Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s plane 'basically bounced at least twice' during crash-landing

An investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board said Friday that the plane carrying Dale Earnhardt Jr., his wife Amy and their daughter Isla “basically bounced at least twice” before ending up on fire in the middle of a Tennessee highway.

The Earnhardts and the two pilots on board were able to get out of the plane safely Thursday after it came to rest approximately 1,000 feet past the end of the runway at the Elizabethton (Tenn.) Municipal Airport at about 3:40 p.m. Earnhardt Jr. was transported to Johnson City Medical Center after the crash but was released from the hospital a few hours later.

Senior investigator Ralph Hicks said Friday that the NTSB would be on site for two or three more days while investigating the crash. He said investigators were able to find surveillance video footage that shows the crash and the crash footage is consistent with what the two pilots of the airplane told investigators.

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Plane crash involving Dale Earnhardt Jr. and family
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Plane crash involving Dale Earnhardt Jr. and family
The burned remains of a plane that was carrying NASCAR television analyst and former driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. lies near a runway Thursday, Aug. 15, 2019, in Elizabethton, Tenn. Officials said the Cessna Citation rolled off the end of a runway and caught fire after landing at Elizabethton Municipal Airport. Earnhardt's sister, Kelley Earnhardt Miller, tweeted that "everyone is safe and has been taken to the hospital for further evaluation." (WJHL TV via AP)
The burned remains of a plane that was carrying NASCAR television analyst and former driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. lies near a runway Thursday, Aug. 15, 2019, in Elizabethton, Tenn. Officials said the Cessna Citation rolled off the end of a runway and caught fire after landing at Elizabethton Municipal Airport. Earnhardt's sister, Kelley Earnhardt Miller, tweeted that "everyone is safe and has been taken to the hospital for further evaluation." (WJHL TV via AP)
The burned remains of a plane that was carrying NASCAR television analyst and former driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. lies near a runway Thursday, Aug. 15, 2019, in Elizabethton, Tenn. Officials said the Cessna Citation rolled off the end of a runway and caught fire after landing at Elizabethton Municipal Airport. Earnhardt's sister, Kelley Earnhardt Miller, tweeted that "everyone is safe and has been taken to the hospital for further evaluation." (WJHL TV via AP)
The burned remains of a plane that was carrying NASCAR television analyst and former driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. lies near a runway Thursday, Aug. 15, 2019, in Elizabethton, Tenn. Officials said the Cessna Citation rolled off the end of a runway and caught fire after landing at Elizabethton Municipal Airport. Earnhardt's sister, Kelley Earnhardt Miller, tweeted that "everyone is safe and has been taken to the hospital for further evaluation." (WJHL TV via AP)
The wreckage of a plane crash involving NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his family, who survived the incident, in Elizabethton, Tennessee, U.S. August 15, 2019. REUTERS/Charles Mostoller
The wreckage of a plane crash involving NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his family, who survived the incident, in Elizabethton, Tennessee, U.S. August 15, 2019. REUTERS/Charles Mostoller
A police officer photographs the wreckage of a plane crash involving NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his family, who survived the incident, in Elizabethton, Tennessee, U.S. August 15, 2019. REUTERS/Charles Mostoller
A police officer looks at the wreckage of a plane crash involving NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his family, who survived the incident, in Elizabethton, Tennessee, U.S. August 15, 2019. REUTERS/Charles Mostoller
A police officer walks past the wreckage of a plane crash involving NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his family, who survived the incident, in Elizabethton, Tennessee, U.S. August 15, 2019. REUTERS/Charles Mostoller
The wreckage of a plane crash involving NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his family, who survived the incident, in Elizabethton, Tennessee, U.S. August 15, 2019. REUTERS/Charles Mostoller TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Firefighters walk past the wreckage of a plane crash involving NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his family, who survived the incident, in Elizabethton, Tennessee, U.S. August 15, 2019. REUTERS/Charles Mostoller
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In addition to noting that the plane had bounced at least twice, Hicks noted that it had come down hard on the right main landing gear. He also said investigators had walked the runway and saw tire and skid marks that were consistent with what they had seen on video.

Hicks said that investigators have determined that Junior’s plane caught fire after it had crash-landed. The runway at Elizabethton Municipal is approximately 4,500 feet long and the Cessna Citation was capable of landing at a runway of that length.

The plane had a voice recorder, Hicks said, and it will be sent to Washington DC for download. A preliminary crash report from the NTSB will be released in approximately a week.

Earnhardt Jr.’s sister Kelley released a statement Friday morning thanking the people who had responded to the plane crash and said the family would have no further comment in the immediate future.

“We want to reiterate our appreciate to the NASCAR community, first responders, medical staff and race fans everywhere for the overwhelming support in the last 24 hours. Dale, Amy, Isla and our two pilots are doing well. We are assisting the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board in their investigation and will have no further comment at this time.”

The Elizabethton Municipal Airport is located southeast of Bristol Motor Speedway, the site of Saturday night’s NASCAR Cup Series race. Junior was set to call that race for NBC Sports but the network said Thursday evening that he’ll be skipping the race broadcast.

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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