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Dancing With the Stars fans rejoice! ‘Team Stop N Go’ is still going strong in the friendship department!
IndyCar driver James Hinchcliffe may have traded in the dance floor for the race track, but he hasn’t lost touch with his partner Sharna Burgess. When the DWTS season 23 runner-up stopped by for a Facebook Live conversation with ET’s Lauren Zima, we couldn’t help but ask him about his former partner’s connection to her new partner, Bonner Bolton.
“There's something there for sure. You've got a very, very good looking Southern gentleman -- it's a very kind of different type but hey, whatever works, works. If he can make her happy, then…” Hinchcliffe said of Burgess and Bolton’s chemistry.
“Based on what I've seen, having not met him and not seeing the interaction in person, I would say that there's some interest there for sure,” he continued, speculating whether Bolton is interested in Burgess.
When asked if Burgess might be interested as well, the race car driver teased, “Again, I haven't seen the interaction so it's tough, but I think we all saw it in the package in week 2. There was some hand holding action going on there.”
So you’re telling us there’s a chance! Thanks Hinch! In the meantime, though, Hinchcliffe is looking to help change Burgess’ single status by setting her up!
“There was one friend of mine, who will remain nameless…that at one point, tried to connect, but we weren't able to get them in the same room at the same time. I haven't totally given up on that one yet, because there might be something there, if it ever does happen,” Hinchcliffe dished.
While he would not reveal the lucky man’s identity, he did confirm that it is not fellow racers Conor Daly or Alexander Rossi that he wants to set up with the Dancing pro. When it comes to the perfect man for Sharna, he said, “She needs somebody strong. She's a very strong woman and she needs someone that can challenge her in that sense, but also push her. She's very driven; she has a lot of aspirations, a lot of dreams, and [needs] someone that can help her achieve those, be that kind of support system that she needs in, again, a very difficult industry that she's in.”
During their partnership, Burgess and Hinchcliffe had some fans hoping they’d couple up, but the 30-year-old driver is happily dating actress Becky Dalton.
Burgess recently opened up to ET about keeping her partners’ significant other from getting concerned about any funny business off the dance floor, explaining that she likes to get that person involved in the partnership in order to make everyone more comfortable.
Hinchcliffe elaborated on overcoming the awkwardness about being so close saying, “It took some getting used to for me, and then it took some getting used to for Becky, but then, all three of us could hang out.
Hinchcliffe also dished on a different trio -- Burgess, himself and Dancing pro Jenna Johnson, who filled in for Burgess when she had to sit out with a knee injury.
Glee star Heather Morris is in a similar situation this season with her partner, pro dancer Maksim Chmerkovskiy, sitting out with a calf injury and DWTS troupe member Alan Bersten stepping in. While many would think this change could hurt Morris’ chances on the show, Hinchcliffe thinks the setback could end up playing out in her favor.
“When we had to swap out, one of the things that was almost a benefit was [having] Sharna -- who's the choreographer, she's the creative mind behind this piece -- able to stand back and watch it from the outside. Where, when she's in it, she can only see so much. And you can watch back the video and watch back the tape all you want, and we do that a ton, but with the Suicide Squad piece, she was able to sit there in the corner of the room and really, really drill certain things into both Jenna and myself about what she wanted and how she wanted it to look,” he recalled to ET.
He suggested that, “In a lot of ways, [Heather] almost gets the benefit of two pros now having Maks in the room, having Alan on the floor with her. And so it could actually serve her well down the road.
Hinchcliffe also revealed that the Sunday night before that classic Suicide Squad dance number, the trio had a “four hour marathon session until eleven o’clock at night, just hammering out little points [of the dance].”
Hinchcliffe believes that Morris is in safe hands, saying “Alan's incredible. I got to work a lot with Alan. He was part of our performances a bunch of times. I think he's making a great case for being a pro on an upcoming season. He's got a great personality. He's really able to teach.”
Now, let’s go back to Bolton for a moment. Burgess told ET that she hoped Hinchcliffe would drop by rehearsals and sit down for a one on one chat with the professional bull rider. It hasn’t happened yet, but Hinchcliffe told us that he’d love to share some wisdom with Burgess’ new partner and advised that mastering the performance aspect of the dance is the key to making it all the way in the competition.
“He's a cowboy, literally,” Hinchcliffe noted. “There's a certain amount of machoism that goes along with that, you know. And that might not translate a lot to dance. I get that. But being able to just release that, and almost make fun of yourself, and just laugh at yourself, it'll make you enjoy it, which will make you dance better.”
When asked if he would consider joining in if Dancing did another all-star season, Hinchcliffe was skeptical citing how “mentally draining” the experience was for him. But he admitted that if he did dance again, he would “go to try and win”.
For now, Hinch is focused on racing. Hinchcliffe is just beginning the 2017 IndyCar racing season, competing in his second race of the year at The Grand Prix of Long Beach, running April 7-9.
“I learned a lot about myself through that whole process of being on the show,” he shared of his big takeaway from Dancing. “I have this appreciation for what I'm doing, even if the day is horrible -- if the car's not running right and we're slow and awful. It's still this kind of moment of just appreciating what I get to do and [Dancing With the Stars] helped me with that a lot.”
Hinchcliffe also shared with ET his predictions for the finals of Dancing With the Stars season 24. Check out the video below for his picks and more information on his upcoming races, including the 101st running of the Indianapolis 500. Dancing returns on Monday, April 10 on ABC, with the always emotional ‘Most Memorable Year’ week. Be sure to tune in to Entertainment Tonight and keep an eye on both our website and Facebook page for more Dancing With the Stars scoop!