'Dancing' champ Castroneves: Hinchcliffe the driver to beat

DAN GELSTON
Associated Press
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In this Nov. 14, 2016 photo released by ABC, Jenna Johnson, left, and Sharna Burgess, right, perform with IndyCar driver James Hinchcliffe on the celebrity dance competition series, "Dancing With The Stars," in Los Angeles. Hinchcliffe and partner Sharna Burgess are scheduled for two dances on Monday. If they are not eliminated, the duo will dance for the championship on Tuesday night's show. (Eric McCandless/ABC via AP)

HOMESTEAD, Fla. (AP) — James Hinchcliffe and Helio Castroneves ditched the cars for costumes and went head-to-head — foxtrot-to-foxtrot, perhaps — for a televised showdown on the dance floor.

The IndyCar drivers teamed up this week to film a "dance-off" segment that should air on "Dancing With the Stars" Monday night on ABC.

Castroneves used fancy footwork to win the 2007 trophy that sits in his championship collection along with three Indianapolis 500 Borg-Warner trophies. Hinchcliffe, a fellow IndyCar driver, has earned rave reviews for dominating dancing that earned him a spot in the final week of competition.

Hinchcliffe and partner Sharna Burgess are scheduled for two dances on Monday. If they are not eliminated, the duo will dance for the championship on Tuesday night's show.

Castroneves said Hinchcliffe could take the show's version of the checkered flag.

"I'm very impressed, to be honest, the way he did it," Castroneves said. "The way he did it, I feel that he has a phenomenal chance."

Castroneves declined to reveal the danceoff winner during a visit Sunday to the NASCAR championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

"You've got to watch," he said, smiling.

Hinchcliffe has consistently been one of the top competitors on the show. "Dancing" judge Julianne Hough even told him: "You are hands-down the best male dancer we have ever had on this show!"

That's quite the compliment — Hough was Castroneves' partner when they upset Spice Girl Melanie Brown to win it all.

"I can only agree with her," Castroneves said, then smiled and quipped: "I feel he does have a better partner."

Castroneves said his appearance on one of America's highest-rated television shows brought IndyCar a new group of potential fans and his popularity skyrocketed.

"A lot of people know me as the dancing champ, especially the flight attendants," he said.

IndyCar just might have room for dual dancing champs.

"It's great for the IndyCar series," Castroneves said. "I can't wait to see it. And vote."