Chapter 56: Victory Lane
Upon arriving in victory lane, Alyssa climbed out of the car, standing on the edge with both fists in the air as the confetti shot off around her. The team sprayed whatever beverage they could find as everybody was in shock over the quick trip to victory lane.
She then hopped off the car and glanced at the reporter with a smile on her face. It felt good to be in victory lane.
“Second race and you’re already in victory lane,” the reporter starts. “Talk about your day.”
“The guys gave me a great car,” she starts as she tries to calm herself down, knowing that she needs to remember the sponsors accordingly. “The Cadbury Chevrolet was….just….wow. We worked hard all day, continuing to adjust it, and were able to work our way to the front. Travis did a spectacular job, as always, calling the adjustments and the pit crew – flawless stops. It was just unbelievable. I can’t believe this.”
“Then racing at the end, it wasn’t easy with having both Chase and Kennedy….”
“Oh my, they made it interesting and….I couldn’t ever imagine winning a race in a better way than I did today. I mean, that’s the way you want to race these races. That was one helluva race at the end and I hope the fans loved it because that was incredible. I think we were three-wide at one point. I just found where my car worked the best and made it work. I knew that the car had the speed, if I ran the right line.”
She then takes a deep breath, having let some of the excitement fade away, focusing her attention on shaking the team, the engine shop, and all the sponsors. She wanted to make sure to get her first XFINITY win interview right on cue after screwing everything every which way a couple years ago when she scored her first truck win at Martinsville.
She finishes up the interview as she knows someone is coming up behind her – thinking it was probably Travis – and feels a cold liquid go down her back. She then jumps in shock as she spins around and immediately smiles.
“I’m proud of you,” Dale tells her as he pulls her into a hug. “That was incredible. Way to go!” She then looks up at him after the hug, smiling widely.
“Thank you for being a great teacher and a great dad,” she replies. “I was waiting for a comment on the radio…..Oh my, you were crying.” Dale pulls her back close.
“That’s cause I’m proud of you. I’m proud of you because of not only what you did today, but how much you’ve grown and the young lady you’re becoming.” She then looks up into his eyes, knowing what she wanted to say immediately.
“Now now, dad – there’s something that I’ve told you from day one. I’ll always be your baby girl, no matter how old I am.” The camera takes in all the action, capturing the father-daughter moment in victory lane as the reporter looks on with a smile.
“Dale, what do you have to say about your daughter?” The reporter breaks in following the silence.
“I’m proud of her,” he says. “She ran a great race, staying out of trouble all day and finding ways to make her car even stronger. She drove like a veteran today. It makes me proud of her, and the entire team. This is a great group of guys and gals.”
“Any thoughts on to when we’ll see her in Cup?” Alyssa glances back over with a shocked expression and shakes her head no, having not even given that a thought at all. Dale, meanwhile, felt as though they were back under déjà view, remembering the questions with Chase.
“Give it time. She’ll move up when she’s ready. She’s doing two years in XFINITY before any decisions are made. We don’t want to move her up too quickly.” He also knew that they had to get the JR Motorsports team set for Cup racing before they could even think about doing that. Hopefully, that process happened quickly through the team growing that year as it seemed the future was there with both Kennedy and Alyssa.
Alyssa then went through a couple more interviews, before walking over to the team. She went through high-fiving each crew member, and giving a couple of them a hug. She reached Travis and simply smiled as she gave him the biggest hug, of all.
“You’re the best!” She tells him as he simply smiles.
“No – you’re the best,” he replies. “You make my job easy.” She smiled, proud of the relationship they had. Since being paired together when she made her truck debut shortly after her 16th birthday, they had clicked immediately.
“I’m just glad that Greg let me steal you away.”
“Hey, he couldn’t tell you no, now could he?” She then laughs and shakes her head no.
“Just remember to not let the pressure change either of you,” Dale interrupts the pair, having overheard the majority of the conversation. They both then glance over at the boss and shake their heads.
“Don’t worry – we’re doing this like we have since day one,” Travis starts as he keeps an eye on Alyssa. “Ignore what everybody else has to say and focus on ourselves and the car…..
