‘Dancing’ champ Castroneves: Hinchcliffe the driver to beat

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

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.”

Ken Roczen signs with HEP Progressive Ecstar Suzuki for 2023

Roczen Progressive Ecstar Suzuki
Align Media

ANAHEIM, California – Ken Roczen will make the move from HRC Honda to H.E.P. Motorsports with the Progressive Ecstar Suzuki team, ending a long and eventful offseason that saw his split from his longstanding team after he committed to running World Supercross (WSX).

“H.E.P. Motorsports is thrilled to announce that the team has signed Ken Roczen as its premier rider for the 2023 season,” the team announced on Instagram. “Former AMA Motocross champion Roczen will be aboard a Suzuki RM-Z450. Roczen, who won his most recent championship on a Suzuki, will be reunited with the brand and bring his exciting style, determination, and grit back to the RM Army.

“Ken Roczen will compete in the upcoming 2023 Supercross and Motocross Championship series which is set to start on January 7 at Anaheim Stadium in Southern California.”

For Roczen, it is a return to the bike of his youth and on which he had some of his greatest professional success.

“This thing has been going on for weeks and weeks and weeks in the making, but there was so much uncertainty,” Roczen told NBC Sports during Monster Energy Supercross Media Sessions. “It was a very unique situation. I just finally signed two nights ago, so it’s really only legit once the ink hits the paper. It’s been in the works for a long time, but there were just a lot of questions and a lot of input from a lot of other teams too.

“Good things take time, and I’m okay with that. I grew up riding Suzuki. Ot’s like a homecoming. It’s a special feeling”

Roczen won the 2016 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship on a Suzuki before making the move to Honda. That year he won nine of 12 Nationals and finished no worse than second as he easily outpaced Eli Tomac by 86 points. He finished third in his next Pro Motocross outing in 2018 after sitting out the outdoor season in 2017.

“I am beyond excited to reconnect with Suzuki for the 3rd time in my career. We’ve had a lot of success in the past and I’m looking forward to seeing what we can accomplish together in our future.” Roczen said in the Instagram post.