Castroneves (left) and Hinchcliffe (right) on podium in Indy. Photo: IndyCar

‘Dancing’ champ Castroneves: Hinchcliffe the driver to beat

Leave a comment

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, the 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.”

Zach Veach splits with Andretti Autosport for rest of IndyCar season

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Zach Veach will be leaving his Andretti Autosport ride with three races remaining in the season, choosing to explore options after the decision was made he wouldn’t return for 2021.

In a Wednesday release, Andretti Autosport said a replacement driver for the No. 26 Dallara-Honda would be named in the coming days. The NTT IndyCar Series will race Oct. 2-3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and then conclude the season Oct. 25 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.

Veach was ranked 11th in the points standings through 11 races of his third season with Andretti. Since a fourth in the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, he hadn’t finished higher than 14th.

“The decision was made that I will not be returning in 2021 with Andretti Autosport in the No. 26 Gainbridge car,” Veach said in the Andretti release. “This, along with knowing that limited testing exists for teams due to COVID, have led me to the decision to step out of the car for the remainder of the 2020 IndyCar season. I am doing this to allow the team to have time with other drivers as they prepare for 2021, and so that I can also explore my own 2021 options.

“This is the hardest decision I have ever made, but to me, racing is about family, and it is my belief that you take care of your family. Andretti Autosport is my family and I feel this is what is best to help us all reach the next step. I will forever be grateful to Michael and the team for all of their support over the years. I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for a relationship that started many years ago with Road to Indy. I will also be forever grateful to Dan Towriss for his friendship and for the opportunity he and Gainbridge have given me.

“My love for this sport and the people involved is unmeasurable, and I look forward to continuing to be amongst the racing world and fans in 2021.”

Said team owner Michael Andretti: “We first welcomed Zach to the Andretti team back in his USF2000 days and have enjoyed watching him grow and evolve as a racer, and a person. His decision to allow us to use the last few races to explore our 2021 options shows the measure of his character.

“Zach has always placed team and family first, and we’re very happy to have had him as part of ours for so many years. We wish him the best in whatever 2021 may bring and will always consider him a friend.”

Andretti fields five full-time cars for Veach, Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and Colton Herta.

It also has fielded James Hinchcliffe in three races this season.