“…..as the pieces will fall into place if we do that and we will succeed,” Alyssa finishes, remembering the saying that they had posted on the wall at JRM upon their first week together. Alyssa then heads off, meeting up with Marie and her siblings to receive their congratulatory messages.
“Stop worrying about your little girl. I promised you when you made me her crew chief that I’d take care of her, and I’m not backing down on that promise.” Dale then looks over at Travis and shakes his head, understanding.
“I trust you,” he tells him. “I just know how the media can be and don’t need her getting all frazzled. She already has enough on her plate with school and Chase.” Travis shakes his head, understanding. It had been interesting working with her in having to schedule their meetings together in between her classes and homework time.
“Speaking of Chase, where is the little butthead?” Travis questions as Dale shrugs his shoulders, glancing around victory lane. “I thought he’d be here already.”
“He’s probably busy with interviews and media obligations. If he could be here, he’d be here.” Travis then crosses his arms as he glances over at Dale.
“So, you have no problem with them together?” Dale then looks over at Travis and shakes his head no.
“He’s a good kid and I know he’ll treat her right. Plus, he knows if he hurts her that I’m kicking his ass.” Travis laughs as he gives Dale a pat on the shoulder.
“I wouldn’t expect anything less.” The pair then glanced over at Alyssa, watching as she accepted congratulations messages from an array of people. Her fellow XFINITY competitors had stopped by to say congratulations, but there were also some Sprint Cup drivers and crew members that had joined the party. It seemed that the congratulatory messages were never going to end.
Accepting the final message and being called by the NASCAR official, she headed back on the stage, set to accept the trophy. She was still partially shock, not able to process it fully in her mind that this was an XFINITY victory. To her, it felt like a win from her late model days or truck – but never could she have done this.
“Have I really won an XFINITY race?” She questions to herself as the race track promoter and sponsor of the race representative go on about who knows what. For her, it felt like a total blur.
“You just won an XFINITY race because you beat me,” she hears as a pair of arms wrap around her stomach, followed by a kiss on the cheek. “Congratulations sweetheart. I love you.” She then relaxes back in his arms as she looks up at him.
“I love you, too. I’m glad you’re here.” He then lets her go as he could tell that she’d be needed soon.
“I wouldn’t miss this for anything. Now…pay attention…” She then focuses on the pair of people, finally listening to what they have to say as she gets ready to raise the big trophy into the air.
Chapter 57: Victory Lane Part 2
Alyssa went through the process of being awarded the trophy, followed by the photos that followed.
She then went to the media center, and discussed the win with the media members. They had her talking about what it meant to win her first race, what it meant to beat her boyfriend and cousin – more so her boyfriend, and what it meant moving forward. She kept her focus on the near future, saying that she was simply focused on winning Rookie of the Year this season, and perhaps the championship. Of course, that wasn’t the answer the media wanted as they were looking more towards the Sprint Cup Series. That, of course, was a topic that she left alone saying that’d happen when the time was right.
With all of her post-win obligations complete, she returned back to victory lane. There were a couple of photos that she had yet to get that she would prefer in her collection.
The first photo was an obvious one – a copy of her first quarter midget win, wearing her princess crown to go with the firesuit and trophy. The royal media followers were fully set on eating up that photo, snatching as many pictures as they could.
The other photo, though, was something more special. She had waited till most people had cleared out of victory lane before pulling Chase close to her.
“I love you,” she tells him before kissing his lips. “The fact that I beat you makes this even more special.”
“I tried everything that I could to beat you,” he comments as he wraps his arms around her. “By the way, I think it’s a known fact that I love you, too.” She then chuckles as she keeps him held close.
“I was just thinking about something. You were there for my first quarter midget win. I made you come that night to the track.” Chase shakes his head, remembering, with a slight laugh.
“I remember the ridiculous shirt that you made me wear.” She then laughs as she glances over at her mom, then back at Chase.
“You can blame my mom. She helped me design it, remember?”
“Chasey!!” Alyssa yells as she looks their direction, taking off running towards the pair. She immediately wraps her arms around Chase’s leg and hugs him before looking up with a smile. “You came!”
“I promised, didn’t I?” Chase asks and Alyssa shakes her head yes.
