Social roundup: Aric Almirola’s violent wreck prompts wave of driver concern

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NASCAR drivers reacted en masse on Twitter to the wreck that sent Aric Almirola to the hospital Saturday night. Richard Petty Motorsports released a statement early Sunday that the driver was in stable condition and held overnight for observation.

Almirola’s No. 43 Ford briefly went airborne after colliding with the cars of Joey Logano and Danica Patrick during the Go Bowling 400 at Kansas Speedway.

NASCAR said Almirola was airlifted to the University of Kansas Medical Center for observation.

Here’s a selection of the well wishes for Almirola:

Who will win the fan vote to race in the Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race? You decide

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The polls are open and waiting for your vote.

It’s time choose your favorite driver to run in next weekend’s 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR All Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

The race takes place May 20th and the single driver that earns the most fan votes will receive an automatic berth in the main event.

Voting is currently taking place.

Fans can vote once per day at NASCAR.com/fanvote, and votes shared on Facebook or Twitter count double. Also, don’t forget to use the hashtags #AllStarRace and #FanVote on social media.

Voting closes May 19 at 11:59 p.m. ET.

Here’s the list of eligible drivers that are on the Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race Fan Vote ballot:

AJ Allmendinger, Aric Almirola, Trevor Bayne, Ryan Blaney, Clint Bowyer, Landon Cassill, Matt DiBenedetto, Austin Dillon, Ty Dillon, Jeffrey Earnhardt, Chase Elliott, Timmy Hill, Erik Jones, Corey LaJoie, Michael McDowell, Paul Menard, Danica Patrick, David Ragan, Reed Sorenson, Daniel Suárez and Cole Whitt.

Chase Elliott, AJ Allmendinger involved in 18-car crash with 20 to go in Geico 500

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A large multicar crash occurred with 20 laps left in the Geico 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.

AJ Almmendinger’s No. 47 Chevrolet, which started the wreck via contact with Chase Elliott, rolled upside down. The crash involved 18 cars.
Allmendinger walked away from the wreck, which forced the race to be red-flagged for 26 minutes and 51 seconds.

The crash began exiting Turn 2 when Allmendinger was drafting with Elliott, whose No. 24 Chevrolet was loose when Allmendinger hit the left-rear bumper.

Elliott turned toward the wall and briefly went airborne.
The accident involved Elliott, Allmendinger, Logano, Erik Jones, Kevin Harvick, David Ragan, Corey LaJoieBrad KeselowskiGray GauldingMatt Kenseth, Martin Truex Jr., Trevor BayneMichael McDowellAustin Dillon, Danica Patrick, Cole Whitt and Matt DiBenedetto.

Elliott and Jones were eliminated from the race by NASCAR after they continued to drive after the red flag was displayed.

“Just battling for the lead, (Kyle Busch) and (Elliott) were kind of leading the two packs,” Allmendinger told Fox. “(Harvick) was just on me. Once I got to Chase, I got loose. I barely tapped him, and I tried to get off him, but it was too late.”

Chase Elliott: “I don’t know that it was really his fault, per se. I think he had a big run, and he kind of got to my bumper and happened to be in a bad spot, kind of coming up off the corner. Was a skewed a little bit to my left rear. When that happens, it just unloads the cars.”

Austin Dillon: “I just saw somebody come across the field there, and started checking up. I got kind of pushed back into it. It’s just Talladega. It’s part of it. We’re three-wide trying to get as much position as we can.”

Joey Logano: “I don’t really know what happened, but I saw (Elliott) tank slapping down the backstretch. I was hoping he was going to go to the left and go toward the inside, but he came up top.”

Danica Patrick: “NASCAR is always making more and more efforts to make the cars safe, so I’m fine. Definitely wasn’t as big as last years’, that was really, really bad. It’s kind of a bummer to be part of an accident and not even be at the core of the accident. I thought somebody clipped me from behind, but it looks like I came down in front of somebody else. I couldn’t see anything, but my spotter just kept saying ‘go low, go low.’ It’s hard to trust them sometimes, but they can see more than I can right now. I was gradually coming low and obviously, he didn’t see me.”

NASCAR All-Star fan poll now open

Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images for NASCAR
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Fans can vote on who should make it to the All-Star Race, scheduled for May 20 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Fans can vote once a day at NASCAR.com/fanvote. Fans can vote once per day and votes shared on Facebook or Twitter count double.

Polls close at 11:59 p.m. ET on May 19.

Those on the ballot are:

AJ Allmendinger, Aric Almirola, Trevor Bayne, Ryan Blaney, Clint Bowyer, Landon Cassill, Matt DiBenedetto, Austin Dillon, Ty Dillon, Jeffrey Earnhardt, Chase Elliott, Timmy Hill, Erik Jones, Corey LaJoie, Michael McDowell, Paul Menard, Danica Patrick, David Ragan, Reed Sorenson, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Daniel Suárez and Cole Whitt.

