Kansas Speedway presented the highs and lows of NASCAR stock car racing Saturday night. The Go Bowling 400 featured an exciting battle to the checkered flag. With the Fords of Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick, and Ryan Blaney taking second, third, and fourth. While Martin Truex Jr. pulled away for the win. His second victory of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season.
In a horrifying crash 68 laps from the finish, three more Ford drivers ended their night in a fiery tangle of twisted metal. Danica Patrick, in the Wonder Woman sponsored Fusion, ran consistently just outside of the top 10 all night. Entering turn one on lap 199 Patrick was racing Joey Logano for 12th place. Logano’s car suddenly jumped left, clipping the right rear quarter-panel of Patrick’s car. Replays showed what appeared to be pieces of Logano’s right front brake rotor exploding up through the hood. Patrick’s car spun into the wall and burst into flames collecting Logano in the wreck.
As debris littered the track, Aric Almirola’s car running a few hundred yards behind may have run over something. Almirola attempted to steer his car low to avoid the accident. Unfortunately, the front end of the Richard Petty Motorsports Ford plowed into the wreckage. The fireball intensified and Almirola’s car almost stood on its nose. Suspended in mid-air the rear axle housing almost came loose from the frame. Leading to speculation that debris may have damaged the undercarriage leading to Almirola’s loss of control. As the race car slammed back down on the track it separated from the burning ruin of Patrick and Logano’s cars.
Almirola’s car slid along the outside wall and came to rest on the backstretch. He quickly lowered the driver’s window net but did not exit the car. Track safety workers arrived and immediately set to work cutting open the cockpit. Under a red flag, the safety crew cut the top off the number 43, placed Almirola on a backboard and lifted him from the car. Following a quick trip to the infield care center, he was transported by helicopter to a local hospital. RPM released a statement after the race that Almirola was in stable condition and would be kept overnight for observation.
Logano, interviewed outside of the infield car center, appeared visibly shaken watching the replay of the accident. Asking twice for prayers for Aric during his interview with Fox’s Jamie Little. Patrick lamented her continuing run of bad luck. She also expressed concern and wished the best for Aric’s condition. After having been penalized 35 points for a failed laser inspection at Talladega. Almirola’s 38th place finish on the night will leave him further out of playoff contention.
The Blue Oval driver’s still hold eight of the 16 available playoff positions. Keselowski sits third and Harvick sixth, with Logano, Clint Bowyer, and Blaney ninth to 11th. Last week’s winner Ricky Stenhouse Jr. is in 13th, Trevor Bayne 14th, and Kurt Bush 15th. Almirola slid to 23rd, 54 points behind the final playoff spot.
Next Saturday night the Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star race from Charlotte will entertain fans with a new race format. Before the series picks up again the following Sunday evening with the Coca-Cola 600, Memorial Day weekend.
Aric Almirola was released from University of Kansas Medical Center, Sunday morning. Almirola suffered a fractured vertebra in a wreck with Danica Patrick and Joey Logano during Saturday night’s Go Bowling 400 at Kansas Speedway.