“I so glad you here.” She then hurries to the truck, grabbing a shirt before returning to see him again. “You wear this.” Chase then looks over at Dale, who shrugs his shoulders, before laying his eyes back on the shirt. Chase then unfolds the shirt, smiling as he sees her number and name written on it, with a small car. He then flips it over, glancing at the back to let a bigger smile form on his face as he recognizes the drawing. “I made for you. Mommy help. Mommy do front, me do back.”
“It’s beautiful sweetheart.” He then slips it over his head, letting it cover the black t-shirt that he had chosen to wear with his jeans that night. Twirling around, no doubt there were people making comments around them about how it looked – but he didn’t care, for he was there to have fun with his buddy that night. Seeing the smile on her face at him wearing the shirt made it all worthwhile. “Do I look good?”
“You look grrrreeaaat!”
“Why did it have to be pink?” He asks as she shrugs her shoulders.
“I was four years old,” she states. “Four year old little girls love the color pink and think it’s the best color on the planet. You were just the lucky one that was stuck with it.” He then looks over her before looking into her blue eyes.
“I personally prefer the Cadbury purple now.” She then smiles as she breaks out of the hold, strutting across the victory lane stage.
“It does bring out my beauty, don’t you say?” He then laughs and shakes his head yes as he snaps a photo. She then spins around. “You took a photo of my ass, didn’t you?” He shrugs his shoulders as she walks back over to him. “Chase!”
“Well, you have a nice ass…” He then wraps his arms around her, holding her back close. “Don’t worry – it’s for my personal collection.” He then kisses her lips.
“That photo from that night – it’s been my phone background since daddy got me my phone.” She then shows him as he simply smiles.
“I remember another special night that we were together. Do you remember my first Cup win?” She shakes her head yes as she scrolls through her photos on her phone.
“I was so set on wearing a NAPA firesuit to match you since you were my ‘buddy’.” He smiles as he shakes his head yes.
“I thought the suit was adorable. The picture, though, was even more special. I still have that photo…” She smiles, remembering the frame that it was in at the house.
“It’s always been one of my favourites.” She then glances back at him as she puts her phone back in her pocket. “However, I say we make one even better than that. There’s a reason that I dragged you back to victory lane.” He smiles as he keeps her held close.
“You’re lucky that I love you, because if it was up to me – I’d be changed out of this firesuit by now.” She then smiles.
“Don’t worry – I’m ready to get changed, as well. Let’s get this over with.”
They turn and face the team photographer that they had asked to stick around, posing for a couple of photos. The first photo featured them on either side of the trophy, while the second photo had her standing in front of him, both showing the No. 1 sign.
However, Alyssa’s favourite of the afternoon and the photo that she was set to make her phone background later that night was when Chase wrapped both arms around her and held her close.
With the victory lane photos done, the pair headed back to their trailers to get changed, agreeing to go out to dinner that night together – and with a bunch of guys from the team – to celebrate the win.
As Chase came out changed into a t-shirt and pair of jeans, he met his mom’s gaze.
“I know you love and I can see how much you love her,” Cindy starts as she keeps her eyes focused on him. “It’s obvious to everyone. But, just because you love her a lot, remember to take things slow. Let things happen naturally and don’t push things too fast because of how you’re feeling.” Chase shakes his head, understanding. The worries that everyone seemed to have were understandable, given that she was younger.
“Mom, trust me,” he tells her. “I’m taking things slow and letting them happen as she wants. I’m not going to push her into anything.” Cindy smiles as she gives him a hug.
“I knew I raised you right.”
Chapter 58: Dale’s Thoughts
“You’re thinking about something….” Marie comments as she places breakfast down in front of him. Dale then glances up at her and lets out a sigh.
The rest of the night went well as the celebratory dinner was fun, with laughs had by everybody. They got back to the track late that night, with everybody retreating to their bedsroom quarters in knowing they had another busy day ahead. Besides, Dale had plans on making it a family sweep that weekend.
“How did you know?” He questions as she shrugs her shoulders.
“We’ve been together long enough that I know everything,” she answers before giving him a quick kiss before retreating back to the rest of breakfast.
“I’m just thinking about Alyssa.” She then looks over intrigued.
“And?” He then looks over, and he didn’t even need to say anymore. “Chase, right?” he shakes his head in agreement. “I thought you were perfectly fine with them being together. You told Cindy and I to back off, remember?”
