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Aric Almirola knew immediately following his horrendous crash at Kansas Speedway that he had a spinal injury, but the NASCAR driver said Friday he didn’t realize the severity of his broken back until he talked with doctors and learned he would be sidelined for eight to twelve weeks.

Physician assistant Bill Heisel, director of OrthoCarolina Motorsports, said the compression fracture of Almirola’s T5 vertebra was more severe than the back injuries suffered in 2013 by Denny Hamlin and last year by Tony Stewart.

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