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Tuesday, the Orlando Amway Center (a very cold ice hockey rink that day) was the setting for the 2014 IndyCar Media Day. Twenty drivers, one series official and two TV broadcasters met with the media, one at a time. The drivers paraded through a variety of stops besides the Media Conference: Media Guide and other photo shoots, TV and broadcast interviews, and one-on-ones. As the day wore on the Media Conference became more and more informal.

Let’s get the important things out of the way first.

Juan Pablo Montoya

Some die-hard NASCAR media made the trek up from SpeedWeeks at Daytona Beach for the Media Conference, and some wags said they just came to see for themselves that JUAN PABLO MONTOYA/Team Penske Chevrolet was actually happy and smiling now that he was back in IndyCar after NASCAR racing the past seven years. He was. Montoya hasn’t been seen without a grin since he made the shift.

Team Penske is known for its strict dress code for drivers and management. Black pants and color-coded shirts. JPM admitted that now he wears black pants…proudly. “I told them today actually white shirt, the Verizon white shirt looks better than the black shirt. But they say, White shirt is management. Again, I’m not management, I’m just a driver. Black shirt for me.”

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE/Andretti Autosport Honda posited that now that DARIO FRANCHITTI had retired from driving, it was open for who had the best hair in IndyCar, so he nominated JOSEF NEWGARDEN/Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda, while conceding SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA/KVAFS Racing Chevrolet was a front runner, and that even MARCO ANDRETTI/Andretti Autosport Honda had a chance. In the meantime, while Hinch was strutting and taking GoPro videos of the assembled media, he also said he was running with Newgarden, as he felt his Canadian visage had the best facial hair. You be the Judge.

Josef Newgarden

Sebastian Saavedra

Marco Andretti

James Hinchcliffe

The Mayor of Hinchtown wasn’t yet done with the tall tales. He lost his engineer to another team, and was asked if he stole Newgarden’s engineer. Hinch admitted he did. “I went to his (Newgarden’s) house where he normally keeps his engineer in a cage in the basement. I broke in while he was sleeping. Nathan made a lot of noise, rattled the cage. It woke Josef, which made for an ugly altercation on the main floor. I was able to use chloroform. I said, ‘Josef, does this smell like chloroform?’ Then Nathan and I made it out the window. There were no repercussions. We were just goofing around outside. The chloroform had a destructive effect on Josef’s memory and he thinks Nathan is still in the basement. He hasn’t figured it out yet.”

The unnamed race series official jokingly called NASCAR drivers taxi drivers, and invited them to come race in IndyCar on Memorial Day Weekend, in ‘real race cars.” To elaborate, when discussing cross-over driving between the two series, referred to as “The Double,” he said “I think we’re ready. We’ll take those little puppies anytime they want to come up. Probably give them a thrill. They might not want to go back. ‘Oh, this is what a real car feels like.’ Strike that from the record. I did not say that. MIKE HELTON will be after me when he sees me.”

“It’s about the fans and we have great relationships with the other series.”

Rookie CARLOS MUNOZ/Andretti Autosport Honda finished second in last year’s Indianapolis 500 and was Rookie of the Race. As he seems to be a serious guy who wants to learn, he was asked how he would fit in with the team well-known for its pranks in his team. He said “Yeah, I’m really quiet guy. I’m really shy. That doesn’t mean I’m – how you say – bad person. I’m quiet and shy compared to James. He’s always talking, he talks a lot, making jokes, completely different mind. Ryan (RYAN HUNTER-REAY) is in between. Marco, I think we’re more quiet guys. I think it’s a great combination for all the team. But they treat me as one of them. They treat me really well. After Indy they treat me really well, and no, the team hasn’t played any practical jokes on me. But it’s great to have this combination of drivers, no?”

SCOTT DIXON/Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet was asked if he was worried about pranks, now that two well known pranksters were together on the team – TONY KANAAN-newest Ganassi driver, and his good buddy DARIO FRANCHITTI-retired Ganassi driver now assuming another team role. “I don’t know how that’s going to go. It’s a good question. I could see it probably starting with me and Dario on T.K. we’ll have to see. There’s some entertaining things that will happen with truck drivers. I’m sure it will kickoff. I’m sure T.K. will be the instigator of most of them.”

Scott Dixon