Aric Almirola returns to pilot the No. 43 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway
MOORESVILLE, N.C. - Richard Petty Motorsports announced Wednesday that Aric Almirola will return to the team's No. 43 entry for this weekend's Overton's 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Almirola, who suffered a compression fracture of his T5 vertebra in a fiery crash at Kansas Speedway in May, was sidelined for seven points-paying events, as well as the Monster Energy All-Star Race at Charlotte. In his absence, RPM's No. 43 was driven by Regan Smith, road course ace Billy Johnson, and Darrell "Bubba" Wallace Jr.
Team officials said the injury has a standard healing time of eight to 12 weeks and that Almirola tested Tuesday at Charlotte Motor Speedway to receive clearance from his doctors and NASCAR.
"It felt great to be back in the racecar yesterday," Almirola said in a press release. "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."
Almirola currently sits 32nd in points and would need to be 30th or higher with a victory to qualify for the NASCAR Playoffs. He would also require a waiver from NASCAR after missing multiple races due to his injury. He has one top five and two top-10 finishes at New Hampshire in his Cup Series career.