NASCAR's Regan Smith replaces injured Aric Almirola in Charlotte

By Associated Press,
Last Updated: Wednesday, May 17, 2017, 7:40 PM EDT

Regan Smith will be the replacement driver for Aric Almirola in Saturday‚Äôs Monster Energy Open 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.