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Aric Almirola returns to No. 43 car at New Hampshire

Aric Almirola is back from his back injury.

Richard Petty Motorsports announced Wednesday that Almirola would resume driving the No. 43 car on Sunday at New Hampshire. Almirola has missed the previous seven races after suffering a fractured vertebra in a crash at Kansas Speedway.

Almirola tested at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Tuesday and was cleared to return after the test.

“It felt great to be back in the racecar yesterday,” Almirola said in a statement. “After racing in the Monster Energy Series for five and a half years, it got to be routine, and I took it for granted. When something gets taken away from you at a moment’s notice like that, it has certainly made me appreciate my passion for racing and my desire to compete at this level. The thrill of running 200 miles per hour in a stock car was something that I had honestly lost a little bit. After being out of the car for eight weeks, the passion is back, now more than ever.”

Almirola suffered the injury when his car collided with Danica Patrick’s. The impact with Patrick’s car was so violent that the rear tires of Almirola’s car lifted off the ground before his car slammed back into the track. Almirola had to be extricated from the car and was transported to a local hospital.

Regan Smith served as his fill-in driver for three races while Bubba Wallace drove in the most recent four races for Almirola. With Wallace’s Roush Fenway Xfinity Series team no longer racing, he’s currently a free agent and doesn’t have any concrete plans for the rest of the 2017 season.

In 11 races so far in 2017, Almirola has two top-five finishes and three top 10s.

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Nick Bromberg is the editor of Dr. Saturday and From the Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!