You’re No. 1! A brief oral history of obscene gestures in NASCAR

Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images
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While there is plenty to debate on what is NASCAR’s most famous number, whether it is the No. 3, No. 43 or some other, there’s no doubt what the sport’s most famous digit is.

The middle digit.

You know, the middle finger.

Unlike other sports where athletes are exposed to fans and cameras throughout an event, NASCAR drivers are hidden from view when they compete, often giving them the chance to express their feelings toward a competitor.

Sure, you’ve heard them cuss on the radio about a driver, but sometimes the message needs to be seen by a competitor immediately. So they stick their hand out the window and raise the middle finger at a person who wronged them.

“If you’re really mad and you want them to know it, that’s when you tell them they’re No. 1,’’ Martin Truex Jr. said.

Middle finger No. 1 that is.

A tradition passed down from generations, drivers aren’t shy in sharing their feelings. Champions, occasional winners and those who have yet to do so have practiced the art of the finger flip. Some, such as Aric Almirola, learned from masters — Tony Stewart.

“I can’t remember what race it was, but at one point … I think we rubbed a little bit and he shot me the bird,’’ Almirola said of Stewart. “And I was like, ‘Man that was odd, we were just racing.’ Later on in the race, I got back by him and just for the fun of it, I returned the one-finger salute.

“After the race, he made it known to me that the reason he was giving me the one-finger salute early on in the race was because it was early on in the race. I was a rookie in the sport. (Stewart said) that early in the race there’s no reason to race that hard. Just let me go, and later on if you’re faster than me, I’ll return the favor and let you go. So, I learned a valuable lesson that day, but it all stemmed from the one-finger salute.”

Stewart isn’t the only driver to deliver a message. Brad Keselowski did so to future teammate Joey Logano during Xfinity practice at Dover in 2008. It was Logano’s first time in the series after having just turned 18 years old and being eligible to compete.

“I’m going out to drive this thing for the first time,’’ Logano said. “It was probably two or three minutes since practice started. Brad is out there, and he’s making a couple of laps.

“It was my fault. I deserved to get the finger. I pulled up on the race track right in front of him, and he had to like slow down and go around me, and I screwed up his lap.

“He flipped me off down the back straightaway. I was still in third gear. This is my Xfinity debut, first time on the race track in practice, and I got flipped off before I got to fourth gear. Now look at us. Now we get along great. I apologized. I told him I didn’t know what I was doing.’’

How memorable was that moment for Keselowski?

“That was 10 years ago, and we’re still talking about it,’’ he said.

Some drivers have sought to make sure their message was understood and excelled driving with one hand while hanging their left hand out the window giving the bird.

Ty Dillon recalls such an experience with Kyle Busch a couple of years ago.

“I was running third or something,’’ Dillon said of the Xfinity race. “He had to come back through the field, and I was like racing him hard because I wanted my spot, I wanted to stay third.

“I think he hit me a couple of times and he went by me and for a whole lap, he gave me the bird all the way around the track. I am driving as hard as I can, and I can’t run him down. He’s got the bird out the window with one hand, running away from me and … it was one of those moments like, ‘OK I get it, I get it.’ ’’ 

Trevor Bayne almost got it when former driver Brian Scott delivered his salute in Bayne’s car after a race.

“Brian flipped me off and so after the race, I’m jacking him up, and he comes over and puts it in the car,’’ Bayne said of Scott’s salute. “I said, ‘If you flip me off one more time, I’ll break your finger off.’

“He put it in the car, and I grabbed it, and I started pulling on it. Like a bunch of high schoolers. I think somebody pulled him out. It was really silly, but that’s probably the most memorable, but I’ve been on the receiving end a lot. Sometimes deservingly so.’’

Kurt Busch notes that he received the bird from Dale Earnhardt Sr. in what was Earnhardt’s last race, the 2001 Daytona 500.

“I got one right away in my career as a rookie in Daytona,’’ Kurt Busch said. “This guy driving this black (No.) 3 car came cruising up the middle, and I was like, ‘Did I do something wrong?’ because he was definitely communicating to me that I was his hero for that moment.’’

That’s one area that Dale Earnhardt Jr. is not like his father. At least now.

“I did it a lot when I was younger,’’ he said of displaying the bird. “After a while, it really ticks you off when someone does it to you, especially somebody young, so I think I realized over a period of time it’s best not to do that.

“Not just worrying about getting caught on TV or anything like that. I guess when it happens to you, it’s hard to control yourself, you get really upset and do something really stupid. I don’t want anybody to do something really stupid if I’m flipping them off. I try to communicate in different ways.’’

Earnhardt is correct. Flipping the bird can have consequences for the person who delivers the message.

“I’ve seen guys chase each other around the racetrack lap after lap trying to wreck each other,’’ Truex said. “I’ve seen somebody let somebody go past them so they could try to wreck them.’’

Not all middle fingers are seen by the person for whom they’re intended.

“When I try to flip people off, my arms aren’t very long so I only get half a finger out,’’ AJ Allmendinger joked. “So I don’t think anybody’s ever seen me flip them off.’’

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