Pilots at fault in 2019 crash of plane carrying Dale Earnhardt Jr., regulators say

Federal safety regulators on Wednesday faulted the pilots for the August 2019 crash that injured former NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr., his wife and 15-month-old daughter.

The National Transportation Safety Board said the probable cause of the incident in Tennessee was decisions by the pilots, including approaching the runway too fast and a failed attempt to abort the landing.

“I don’t need to tell ya, we’re really fast,” the co-pilot told the pilot who was flying the plane shortly before landing.

The agency’s final report concludes the pilots’ decisions “resulted in a bounced landing, a loss of airplane control, a landing gear collapse, and a runway excursion.”

The pilots did not properly use the speed brakes and thrust reversers to stop the plane, and because of that, they lost the ability to go around and make a second attempt at landing.

The plane, a Cessna Citation, rolled off the end of a runway and caught fire after landing, according to the Federal Aviation Administration just after the accident.

The Earnhardts sustained minor injuries, and the pilots were unharmed, according to a NTSB report.

All five were out of the plane by the time the fire department arrived, Elizabethton Fire Chief Barry Carrier told CNN the day of the crash.

The plane was destroyed, according to the NTSB report.