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Hendrick returns to N. Carolina after plane crash

In this Oct. 23, 2011 photo, Rick Hendrick is seen before the Good Sam Club 500 auto race at Talladega Superspeedway, in Talladega, Ala. A small jet carrying Hendrick, the owner of NASCAR's top team, and his wife, Linda, lost its brakes and crash landed at a Key West, Fla., airport Monday evening, Oct. 31, 2011, and the couple suffered minor injuries, officials said. In this Oct. 23, 2011 photo, Rick Hendrick is seen before the Good Sam Club 500 auto race at Talladega Superspeedway, in Talladega, Ala. A small jet carrying Hendrick, the owner of NASCAR's top team, and his wife, Linda, lost its brakes and crash landed at a Key West, Fla., airport Monday evening, Oct. 31, 2011, and the couple suffered minor injuries, officials said. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)
By Jenna Fryer
AP Auto Racing Writer / November 1, 2011

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CHARLOTTE, N.C.—NASCAR team owner Rick Hendrick returned home Tuesday, a day after he broke a rib and shoulder when his plane ran off the runway in Key West, Fla.

Hendrick Motorsports said the brakes failed when the Gulfstream G150 landed at Key West International Airport on Monday night. The plane is co-owned by Jimmie Johnson and normally shuttles the five-time defending NASCAR champion and his family to and from races.

"As everybody is aware, there was a brake issue with the airplane landing," Johnson said. "All four on board are OK and are home back in Charlotte. We are just beyond thankful that everything turned out well with the crash and there weren't any major injuries down there. It certainly was a scary event -- I can only imagine."

Hendrick, his wife, Linda, and the two pilots were all released from Lower Keys Medical Center on Tuesday morning and returned to Charlotte. Linda Hendrick sustained minor cuts and bruises. The two pilots were not injured.

The plane apparently skidded off the 4,800-foot runway and came to a stop along a 600-foot unpaved safety area that had been added in May.

"If we hadn't done that, it likely would have been a different story," county airport director Peter Horton said of the safety area that is meant as a runway overrun space.

The FAA incident report listed the damage to the aircraft as undetermined. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating.

Hendrick is the most successful team owner in NASCAR, and fields cars for Johnson, four-time champion Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Mark Martin. The team recently celebrated its 199th career victory in the Sprint Cup Series.

In 2004, a plane Hendrick owned crashed en route to a race in Martinsville, Va., killing all 10 on board. That included Hendrick's son, Ricky, his brother and twin nieces.

Photographs of the crash show the plane largely intact and with its nose resting on the ground about 20 feet in front of a chain-linked airport boundary fence.

Johnson said he spoke to Hendrick on Tuesday.

"It's been a long night for him -- he's trying to get some rest and we just touched base and I know that he's OK," Johnson said. "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.

"We don't have a lot of answers at this point. There's a lot of really good, smart people working on getting answers to these questions so we can all understand what exactly took place."

NASCAR driver Greg Biffle was uninjured this year when his plane's right main landing gear failed and the wing hit the runway during a landing at Blue Grass Airport in Lexington, Ky.

Biffle's team owner, Jack Roush, has survived two plane crashes, including one last year in Wisconsin in which he lost his left eye.