Bobby Labonte, the NASCAR Cup Series Champion in 2000 racing for Joe Gibbs Racing, recently revealed he’s been battling a lethal kidney cancer.
Labonte who is currently a NASCAR Cup Series analyst for FOX Sports, a driver in the Superstar Racing Experience (SRX), and the driver of the No. 25 Cook Out sponsored modified that races in the Southern Modified Auto Racing Teams (SMART) Tour, revealed his diagnosis in a segment on FOX that was subsequently shared to Twitter.
NASCAR Hall of Famer, Cup champion and FOX: NASCAR analyst @Bobby_Labonte shares his story of returning to racing while managing a very private health battle behind the scenes. pic.twitter.com/m10p485T3z
— FOX: NASCAR (@NASCARONFOX) August 12, 2022
In the segment, Labonte details, “We kind of wind down in 2019, I just didn’t feel good. So I go to my local doctor and he said, ‘I found this little spot on your kidney.’ He said, ‘Really need to keep an eye on this.'”
Labonte’s doctor Mohamad Allaf then details, “Bobby came to us because of our expertise with dealing with kidney tumors. Where reflexively many would just go ahead and operate on something like a growth in the tumor, we take a more nuanced approach and for some people watching them is the right thing to do.”
“Given that he’s young and healthy and has hopefully a long life expectancy, figuring out what to do with this mass is very, very important,” he added.
Labonte then details that the mass tripled in size in two years and that it was time to operate on it and take it out. “Dr. Allaf walked in and he said — I get chills — he said, ‘This is a great day.’ He said, ‘This is a great day because we’re going to go in there. We’re going to take this out and you won’t have a problem.”
Allaf then detailed the procedure Labonte underwent, “He chose what’s called a robotic-assisted partial nephrectomy, which is taking the tumor out, saving the majority of the kidney, and doing it with new robotic technology that is minimally invasive.”
“And luckily we had caught it in time and he came to us and did exceedingly well,” Dr. Allaf explained.
Labonte then reiterated, “A couple weeks after the procedure we are back home and Dr. Allaf calls to give us the results of the biopsy and reassured us. He said, ‘We got everything. Everything looks great.’ He said, ‘But it was cancer.’ And he said it was very aggressive.”
“So a lot of emotions came over me at that time because I was like relieved, you know, obviously, but then also like, ‘Wow.’ I mean that’s crazy ’cause one third of the patients that are diagnosed with this don’t make it,” Labonte explained.
“I’m’ usually not the sharing type of guy,” Labonte continued. “You won’t know a lot of things about me, but it didn’t take me long to figure out if we can help one person, just help one person, man. There’s a ton of cancers out there that can be treatable for sure and this is one that if you catch it early like we did we are fortunate enough to take care of it.
“You know, I remember getting — starting the year off and thinking first race, ‘Ooh I ain’t been in a car in awhile.’ It’s like anything else, you sit down, crank the motor up, okay back to normal,” Labonte concluded.
The video did reveal that Labonte is currently cancer free following the surgery.
Labonte recently participated in the North Wilkesboro Recetrack Revival in his No. 25 Cook Out modified. On August 2nd, Labonte finished 17th with Ryan Newman winning the race. The next night he finished 3rd behind Matt Hirschman and Brian Loftin.
Labonte finished fourth in the SRX series behind series champion Marco Andretti, Ryan Newman, and Tony Stewart. He won the race at the Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway besting Andretti and Matt Kenseth.
According to his website, he will be back in action on September 3rd when the SMART Modified Tour gets back in action at Carteret County Speedway.