NASCAR driver Aric Almirola airlifted to hospital after fiery crash at Kansas

KANSAS CITY, Kan.  -- Aric Almirola was airlifted to the University of Kansas Medical Center for evaluation after his involvement in a fiery, three-car crash at Kansas Speedway during Saturday night's Go Bowling 400 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race.

Almirola, who drives for one-car team Richard Petty Motorsports, was listed in stable condition early Sunday morning, according to a team release that reads in part:

"Almirola was alert after the accident as safety professionals removed him from the car. He was transported by helicopter to a local medical facility for evaluation. He is in stable condition and will be held overnight for further observation."

The team did not say whether Almirola had suffered any injuries.

The crash was caused when something on Joey Logano's No. 22 Ford broke, sending him hard into Danica Patrick's No. 10 Ford in Turn 1 shortly after a restart on Lap 69. Almirola, who was trailing, came up on the wreck and hit both cars hard, lifting the No. 43 Ford's back wheels off the racing surface.

Almirola's window net was lowered but safety crews continued to work to release him from the car, removing the windscreen and cutting off the top of the car. He was alert when he was pulled from the car and was placed on a board.

The race was red-flagged.

Almirola, 33, is in his sixth full-time season for RPM. The Tampa, Fla., native has one Cup win — at Daytona International Speedway in July 2014. He won the Xfinity Series race at Talladega Superspeedway last weekend.

Almirola is married to Janice and they have two children, Alex and Abby.

Logano and Patrick walked away from the accident and were checked and cleared from the infield care center. Logano later said something broke in his No. 22 Ford but did not know what caused his car to veer into Patrick.

“Something broke on my car, I don't know what it was,” Logano said. “I noticed it as I was trying to go in. I tried to back it off but you're going 215 (mph) and it's hard to check up. The car just took a big step sideways into the corner and I hooked Danica.

“I’m just saying a lot of prayers for Aric right now. That's the last thing you want to see, a big hit like that for anyone. It's unfortunate for everyone.”

Patrick bolted from her car after flames engulfed it. She was struck by Logano on the 200th lap, sending her into the SAFER-barrier covered wall as the onrushing Almirola careened into Logano.

Both Logano and Patrick felt grateful to emerge unscathed, aside from some little burns on Patrick’s fingers.

“I felt like Wonder Woman for a little while,” Patrick said, referring to the movie sponsoring her entry in the Go Bowling 400. “It felt like a super hero movie scene where the car is in a ball of flames.

“The first hit was definitely sharp and hard. I couldn’t see at that point, there was so much smoke. Then, the fire came in, and I started unbuckling before I came to a stop. When I see fire, it’s like frantic, get out of the car, so I unbuckled and got out. My spotter was saying, ‘Tell me you’re OK, tell me you’re OK,’ and I can hear it, but I was more interested in getting out of the car.

“I have about 24 inches of locks coming off my headgear, and I don’t want that to start on fire.”

Patrick confronted Logano on the infield grass and demanded an explanation.

“I saw him, I said, ‘I’m not sure it was you,’ ’’ she said. “Then he said it was a failure of some sort which didn’t make me feel better."

Patrick and Logano were running in the top 12 at the time of the crash, which only added to her frustration. She has a best finish of 17th in 11 starts this season.

"I would have loved to have done really well in this car, because it looks good ... and it was a much more fun night than I’ve had at any point this year.”

The incident also gave Patrick pause when thinking about the bigger picture - safety.

“It’s a total fact in our sport that some of the worst-looking accidents, drivers walk away, and the ones that don’t look as bad, they don’t (walk away), whether it’s Aric from this accident or Dale Earnhardt Sr.,” Patrick said.

“That’s the scary part. You know you’re playing Russian Roulette, and at one point at time, something is going to affect you. I hope and pray a lot something doesn’t happen to me, but you’re rolling the dice, and I’m sure racking ‘em up these days.”

Martin Truex Jr. won the race, his second victory of the season.

Contributing: USA TODAY Sports

© 2017 USA TODAY


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