Almirola to fill in for No. 43 RPM Nationwide team
Michael Annett is out of the No. 43 Nationwide Series car for an undetermined amount of time because of chest injuries suffered in a crash during the season opener last weekend at Daytona International Speedway.
According to his Richard Petty Motorsports team, Annett sustained a fracture and dislocation of his sternum after impacting the outside wall head-on in a multi-car crash near the end of last Saturday’s season opener. The 26-year-old from Des Moines, Iowa, spent one night in a Daytona Beach hospital complaining of chest and sternum discomfort. Annett is scheduled for impending surgery for his injuries in Charlotte, N.C.
Aric Almirola, who drives the No. 43 car in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series for RPM, will replace Annett in the Nationwide vehicle this week at Phoenix International Raceway. The team will evaluate its driver options in the forthcoming weeks, it said in a release issued Tuesday evening.
Annett made contact with Austin Dillon in tight traffic, and was turned directly into the wall as part of a 13-car pileup that unfolded on lap 116 of the 120-lap race at Daytona. Annett’s injury was unrelated to the 12-car accident on the event’s final lap, which involved Kyle Larson’s vehicle going airborne and parts of his car injuring several fans in the grandstands.
Annett becomes the second national-series driver in the past five months to sit out races due to an injury suffered on the track. Dale Earnhardt Jr. missed Sprint Cup events last year at Charlotte and Kansas because of the effects of two concussions, the first sustained in a testing crash at Kansas and the second in an accident at the end of a race at Talladega. Although Annett underwent a CT scan at the hospital in Daytona Beach, he was not diagnosed with a concussion.
Annett was coming off a breakout season on the Nationwide tour, having finished fifth in final points last season in his debut campaign with RPM. Although he didn’t win, he set a new career-high with 17 top-10s, and recorded top-five finishes for the first time.
He entered this season believing his team was ready to compete for race victories and the series championship. His string of 139 consecutive Nationwide series starts -- which dates back to his debut at Homestead in 2008 -- will come to an end this weekend.
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