Chapter 16: Aaron’s 499
Talladega Speedway – Sunday Afternoon
It came down to the final laps of the race and it seemed like a repeat of Daytona. Dale led ahead of Tony, Angelica, Kyle Larson, Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch.
“5 to go,” Ron Malec told Angelica as he stood atop the pit box, thinking they were in good shape. “Just stick with your dad and Tony and you’ll be fine. You’ve done an awesome job.” Ron knew that nobody wanted to repeat what had happened at Talladega and if things went down this road, they would have a good solid finish. He also had a good idea that Tony wasn’t going to make a move on Dale as he knew about the relationship that they had.
“Larson is trying to deal with Harvick and Busch, thinking we won’t move,” her spotter warned her. It was exactly what Malec had been thinking. “It’s up to you what we do.”
“I’m sticking with the two people who mean the most to me,” she told them quickly over the radio as she knew that it was her way of staying out of trouble. She just wanted to get out of Talladega without something happening. “Hope the team isn’t mad in lack of effort.” She also shook her head, feeling some soreness through her, knowing that avoiding a wreck with what was happening with Ashton was recommended.
4 to go and everybody still held their line single-file, but everybody knew the move was coming. Discussions across the radios were in full force and no doubt Larson was going to have a plan of his own.
“Larson to go with two to go with Harvick and Busch,” Steve Addington radioed Tony and Tony made note of it, knowing that they were probably safe with having Dale in front of him and Angelica behind him. “Be on the watch Stew.”
“Just stick to the bottom and you should be fine,” Tony’s spotter replied.
“That’s the plan,” Tony replied as he knew what needed to be done. “Tell Dale and Angelica to keep tucked close.”
“10-4. I’ll remind Ang since Dale should know.”
“10-4.” Tony knew it was a good move as whether she was an Earnhardt or not, she was a rookie and reminders were always a good idea at times.
3 to go down the backstretch, contrary to radio reports, Kyle Larson pulled out of the single file line with Harvick and Kyle Busch in toe.
Coming off turn four, Larson was able to get himself up alongside Angelica for third as she tried to keep herself tucked up against Tony’s back bumper.
Two laps to go and keeping the bottom and tucked up draft allowed Angelica to keep in front of Kyle Larson as Larson fell back to end up battling for fourth with Johnson down the backstretch.
With them battling for forth as they came to the white flag, it allowed Dale, Tony and Angelica to gain a bit of an advantage ahead of them as they stayed tucked single-file.
“Tony wants to know if you will work with him,” Ron came across the radio, though he knew the answer himself.
“Does he really think I’d pick him over my dad?” Angelica asked as Ron laughed. “Tell him thanks but no thanks.”
Down the backstretch, Larson and Johnson managed to close the gap that had formed, though couldn’t do anything with it.
Coming around to the flag, Dale grabbed the win with Tony second and Angelica third.
“Heck of a job!” Steve cheered on the radio. “Great job team! Great job driver!”
“Amazing finish!” T.J. Majors agreed as Steve looked over at Lindsay and Chelsea with a smile.
“He needed that,” Lindsay said simply as Steve shook his head in agreement.
“Sissy no win?” Chelsea then asked and Lindsay shook her head no. “Daddy win?” Lindsay then shook her head yes and Chelsea let out a big cheer. “Yay Daddy! Daddy is cool!”
“That he is sweetie,” Lindsay agreed as she helped Chelsea down off the pit box. “You want to go to victory lane and congratulate him?” Lindsay then glanced at her phone, having heard it go off.
Congratulations my dear. Celebration is something that I will enjoy later, Leighanne.
“Bring it on bitch,” Lindsay said as she knew she was ready to take on the world and protect those who mean the most to her.
Later that night, Angelica walked into the motorcoach, smiling as she began taking off her uniform. It had been a long day, but she got a great finish out of it and had her favourite two people in the whole world finish in front of her.
