On an average Sunday afternoon, soft-spoken Sam Hornish Jr. cruises past the corn fields that line the roads of his northwestern Ohio in a burly, black pickup truck. Meanwhile, his counterpart, extroverted Helio Castroneves, takes to the showy streets of South Beach in a luxurious Lamborghini.
Meet IndyCar's version of the odd couple. Each are different in terms of personality, but both know how to put the pedal to the metal -- and win. "We're both pretty much fighters," Hornish told ABC News. "We have similar accomplishments."
The 28-year-old Midwesterner takes to the track on Sunday as the defending champion of the Indianapolis 500 after a dramatic, come-from-behind finish last year. In fact, he went on to win the 2006 IndyCar Championship for the first time in his career.
The Indianapolis 500 will air Sunday at noon on ABC.
Castroneves is no slouch either. He's a two-time Indy 500 champion and enters this year's competition as the winner of the prestigious pole position, which earned him the coveted No. 1 starting spot in the race.
"Sam and I are pretty different [away from the track]," Castroneves pointed out to ABC News. "I believe it begins where you grow up."
For Hornish, that would be the tiny town of Defiance, Ohio. Population: 16,000. Number of traffic lights? Very few. Hornish has become the pride and joy of this sleepy hamlet. "There are so many people around here that have been so supportive," he said. "The local paper has promoted me so well. And there are people from town who go to five, six, seven races a year. That's one of the things that's best about it for me -- when I accomplish something I feel like they accomplish it too."
Hornish is as cutthroat as they come behind-the-wheel, but once he steps out of the car it's a different story. "I don't have a whole lot of confidence outside the car… There's a lot of things I wish I could do better -- do better with the camera and promote myself better. But it's not me. I'm not up there doing that song and dance because it would come off too fake. I'm glad I'm smart enough to know that's not me."
He goes on to add, "There's something about the car -- I'm a different person. It's like going in the phone booth and changing."
When talk turns to his colorful teammate, Hornish breaks into a grin. "Helio is obviously a lot more outgoing, a lot more song and dance than I am in a lot of ways," he said. "He is one of the only people I know of in the world who looks at the alarm clock in the morning and instead of saying, 'Crap, I have to get up,' jumps out of bed, when the alarm hasn't gone off yet, and says, What am I gonna do today?'"
When asked to sum up his personality using three adjectives, Castroneves said: "Three words are not enough.I would have to say I'm a passionate person. I'm obviously happy, I enjoy life. And I'm focused -- especially when I'm in the race car."
Castroneves now lives in Miami, Fla., but believes his homeland shaped who he is today. "Everybody there is warm and welcoming. I have some of those characteristics," he told ABC News.
Known for his electric energy, and effervescent smile, this Brazilian native is nicknamed Spiderman for his tradition of climbing the fence to celebrate with fans whenever he wins a race.