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."
Where would he put it?
"Right in my driveway," he said.
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."
Patrick and Stenhouse were open about their relationship, clearly ready for all the ribbing. They shared Valentine's Day plans with reporters. He called her "hot." She joked about what would happen if he wrecked her on the track.
"He better have a really good, 'I'm sorry,'" Patrick said with a wink.
Two-time Daytona 500 winner Michael Waltrip 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., where 20 first-graders and six adults were gunned down.
Waltrip met with families from the area recently.
"I left there three hours later, but part of me is still there," he said. "There's no doubt about that. I didn't have that same feeling before I got there. I was sad, I was hurt, I was sorry, but it wasn't personal. That day, it became personal."
Keselowski has no way of calculating his chances of repeating as champion. He switched from Dodge to Ford during the offseason, has a new teammate (Logano) and has more than 40 others gunning for him.
Nonetheless, he seemed unfazed by the precarious position and whatever pressure that might come with defending the title. He even bragged about his choice of shoes at media day.
"There is nothing wrong with a little style is there?" Keselowski said. "Everyone likes a little style. I feel like I have a little style. I am wearing white shoes. Who else wears white shoes?"