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Hendrick, wife return to N.C. after plane crash

- jutter@charlotteobserver.com
Monday, Oct. 31, 2011

Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick and his wife, Linda, are back in North Carolina recovering from injuries received when the jet they were flying developed braking issues while landing at Key West (Fla.) International Airport on Monday night.

The Hendricks, along with the pilot and co-pilot of the plane, were released from the Lower Keys Medical Center Tuesday morning.

According to a statement provided by HMS, Rick Hendrick suffered a broken rib and clavicle and his wife suffered minor cuts and bruises. The pilots were unhurt. The pilots of the Gulfstream 150 jet the Hendricks were flying radioed they had no brakes upon landing at the airport and the plane ran completely off the runway at approximately 7:45 p.m. ET.

The plane stopped about 100 feet beyond a 600-foot safety area that was added to the airport earlier this year, according to the Monroe County (Fla.) Sheriff's Department.

Photos from the scene show the aircraft about 25 feet from a barrier fence and resting near a small salt pond.

The plane was registered to Jimmie Johnson Racing Inc. and co-owned by HMS and NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson. Johnson, a five-time Sprint Cup Series champion, drives for HMS.

"We are just beyond thankful that everything turned out well with the crash and there weren't any major injuries down there," Johnson said Tuesday on a teleconference call. "It certainly was a scary event."

The plane is typically used by Johnson and his family to travel to and from NASCAR races.

"There're a lot of really good, smart people working on getting answers so we can all understand what exactly took place," Johnson said.

Johnson said he spoke briefly with Rick Hendrick on Tuesday morning.

"It's just nice to hear his voice and hear him say he's fine and OK and Linda is as well along with the pilots," he said.

Tony Stewart, whose Stewart-Haas Racing organization uses chassis and engines from HMS, said he was grateful the incident was not any worse.

"Rick and Linda mean the world to us," he said. "Rick's one of the toughest and strongest people that I know. If there is anybody who can handle it, it's him"

Hendrick, 62, was at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway on Sunday for the Tums 500, where Johnson finished second in the race.

In October 2004, a plane owned by Hendrick Motorsports crashed in thick fog en route to a NASCAR race at Martinsville and killed all 10 people aboard, including the son, brother and two nieces of Rick Hendrick.

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