“Hey Winnie,” she said to her puppy as he ran up and put his front paws up on her legs.
“Nice job,” Ashton congratulated her. Ashton didn’t have much luck in himself in yesterday’s Nationwide race having been caught up in one of the wrecks. Focusing on her puppy and wanting to keep the good day going, she picked him up and gave him a kiss on the nose. In return, he licked her cheek.
“Thanks,” she finally acknowledged Ashton as she sat the dog down on the couch.
“So think you’re pretty lucky staying out of trouble? You only will be lucky for so long.” His words caught her by surprise as she glanced his way, continuing to change out of her suit into some jeans and t-shirt. “There’s a plan in the midst that you won’t believ-”
“And what is that? Because frankly, I know how this plan goes. You do what you want with me as long as you know that I won’t say a word to protect my family. The minute I squeal, you say everything you want and hope that it all goes downhill from there.”
“So that’s what you think of it?” Ashton then gave her a slap across the face, out of surprise. “You have no fucking idea what is coming to you this week then so I suggest you keep that mouth shut if you want to be lucky.”
“I fucking hate you.” He then slapped her once again as she shook her head.
“I guess the feeling is mutual. I have never loved you, ever. It was all just a ploy knowing what dating the Earnhardt princess would do for me.” She shook her head, not wanting to hear any more of it as she finished changing. How could he say that when she had loved him without question for the past five years till these things started happening?
She watched him walk out of the motorcoach, letting her guard down as she rubbed her cheek, feeling the tears come to her eyes. She knew she wanted to get away from him and this. She knew she couldn’t handle dealing with it. however, seeing how happy Tony, Dale, Lindsay and Chelsea were and also the fear shared when Dale had learned about the text messages, she felt a strong pull to hold back. But how much longer could she take this without anybody knowing?
Chapter 17: Darlington…..
Darlington Speedway – Saturday Evening
Angelica walked into the team hauler, chucking her water bottle across the hauler, not caring that it was still full. She was frustrated with what had happened. She was leading. She had led the first half of the race, the whole way. Then the motor blew and up in the wall she was, sliding in her own oil. Another shot at victory cut shot. It just didn’t seem fair.
“Fuck!” She screamed as she sat down on the coach.
“I’ll go and come back later,” Ron told her as he knew she needed some time alone. “You were doing an awesome job. We’ll get that win.”
“When?” She asked as she laid back, flinching slightly. To add to the frustration, her body wasn’t agreeing with her at all. The pain of everything was catching up with her and holding it in, not telling anyone, was becoming harder with each day that passed.
“Soon because you’re a really good driver,” she heard, catching her out of her gaze as she looked up. She was surprised to see Kyle standing there. Why had Ron let him in? “I’m glad to see that you’re okay. Considering what you were saying last night, you don’t need any more headaches.”
Angelica sat up, looking down at the ground. Last night, her and Larson had sat watching the Nationwide Series race together – which Ashton won – having a heartfelt discussion. Larson talked about how his girlfriend of two years cheated on him while she talked about her relationship with Ashton. She didn’t speak of the abuse or threats, but of them having arguments and not spending as much time as they used together. It was at least some relief off her shoulders.
She then looked towards Larson, wanting to tell him more about what they had discussed. She had wanted to tell him about the abuse and everything, in hopes that he may be able to help. However, she was worried about her dad, Tony and Lindsay.
Looking back down, she took a deep breath, knowing that this was just the beginning of another long night. Ashton would be done whatever he was doing and they’d be headed home where she’d have to deal with him.
“Ang, what are you thinking?” Kyle asked as he sat down beside her. He could tell that she was deep in thought and surprised he had received no answer. What was bugging her? “You can tell me. I told you last night that you could trust me with anything. I won’t tell anyone whatever you tell me. What are you thinking?”
“Just give her some time alone please,” Kyle heard as he looked back towards the door to see Ron had returned, with a new bottle of water.
