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IndyCar, NASCAR Racer John Andretti Dies at 56 After Long Battle With Cancer

"I'm an Andretti. I already beat the age I should have lived to," he said during a 2018 interview.

The Andretti Autosport organization confirmed Thursday afternoon that American racing driver John Andretti died aged 56 after a long battle with cancer. The popular IndyCar and NASCAR racer was the nephew of racing legend Mario Andretti.

Andretti completed 12 starts at the famous Indy 500, placing as high as fifth place during the grueling 1991 edition. In NASCAR, however, is where Andretti felt more at home, racking up 393 starts between 1993 and 2010 with a variety of championship-contenting teams. He scored two premier class victories and multiple podiums, the first coming in July 1997 at Daytona International Speedway for Cale Yarborough Motorsports, and the second one in 1999 at Martinsville Speedway at the wheel of Richard Petty’s No. 43 car.

“We will forever carry with us John’s genuine spirit of helping others first and himself second,” read the statement from Andretti Autosport.

According to the IndyStar, Andretti was first diagnosed with colon cancer in April 2017, but in November of that year, the former racer claimed to be cancer-free after completing chemotherapy and several scans. Unfortunately, in March of 2018 he shared with his fans that a recent scan showed that the cancer had returned, but this time it had spread to other parts of his body. The #CheckItForAndretti campaign to promote colonoscopies was launched, with the racer often claiming that despite being a very private person, he felt it was necessary to use his reach to raise the awareness of colon cancer.

The son of Aldo Andretti (Mario Andretti’s brother) John lived in Indianapolis, Indiana, where Andretti Autosport’s main operations are based. He was a regular at racing events ranging from the Indy 500 to dirt track events across the midwest.