RELATED: Almirola released from hospital
NASCAR officials will do a thorough inspection of the No. 43 Ford of driver Aric Almirola following the Richard Petty Motorsports driver’s fiery crash during Saturday’s Go Bowling 400 at Kansas Speedway.
“It’s currently at the (NASCAR) R&D Center, and our safety experts will … look for anything that might give us clues or some indication of exactly what the challenge was there with Aric and his back,” Scott Miller, NASCAR Senior Vice President of Competition, said Monday morning on “The Morning Drive” on SiriusXM NASCAR.
“I’m certain they’ll interview him and ask him about all the particulars of how tight his belts were and all the rest of that.
“When we have these situations or even situations where someone doesn’t get hurt, we really like to investigate as best as possible into the accident and see how we can get better.”
Almirola suffered a compression fracture of the T5 vertebra when his car was involved in a three-car accident on Lap 199 of the 267-lap Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race.
The incident began when a mechanical issue appeared to cause the No. 22 Team Penske Ford of Joey Logano to clip the right rear of the No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford of Danica Patrick in Turn 1 on the 1.5-mile track.
Patrick’s Ford slammed hard into the outside wall, then struck the Logano entry as it slid up the track. Patrick’s car had burst into flames when the Almirola entry came into the corner and piled into the left front of Logano’s car.
The impact was so severe it lifted the rear wheels of Almirola’s Ford off the racing surface.
Emergency and track safety workers were quickly on the scene. While Logano and Patrick were not injured and were able to exit their cars without assistance, workers had to remove the roof of Almirola’s car to extricate the driver.
He was alert as workers placed him on a backboard and quickly airlifted him to the University of Kansas Medical Center.
The 33-year-old driver was released Sunday, and returned home to North Carolina. According to RPM officials he was expected to undergo additional medical evaluations upon his return.
Updates on his condition and the team’s plans for the upcoming race weeks at Charlotte Motor Speedway are expected to be announced at a later date.
Miller praised the work of the safety crews and medical personnel.
“To take the precautions that they did, fortunately Aric was able to talk with them over there and explain the situation so they acted accordingly and we were really happy with the way all that went,” he said.
In addition to the safety aspects of the driver compartment, Miller said NASCAR’s safety group will look at the reasons for the fire.
“We always look at that and the biggest thing that we’re concerned with from a fire perspective is fuel and the car sitting there burning for a long time and going into a big blaze,” he said. “Fuel is the biggest catalyst for that. I think we’ve done a really good job with the fuel cells and all the work that we’ve done there. When you have a crash like that and the oil coolers and oil lines and all the things that get damaged in a wreck like that, oil is going to come out on the headers and it’s going to be hard to stop a flash fire.
“But I think as long as we can stay away from those fires that sit there and burn or escalate after the car stops, we’re doing pretty good there.”
The race was red-flagged for 27 min., 41 seconds while safety and rescue personnel attended to the drivers and cleaned up the scene.
Almirola is in his sixth full season of competition in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. He has one career victory, 10 top-five and 29 top-10 finishes in 226 career starts.