith for three races while RPM secured a long-term replacement. Although some speculated that job would go to Carl Edwards, Roush Fenway Racing announced June 5 that Darrell Wallace Jr. will wield the No. 43 until Almirola returns.
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