IndyCar driver Helio Castroneves, who won a "Dancing with the Stars" crown in 2007, has many reasons to return for the All-Star competition this fall.
• It helps promote his racing series.
• He really loves to dance and enjoys the camaraderie on the ABC show.
• And his 2½-year-old daughter Mikaella can watch and be proud of him.
"I was at a different phase of my life when I competed earlier," said Castroneves, whose girlfriend Adriana Henao had Mikaella in 2010. "Now I have this little girl and she's awesome. I want her to be a part of this. Hopefully, she'll be a dancer too!"
This time, the dancing competition should be tougher.
The roster includes former athletic champions Apolo Ohno, Emmitt Smith and Shawn Johnson, along with actresses Pamela Anderson, Kirstie Alley and Kelly Monaco (also past champion), actors Gilles Marini and Joey Fatone, singer Drew Lachey (also past champion) and reality show stars Melissa Rycroft and Bristol Palin.
"I wasn't even thinking about how difficult the competition was until you told me! What have I put myself into!" said Castroneves, who previously teamed with pro dancer Julianne Hough for the Mirrorball Trophy. "But I know it's going to be a lot of fun. And it's a great group of people!"
The season begins Sept. 24, just a week after the IndyCar Series season finale in Fontana, Calif. Castroneves is second to Ryan Hunter-Reay in the series championship standings entering the final four races.
"We've been very consistent so far this season and there is a lot of racing left in the season," said Castroneves, who returns to the track this weekend for the Honda Indy 200 in Ohio. "I need to focus on this championship first before dancing."