The 2017 crash in the spring Kansas Speedway that seriously injured Aric Almirola and kept him from competing in seven races that season continues to define his career.
“Breaking my back was obviously not in the plan,” Almirola said in an interview on NASCAR America. “I didn’t anticipate ever being injured in a racecar. Everybody always thinks, ‘that’s not going to happen to me.’ ”
But it did and each time Almirola returns to Kansas – like he will Sunday (2 p.m. ET on NBC) – he is met with memories of the accident that will not go away. That’s because his crash continues to be part of the highlight reel for this track as one of its most dramatic moments.
As it turns out, his thoughts about the track have become fond ones.
Later in 2017, Almirola finished ninth in the fall Kansas race after finishing fifth the week before at Talladega. He finished ninth again this spring.
“Something that really stuck out to me there is how his perception has changed,” Parker Kligerman said on Thursday’s edition of NASCAR America. “Sometimes you have drivers who ascend to the top very quickly and they don’t have, maybe, a respect for what they’re doing and what they’re getting to do week in and week out. And when they’re … forced to watch the sport from another angle and … just observe, a lot of time they come away being faster, better, more appreciative.”
This week, Almirola goes to the track with an even better feeling after winning last week’s race at Talladega.
For more, watch the video above.