Dale Earnhardt Jr. survives fiery plane crash

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(CNN) — Dale Earnhardt Jr, famed NASCAR driver and auto racing analyst, and his wife were involved in a private jet crash in eastern Tennessee and escaped serious injury, officials said Thursday.

Elizabethton Fire Chief Barry Carrier told CNN affiliate WJHL that Earnhardt and his wife, Amy, were on the plane that crashed at Elizabethton Municipal Airport. Local police said the plane ran off the runway upon landing at 3:38 p.m. ET.

The retired driver’s sister, Kelley, tweeted that those on board were OK.

“Everyone is safe and has been taken to the hospital for further evaluation. We have no further information at this time. Thank you for your understanding,”

The Federal Aviation Administration said a Cessna Citation rolled off the end of a runway and caught fire after landing. It said it received no reports of injuries.

The FAA said two pilots and three passengers were aboard.

The plane’s tail number was N8JR, the FAA said.

Chief Carrier told CNN that all five people were out of the plane when the fire department arrived.

“When our first unit arrived, there were heavy flames coming from the airplane,” said Carrier. The fire burned for 20 minutes.

Carrier says they were transported to Johnson City Medical Center as a precaution.

Bristol City Motor Speedway is a few miles from the airport. The Monster Energy NASCAR Series is scheduled there for Saturday night.

The airport remains closed while authorities investigate the crash and attend to a fuel spill.

In 2017, Earnhardt, 44, was voted as NASCAR’s most popular driver for the 15th straight year.

Earnhardt, son of the late racing legend Dale Earnhardt, is a NASCAR analyst for NBC. A network spokesperson said: “We are aware of the media reports and have been in contact with Dale’s team. We’ll have no further comment until we have more details.”

Earnhardt has survived a fiery crash in the past.

In 2004, he was driving a Corvette during a practice session at an American Le Mans Series race at the Sonoma Raceway in California. After a seemingly innocent looking one-vehicle wreck, Earnhardt Jr’s car suddenly burst into flames — engulfing his yellow Corvette in fire. In multiple interviews since that accident, Earnhardt credits a spiritual being for pulling him out of the pyre to safety.

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