Nowadays cast iron components are widely used in highly stressed structures. Component lifetime is strongly influenced by inhomogeneities caused by the material's microstructure and the manufacturing process (graphite particles, (micro-)shrinkage pores, inclusions). Inhomogeneities often act as a fatigue crack starter. Lifetime until failure may be divided into stages for crack initiation, short and long crack growth. Initiation of a crack of technical size (a ≈ 1mm) is often dominated by the growth of short cracks. The paper presents an approach to analyse the mechanically short fatigue crack growth based on elastic-plastic fracture mechanics considering the closure behaviour of short cracks. The effective J-integral range is used as a crack driving force. Finite element analysis results as well as analytical solutions to approximate the crack driving force are presented. The application of the approach is successfully demonstrated for cast iron material EN-GJS-400-18-LT using data from fatigue tests, microstructure and fracture surface analyses to assess the fatigue life.