“Actually, there’s something that I do want to tell you Kyle,” Angelica announced as she looked up at him. She was scared about saying the words, but they had to be said. She couldn’t handle it alone anymore.
“What is it?” He asked as he looked back towards her, curious.
“Should I leave?” Ron asked, not knowing whether she wanted him to know. Angelica shook her head no, as she wanted Ron to know also. He had been bugging her about some of her lack of effort in testing and certain things, and now was her way to explain her case. He then sat down on the other side of her, handing her the bottle of water. “So what is it?”
“Angelica, are you pregnant?” Kyle asked, not knowing what she was thinking. Seeing her shake her head no, he let out a sigh of relief. “Well, that’s one thing out of the way.”
“So then what is it?” Ron asked, not able to stand the silence anymore. He knew about the previous things that had happened with her dad and was scared of a repeat.
“It’s Ashton,” she let out slowly, eyes focused back on the white tiles of the trailer floor.
“What about Ashton? Did he cheat on you?”
“Is that what you left out last night?” Kyle added, growing concerned. “Or is it worse than that? Angelica, you can tell us.”
“He probably is sleeping around with some chick, but that’s not the point,” Angelica let out as she knew that Ashton was probably off seeing some girl at this very moment.
“Then what’s going on?” She then wiped the tears off of her face, knowing they had to know. Somebody had to know her pain.
“He’s been hurting me….”
Chapter 18: He’s Been Hurting Me….
As the words came out of her mouth, both Ron and Kyle looked at her with shock, not believing them.
“It’s been going on for a couple months now,” she started.
“I’ve been scared to tell anyone. I don’t even know if I should be telling you right now. I’m scared and I don’t know what to do.”
“How has he been hurting you?” Kyle asked as he rubbed her back, trying to calm her down.
“Angelica, you can tell us,” Ron encouraged her. “We won’t tell anyone. You can trust us both.” He wanted to go scream at Ashton, and he wanted to tell Dale and Tony, but he atleast wanted her to first tell him.
“He’s slapped me, yelled me, pushed me and forced me to have sex with him when I don’t want to,” she finally told them slowly, voice quivering.
“I’ll be right back.” Ron then stood up, knowing where he had to go as he had some serious ass kicking to do. “Nobody does this and gets away with it. I don’t care who he thinks he is, he is in for an ass kicking. Kyle, you stay with her.” Ron didn’t know much about Kyle and Angelica’s relationship, but he knew that Kyle cared about her enough to take care of her.
“Ron, please just stay here and listen to me,” she begged as she knew she couldn’t let Ron go see Ashton.
“Why?” She then looked down, taking a deep breath, knowing that he had to know the truth.
“Because he finds out I told someone, he’s going to kill me. He’s also going to spill some secrets that we don’t need unburied.” Ron knew by those words what she meant, but it didn’t do anything with his anger. “He’s not working alone either. There’s someone else involved.” Ron was now desperate for answers as he was ready to kick two butts if necessary.
“Who?” He then turned back to face her, wanting an answer. “Who is working with him, Angelica?” He then walked over, sat on the couch beside her, seeing the fear in her eyes. “Angelica, you can tell me. I’ll listen for now and not go kick his ass. However, you’re going to need to do something about this.”
“Ron, relax a little,” Kyle told him as he pulled Angelica close. “She’s scared. Angelica, we only want to know so we can help you. We both will keep our distance from Ashton, if you want. We’ll both keep it secret if you want.”
“Kyle is right as we want to do whatever we can to help you,” Ron added as he took a couple of deep breaths to calm himself down.
“Please Ang?” Kyle then got a slight glance under her shirt while he rubbed her back, not believing some of the bruises that were there.
“I don’t know who,” she lied as she felt tears come to her eyes. “I just heard him talking with somebody.”
