Castroneves Claims 'Dancing With The Stars' Title
LOS ANGELES (Nov. 27, 2007) -- Two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Helio Castroneves added another title to his resume Tuesday night, capturing the fifth "Dancing With The Stars" mirrorball trophy in an upset of Spice Girl Melanie Brown.
"This is an incredible moment right now," said Castroneves, who was given a quart of milk, the traditional drink consumed by Indianapolis 500 winners in victory lane, after he and partner Julianne Hough were announced as the champion of the 10-week competition. "I want to thank my team for letting me do this, my family, the fans, and this special person [Hough]."
In their final dance of the competition, Castroneves and Hough earned a perfect score of 30 with the quickstep, a dance that provided them with a perfect score earlier in the competition.
"Helio, you are like the sunny side of life," Judge Bruno Tonioli said in his critique of Castroneves and Hough immediately after their final performance. "You have achieved an incredible amount in this competition. Your attitude and your sportsmanship really make you a champion. We are all proud of you."
Brown and partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy also received a perfect score with their final dance, a mambo. Brown and Chmerkovskiy entered Tuesday night's final contest one point ahead of Castroneves and Hough. Each couple picked their favorite routine for the dance-off. They were allowed to alter it with difficult moves, such as lifts, but Castroneves told Hough during rehearsal he wanted to keep it as they had originally performed it because it had received a perfect score.
Numerous Penske Racing employees gathered at the Mooresville, N.C., race shop to watch and cheer for Castroneves during the two-hour finale. Penske Performance President Tim Cindric proudly showed his "Vote for Helio" T-shirt as he talked with WSOC-TV reporter Brigida Mack shortly after the winner was announced.
"We couldn't be prouder of him," Cindric said on WSOC, the ABC affiliate in Charlotte, N.C. "We didn't know if he would make it past the first round. We can't believe it. It's a shame they didn't have a fence for him to climb. That's what he's famous for."
Castroneves always climbs the track's frontstretch fence after he wins an IndyCar race.
Throughout the strenuous competition, Castroneves delighted the crowd and the judges with his glowing personality and energetic enthusiasm while performing difficult and entertaining routines. At the beginning of the competition, Castroneves said he would "dedicate the same energy that I bring to racing to rehearsing for the show" and noted he had "set my sights on winning."
"Having won back-to-back Indianapolis 500s, I would like nothing more than to give Julianne back-to-back 'Dancing With The Stars' titles," Castroneves said prior to the competition's beginning.
And the 32-year-old Brazilian, the first race car driver to compete on the show, accomplished his goal with his trademark charm and passion. In addition to Brown, other competitors were Mark Cuban, Jane Seymour, Wayne Newton, Floyd Mayweather, Marie Osmond, Jennie Garth, Sabrina Bryan, Albert Reed, Cameron Mathison and Josie Maran.
ABC's "Dancing With The Stars" averaged about 20 million viewers weekly for each of its twice-weekly shows in the 2006-07 season. In number of viewers, the only show surpassing it is Fox's "American Idol." Last week, "Dancing With The Stars" was the No. 1 show with 22 million viewers.