Castroneves, Hinchcliffe sign up for Race of Champions in Miami

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IndyCar drivers Helio Castroneves and James Hinchcliffe have become the latest drivers to sign up for next month’s Race of Champions in Miami.

The Race of Champions pits drivers from all over the world and from a variety of series up against each other in a variety of challenges and cars.

Castroneves and Hinchcliffe join fellow IndyCar racers Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Tony Kanaan and Juan Pablo Montoya in the Race of Champions field, as well as Formula 1 world champions Sebastian Vettel and Jenson Button, NASCAR’s Kyle and Kurt Busch, plus nine-time Le Mans winner Tom Kristensen.

Castroneves and Hinchcliffe will both have teammates picked from the ROC Factor competition, which was launched on Friday.

“ROC Factor is such an amazing opportunity,” Castroneves said. “It’s a bit like American Idol; one moment someone’s singing in the shower and the next they’re becoming a huge star! I’m really looking forward to it and can’t wait for January 21/22.

“The cool thing about Race Of Champions is that every driver has a chance, no matter what they’re used to racing. The variety of cars means there’s something suited to everyone, regardless of whether they’re from rallying, open-wheelers or NASCAR. So it really is all about the talent.

“Plus, for me, to be competing at home in Miami is always great, especially as my family and friends will be together having a good time. And of course racing at Marlins Park is so unusual! I think the fans will really enjoy it and be coming back for more.”

Hinchcliffe added: “I’m really excited about the chance to be a part of this year’s ROC. I’ve watched this event for years and always wanted to be a part of it, so it’s a bit of an early Christmas present getting the call.

“All these incredible drivers from so many disciplines in one place, all the different cars to try, and we still have to vote for my team-mate! It’s going to be a blast!”

For more information on applying for ROC Factor, click here.

The Race of Champions takes place at Miami’s Marlins Park on January 21-22 2017.

IndyCar star Scott Dixon to test skills on ‘American Ninja Warrior’

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Scott Dixon will be the latest IndyCar driver to enter the realm of reality TV when he auditions in Indianapolis next week for “American Ninja Warrior.”

The four-time IndyCar champion, nicknamed “The Iceman,” thought it sounded fun when he was approached with the idea of trying out. As the competition has drawn near, Dixon is wondering what he got himself into.

“I feel a lot of pressure on this one,” Dixon told The Associated Press before heading to this weekend’s Honda Grand Prix of Alabama IndyCar race at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama. “When it got to be about a month away, I figured I should start training for it, and it’s pretty hard stuff.”

IndyCar drivers Helio Castroneves, Josef Newgarden and Tony Kanaan all auditioned for the show, which follows competitors as they tackle a series of obstacle courses in qualifying rounds across the country. None of IndyCar’s contestants advanced out of the first round and neither did NASCAR driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Dixon’s appearance comes about the same time the Game Show Network has Sebastien Bourdais as a guest host for “Daily Draw” for the entire week leading into the month of May at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Most recently, Alexander Rossi and Conor Daly teamed to finish fourth on “The Amazing Race,” and James Hinchcliffe was a runner-up last year on “Dancing With The Stars.” Castroneves is a former “DWTS” winner.

Dixon, the 2008 winner of the Indianapolis 500 who ranks fourth on IndyCar’s all-time wins list, is accustomed to success. But the New Zealander not so sure he’s going to become the next great ninja. Most of his fitness work focuses on endurance training, and preparing for the obstacle course has taken Dixon out of his element.

“It’s not my wheelhouse,” he said. “This is agility kind of stuff and I’m looking forward to the process. I’m not looking forward so much to the failure, because it’s going to happen at some point, so I guess I just have to make the most of it and enjoy the experience.”

Dixon was famously robbed at gunpoint in the drive-thru of a Taco Bell last year hours after he won the pole for the Indy 500. Asked if his ninja training will have him better prepared should that happen again, he did not think so.

“I suppose if I run away it would help,” Dixon said. “But I don’t exactly have a ninja toolkit to get me through that situation.”