“Angelica, we’ll both take care of you and figure out a way to stop this without the secrets getting leaked,” Ron started. “Can I know what type of secrets there are that he knows? Maybe it’ll help us figure out who is helping him. If we can figure that out, maybe we can think of something.” Angelica knew she could say that much without giving too much away.
“He knows Lindsay’s real name is Leighanne and her back story.” Kyle then looked towards Ron and Angelica, confused.
“Lindsay’s real name is Leighanne?” He asked as Ron shook his head yes.
“Long story that you don’t need to know today kid,” Ron told him as Kyle looked back at Angelica. He was curious as to why the different name, though. But like Ron said, not really important.
“He knows about Jeff and Dale’s deal and has one of the tapes that Tony took to catch Jeff in the act,” Angelica explained as Ron looked on full of shock.
“So this is somebody who’s got a dish on the inside,” he concluded. “Next.”
“The famous sex tape that we’ve heard of at Hendrick. He knows about the relationship between Tony, Dale and Lindsay. Oh, and me getting drunk after prom, which is no big deal really.”
“That’s a lot of dirt.”
“Could Jeff be behind this?” Kyle then asked and immediately saw Angelica shake her head no. “How can you be so sure?”
“I heard a female voice,” she explained as Ron stood up, shocked. There was only one other person he could think of.
“Ingrid?” Ron asked and Angelica shook her head no.
“I know her voice,” Angelica told them as Kyle continued to rub her back.
“How long has this been going on for?” Kyle asked as he pulled her shirt up, showing Ron what he noticed before.
“A couple months,” she confessed to them as she kept her eyes locked on the floor.
“You need to tell your dad.” She shook her head, knowing he had enough going on.
“No, he has enough with the crazy text messages. I don’t need him worried about me and you know he’d go after Ashton right away. Just please keep it between us. I’m going to figure out something about this on my own.”
“As you wish,” Ron agreed, not wanting to break her trust as he wanted to help her.
“Fine and we’re both here to help you,” Kyle added as he moved back a bit, allowing her to lay back. “I hate to see this happening to you. You don’t deserve it.”
“I wouldn’t wish it on anyone,” she said as Ron flipped on the trailer TV.
“Get some rest – there’s still 40 to go and Ashton probably won’t be looking for you yet,” Ron told her as Kyle rubbed her forehead. She then fell asleep shortly after.
When the race was over, Kyle woke up her up and they got ready to head out. As they were about to leave the trailer, Kyle grabbed her arm.
“If you need me, I don’t care what time it is, call me,” he told her. “I meant it when I said I’d be there for you. I want to help you.” She shook her head yes, giving him a hug.
“Thank you,” she told him as he kissed her cheek.
“There really is something special about you.” She then smiled as she left the trailer, ready to head back to the motorcoach and face Ashton.
Charlotte Motor Speedway – Post All-Star Race
Angelica had the night she could only had dreamed of. She won the Sprint Showdown and went on to win the biggest race of the night – the Sprint All-Star race. The party in victory lane was over the top as everybody was celebrating, screaming and high-fiving.
As she returned home that night, she closed the door, smile plastered across her face. Life couldn’t be any better. She had gotten the burden off her shoulders with the secret and as promised, Larson had been there for her. He had been there to talk about the rough moments and even plan an escape. Ron had also kept his promise for the week following Darlington, which she was relieved. Now all she had to do was get rid of Ashton and her mom and things would be ready to go.
She went into the kitchen, grabbing a bottle of water. She was legal to drink, having had her 21st birthday a couple days prior. She had done her fair share of drinking in victory lane, enjoying more champagne than most drivers would. So with that said, she wasn’t ready to push her boundaries or the night as she knew she would come off her little high soon.
“Winnie, you wouldn’t believe how happy mommy was in victory lane,” she told her six month puppy as she looked down at him.
“So you finally won a race….the one that doesn’t count,” she heard as she gulped down her water, recognizing the voice all too well.
