Longtime racer John Andretti passed away Thursday at the age of 56, according to a Twitter statement from Andretti Autosport.
Andretti was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2017 and underwent treatment, but relapsed twice in the following two years. Despite his battle, he used it to begin the #CheckIt4Andretti hashtag on Twitter, encouraging the public to get colonoscopies for prevention.
The nephew of racing legend Mario Andretti, John raced in just about every major series in existence – all three NASCAR touring series, USAC Champ Car, CART, IMSA, drag racing, the NTT IndyCar Series and the Rolex Grand-Am Sports Car Series.
“It is with heavy hearts we share that John Andretti has today lost his battle with cancer,” Andretti Autosport’s statement said. “John was a loving husband and father, a devoted son and a trusted cousin. He was a philanthropist, an advocate for the sport, a dedicated teammate, a driven competitor and most importantly a dear friend.”
Andretti was born in 1963 and first drove professionally in the IMSA GT Championship Series in 1986, winning at Watkins Glen. Along with two other co-drivers, he also won the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona in 1989.
Most of Andretti’s career was spent in the NASCAR Cup Series, most notably for Kranefuss-Haas Racing, Cale Yarborough Motorsports and Petty Enterprises. He recorded a pair of wins in 393 starts over 17 years, while scoring 37 top-10 finishes. 13 of those were top-five efforts.
Andretti’s two wins in NASCAR Cup competition came at the tail end of the 20th century, his first coming in the 1997 summer race at Daytona International Speedway. Driving the No. 98, Andretti started third and led 113 laps en route to a victory for Cale Yarborough.
The veteran’s second and final win came at Martinsville in 1999, driving the No. 43 for Petty Enterprises. Andretti only led the last four laps, but took home the grandfather clock.
He also added one win apiece in CART and the Rolex Grand-Am divisions.
“We will forever carry with us John’s genuine spirit of helping others first and himself second,” the statement concluded. “Our prayers today are with Nancy, Jarett, Olivia and Amelia, with our entire family, and with fans worldwide. We urge all our followers to, please, #CheckIt4Andretti.”