“I still think that they’re great together and they belong together, if they truly love each other. I trust her judgment in knowing what her heart wants, and I trust that he’ll take care of her.” Marie then grabs a plate and sits across from Dale, focusing on his blue eyes.
“Then what’s the problem?” He glances away and knows that it wouldn’t be fair to Chase to talk to Marie about this. He told him and Regan that afternoon in confidence because he knew someone needed to know.
“Nothing that you need to worry about.” She then looks at him with eyebrows raised, knowing that a chicken’s way of not saying something. “It goes back a bunch of years and something that Chase told me. I promised him that I wouldn’t tell anybody.” She shakes her head, understanding, however somewhat worried.
“But it’s definitely nothing to worry my heart about?” Dale then looks up from his food at her.
“Don’t worry – everything is fine. I’m just getting lost in my own thoughts.”
Those thoughts wouldn’t disappear throughout the morning, though, as they continued to stay in his mind. Knowing that he had a good hour before his first appearance, he decided to make good use on those thoughts.
He made his way out of the motorcoach and made the short walk across the lot, knocking on a familiar door. He smiles when the door opens shortly thereafter.
“Hey,” Chase starts, surprised to see Dale standing there. “If you’re looking for Alyssa, she’s not here.” Dale chuckles as he makes his way inside.
“That’s not why I’m here, but thanks,” he replies, glad that she wasn’t there. That’d make this conversation more awkward. “I actually came over to talk to you.” Chase closes the door as he keeps a careful eye on Dale, taking a seat on the couch.
“Uh oh. Here comes the protect my daughter and I’ll kick your ass if you hurt her discussion.” Dale chuckles, wishing it was that easy.
“We already had that discussion, remember? I kept it short and sweet. I’m here on another topic.” Chase then watches Dale, carefully, nervously. What else was there to discuss?
“Okay…” Dale takes a deep breath as he glances away from Chase, wondering if he was even doing the right thing.
“I may be wrong doing this, but it came to my mind this morning. I know that you and Alyssa are growing closure with each passing day, and that’s great – no objections. I also trust you, and I trust her judgment that you won’t do things too early. However, that day is going to com-”
“Woah, wait! I’m not even close to proposing.” Dale’s eyes widen and he shakes his head no. “I guessed wrong, huh?” Dale shakes his head yes.
“If you were already looking to propose to her, I’d have concerns. That’s not why I’m here, Chase.” Dale takes a deep breath, trying to figure out the best wording. “First comes love, followed by kissing and touching, and then comes se-”
“Yeah, we’re not even close to that, either! Plus, I don’t feel comfortable having hat discussion with you. You’re her father!” Dale shakes his head, knowing that was why he had avoided even coming here on the topic.
“I know this whole situation is awkward…and I’m glad that you’re taking things slow and not at that step yet. Besides, I’m pretty sure that she hasn-”
“Don’t worry – she’s still your baby. I already asked her.” Dale looks on surprised. “Curiosity – that’s all. I just wanted to know so that way I knew for when the time is right.” Dale shakes his head, understanding.
“Now, the reason it was on my mind was because of your first time. I remember what happened with Demi.” Chase lets out a sigh as he glances out the window. “Chase, I know the emotions that went with that. It hurt. It still hurts to this day, right?” Chase slowly shakes his head yes.
“I got over everything that happened, except for that. That still stings.” Dale shakes his head, understanding.
“That’s bound to come up when it gets closer to…you know, the time. It came to my mind as I thought about you two growing closure. I don’t know why, but it did.” Chase then looks back over at Dale.
“So why are you here?” Dale keeps his eyes locked on Chase’s as he takes a deep breath.
“If you need someone to talk to or whatever, I’m here. I just came here to let you know that. I won’t make it awkward because it’s my daughter. I’ll be the same person to lean on as I was then. I also came here to suggest that you talk to her about what happened so she understands your emotions, too.” Chase shakes his head, understanding. He had thought about that already and knew that was probably in the cards moving forward. Besides, it’d only be fair to talk about his emotions if he wanted to get her to open up in return.
“How much does she know, Dale?” Dale’s eyes immediately go to the ground, knowing that answer clear as day.
