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 crash landing Thursday near Bristol Motor Speedway.
The 44-year-old television analyst and retired driver was taken to a hospital for evaluation after the crash in east Tennessee. Earnhardt was with wife Amy, 15-month-old daughter Isla, a dog and two pilots.
“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.
“We look forward to having him back in the booth next month at Darlington.”
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. Thursday. FAA officials said the preliminary indication is that two pilots and three passengers were aboard the jet.
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 a total of four people.