'This Is Us' star Hartley on INDYCAR GP: 'This is fantastic!'

Updated: 

INDIANAPOLIS – He may star on NBC’s “This Is Us,” but after experiencing life at 200 mph around Indianapolis Motor Speedway, actor Justin Hartley felt more like “This is fantastic!”

On his path to wave the green flag to start the INDYCAR Grand Prix on Saturday, Hartley was schooled on what it might be like to pilot an Indy car at speed by none other than racing legend Mario Andretti.

Harley, who portrays Kevin Pearson on NBC’s hit show “This Is Us,” took a thrill ride as a passenger in the Indy Racing Experience two-seat Indy car driven by Andretti, watched the NTT IndyCar Series morning warmup practice from pit lane and took a tour of INDYCAR Race Control. He also met several stars of Indy car racing – including Alexander Rossi and Conor Daly of Andretti Autosport in the photo above – and stopped to pose for selfies with dozens of excited “This Is Us” fans.

“It’s a historic place,” Hartley said as he took in the view from the sixth floor of the IMS Pagoda. “I’m a race fan and, you know, to get to watch these incredible machines do these incredible things – this is fantastic! It’s engineering at its best.”

Climbing out of the two-seater ride with Andretti, Hartley summed up the experience simply: “That’s cookin’!”

Later, Hartley climbed to the flag stand at the IMS start/finish line – hovering above the iconic yard of bricks – to perform his honorary starter duties, waving the green flag to begin the race on the 14-turn, 2.439-mile permanent road course.

Hartley’s counterpart in honorary celebrity roles Saturday was Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford, who drove the Chevrolet pace car ahead of the field on the parade and pace laps before the green flag. Crawford, a noted performance car buff, took a two-seater ride with Andretti, too (shown below), and thrilled hockey fans as he took in sights around the track.

Corey Crawford and Mario Andretti

From the fans