“It still is awesome to win it and it still means something. It proves that I’ve got a good car for the Coke 600.” She then threw the empty bottle out, walking down the hall, ready to go to bed. She knew she had a long day ahead of her on Sunday with some of the post-race obligations. “Can we just go to bed, please?”
“Think I’m going to let you get off that easy?” She then felt a shove, pushing her back against the wall. She shook her head, knowing she should’ve took up her dad’s offer to come back to his house for some post-race partying.
“I have a busy day tomorrow and I thought you’d be nice for once in your right mind.” He then walked over to her, grabbing a fistful of her hair as he picked her up.
“Nice and me don’t mix, and you know that well princess.” She then yanked her hair away from him, thinking maybe it’d be a good idea to cut it.
“I thought you were only doing this because some crazy bitch said to.” She then went to walk away, though didn’t get far as she fell straight down, tripping over her leg. She held her stomach in pain, now really regretting coming home.
“That was only 50% of the reason, Angelica. The other half is my hatred meant for you.” She then held back her tears as she tried to stand up, wanting to get whatever he had for her over with as quickly as possible. She knew he’d leave to go see his mistress and she could get Kyle to come over.
“So what do you have planned for tonight? Might as well get it over with.” He then smiled as he picked her up, pushing her against the wall and locking eyes with her.
“You know how this goes.” She looked down, knowing what he meant exactly.
“Then what are we waiting for?” She then started towards the stairs, knowing it’d be a long crawl up to the bedsroom. “I can’t believe I ever loved you.”
“Face it – I’m charming.” He then followed her as she made her way up the steps. Partway up, he tripped her, causing her to hit the staircase hard as she bit her tongue in pain. “Now that’s for cheating on me for fucking Larson. I saw your little cuddliness. I told you not to play games with me.” He then turned around and walked out the front door, shutting it behind him.
“Fuck!” She then slowly stood up, knowing she had to go find her phone, which she had left in the kitchen after getting the bottle of water. She struggled to her feet, grabbing the banister as she made her way down the stairs. She then made her way up the hall, holding on to whatever she could for comfort.
Once in the kitchen, she grabbed her phone off the counter, leaning on the counter herself and called Kyle. She waited….and waited….and waited…..yet there was no answer. She tried again and got the same response.
“Figures,” she said as she made her way to the fridge. “Everybody is out partying and I’m stuck at home, with a bitch.” She went in the fridge, knowing exactly what was on the door as she grabbed the bottle. Pulling the bottle to her mouth, she began downing it. “If they’re going to party and he’s going to fuck a skank, then fuck this – I’m getting wasted.”
An hour later, she could barely stand up as she was feeling tipsy. One bottle drank, second bottle started, she grabbed her phone, ready to try Kyle again. She hit the call button, hoping he’d answer.
“Hello?” She heard on the other end, a smile coming to her face.
“Kyle baby?” She asked, hoping that he was there for her.
“Angelica? This isn’t Kyle, sweetie. This is Danica. You hit the wrong number?” Danica could tell at her end that Angelica was drunk by the sound of her first words. “Sweetie, are you drinking? I think you need to lay down and lay off your celebration. I’m sure you’ve had enough to sink the Titanic.”
“Dani….I need my Kyle baby….” Danica couldn’t get why she was asking for Kyle. Larson? Busch? What did she want?
“Don’t you mean Ashton? Sweetie, you’re not making sense.”
“Screw Ashton…I want Kyle baby….he loves me Dani and I need him……” Danica then smiled as she felt an idea come to her head.
“How about you go lay down and I’ll make sure Kyle comes to see you? I promise.” Angelica shook her head, growing frustrated with her teammate.
“No….I need him now…..I go find him….” She then stumbled her way down the hall, grabbing her keys off the counter as she opened the door. “I know he house…..I go there.” Danica then looked at Ricky, feeling paranoid. Ricky grabbed the phone, knowing they needed to do something.
