Hinchcliffe expects emotional night on 'Dancing with the Stars'

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As if being in jeopardy last week on “Dancing with the Stars” wasn’t unforgettable enough, James Hinchcliffe takes on “most memorable year” theme night tonight in Week 5 of the ABC dance competition show (8 p.m. ET).

Hinchcliffe didn’t hesitate when naming his most memorable year. It was easily 2015 when the Verizon IndyCar Series driver survived a life-threatening crash during Indianapolis 500 practice. Fully recovered and back competing in 2016, the 29-year-old Schmidt Peterson Motorsports driver has embraced a truer appreciation for all things in his life now.

He hopes to display that in the tango that he and professional partner Sharna Burgess will perform live in front of the Los Angeles studio audience. Hinchcliffe and Burgess make up one of nine celebrity-pro couples remaining in the competition.

“This week is most memorable year, which for me pretty obviously to people in the INDYCAR world is 2015,” Hinchcliffe told IndyCar.com today. “Sharna and I will be dancing a tango. Preparations so far this week have gone pretty well.

“It’s another dance ‘in frame,’ so sort of similar to foxtrot in some ways,” he added. “But at the same time it’s 30 seconds longer than any song we’ve done so far, so it’s a lot more choreography, a lot more to remember. We’ve definitely needed every minute of rehearsal this week to get the whole routine down.”

Hinchcliffe added that tonight’s two-hour episode will be must-see TV as each of the celebrities reveals why their chosen year means so much to them.

“It’s going to be an exciting week, I think,” Hinchcliffe said. “A lot of stories are going to be told. You’ll get to know everybody on the cast a lot better. It’s always a very emotional week.

“We’ve already seen that a little bit in rehearsals and camera blocking and things like that. So it’s definitely a show you don’t want to miss and we’ll certainly try and do all our INDYCAR fans proud.”

Hinchcliffe and Burgess tallied the second-highest score from judges last week, but still were in jeopardy of being the second couple eliminated on Tuesday’s results show when those scores were combined with fan voting. It again highlighted the need for all Hinchcliffe and INDYCAR fans to vote for #TeamStopAndGo, the hashtag representing the racer and his pro partner.

“Well, we survived another week but only just,” said Hinchcliffe who, along with Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte and retired NFL player Calvin Johnson Jr., make up the only male celebrities remaining in the contest compared with six women.

“It was kind of unnerving being in jeopardy,” Hinchcliffe continued, “but you understand that’s part of the show and you’re going to have moments like that. It just makes everybody appreciate how bad they want to be here and how much we’re relying on everybody’s support and votes.”

This week’s voting opens as soon as the show begins on the East Coast at 8 p.m. ET, with fans permitted nine votes by phone and an additional nine online votes on the “Dancing with the Stars” Facebook page or on abc.com. Phone votes (toll-free at (800) 868-3405) may only be placed from the time the show begins until 60 minutes after the show’s conclusion in each time zone. Online voting runs until 8 p.m. ET Tuesday.

The combination of judges’ scores and fan voting from tonight’s dances determines which couple will be eliminated on the next show Monday, Oct. 17.

To vote for Hinchcliffe and Burgess during the open voting period beginning tonight, go to abc.com or the “Dancing with the Stars” Facebook page. To show your support for #TeamStopAndGo, order merchandise by clicking here.

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