It was just a few short weeks ago that NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt Jr. found himself in a plane crash that could have taken his life.
And now, he is mourning a fellow legend who did indeed lose his life in the exact same way.
“Breaks my heart,” Earnhardt wrote on his Twitter page Sunday (Sept. 15) shortly after official word came down regarding the death of NASCAR Modified legend Mike Stefanik. “I hope his family and friends can find some peace and comfort somehow.”
Breaks my heart. I hope his family and friends can find some peace and comfort somehow.
— Dale Earnhardt Jr. (@DaleJr) September 16, 2019
Stefanik was one of two drivers in NASCAR history to win nine national series or touring championships. On Sunday, Stefanik was piloting a small single seat plan when it crashed.
“Michael was flying a friend’s plane,” reported NASCAR broadcaster Mike Joy. “Engine failed when he was bringing it in to land. He crashed hard, was talking about the engine and what went wrong as they put him in the ambulance. Multiple injuries and inhaled fire. He passed at 6:41pm.”
From Mike Stefanik's sister Theresa: Michael was flying a friend's plane; engine failed when he was bringing it in to land. He crashed hard, was talking about the engine and what went wrong as they put him in ambulance. Multiple injuries and inhaled fire, he passed at 6:41p.
— Mike Joy (@mikejoy500) September 16, 2019
“Mike Stefanik was one of the most successful drivers in NASCAR history, but even more so, he was a true representative of our sport,” NASCAR Chairman and CEO Jim France said in a statement. “His tough, competitive nature and excellence on the race track won him the respect and admiration of fans and competitors alike. His career stretched more than 30 years, bridging the generations between Jerry Cook and Richie Evans to our current drivers. He recorded achievements in this sport that are likely untouchable, and his legacy as a champion will endure. We will keep his wife Julie and his family and friends in our prayers.”
Stefanik was just 61 at the time of his death.
We are saddened to hear the news about nine-time NASCAR Champion and NASCAR Hall of Fame nominee Mike Stefanik’s passing. NASCAR statement: pic.twitter.com/VqRBxBpB18
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) September 16, 2019