“Angelica, you’ve had too much to drink and cannot drive,” he started as he stood up at his house. “Go back in your house and I will drive over there, picking up Kyle for you on the way.” He then motioned for Danica to follow him. “Angelica Earnhardt!”
Though to Ricky’s surprise, all he heard was the dialtone as she had hung up.
“She hung up on me!” He yelled. “We need to find her! Let’s go!” Ricky then ran out the door with Danica in toe. As they got in Ricky’s car, Danica pulled her phone out of her pocket, calling Dale as she knew her dad needed to know what was going on.
Mooresville, North Carolina – Post All-Star Race
Kyle Larson stood there, joking with Kasey and Denny about their previous race on the go-kart track, in which Denny had won. He only stopped joking when he saw Ron Malec coming close to him.
“Excuse me,” he said as he walked away from Kasey and Denny and over to Ron. “What’s up?” Seeing the seriousness on Ron’s face, Kyle felt a sense of worry in his stomach.
“Where’s your pho-”
“It’s on the table. I don’t keep it with me when I’m racing go-karts. Why?” Seeing no response from Ron and the seriousness on his face, he walked over and picked his phone up. As he looked at it, he saw the missed calls from Angelica, a missed call from Ron and a missed call from Danica. “What’s going on?”
“Angelica got drunk tonight and is god knows where with her truck,” Ron told him. “She drunk-dialed Danica before leaving, wanting you and saying she was going to find you.”
“Fuck! Kasey, Denny, I will see you guys later.”
“Important business.” Ron then ran after Kyle, watching the younger driver quickly hop in his car with his car keys in hand. Ron hopped in with him, eyes now focused on Kyle. “Where are we going? We can’t just wander around the city randomly.” Kyle turned the truck on and backed out of the driveway.
“I know the route she takes to my place fro-”
“Her dad is on that route right now.” Kyle clenched his fist, thinking. Where could she be? As he did that, Ron looked down at his phone, reading the latest text message from Ricky.
“Shit.” Ron looked up, silently, shaking his head. It just didn’t seem fair.
“What? What does the text message say, Ron?”
“Ricky and Danica found her and the truck. Go to the hospital.” Kyle quickly switched routes as he kept his eyes focused on the road.
“How bad is it, or did they say?” Kyle glanced towards Ron before focusing his eyes back on the road. “It’s my fault. I should have kept my phone with me.”
“It’s not your fault. You’ve been there for her as you promised. She should’ve been smart enough to either call me when she couldn’t get a hold of you before the drinks, and been smart to not drive. Oh, your question – Ricky says she’ll make it, but she’s going to be sore for a while. Her back and side are hurting pretty bad.” Kyle shook his head, keeping his own tears hidden. As much as Ron told him it wasn’t his fault, he knew it was. He had made her promise at Darlington to be there for when she needed him.
“Ron, we need to tell Dale what’s going on now for sure. Whatever he did after the all-star race must had been bad if she did that.” Ron knew that Kyle was right. There was no time for secrets anymore.
“I was already planning on telling him. Ricky called Ashton’s phone and got some chic-”
“I don’t even want to hear anymore.” Ron could tell by the tone in Kyle’s voice how much he cared for Angelica.
“I know, just saying. Kyle, pull over. Let me drive. You’re upset and shouldn’t be.”
“Okay.” Kyle pulled over and they switched seats, continuing their drive.
“Let me tell Dale, Lindsay and Tony as I know about everything that is going on.”
“Okay. I guess I’ll be explaining things lightly to Danica and Ricky.” Ron shook his head yes.
“Sure, that works. They thought she was cheating on Ashton with you. I told them that Ashton and Angelica are having some issues so you’ve been her comfort rock.” Kyle smiled as he looked back at Angelica’s crew chief.
“Nicely done.” Ron then pulled into the hospital parking lot, quickly parking as they headed inside.