Retired NASCAR star Dale Earnhardt Jr. has survived a plane crash at in Tennessee.
The Carter County Sheriff’s Office confirmed that Earnhardt Jr.’s plane crashed on Thursday at Elizabethon Municipal Airport.
Photos circulated from the scene, which show the plane burning before it was extinguished. The Federal Aviation Administration confirmed that the Cessna Citation 680 had “rolled off the end of a runway”.
According to Carter County Sheriff Dexter Lunceford, Earnhardt Jr. was transported to Johnson City Medical Center with “minor injuries.”
Earnhardt’s wife Amy and their daughter Isla also escaped serious injury, along with the plane’s pilot, one other passenger, and a family dog.
The former racer’s sister Kelley tweeted: “I can confirm Dale, Amy & Isla along with his two pilots were involved in a crash in Bristol TN this afternoon. 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 crash occurred around 3:38pm ET (5:38am AEST). Video footage from the scene showed the plane came to rest near a road. By the time fire trucks arrived, the rear section of the plane had burnt before it was almost fully engulfed in flames.
It was later reported by WCYB News 5 that Earnhardt Jr. had left Johnson City Medical Center via police escort three hours after the crash.
44-year-old Earnhardt Jr. retired from NASCAR competition in 2017, and transitioned into commentary for NBC.
Earnhardt Jr. won NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver Award 15 times, and recorded 26 wins across his career, including the prestigious Daytona 500 twice.
Several drivers expressed their relief following news the plane’s occupants were safe.
Ricciardo understands Vettel’s situation, having unseated him as the team’s key performer during their only season at Red Bull in 2014. After joining Ferrari from 2015, Vettel hit the ground running and won on his second start with the Scuderia in Malaysia.
Although Leclerc is winning the battle, Ricciardo believes Vettel “absolutely” has what it takes to claw momentum back, even as soon as this weekend.
“[I’m] probably a decent one to answer for it because it’s in times, in a similar position to maybe where he was in 2014 and he bounced back,” Ricciardo said of Vettel.
“I think [the] second race in 2015 he won in Malaysia, if memory serves.
“He has the ability to bounce back, and all it will take is one race.”
“I think it’s been a bit of an effect … it probably started — trying not to speak for him — in Canada,” Ricciardo said.
“Obviously the controversy there, it could’ve been his first win of the year.
“If that got done differently, it could’ve changed the whole outcome of these next few races. You never know.
“In the past, he’s always been strong here in Singapore, so this could be the weekend for him that he does turn it around.
“It’s just one [example] where he’s one race from turning it around … there’s a lot of things to deal with in this sport, especially when you’re at the top.
“It’s not just talent anymore, it’s pressure, it’s headspace, where you’re at in your personal life and all this.
“You don’t lose your talent, so can he still drive very fast? Absolutely, and I think he’s just waiting for that weekend to put it together and get himself back. It could very well happen this weekend.”
Very few motorsport fans wouldn’t know of Marquez’s exploits this decade, with the Spaniard the custodian of five (perhaps six in a month’s time) premier class crowns along with 125cc (2010) and Moto2 (2012) titles.
The journey began for Marquez at the 2008 Portuguese Grand Prix, where he made his 125cc debut as a 15-year-old. He finished 18th after starting 26th, before going on to score first world championship points at just his second race in China.
Marquez had to wait until 2010 for his first win, taken at the Italian Grand Prix. However, he would claim another nine victories that season en route to the 125cc crown.
If you want to gauge just how successful Marquez has been this decade, then consider this — he has never finished outside the top three in the championship since his 125cc-winning year in 2010.
An eighth world title is but a formality in 2019 with the Repsol Honda rider leading the standings by 93 points As the #93 returns to a favourite stomping ground this weekend, it seems only a matter of time before the records continue to tumble.
Marquez has claimed more premier class wins (4) than any other rider at MotorLand Aragon. He has also taken pole twice.
Last weekend’s San Marino thriller marked his 77th Grand Prix victory, moving Marquez past Mike Hailwood’s 76. Just Giacomo Agostini (122), Valentino Rossi (115) and Angel Nieto (90) are ahead.
Is Marquez slowing down? Hardly — if anything, he’s barely scratching the surface, having celebrated defeating rookie Fabio Quartararo in Misano like he had won his first ever race.
Looking to Aragon, near where the championship leader was born in Cervera, Marquez just wants to sink his teeth into another race weekend, regardless of whether it’s his first or 200th.
“After a fantastic win in Misano I am excited to race again, especially in Aragon where I really feel like I am at home as it is so close to Cervera,” he said.
“It’s where the most people from my hometown come to watch and always the fans help to give me something extra.
“We have a good lead in the championship but it doesn’t change how we approach the weekend, we keep pushing and trying to achieve our maximum.
Magnussen already had a contract in place with Haas, but the team’s decision to retain Grosjean is perhaps the most significant shock, considering the American outfit recently held talks with Hulkenberg.
Kubica’s departure keeps Hulkenberg’s F1 hopes alive, but the team is struggling and may opt for youth via current reserve driver Nicholas Latifi.
Speaking in Singapore, Hulkenberg admitted “things changed for whatever reason” in the summer break and admitted his 2020 plans are now out of his hands, despite his head “very much here still” in F1.
“There are decisions I can’t have full influence over and I can’t steer,” the German said.
“I’m still here and I think there’s still hope — and there are still options.”
Three Red Bull seats — one at the senior team, and both at Toro Rosso — are yet to be filled foe 2020, although it’d be a monstrous shock should any of Alex Albon, Daniil Kvyat and Pierre Gasly miss out altogether.
Kimi Raikkonen’s 2020 Alfa Romeo teammate is also yet to be confirmed, although current driver Antonio Giovinazzi is expected to cling onto his drive.
While Williams could go with Latifi, Hulkenberg has ties to the squad, having made his debut with the team in 2010.
Hulkenberg also drove for Alfa Romeo when it was under its previous Sauber guise, and it currently presents a more competitive option than Williams.
Hulkenberg would be an asset to any team — he is one of the most experienced drivers on the grid with 170 starts and 91 points finishes.
Sadly, his agonising wait for a maiden F1 podium continues, and should he fail to secure a 2020 drive, his wait will drag on.
However, the 32-year-old won’t sell himself short just to keep himself on the grid.
“For me, it needs to be a good deal, a good seat, with a good prospective as well,” he said.
“I don’t want to just stay desperately in Formula 1. That’s not my style, that’s not what I’m looking for. After 10 years in Formula 1 that’s not what I’m after.”