Hendrick: Seat came loose in crash

NASCAR team owner Rick Hendrick said Monday his seat came loose in the Oct. 31 plane crash that left him with four broken ribs and a broken shoulder.

The Gulfstream G150 had brake problems upon landing at the Key West Airport in Florida. The private plane ran off the runway, and despite wearing his seat belt, Hendrick was still injured.

”My belt was on, and something came loose in the seat itself,” Hendrick said. ”I hit the bulkhead and my wife. My chest and head went into the seat in front of me, and that’s where I (broke) my ribs and I had a concussion.”

Hendrick was hospitalized for a week in North Carolina after the accident. His wife, Linda, sustained minor cuts and bruises in the crash, but the two pilots were not injured.

The plane was co-owned by Hendrick and five-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson, and was primarily used to shuttle Johnson and his family to and from races.

Hendrick spent three weeks after the accident sleeping in a chair, and only recently has been able to sleep in a bed. He’s still undergoing daily therapy sessions, and won’t travel to Las Vegas for this week’s season-ending awards ceremony.

Hendrick also missed the final three races of the season, and wasn’t on hand when Tony Stewart officially ended Johnson’s five-year reign.

”Trying to sleep and move and getting therapy takes most of the day,” he said. ”My wife is doing good. She busted her leg up, but I’m not a spring chicken anymore. I don’t bounce back quite as quick.

”I’m just going to probably take it easy for a few more weeks and continue to do my therapy.”

A Hendrick plane in 2004 crashed en route to a race at Martinsville, killing all 10 aboard, including Hendrick’s son, brother and twin nieces.

But Hendrick said he’s not scared to fly.

”No,” he said quickly. ”I actually flew home that night. I’m good there.

”We were very fortunate. We’re glad that it wasn’t any worse than it was. We’re healing up. We don’t have any of the answers yet on exactly what happened there, but there’s a lot of smart people involved and we’ll get that figured out pretty soon, I hope.”