DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Brad Keselowski strolled through the Daytona 500 Club with his cellphone in one hand and a half-empty bottle in the other.
Nope, not beer. Not this time.
Keselowski was drinking orange juice Thursday at Daytona 500 Media Day, which officially kicked off Speedweeks. Still, the reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup champion was his usual, laid-back, outspoken self, offering up some of the best one-liners during a daylong event filled with playful jokes, repetitive questions, canned answers and optimistic outlooks for the upcoming season.
For Keselowski, it wasn't all that different from his last moment in the spotlight. He just didn't have a little buzz going.
"If you drink enough orange juice, you can drink a lot of beer," said Keselowski, who memorably chugged away in Victory Lane after clinching his first Cup championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway in November.
Three months later, he was fielding questions about defending his title, tweeting from his race car - which he famously did during last year's Daytona 500 - the budding relationship between competitors Danica Patrick and Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and his plan to purchase a tank.
"There is just something very rootsy about it," Keselowski said. "A man should own a tank."
The tank talk was just one of the many topics addressed by the 50-plus drivers who took part in the eight-hour event at Daytona International Speedway. No surprise, the Patrick and Stenhouse saga - they announced they were dating last month - took center stage.
"It some respects, it's just a relationship," five-time champion Jimmie Johnson said. "Clearly, there's more to it. It doesn't hurt anything. It will keep people looking and watching and curious as to what that dynamic is on the track, I'm sure. ... We'll all be watching with great curiosity."
Four-time series champion Jeff Gordon was fielding questions of his own after filming a "Harlem Shake" video at his race shop - even climbing atop a race car to dance - and the evidence is now online.
"One of the best times I've ever had," Gordon said.
Joey Logano, Matt Kenseth and Kurt Busch talked about being with new teams. Kyle Larson, Dylan Kwasniewski, Ben Kennedy and Ryan Blaney looked and sounded every bit like eager youngsters. Austin Dillon wore a black cowboy hat to the event. Dave Blaney donned a pink firesuit.
Two-time Daytona 500 winner Michael Waltrip, meanwhile, unveiled a green-and-white car to honor and raise funds for Sandy Hook Elementary School. Waltrip was set to drive the No. 30 Toyota in a one-race deal. Instead, he will be behind the wheel of No. 26 to honor the victims of the Dec. 14 massacre in Newtown, Conn.
Original Print Headline: Drivers dish at NASCAR kickoff
NASCAR Sprint Cup Schedule
Feb. 16: The Sprint Unlimited, Daytona Beach, Fla.
Feb. 21: Duel 1, Daytona Beach, Fla.
Feb. 21: Duel 2, Daytona Beach, Fla.
Feb. 24: Daytona 500, Daytona Beach, Fla.
March 3: Subway Fresh Fit 500, Avondale, Ariz.
March 10: KOBALT Tools 400, Las Vegas
March 17: Food City 500, Bristol, Tenn.
March 24: Auto Club 400, Fontana, Calif.
April 7: Virginia 500, Martinsville, Va.
April 13: Texas 500, Fort Worth, Texas
April 21: STP 400, Kansas City, Kan.
April 27: Toyota Owners 400, Richmond, Va.
May 5: Aaron's 499, Talladega, Ala.
May 11: Bojangles' Southern 500, Darlington, S.C.
May 18: NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race, Concord, N.C.
May 18: Sprint Showdown, Concord, N.C.
May 26: Coca-Cola 600, Concord, N.C.
June 2: Dover 400, Dover, Del.
June 9: Pocono 400, Long Pond, Pa.
June 16: Quicken Loans 400, Brooklyn, Mich.
June 23: Toyota/Save Mart 350, Sonoma, Calif.
June 29: Quaker State 400, Sparta, Ky.
July 6: Coke Zero 400, Daytona Beach, Fla.
July 14: New Hampshire 300, Loudon, N.H.
July 28: Brickyard 400, Speedway, Ind.
Aug. 4: Pennsylvania 400, Long Pond, Pa.
Aug. 11: Cheez-it 355 at The Glen, Watkins Glen, N.Y.
Aug. 18: Pure Michigan 400, Brooklyn, Mich.
Aug. 24: IRWIN Tools Night Race, Bristol, Tenn.
Sept. 1: AdvoCare 500, Hampton, Ga.
Sept. 7: Federated Auto Parts 400, Richmond, Va.
Sept. 15: GEICO 400, Joliet, Ill.
Sept. 22: SYLVANIA 300, Loudon, N.H.
Sept. 29: AAA 400, Dover, Del.
Oct. 6: Hollywood Casino 400, Kansas City, Kan.
Oct. 12: Bank of America 500, Concord, N.C.
Oct. 20: Camping World RV Sales 500, Talladega, Ala.
Oct. 27: Goody's Fast Relief 500, Martinsville, Va.
Nov. 3: AAA Texas 500, Fort Worth, Texas
Nov. 10: AdvoCare 500, Avondale, Ariz.