“She doesn’t know much. She knows bare minimum details of what happened on the plane, since she still has a nightmare here or there about it, but that’s it. I couldn’t bring myself to tell her everything else. How do you tell your baby girl that you almost lost her?” Chase shakes his head, understanding. He knew that meant one thing, though – everything fell on his shoulders now.
“Okay. I understand your reasons. I just wanted to know so that way I know where to start.”
“I could tell her if you want and if it makes it eas-”
“No, I need to tell her myself. If I can’t tell her myself, then I don’t trust her as much as I should. I want to have that trust with her, Dale, and part of that is knowing that I can tell her anything.” A small smile forms on Dale’s face. He knew that he could trust Chase with his little girl.
“That’s fine. When that time comes, whether telling her everything or the first time, just know that I’m here to lean on or talk to.” A small smile forms on Chase’s face. He knew that he may have to take Dale up on that offer, or perhaps go talk to Regan like old times.
“Thanks. I appreciate that.”
Chapter 59: Chase’s Thoughts
Following the driver’s meeting, Chase knew that he had to go see someone in particular. The discussion that he had with Dale was still on his mind, and he knew there was one person that he could truly talk things through with before the race started.
Regan had shifted to being a driver coach for the Hendrick Motorsports/JR Motorsports development drivers, while running a partial schedule. That new role had him at the track each weekend with the young stable of drivers giving them tips as needed.
As he waited for driver introductions to begin, Chase met with Regan, set on discussing things. He immediately went through the discussion that he had with Dale, detailing everything that the pair spoke about. From the fact that Chase should discuss things over with Alyssa, to Alyssa not knowing too much per Dale’s lack of discussion with her. There was also the fact that they touched on the first time the pair were set to get sexual with each other, which Chase insisted wasn’t set to happen in the very near future.
Regan understood Dale’s reasoning for discussing things over – his daughter was his number one concern, and he wanted to make sure that was taken care of properly. A father’s wish is always for their children to find someone that loves and appreciates them for who they are. It was an interesting on the timing, but that just came with the nature of things as well.
“But why discuss all that right after a win?” Chase questions, catching Regan’s attention. It was a curious question as Regan could understand why Chase would be bothered by the fact.
“It was on his mind,” Regna answers with a shrug of the shoulders. Chase rolls his eyes as that was obviously the case.
“But why?” Regan lets out a sigh, trying to think of a good answer for Chase. No matter when they seemed to meet up to talk, Chase always had the difficult questions to answer.
“Probably seeing you two getting closer with each day triggered it. You know Dale. If it comes to mind and he cares…”
“…..he will tell you.” Regan shakes his head, having learned that over the years.
“If it does with his daughter, then….” Chase lets out a sigh.
“….he’ll do whatever it takes.” A small smile forms on Regan’s face. Finally, it seemed as though their discussions were getting to easier to handle.
“I know it’s a buzz kill, but he felt it was needed. Don’t let it bug you. Enjoy being home. Enjoy her win!” Chase smiles as that was definitely the plan. It was why he had gone out to dinner with her and the team last night. It was why he still wanted to take her out on a dinner of their own to celebrate. It was also why he wanted to win today to make it the perfect weekend for them both.
“Oh I am, no worries. Besides, I have plans for today.” Regan chuckles as he shakes his head.
“Sure you’re quick enough?” Chase then looks at him, surprised.
“Duh! Is that even a question?” Regan then laughs as he kicks back.
“We’ll see by race’s end.” He then sits up, catching Chase’s eyes. He knew there was one more piece of advice that he wanted to share. “Listen, I know this hurts to discuss and it’s hard – even after all these years. I know it’s also important, too. But stop worrying. When the time is right, you’ll be able to tell her everything that happened and about Demi. Till then, don’t worry about it. Focus on getting to know her better and your relationship. It’s useless to panic as at the right time, it’ll come with ease – just like when you told me.” Chase shakes his head, understanding. His mind started into overdrive wondering when the time would be, but he knew that he couldn’t worry about that either as he knocked that thought off of the brain. Instead, he had to focus on what Regan said.
“Thanks. I’m surprised you’re not warning me this time.” Regan chuckles, remembering the previous discussions about Chase’s love life.
