Dale Earnhardt Jr. surprises with race announcement, details of plane crash injuries

Surviving a fiery plane crash last week in east Tennessee hasn’t made NASCAR star Dale Earnhardt Jr. wary of living life on the edge, proving he’s a lot like his legendary racing dad.

Earnhardt posted a tweet late Wednesday addressing speculation he would bow out of the NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Darlington Raceway next week in South Carolina.

He also gave fans an indication of just how badly he was hurt when the jet he was on went down 1,000 feet past the runway in Elizabethton, Tennessee, with his wife, Amy, and daughter, Isla, on board. All five people on the plane escaped.

“Yes. I plan on driving still,” Earnhardt, 44, said in response to a fan’s question on Twitter.

“My lower back is bruised up real bad. Lots of swelling and I just need that to go down and the pain to chill out. I been treating the area every day solely to get well to race. I have a plan B but hope not to use it.”

Earnhardt retired from NASCAR as a full-time driver in 2017, but has continued to promote the sport, including working as a NASCAR analyst for NBC Sports.

He announced plans months ago to make a rare appearance behind the wheel at an Xfinity Series race at Darlington on Aug. 31. The race is at 4 p.m. and will be televised on NBC.

Motorsports.com reports he will compete in the JR Motorsports’ No. 8 Chevrolet “race with a paint scheme that honors his late father, Dale Earnhardt.”

His announcement of plans to follow through with the race has gotten thousands of responses on social media, including from fans who want to know about the mysterious “Plan B.”

Earnhardt ended the suspense by tweeting: “Someone else drives the car.”

Investigators say Earnhardt’s Cessna bounced on a runway twice before skidding through a fence and catching fire as the passengers jumped from a cabin door. The plane was destroyed in the fire.

The cause is still under investigation, but surveillance video shows part of the landing gear collapsed when the jet struck the pavement, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.

Earnhardt has said little since the crash, tweeting a statement on Aug. 19 that he appreciated fans’ support and the emergency responders, but would not be “speculating or discussing the cause of the accident.”

“We are truly blessed that all on board escaped with no serious injuries,” he said in the tweet.

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