ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. — Dale Earnhardt Jr. will take the weekend off from broadcasting to be with his wife and daughter after the three were in a plane that crash landed Thursday near Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.
Earnhardt, a 44-year-old television analyst and retired NASCAR driver, was taken to a hospital for evaluation after the crash. Earnhardt was with wife Amy, 15-month-old daughter Isla, a dog and two pilots.
Videos posted on Twitter showed the plane’s fuselage cracked in two and a combination of flames and black smoke billowing from the opening. Photos taken later showed the plane was almost fully engulfed in flames.
Nobody was hurt, Elizabethton Fire Chief Barry Carrier told station WJHL
“We’re incredibly grateful that Dale, his wife Amy, daughter Isla, and the two pilots are safe following today’s accident,” NBC Sports said in a statement. “After being discharged from the hospital, we communicated with Dale and his team, and we’re all in agreement that he should take this weekend off to be with his family.”
Federal Aviation Administration officials said a Cessna Citation rolled off the end of a runway and caught fire after landing at Elizabethton Municipal Airport at 3:40 p.m. The National Transportation Safety Board tweeted that it’s sending two representatives to Elizabethton to begin investigating the crash.
Photo: Carter County Sheriff’s Office
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Earnhardt retired as a full-time driver in 2017 and has been working as an analyst for NBC. He was part of the scheduled broadcast team for Saturday night’s Cup Series event in Bristol.
This incident comes 26 years after former driver and 1992 Cup champion Alan Kulwicki died in a plane crash while on his way to the spring race at Bristol from a promotional appearance in Knoxville, Tenn. That crash at Tri-City Regional Airport in Blountville, Tenn., killed four people.
Earnhardt was part of Rick Hendrick’s racing team in 2011 when Hendrick broke a rib and a collarbone while on a small jet that lost its brakes and crash landed at an airport at Key West, Fla. Hendrick’s son, brother and twin nieces were among 10 people killed in a 2004 crash of a plane traveling to a race in Virginia.
This isn’t the first fiery crash for Earnhardt. He still has a burn scar on his neck from a crash at Sonoma Raceway in 2004 during warm-ups for an American Le Mans Series race that left him with second-degree burns.
Earnhardt won NASCAR’s most popular driver award a record 15 times and had 26 career Cup victories.
This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/sports/article/Dale-Earnhardt-Jr-reported-safe-after-Tennessee-14308236.php.