“Hey, you had just met Demi and Ms. Vitty was a lizard.” Chase rolls his eyes at the mention as he watches her walk over their direction with Marshall.
“Why’d I go out with her?” Regan looks over and shrugs his shoulders, still asking himself that very same question.
“I ask myself that everytime I see her.” Chase glances over at her once again, before looking back over at Regan.
“I sometimes do as well. Guess I was fooled.” Regan looks over with a bit of sympathy.
“But you figured it out before it was too late. Now look at your princess. Make sure you take good care of her.” Chase smiles and shakes his head. There was no questioning that fact as he planned on doing everything with Alyssa.
“No worries. I always take good care of my buddy.” He then goes up, set to head over to the stage, knowing that his turn to go up would be coming up shortly. “Thanks for the cha-”
“I’ve got one more question for you, and you can answer if you want. I know about your first time with Demi, but have you since?” Chase lets out a sigh as he looks over at Regan.
“You know that Emma is the only girl that I dated since things happened with Demi, right?” Regan shakes his head yes. “Emma and I slept together once after a win. It kind of doesn’t count because that was after Ryan and Darrell took me partying so I was little drunk, if you may.” Regan shakes his head, understanding.
“But that’s it?” Chase shakes his head yes.
“That’s it – I swear.” He then takes a deep breath, thinking things over as he keeps his eyes focused on Regan. “When it comes to Alyssa and I, I don’t want to happen like that. I want it to be when the time is right. I want it to be perfect. I really care about her and don’t want to hurt her. I don’t want to till she is ready, and I want to make sure that everything is right for that time – whenever it may. Perhaps that’s why this is bugging me more than it should.” A small smile forms on Regan’s face.
“That just proves right there how much you care about her and love her. That says a lot and it should be commendable. But in the same breath, don’t put pressure on yourself. I know you want it to be perfect, but don’t pressure yourself so much in trying to make it perfect. Let it happen naturally. Life will takes its course of time, whatever that may be. When the time is right, you’ll talk about things and when the time is right, you’ll move to the next step.” Chase gives Regan a quick hug.
“Thanks for the chit-chat. I appreciate it.” Regan smiles.
“You know you can come to me anytime. That hasn’t changed over the years.” Chase smiles as he heads off, set for driver introductions.
Regan kicks back relaxing in the pit stall, a smile firmly on his face. They had come a long way from what happened, but everything had worked out in their own way. He had watched Chase grow a lot, becoming a great, mature man that could handle anything. It was nice to see him happy and secretly, he hoped that the race that afternoon belonged to the driver of the NAPA car.
Chapter 60: Folds of Honor 500
“Are you alright, man?” Darrell asks as he walks by Chase on the grid. Chase simply shakes his head yes. “I saw you talking with Regan and got all concerned.” Chase lets out a sigh.
“Dale mentioned a couple things to me this morning and I just sounded it off with Regan,” Chase answers as Darrell crosses his arms, leaning against Chase’s car.
“Is he not happy about you being with Alyssa?” Chase shakes his head no.
“It’s not that. He’s been supportive from day one. That’s actually why he wanted to talk to me. He wants to make sure that we’re taking things carefully and slow, and that I’m being honest with her. At some point, I’m going to have to tell her about what happened.” Darrell shivers, having left that thought in the past. He hadn’t given it a thought over the past 10 years or so, not wanting to be reminded of those events.
“Doesn’t she know?” Chase shrugs his shoulders.
“She has flashbacks to when she was on the plane, but that’s the extent. She doesn’t know what happened with Randy and I.” Darrell looks on surprised.
“There’s a thing called Google. I think you should’ve heard of it by now.” Chase then gives him a look, slightly curious, slightly surprised.
“What’s your point?” Darrell shrugs his shoulders.
“Everybody always takes a chance at googling themselves to see what is said. Don’t deny it – you’ve probably done it. You also do it to your best friends at times, as well. If she’s done that, she knows more than you think.” Chase thought that over as perhaps Darrell was on to something. Maybe she did know the details, and maybe it’d be easier to speak about what happened than he thought as at least she knew something. “You still owe it to her, though, to tell her from your own perspective.”
“Yeah..” Chase then takes a deep breath, thinking to what Regan said. “But hey, that’s in the future. That’s not right now. It’ll happen when the time is right, and when I’m comfortable. Besides, I should be getting ready to kick your ass.” Darrell then laughs and shakes his head no.
