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IndyCar driver John Andretti dies at 56 after cancer battle

IndyCar driver John Andretti has died at the age of 56 after a long battle with cancer.

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) — IndyCar driver John Andretti has died at the age of 56 after a long battle with cancer.

Andretti carried on the family racing tradition with a long career in both NASCAR, IndyCar, sports cars and even NHRA drag racing. John was the nephew of racing legend Mario Andretti, cousin to current IndyCar team owner Michael.

John raced in the Indianapolis 500 a dozen times starting in 1988, with a best finish of fifth in 1991.

Sandwiched between his early and late IndyCar career was the meat of his racing in the NASCAR Cup series. John drove in nearly 400 races over 17 years, most of them for the legendary Richard Petty, winning twice.

Andretti raced in the inaugural Brickyard 400 in 1994 and 10 more after that.

In 1994, he became the first driver to race in both the Indy 500 and the NASCAR Coca-Cola 600 on the same day.

In recent years, John focused on helping his son Jarrett in short track racing.

As John's racing career slowed down, his community service only sped up. He founded the Race4Riley in 1997. The annual go kart race in New Castle and the surrounding events have raised over $4 million for Riley Hospital.

In April 2017, Andretti revealed that he was battling stage four colon cancer. He became an advocate for colonoscopy screening with the "Check It For Andretti" campaign.

During a routine check up back in January 2017, doctors told Andretti he had Stage 3 colon cancer. He had a relapse of the cancer in 2018 and Andretti announced his cancer had returned again in April of last year.

Andretti Autosport posted a message on twitter about John's passing saying in part:

"When first diagnosed with colon cancer in 2017, John vowed to fight back and use his voice to help spread the word of prevention and early detection. He fought hard and stole back days the disease vowed to take away. He helped countless others undergo proper screening, and in doing so, saved lives."

IMS President Doug Boles spoke with Dave Calabro about Andretti and the racer's legacy.

"He's used his platform to really give back and I think that's what has endeared him to most of us," Boles said.

Immediately after news of his death came out, people began posting about John Andretti, their love for him and all he did.

Andretti is survived by his wife Nancy and three children.