Hinchcliffe wins hearts, but ends runner-up, on ‘Dancing with the Stars’


Let’s face it – James Hinchcliffe has come a long way from being the guy who used to make homemade YouTube videos featuring bratwursts and novelty size checks nearly a decade ago.

The likable, entertaining and talented-as-all-get-out Canadian, who turns 30 next month, and his professional dancing partner Sharna Burgess ended as runners-up on Season 23 of “Dancing with the Stars,” in the season finale show held Tuesday night in Los Angeles.

Laurie Hernandez, 16, became the youngest champion in the show’s history along with her professional dance partner Val Chmerkovskiy – more here on the Rio Olympics gold medal-winning gymnast from NBC Olympic Talk. Calvin Johnson, the retired Detroit Lions wide receiver, and professional partner Lindsay Arnold finished third.

And for a guy who self-deprecatingly notes his career as driver of the No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda in the Verizon IndyCar Series sees him “sit for a living,” and who’d never danced at all prior to this run of events, it was still one heck of an accomplishment.

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 22: Professional dancer Sharna Burgess and professional race car driver James Hinchcliffe attends ABC's "Dancing With The Stars" Season 23 Finale at The Grove on November 22, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA – NOVEMBER 22: Professional dancer Sharna Burgess and professional race car driver James Hinchcliffe attends ABC’s “Dancing With The Stars” Season 23 Finale at The Grove on November 22, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

All season, Hinchcliffe and Burgess bonded, with Burgess’ choreography producing some incredible dances throughout the year. She was gutted to miss a couple weeks due to a knee injury, but Jenna Johnson filled in well as Hinchcliffe’s interim dance partner. A “Suicide Squad” themed Viennese Waltz they did for Halloween was one of the season’s highlights.

Hinchcliffe’s rapid development and growth drew rave reviews from the professional judges, with Hinchcliffe’s IndyCar rival and past DWTS champion Helio Castroneves’ dance partner Julianne Hough at one point calling Hinchcliffe the most talented male dancer in the show’s history.

While Hinchcliffe didn’t have the pedigree of dancing and moving quite like Hernandez, a professional gymnast who entered with a distinct experience advantage, he made it further than most thought possible thanks in large part to Burgess’ tutelage and his own adaptability to different dances, styles and performance types.

Those of us that follow IndyCar on a full-time basis know what an entertainer and a talent Hinchcliffe is, and it was great to see a significantly wider audience exposed to that throughout this season.

Hinchcliffe will be on a teleconference later Wednesday afternoon for a reflection on the season just passed.

Seattle Supercross by the numbers: Three riders separated by 17 points


Three riders remain locked in a tight battle with 17 points separating the leader Cooper Webb from third-place Chase Sexton and these are only a few Supercross numbers to consider entering Seattle.

Seattle Supercross numbers
Chase Sexton made a statement in Detroit with his second win of 2023. – Feld Motor Sports

For the fifth time in 10 rounds. Sexton, Webb, and Eli Tomac shared the podium in Detroit. Between them, the trio has taken 23 podiums, leaving only seven for the remainder of the field. Jason Anderson, Ken Roczen and Justin Barcia have two each with Aaron Plessinger scoring the other.

Webb and Tomac won the last four championships with two apiece in alternating years, but they were not one another’s primary rival for most of those seasons. On the average, however, the past four years show an incredible similarity with average points earned of 21.0 for Webb and 21.3 for Tomac. With five wins so far this season, Tomac (23 wins) leads Webb (19) in victories but Webb (43) edges Tomac (41) in podium finishes during this span.

Tomac has won two of the last three Seattle races and those two wins in this stadium are topped only by James Stewart. Fittingly, if Tomac gets a third win this week, he will tie Stewart for second on the all-time wins’ list. Tomac tied Ricky Carmichael for third with 48 wins at Oakland and took sole possession of that spot with his Daytona win.

Sexton still has a lot to say and after winning last week in Detroit, he is speaking up. The Supercross numbers are against him entering Seattle, however, because a points’ deficit this large after Round 10 has been erased only once. In 1983 David Bailey was 47 points behind Bob Hannah, and like Sexton he was also in third place. Bailey took the points’ lead with one race remaining.

The seven points Sexton was penalized last week for jumping in a red cross flag section in Detroit could prove extremely costly.

In fact, it has been a series of mistakes that has cost Sexton the most. In the last two weeks, he lost 10 points with a 10th-place finish to go with his penalty. Erase those, and all three riders hold their fate in their hands.

Plessinger’s heartbreak in Detroit is still fresh, but the upside of his run is that was his best of the season and could turn his fortunes around. Prior to that race, he led only seven laps in three mains. He was up front for 20 laps in Detroit with five of those being the fastest on the track.

Last week’s win by Hunter Lawrence tied him with his brother Jett Lawrence for 17th on the all-time wins’ list. With the focus shifting to 250 West for the next two rounds, Jett has a great opportunity to pull back ahead. The real test will be at the first East / West Showdown in East Rutherford, New Jersey on April 22.

Last Five Seattle Winners

2022: Eli Tomac
2019: Marvin Musquin
2018: Eli Tomac
2017: Marvin Musquin
2014: Ryan Villopoto

2022: Hunter Lawrence
2019: Dylan Ferrandis
2018: Aaron Plessinger
2017: Aaron Plessinger
2014: Cole Seely

By the Numbers

Anaheim 2
San Diego

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Chase Sexton wins in Detroit, penalized seven points