Brett Davern finished second last year in the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race at Long Beach and was hooked.
He called everybody he knew in an effort to get back in this year's race, and it paid off Saturday with a victory for the actor from MTV's "Awkward."
"I just wanted to come back so bad," he said after the win. "I basically bugged everyone associated with this race to let me back in."
Davern, who plays a drag racer in "Born to Race: Fast Track," had had the top celebrity qualifying time for the 10-lap race. Retired NASCAR driver and current analyst Kyle Petty actually won the pole by more than half a second, but the professionals in the field start 30 seconds behind the celebrities.
It made it clear sailing for Davern, who grew up tooling around in a go-kart facility owned by his uncle.
"I just wanted to keep it clean early," Davern said. "Then I got out front and had it good for a while, but after about five laps everything started to happen around us on the track."
Max Thieriot of "Bates Motel" finished second after a spirited battle to the checkered flag with Oscar winner Adrien Brody.
"For a while, I was looking in my mirrors and all I could see was Adrien Brody, so I knew he was coming," Thieriot said. "I think we actually made a little contact a couple times there. Then on that last lap, he was all over me and I'm thinking he must really want second place bad. I tried to go really deep into the last hairpin, but I knew he was going to go underneath me. Then he got loose and I saw a small hole and I just went for it."
Brody said after he thought they were racing for the win.
Al Unser Jr. was the highest-finishing pro at fifth and battled Petty every lap for the entire race.
"That was just a fun time — considering I haven't been in a competitive car for about 100 years, that was me riding around and being taught a lesson by Al Unser Jr.," Petty said. "This was like watching a true artist paint. I tried to dive underneath him a couple times, I'm not sure if it was the right move or not, but that's how we do it in stock cars. The whole experience was just incredible."
It was Unser's third win in the pro class in three appearances in the race. It's also his ninth career victory at Long Beach, where he's a six-time winner in IndyCar.
"Really, this was the first time in my three times in this race that another pro was there to keep me honest," Unser said. "I saw Kyle in my mirrors the whole race and then when I finally stopped looking back at Kyle I thought I kept seeing lots of reasons for a full-course yellow.
"It was exciting and the most fun I've ever had here. Outside of the Indianapolis 500, this has always been the most special race in Indy car racing, it's always meant a lot to do well here."
The race has raised more than $2 million for Racing for Kids in its history.