ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. — Dale Earnhardt Jr. is “safe” and in a hospital for evaluation after his plane crashed in east Tennessee, his sister tweeted Thursday.

Earnhardt’s sister, Kelley Earnhardt Miller, tweeted that the retired driver’s wife, Amy, and 15-month-old daughter, Isla, also were on the plane with two pilots.

“Everyone is safe and has been taken to the hospital for further evaluation,” she tweeted. “We will have no further information at this time.”

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. FAA officials said the preliminary indication is that two pilots and three passengers were aboard.

The National Transportation Safety Board tweeted that it’s sending two representatives to Elizabethton to begin investigating the crash.

Carter County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Thomas Gray confirmed Earnhardt was aboard but said he wasn’t one of the pilots.

Earnhardt retired as a full-time driver in 2017 and has been working as an analyst for NBC. He is part of the scheduled broadcast team for Saturday night’s Cup Series event in Bristol, Tennessee.

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, Tennessee. That crash at Tri-City Regional Airport in Blountville, Tennessee, 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 in an airport at Key West, Florida. 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 in 2004 during warmups for an American Le Mans Series race that left him with second-degree burns.

Earnhardt has a history of concussions that plagued him over his final years as a driver.

He won NASCAR’s most popular driver award a record 15 times with 26 career Cup victories.

MATT DIBENEDETTO was told by Leavine Family Racing that he won’t be brought back for a second season with the NASCAR team in 2020.

DiBenedetto called it “devastating news” in social media posts. He’s enjoying the best season of his career while driving the No. 95 Toyota and is ranked a career-best 23rd in points. He has four top top-10 finishes in the past eight races.

DiBenedetto’s post said the team told him Tuesday he was out. In a statement, the organization called DiBenedetto “a talented young driver.”

Leavine Family Racing has an alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing, and that team doesn’t have enough seats to give its many young drivers. DiBenedetto likely will be replaced by Christopher Bell in a promotion from the Xfinity Series, or Erik Jones if Gibbs moves Jones to Leavine to make room for a Cup seat at JGR for Bell.

NASCAR TRUCKS: Brett Moffitt led for 66 laps and went on to win the UNOH 200 on Thursday night at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Chandler Smith was second followed by Ross Chastain, Stewart Friesen and Grant Enfinger.


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