05/23/2009 at 11:00 PM EDT
It was a Dancing with the Stars
reunion at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Friday afternoon. Season 8
champ Mark Ballas
joined former Dancing
winners Derek Hough and IndyCar driver Helio Castroneves for the Indy 500’s annual pre-race pit stop competition.
Just 72 hours since winning his second mirror-ball trophy, Ballas, who turns 23 on Sunday, says the past couple of days “have been surreal. People have been coming up to me going 'oh my God!' It was the most amazing feeling winning with Shawn [Johnson]. I’m so proud of her."
Even more surreal for Ballas, who shaved his head on Thursday ("My hair was driving me nuts," he says, I was done with it!"), was hanging out in the Team Penske pit and seeing Castroneves win the competition.
“We were right on the tarmac, we got to see the fast car changes, the fast wheel changes. I have never heard a car so loud in my life!” says Ballas, who will be watching to see if pal Castroneves (who was acquitted
on tax evasion charges last month) can capture a third Indy 500 title on Sunday. That evening the Ballas Hough Band will perform at the official post-race party at the Conrad Hotel.
“I’m hoping Helio wins,” says Ballas, who says this year’s birthday will be "a nice low-key affair. We’re going watch the race, have a little dinner and perform."