Drivers React to Kansas Crash That Led to Almirola Being Air-Lifted to a Local Hospital

Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images

By Summer Bedgood, Managing Editor

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — It’s a situation everyone knows can happen, but no one likes to think about or acknowledge.

While it is true that NASCAR’s safety initiatives are better than they have ever been and are getting better as time goes on, Saturday night’s race at Kansas Speedway shows that NASCAR stock cars and their drivers are never going to be 100% safe.

On lap 201 of the 267 lap race, a part broke in Joey Logano’s car, causing his car to veer left into Danica Patrick’s right rear. As Patrick and Logano slammed into the outside wall and Patrick’s No. 10 erupted in flames, Aric Almirola slid into the crash and made heavy impact as well.

Joey Logano and Danica Patrick both climbed from their cars and into an ambulance to take a ride to the infield care center, but Almirola was not quite as fortunate.

Safety and emergency personnel had to cut the roof on Almirola’s No. 43 car to remove him from the vehicle. He was placed on a backboard and into a nearby ambulance. He was then taken to the infield care center and shortly thereafter airlifted to a local hospital for further evaluation.

He was awake, alert, oriented and spoke to emergency personnel both in his car and in the ambulance, before being transported elsewhere.

Logano and Patrick were both evaluated and released from the infield care center. Logano was clearly shaken and upset afterwards, and expressed great concern for Almirola’s wellbeing when asked if he was alright following the contact.

“Yeah, I’m okay,” said Logano. “Just saying a lot of prayers for Aric (Almirola) right now. A lot of us took a hard hit. Something broke on my car, I don’t know what it was. 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 bit step sideways into the corner and I hooked Danica (Patrick). I haven’t seen a replay yet, I don’t know what happened. You can see the right-front popped (right there) and it popped. I just hope everyone is okay. I hope Aric is alright. That’s the last thing you want to see, a big hit like that for anyone. It’s unfortunate for everyone. Let’s hope that Aric is alright.”

Patrick was less subdued and visibly irritated after getting involved in a wreck not of her own doing, especially given that she was running 10th to 15th for much of the night.

“We were having a really good race and having fun out there and had a lot of speed,” said Patrick. “I kinda felt like Wonder Woman for a little while. All I know is that I all of a sudden crashed. I definitely had a feeling it was the 22 and I am sure that the doctors in the medical center checking my neurological abilities are glad to know I was right that it was Joey. When he said he had a failure I can’t say it made me feel that much better in the moment. I am just frustrated for the lack of breaks I get. It seems like every time things are going better and something happens I get crashed or am in a crash. Especially a place like this, a brake rotor, when we are using 200-300 pounds of pressure seems odd. Unfortunately there were two of us that got collected and while I am okay, one of these times one if these really big accidents someone is not going to be okay. Aric (Almirola) is not okay and his car looked the best of everybody. You never know when it is going to be the wrong hit. I have a team that works hard and put another car on the track and I hope we are saving up for a really good run of good luck.”

 

Patrick was credited with a 36th-place finish. Logano wound up 37th and Almirola 38th.

The race was red-flagged for 27 minutes and 41 seconds in order to extract Almirola from the car and clean up the track.

Once the race resumed, Martin Truex Jr. went on to win the race after leading 104 laps. Logano’s teammate Brad Keselowski finished second. Kevin Harvick wound up third, followed by Ryan Blaney. While not an “official” Team Penske teammate to Keselowski and Harvick, Blaney drives for Wood Brothers Racing who has an alliance with Team Penske. Blaney led 83 laps en route to the top-five finish and Kyle Busch rounded out the top five.

“It’s a dangerous sport,” said Keselowski. “Always has been, always will be. Sometimes we forget that and maybe take for granted. You see hard hits and see people walk away, then you see one where someone doesn’t and it puts things back in perspective just how dangerous it can be.”

After the race, Truex acknowledged that he was able to somewhat keep an eye on what was going on while under the red flag and described his emotions as a driver while waiting for more information.

“It depends on the situation,” said Truex. “Tonight, I sat there, I tried to watch the big screen as much as I could. Definitely talked to my crew chief a little bit at first about what happened, what was going on. Was he out of the car yet and all that stuff and he kinda kept me up to speed. I got to where I could kinda turn my head enough to see the big screen and when I seen they were getting him out and he was on a stretcher, I just kinda put my head down, closed my eyes, and gave him a few prayers to hope that he was doing good. Honestly, I was so relaxed and comfortable, my eyes were shut for a few minutes, and I think I almost fell asleep at that point. Being in the car is relaxing. It’s a place where I’m comfortable. Most drivers are the same way. Definitely was thinking about Aric a lot for sure. Once that yellow comes back out, you gotta put your game face back on and you’ve got to go back to work and try to do the best you can. I hope he’s doing good. Still think about him for sure.”

Per a team release, Almirola is in stable condition and will be kept at the hospital overnight for further observation.

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