Hinchcliffe vaults, tangos into DWTS finals as Burgess returns to action

Getty Images

On a night when past “Dancing with the Stars” champion Helio Castroneves was in attendance, his Verizon IndyCar Series contemporary James Hinchcliffe made his entrance into next week’s finals.

Hinchcliffe and dance partner Sharna Burgess, who made a welcome return to competition this week after being sidelined for two weeks with a knee injury, will be among four teams still active ahead of next week’s two-night season finale.

Other contestants still with a shot at the Mirror Ball Trophy include past Detroit Lions star wideout Calvin Johnson, Gold-medal winning Olympian Laurie Hernandez and actress and country music singer Jana Kramer. Terra Jole was eliminated from the competition on Monday.

Hinchcliffe’s “Team Stop and Go” returned to full strength this weekend with Burgess back after a two-week hiatus. So naturally, for her return, she choreographed a crazy first dance where she’d be blindfolded and trust Hinchcliffe to guide her through.

Rehearsal didn’t entirely go according to plan, as you’ll see from the below video Hinchcliffe posted on Facebook:

But when it came time for the two to perform their Argentine Tango, Hinchcliffe and Burgess were back on form as they have been most of this season. The pair got a 29/30 from the judges for their score, with Bruno Tonioli saying they’d “turned the Argentine tango into the Argentine Grand Prix.”

Then, the opportunity arose for Burgess’ fill-in dancer – Jenna Johnson – to reunite with Hinchcliffe as part of a jive trio number.

This one even showcased the No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda in all its glory (albeit in base 2014 Dallara DW12 show car form, rather than with full Honda aero kit adorning, but that’s a particular) on the dance floor.

And all three members of “Team Stop and Go” – Hinchcliffe inadvertently led off the intro to the dance calling them a “threesome” – rocked the jive for a perfect 30/30 score.

Here’s some still takes from the first ever race car on DWTS performance, which as Castroneves’ then-dance partner and current judge Julianne Hough joked Monday night, “seriously increased the budget” compared to when she was on the show.

The finals are next week.

IndyCar disappointed by delay of video game but aiming to launch at start of 2024

IndyCar video game 2024

An IndyCar executive said there is “absolutely” disappointment that its long-awaited video game recently was delayed beyond its target date, but the series remains optimistic about the new title.

“Well, I don’t know how quick it will be, but the whole situation is important to us,” Penske Entertainment president and CEO Mark Miles said during a news conference Monday morning to announce IndyCar’s NTT title sponsorship. “Motorsport Games has spent a lot of money, a lot of effort to create an IndyCar title. What we’ve seen of that effort, which is not completely obvious, is very reassuring.

“I think it’s going to be outstanding. That’s our shared objective, that when it is released, it’s just widely accepted. A great credit both to IndyCar racing, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, something that our fans love.”

In June 2021, IndyCar announced a new partnership with Motorsport Games to create and distribute an IndyCar video game for the PC and Xbox and PlayStation consoles in 2023.

But during an earnings call last week, Motorsport Games said the IndyCar game had been delayed to 2024 to ensure high quality.

Somewhat compounding the delay is that IndyCar’s license for iRacing expired after the end of the 2022 season because of its exclusive agreement with Motorsport Games.

That’s resulted in significant changes for IndyCar on iRacing, which had provided a high-profile way for the series to stay visible during its 2020 shutdown from the pandemic. (Players still can race an unbranded car but don’t race on current IndyCar tracks, nor can they stream).

That’s helped ratchet up the attention on having a video game outlet for IndyCar.

“I wish we had an IndyCar title 10 years ago,” said Miles, who has been working with the organization since 2013. “We’ve been close, but we’ve had these I think speed bumps.”

IndyCar is hopeful the Motorsports Game edition will be ready at the start of 2024. Miles hinted that beta versions could be unveiled to reporters ahead of the time “to begin to show the progress in a narrow way to make sure we’ve got it right, to test the progress so that we’re ready when they’re ready.”

It’s been nearly 18 years since the release of the most recent IndyCar video game for console or PC.

“(We) better get it right,” Miles said. “It’s something we’re very close to and continue to think about what it is to make sure we get it over the line in due course.”