Officials are crediting the heroic actions of the pilots on Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s private jet for evacuating the NASCAR legend and his family from his burning plane during the crash, this according to new documents.
After the plane crash landed in Elizabethton, Tennessee on August 15 ... it caught fire and began to burn.
But, while the flames raged, "the flight crew [which only consisted of the pilot and co-pilot] secured the engines and assisted the passengers with the evacuation," according to the National Transportation Safety Board.
The NTSB has been investigating the crash and while they have not specifically released the cause ... they do note that the landing gear on the plane collapsed at some point during the crash landing.
Officials say everything about the flight appeared to be routine until the landing ... when, for some reason, the plane bounced twice on the runway ... before crashing with only 1,000 feet of runway left.
The plane ultimately settled on the edge of a nearby highway where the flight crew evacuated Dale Jr., his wife, their 1-year-old daughter and the family dog.
Dale says he suffered back injuries in the wreck but expects to be fine. The rest of the family and the two pilots are all reportedly doing fine.
As part of the investigation, officials recovered the plane's black box -- but it was damaged in the fire ... so it's been sent to a lab for examination.