NASCAR's Aric Almirola out 8-12 weeks with broken back

Track workers had to cut the roof off the No. 43 vehicle to safely extricate Almirola, who was then placed on a backboard and airlifted to the University of Kansas Medical Center.

Almirola said he expects to miss 8-12 weeks of Monster Energy Series competition while recovering from a fracture of his T5 vertebrae suffered in the accident.

While Smith is in the auto for this weekend's All-Star festivities, the team has yet to map out a battle plan for the remainder of Almirola's absence.

Almirola will be replaced by NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Regan Smith during Saturday's Monster Energy Open at Charlotte, though RPM hasn't yet announced a long-term substitute.

How did Almirola get caught up in the incident?

Almirola is up and walking, but he does have a crushed vertebrae in his back. "I watched the replay so I could see it for myself and I wanted to see it so I had a better understanding". When you go back and watch the replay it kind of clarified all things. Immediately when I hit Joey's auto, I felt pain in my back. The vehicle was immediately taken to the Research & Development Center in Concord, North Carolina.

"I'm pretty pissed off about it, to be honest with you", Almirola said. "It felt like I was on railroad tracks and I was headed straight for the wreck". There was nothing I could do. When I stand up it feels better because it elongates the spine. They didn't know if I was paralyzed or anything.

"I appreciate to get the call", Smith said.

Almirola immediately knew he was injured. He dropped his window net, but when he disconnected his steering wheel and threw it on the dash his back pain intensified. "Now that I've made it to the highest level, that's all I ever do".

"I think the incentive to make sure that I can run around in my front yard with my kids is enough for me to not rush back".

"So I just sat there and waited for the medical team to help get me out. They didn't know if my legs were going to be attached, they didn't know any of that". I was in way too much pain. I didn't' think I was lucky.

Almost a week out from the accident, Almirola says he still is in some pain, although it is much more manageable.

One thing Almirola won't do is rush back from injury. "I've got a four year old and a three year old at home", Almirola stated.

Almirola appeared at a charity event hosted by fellow racer Martin Truex Jr. earlier this week and touched on his injury, which came in a fiery three-car crash that also involved Joey Logano and Danica Patrick.

However, the 2014 Daytona Coke Zero 400 victor says he is grateful for the opportunity to recover and return to work considering the impact he experienced. "I've crashed plenty of times in a late model coming up and racing in Florida".

Almirola said Friday he'd stopped taking painkillers 48 hours prior to his news conference in order to sound coherent while discussing his injury.

"It didn't slow down, it didn't turn, it didn't do anything", Almirola told NASCAR.com. You take good care of your body and you're in good health, you're lean. He was released from a Kansas City-area hospital Sunday and the team said he probably wouldn't need surgery.