ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. — Legendary NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his family were involved in a fiery plane crash in East Tennessee on Thursday.
Earnhardt Jr., his wife Amy Reimann, daughter Isla, and two pilots were on board the plane, according to Earnhardt Jr.'s sister, Kelley Earnhardt.
She said everyone was safe in a tweet, which NBC Sports later confirmed in a statement. NBC Sports said the family was out of the hospital and everyone was safe after talking with Earnhardt Jr. and his team.
"We're all in agreement that he should take this weekend off to be with his family. We look forward to having him back in the booth next month in Darlington," NBC Sports said in a statement on Twitter.
Earnhardt Jr., voted NASCAR's most popular driver for 15 years, retired from full-time stock car racing in 2017. He does analysis for NASCAR on NBC.
The NASCAR circuit is racing in Bristol this weekend. The popular Saturday night race is scheduled to air on NBC Sports Network.
The airport in Elizabethton is less than twenty miles from Bristol Motor Speedway.
Jerry Caldwell, the executive vice president and general manager of Bristol Motor Speedway, released the following statement to Tri-Cities NBC affiliate WCYB on Thursday about the incident:
“We were relieved to read Kelley Earnhardt’s tweet that Dale and his family and the pilots are safe. We fully support NBC’s decision to encourage him to take this weekend off to be with his family. On behalf of everyone at Bristol Motor Speedway, our thoughts and prayers are with him, his wife Amy and daughter Isla as they move forward from this incident.”
Earnhardt Jr. is not the first NASCAR legend to be involved in a plane crash en route to Bristol Motor Speedway.
Alan Kulwicki was killed, along with three others, in a plane crash near Blountville, Tennessee, on April 1, 1993, while on approach to Tri-Cities Regional Airport.
Later that same year, another NASCAR driver, Davey Allison was killed in a helicopter crash while landing his helicopter at Talladega Superspeedway.
In 2004, a plane owned by Hendrick Motorsports crashed on it's way to the race track in Martinsville, Virginia, killing ten people including Hendrick family members and executives. Earnhardt Jr. raced for Hendrick Motorsports for the final decade of his career.