NASCAR champ Bobby Labonte opens up about startling health battle

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Bobby Labonte drove the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Pontiac to the top of NASCAR in 2000, winning the Winston Cup Series for Joe Gibbs Racing.

While he was able to battle dozens of other drivers for 21 wins during his NASCAR Cup career and 10 more in his NASCAR Xfinity Series career, Labonte revealed in a segment on FOX that he’s been battling startling health concerns.

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Bobby Labonte poses with the Winston Cup trophy after winning the title for Joe Gibbs Racing. Driving the Interstate Batteries Pontiac, Labonte won four Cup races on his way to the title.
(ISC Images & Archives via Getty Images)

He said that in 2019 he started to feel unwell and went to a doctor to get checked out. He said the doctor told him about a spot on his kidney and that it was something to keep an eye on. He said two years later the mass on his kidney had “tripled in size” and doctors recommended surgery to remove it.

Labonte, who is now a NASCAR analyst for FOX Sports, said he received a call from the doctor who removed the mass, Mohamad Allaf, M.D., the director for the department of urology at Johns Hopkins in Maryland, and was told that everything went well with the surgery but that the mass was cancerous and the cancer “very aggressive.”

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Bobby Labonte waves to the crowd prior to the SRX qualifying race at Sharon Speedway on July 23, 2022, in Hartford, Ohio.

Bobby Labonte waves to the crowd prior to the SRX qualifying race at Sharon Speedway on July 23, 2022, in Hartford, Ohio.
(Jason Miller/SRX/Getty Images)

“A lot of emotions came over me at that time because I was relieved but then also like, wow, that’s crazy because one-third of the patients that are diagnosed with this don’t make it,” he said. “Usually, I’m not the share type of guy and you won’t know a lot of things about me, but it didn’t take me long to figure out if we could help one person, just help one person, man. …. There’s a ton of cancers out there that can be treatable for sure and this was one if you catch it early, like we did, we were fortunate enough to be able to take care of it.”

Labonte has been back to racing since the mass was removed.

He’s been between the SMART Modified Tour and the Superstar Racing Experience since leaving the NASCAR Cup circuit.

Bobby Labonte sits in his car during practice for the Camping World Superstar Racing Experience event at South Boston Speedway on June 25, 2022, in South Boston, Virginia.

Bobby Labonte sits in his car during practice for the Camping World Superstar Racing Experience event at South Boston Speedway on June 25, 2022, in South Boston, Virginia.
(Jared Tilton/SRX/Getty Images)

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He last raced in the Cup Circuit in 2016.

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