Longtime Fox Sports anchor Steve Byrnes died Tuesday at the age of 56 after battling head and neck cancer, the network announced. A popular fixture covering NASCAR broadcasts since joining Fox in 2001, Byrnes enjoyed a highly respected TV broadcasting career spanning 30 years.

Byrnes hosted multiple NASCAR programs and served as a pit road reporter for NASCAR for the network’s broadcast of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races for the duration of his Fox stint. Additionally he was the play-by-play announcer in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, and was co-host of NASCAR Race Hub.

“From the very beginning of NASCAR on FOX, Steve Byrnes was one of the linchpins of the broadcast team,” said David Hill, 21st Century FOX senior executive vice president. “His passion for the sport — his passion for everyone involved with the sport — shone through week in and week out.”

While Byrnes fought his cancer, the NASCAR community rallied behind him. Last weekend’s Sprint Cup race in Bristol, Tenn., was renamed the Food City 500 in support of Byrnes and Stand Up To Cancer in his honor.

Byrnes was grateful for the gesture. “The support I have received from my teammates at Fox Sports, drivers, team members, track officials, NASCAR and the fans has been overwhelming,” Byrnes said last week. “So many fans reach out to me with personal stories about cancer,” Byrnes added. “Just today, I got one from a three-time head-and-neck survivor, telling me, ‘You can do it.’ So many people have shared heart-warming stories or have questions for me because they are at the beginning of their journey. I read every one.”

Byrnes did not attend the race but watched it on TV. A fan inquired whether he made it through the entire broadcast of the rain-delayed event, and like a trouper Byrnes tweeted, “I went the distance.”