NASCAR driver John Andretti -- member of one of the biggest families in racing -- died on Thursday after a 3-year battle with cancer, his team announced.
The 56-year-old had a long career on the track -- spanning from 17 years in NASCAR to Champ Car to IndyCar and more.
Andretti was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer back in 2017 ... and used his platform to help others with his disease and spread awareness on getting proper screening.
Andretti Autosport released a statement on his passing ... saying, "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 the son of Aldo Andretti, nephew of Mario and first cousin to Michael and Jeff ... and was the first cousin-once-removed toMarco Andretti.
The statement continued ... "We will forever carry with us John's genuine spirit of helping others first and himself second. Our prayers today are with Nancy, Jarett, Olivia, and Amelia, with our entire family, and with fans worldwide."