“Just because your girl got lucky yesterday doesn’t mean that you’re getting lucky today. I’m making sure that you finish second, again.” Chase rolls his eyes. He couldn’t be upset about finishing second yesterday no matter how he thought of it. But to finish second to Darrell? That’d be harder to take.
“We’ll just have to see, right? Remember – I’m dating her. She’ll give me all of her secrets to use against you today.” Darrell then smiles.
“So let me get this straight – the great Chase Elliott learns to drive from his girlfriend? Wow, that sounds great. I’m sure the media would eat that up.” Chase then goes to punch Darrell as Darrell laughs, jumping out of arm shot. “Miss me, miss me, now you gotta kis….you know what, nevermind.”
“I’ll handle that for you anyway,” a new voice chimes in as Alyssa walks over, giving Chase a hug and a kiss. “Good luck today.”
“Thank you,” he says as he wraps his arms around her. “Are you going to stand on pit road with me today?” She smiles as she wraps her arms around him.
“I promised you that I would on Friday, remember?” He shakes his head yes before kissing her lips, once again.
“Are you going to sit on my pit box?” She then glances at his eyes. That was a tough call as she normally sat on her dad’s pit box. However, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to sit on Chase’s.
“If it makes you feel better, I can do that.”
“Ever heard the expression of too much PDA?” Darrell interrupts as Chase laughs.
“It’s just revenge for all the times that you’d make out with Shelby in front of Ryan and I,” Chase teases as Darrell gives him the finger. Chase just laughs as Darrell heads off. “Truthfully, he and Shelby are cute together. I’m glad that they worked out.” He was also glad that Ryan finally managed to find a girl that was perfect for him, and wasn’t scared away by Emma. Things were great. Darrell had Shelby, Ryan had Kaitlyn and he now had Alyssa.
“I’m glad that you asked me to be your girlfriend.” He then keeps her held close.
“I’m glad that I had the guts to ask you. Would it be wrong to say that this feels like it’s meant to be even though we just started dating?” She shakes her head no as she lays her head on his chest.
“That’s not wrong at all, if that’s what you feel. I feel more comfortable with you than I have ever felt before with anyone.” He then runs his hands through her hair.
“How did you sleep last night?” She shakes her head as she glances up at him.
“I slept pretty good, but I woke up about 4am for who knows what reason.” She then lets out a sigh as she leans her head back against him. The words that she said were the truth – she felt so comfortable in his arms. It was probably why she slept as good as ever that night at his place in his arms. “Chase, will you come with me on Tuesday? Dad is supposed to come, but I’d really like it if you were there.”
“I will be there if you want me to be there. What time is your appointment?”
“4. I get out of school at 2:30 and I’m going to head over to JRM, pick up Dad and we’re going to go.” Chase shakes his head, understanding the plan.
“I’ll be sure to be at JRM when you get there to pick him up.”
The pair spent the rest of the pre-race talking, before standing together for pre-race ceremonies. After the anthem, she gave him one final kiss before walking away to his pit box while he climbed in the car set for the afternoon.
The race started off on a clean note, as they were able to get in 93 laps before the first caution flew for Ty Dillon blowing up. Chase was having a solid race so far, currently running just outside of the top 10 while Ryan Blaney led the field.
“She’s defiantely loose,” Chase reported on the radio. “If you can tighten her up, I could catch the leaders.”
“10-4 We’ll make an air pressure adjustment under this stop and go from there,” Alan tells him. “Lots of time, bud.” Chase knew that fact well as there were still about 230 laps to go. Lots of time to make his way to the front before the checkered flag flew.
The adjustments worked as Chase was able to move up into the top-10 before the second caution flew at lap 156 for Erik Jones going up in smoke.
“There’s lots of debris all around the track and it’s getting on the grills, resulting in high temps and blown motors,” Eddie tells Chase as Chase glances down at his temperatures. “No debris on your grill.”
“Keep an eye on the temps just incase,” Alan informs him. “It’s a hot day.”
“Ya think?” Chase questions. “Would you like to try this from my seat?” Alan kicks his feet back on the pit box.
