Josef Newgarden is … Ted Crasnick

SPEEDWAY, Ind. — Media day for the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 was held Thursday afternoon, in two sessions — per usual.

It was about 15 minutes in when I noticed an odd man. Now, there are admittedly some strange (unique?) media members no matter the sport, but this was, well, strange.

This old man was interviewing Graham Rahal all by himself and I paused walking on by when I heard the following: “Your wife is hot. Can I take her out to lunch?”

This ... is Ted Crasnick.

This … is Ted Crasnick.

Wait! What?

Most reporters were conducting interviews, some were taking video, and then there was this guy … who was bold enough to talk with Rahal about his wife, and then his hair gel?

That’s when I started to think something was up.

I made my way to the other end of the tent area where Ed Carpenter was. Soon after, this guy followed — along with about three cameras, three big-time looking cameras. This old guy also was wearing an IFB, a wire to his ear for him to listen in to instructions. That’s when I knew for sure that this was some kind of act. A prank, maybe.

Perhaps a corespondent from The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.

This character then went right up to Ed Carpenter and interviewed him. Several times he struck Carpenter in the mouth with his microphone. That’s a no-no in Interview Skills 101. Carpenter, however, graciously leaned back and continued to answer the question.

After about five minutes, this man revealed himself. Finally.

It was Carpenter’s driver, Josef Newgarden.

“About the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen,” Rahal said afterwards.

“It was terrible looking, right? Hideous,” Newgarden added.

Ed Carpenter had no idea it was Newgarden playing a prank on him.

Ed Carpenter had no idea it was Newgarden playing a prank on him.

The 25-year-old from Hendersonville, Tennessee had just fooled his boss as Ted Crasnick. Crasnick said he was from various media outlets, like the Boca Raton Senior Center and ProstateHealth.com.

“The toughest part was trying not to break character,” said Newgarden, errr, Crasnick. “I thought people were going to know how I was.”

The only driver who knew it was Newgarden, he said, was Will Power.

Newgarden, who spent about two hours in the makeup chair, has wanted to doing something like this before, and his initial idea was to be disguised as a Yellow Jacket. Yellow Jackets are the hundreds, maybe thousand, of individuals helping direct fans.

“Which I think would have been funny just messing with people out here,” Newgarden said. “… I think this turned out all right.”

This feature will air on ABC’s pre-race show on Sunday, and you can see it below:

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