Published: Sat, May 20, 2017
Sport | By Charlene Craig

Regan Smith: Regan Smith in #43 for Almirola at Charlotte

Regan Smith: Regan Smith in #43 for Almirola at Charlotte

The driver of the No. 43 auto spoke to the media for the first time since the wreck - which involved Joey Logano and Danica Patrick, who were not injured - and detailed what was going through his mind when he slammed into their cars.

In good spirits, his body still sore, Almirola spoke with NASCAR.com before a press conference Friday morning at Charlotte Motor Speedway, site of Saturday night's Monster Energy All-Star Race. Regan Smith will drive the No. 43 Smithfield Ford in this weekend's Monster Energy Open Race.

The wreck was a scary one that resonated across the NASCAR community, as even Dale Earnhardt Jr. commented on the incident in an interview Thursday.

"For me, I think the most challenging part is never getting comfort or relief", Almirola said. I'm gonna listen to the doctors.

"I felt like from that point my vehicle was on railroad tracks and I was just headed straight for the wreck". That's most important to me.

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"They used it as an opportunity to go and take some pictures of me", Almirola said. I braced for the wreck and immediately when I hit Joey's (Logano) auto I felt pain in my back.

"So I just sat there and waited for the medical team to help get me out. And I got a really bad burning sensation in my back".

"If I sit for too long, I've got to stand up". "Now that I've made it to the highest level, that's all I ever do. I felt like somebody stuck a knife in my back". Devin, a 5-year-old boy battling Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, had been scheduled by Pollex to walk down the event's signature runway with Almirola on Wednesday night. Returning home, Almirola met with top doctors in the Charlotte area to determine a recovery plan.

When Almirola and Devin's turn to strut - or, in Almirola's case, gingerly step - down the runway came, the crowd of 650 guests and donors' polite clapping turned into a roar of support.

Almirola said he is so grateful to everyone who has reached out to him in the days following the accident and spends hours responding to the kind text messages and phone calls from all those expressing their care. "I've got a handsome family and I want to be able to run around outside and throw the baseball with Alex and I want to go to father-daughter dances with Abby and I'm not going to do anything to jeopardize that".

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