Fans thankful for Earnhardt family's safety; NTSB investigating crash

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Officials released more information about what happened before Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s private plane was engulfed in fire following a crash on the way to Bristol, Tennessee. 

NTSB says the plane Earnhardt Jr., his wife and one-year-old daughter were on with two pilots took off from Statesville 20 minutes prior to the crash in Elizabethton, Tennessee.

Investigators say surveillance video from buildings in the area show the plane bounce twice before coming down hard on the main landing gear. The plane then rolled off the runway through a fence and on to a highway and then caught fire. 

Everyone on board was able to get off the plane safely. Earnhardt Jr. was the only one taken to the hospital as a precaution. He was released a few hours later.


The NTSB says they will be on scene for two to three days gathering evidence from inside the plane.

In the wake of the crash, fans of the NSCAR legend have been stopping by his race shop in Mooresville relieved the him, his family and crew survived the plane crash.

Many fans are still emotional, some tell FOX 46 that when they heard about the plane crash, they immediately thought about the tragedy years ago involving Dale Earnhardt Sr. 

"I got a text that there had been a plane crashing involving Dale Earnhardt Jr and my heart sunk," Dan Breeden said. 

Breeden says he immediately had a flashback to February 2001 at the Daytona 500 when Dale Jr's father was killed in a crash. 

"You just have that heartsick feeling that this can't be happening. It was that momentary fright that here something has happened again," said Breeden.

Dale Jr., his wife Amy, his baby girl Isla and two pilots were all on board this plane Thursday afternoon.

It overran the runway before crashing and turning into a fireball with smoke spewing everywhere. 

"It's just phenomenal when you look at that footage that anybody survived that." 

The NTSB confirmed Friday that everyone on board was able to make it out before the fire started.

"We're just real thankful as part of the Earnhardt nation," another fan told FOX 46. 

All are thankful that one of NASCAR's legends, his family and his crew walked away from the plane crash. On Friday, Dale Jr.'s sister said they're all "doing well." 

"I think the thing that makes Dale Jr. so special is he's a down to earth guy that's still accessible and I think that's a lot of what's missing today in NASCAR as a long long time fan." 

Dale Jr.'s sister Kelley sent out a statement thanking everyone for the "overwhelming support."

The NTSB says they have interviewed Dale Jr. and his wife about the crash, and they expect to release a preliminary report in a week.