“Nah man, I’m comfortable up here. Alyssa and I were just about to share an ice cream.” Chase swore he could smack his crew chief right then and there.
“Be sure to shove the stick up your butt when you’re done.” Alyssa chuckles as she looks over at Alan. It was really neat to see how their relationship had evolved since they started working together.
“10-4 You just keep driving hard and passing cars and doing your job.”
The engine failures continued biting drivers as Gray Gaulding was the next driver to go up in smoke at lap 209. The caution wasn’t timely for Chase as he had just pitted under green and was now trapped back in the 23rd spot.
“We’re going to take the wave around when the leaders pit here,” Alan informs him as Chase lets out a sigh. He was having such a good race. Why did the caution fly when it did? That just seemed to be his luck when he came to Atlanta. He always had a fast car in front of the hometown crowd, but barely found the keys to lock down a victory.
“10-4,” he comments. “How many to go?” Alan takes a deep breath, hearing the annoyance in Chase’s voice. He felt the annoyance, hoping they could’ve kept the smooth run going. However, he also knew that anything was possible still.
“You got lots of time. Still over a 100 laps. Just keep the nose clean and work your way through the pack carefully.”
The rest of the race would go green as Alyssa found herself split between watching Chase and Dale. Chase had worked his way through the field, breaking into the top-five as they stretched into the final laps.
Her dad, meanwhile, was also having a solid run as he ran in the fourth spot, looking to lock down another solid day. Considering that they had just started the Cup team at JRM, it would be a great start to their success. Though as the sign for two laps flew, she watched as big puff of smoke escaped the car, followed by a trail of fluid.
“Fuck!” She swore as she watched the engine blow, sitting back on the pit box as the caution flew. She had wanted a caution to give Chase a chance to catch up to Karsyn and battle for the win, but didn’t want that caution to be her dad.
“Caution – Dale blew up,” Eddie says on the radio. Chase was glad to see the caution – he’d get a shot to pass Karsyn for the victory. However, on the flip side, he hated to see that for Dale.
“Going to be a green-white-checkered here,” Alan says on the radio. “She’s going to take the bottom for the restart. That’ll give you the outside.”
Chase felt confident on the outside as the car had been at it’s strongest on the outside throughout the race. However, he also knew how strong Karsyn had been all day.
Riding around under caution, he felt a slew of thoughts go through his mind. It felt weird to be racing against her after the conversations that they had traded the past couple of days. She liked him and wanted to be with him – but yet he didn’t like her in the same way in return. He remembered how she took the news last week in Daytona. He hadn’t spoken to her since and wondered how she was feeling. Was she still upset? Had she started to move forward with her own thoughts, yet? He also wondered if she’d be able to find someone that was perfect for her. He even joked that perhaps he could set her up with Cole – the thought brought laughter as he knew he had been hanging around Ty and Hayley too long to try match-making.
Shaking his head, he knew he couldn’t think about that. He couldn’t let the off-track life intervene with things on the track. He had two laps to get a win and that was what he intended on doing, one way or another. He knew that meant that he had to pass her on the restart.
Cleaning off the tires, keeping his eyes focused, it was now or never to claim the victory that he wanted more than anything.
As soon as he watched the green flag fly in the air, he mashed the pedal down as hard as he could to the floor, letting the No. 24 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet take off. He carried all the momentum he could into the corner before backing off a touch, riding the outside groove. As he started to come off of two, he put his foot back to the floor, straightening the car out as he came off the corner. He knew he had to carry as much momentum as possible down the backstretch.
With the momentum on his side, he took a quick glance to his left – seeing that he was about a fender ahead. He took the approach to three, sending the car in wide with his foot slightly off the pedal, before mashing it back to the floor off the corner. As he came to the white flag, he knew he just needed one more clean lap and he’d be in victory lane.
He repeated the process, letting the car do the work to get off the corner as best as it could, coming off of turn four with every bit of speed he could hope for. As he crossed the finish line, he didn’t even bother to look to his left or right.
He didn’t need to.
He couldn’t feel anyone around him. He could already hear the screaming on the radio by Alan and Eddie.
He had done it.
He had won the Folds of Honor 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. He had gotten the points lead. He had punched his ticket to the Chase.
More importantly, he had won in front of the hometown crowd.