John Andretti passed away on Thursday after a lengthy battle with colon cancer, which began in 2017. The former NASCAR race winner was 56 years old.
Andretti Autosport confirmed the news with a statement on Twitter.
— Andretti Autosport (@FollowAndretti) January 30, 2020
Andretti, the nephew of the legendary Mario Andretti, made a name for himself in the racing world as he was the first driver to compete in the Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600 in the same day. Andretti accomplished this feat in 1993.
Before moving to CART, Andretti was a successful race-winning USAC driver.
From 1987 to 1994, Andretti started 73 events in the CART series. Andretti won one race and finished on the podium twice. Andretti was a driver on the race-winning Rolex 24 team in 1989 and he even dabbled in NHRA Top Fuel dragsters in 1993.
Andretti moved to being a full-time NASCAR Cup Series competitor for the 1994 season and over his career he started races for legendary drivers turned car owners such as Cale Yarborough and Richard Petty.
Over a 17-year career, Andretti started in 393 NASCAR Cup Series races, winning two of them.
Mid-way through Andretti’s first full-time Cup Series season, he was thrust into the iconic No. 43 car for Petty Enterprises. After running the final 11 races of the year, Andretti moved to Michael Kranefuss’ No. 37 car for the 1995 season.
Andretti’s first triumph as a Cup Series driver came in the July race at Daytona International Speedway in 1997.
Andretti was able to fend off two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion and perennial restrictor plate aces Sterling Marlin, Dale Earnhardt for his first career victory. This win by Andretti marked the only ever win for Cale Yarborough as a car owner.
After his stint driving for Yarborough’s team, Andretti moved to the iconic No. 43 car for Petty Enterprises in 1998. Andretti would score a second-career win at Martinsville in 1999 — after going a lap down earlier in the race. This would mark the 268th, and final, victory in the storied history of the Petty Enterprises team.
Andretti would remain the driver of the No. 43 car through the mid-way point of the 2003 NASCAR Cup Series season.
In a statement on Thursday, Richard Petty said, “Our hearts go out to Nancy and the entire Andretti family in their time of sorrow. The Petty family is thankful to have shared memories with John Andretti. On two separate occasions John was a driver for Petty Enterprises. He brought a win to the team in 1999 at the Martinsville Speedway. Our family will not be the same without John.”
Andretti’s final Cup Series start came in the Daytona 500 in 2010.
In addition to the two victories, Andretti recorded 13 top-five finishes and 37 top-10s as well as four pole positions. Andretti’s best finish in the championship point standings was an 11th-place campaign in 1998.
Over his driving career, Andretti proved to be a versatile talent. Although he did achieve some impressive things as a driver, he made a lasting impact in the sport with his kind spirit and gentle demeanor outside of the race car.
Andretti is survived by his wife Nancy and son Jarett.
Toby is the Founder, Editor and go-to man for TobyChristie.com. He is also the co-host of The Final Lap Weekly Podcast. Additionally, Toby is a NMPA (National Motorsports Press Association) award winning writer, and has followed NASCAR as a fan since 1993.