NASCAR’s Regan Smith replaces injured Almirola in Charlotte

Aric Almirola (43), Danica Patrick and Joey Logano, back left, crash during the NASCAR Monster Cup auto race at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kan., Saturday, May 13, 2017. (AP Photo/Colin E. Braley)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Regan Smith will be the replacement driver for Aric Almirola this weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Richard Petty Motorsports made the announcement Wednesday.

Almirola spent Saturday night in a Kansas City hospital after fracturing a vertebra during a fiery wreck at Kansas Speedway. The top of Almirola’s car had to be cut away for him to be removed from the car and airlifted to the hospital.

Almirola is currently 23rd in the Monster Energy Series standings, but it’s not clear how long he will be sidelined.

Smith, a 10-year Cup veteran, has not raced in the top NASCAR series this season, though he has competed in four Truck series races.

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