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Daniel Kalisz/Getty Racecar driver James Hinchcliffe
Hinchcliffe, 35, spoke to PEOPLE about making the transition from the track to the broadcast booth, and how his successful stint on Dancing with the Stars helped him get there.
"I'm not driving anymore, but calling all the Indy car races, calling all the sports car races in between," Hinchcliffe told PEOPLE. "I think one of the things that attracted me to it in the first place was, there's something about the rush of live TV. They do that countdown, the light goes on, and you're on."
Hinchcliffe became a fan favorite during the show's 23rd season of the celebrity dancing competition, with him and partner Shana Burgess ultimately finishing in second place.
Competing in the series allowed the driver to develop skills in performance that racing didn't offer, he said now, reflecting. And now, working for NBC Sports, Hinchcliffe believes those same performance skills have been key for when he's live commentating on races.
"It's not just about doing the steps and going through the motions. There's an entire performance element to it," he explained to PEOPLE.
Eric McCandless/Disney James Hinchcliffe competes on Dancing With the Stars in 2016
Added Hinchcliffe: "You're not just talking about the race, you're almost ... making people understand how dramatic it is and how cool it is, what these drivers are doing out there."
He's still always learning about his new career, though, he said. "There's a few more elements that are kind of new and different to me still that we'll be doing for the first time. I don't know what ritual to have yet or what warmups to do," Hinchcliffe explained.
NBC Sports James Hinchcliffe joins the broadcast booth for the Indy 500
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Unfortunately for the race car driver, he doesn't think he'll be able to use the same pre-show ritual he had during Dancing with the Stars: "Tequila."
"I don't think that's going to be a good idea for this one," he laughed.
Tune into NBC Sports' coverage of the Indianapolis 500, Sunday at 11 a.m. EST on NBC.