Chapter 21: The Race
Bristol – Saturday Night
Dale and Steve stood by the car, counting down the minutes till the start of the race. Steve was right. They had a bullet. He had managed to qualify on pole. The week had gone according to plan, too, as Jeff held word to his promise. It put a sense of relief in Dale’s mind as it was one week that he didn’t have to deal with the pain. It also had allowed himself some good time to continue to feel better, now ready for the 500 laps that would take place that night.
“We’re going to have a good night,” Steve predicted. “We just got to keep you out of trouble and we got a win on our hands. I just hope that what you’re thinking works. How are you planning on pulling off a win and what you’re thinking?” Dale then smiled as he looked towards his crew chief.
“He’ll be up front late in the race if he can stay out of trouble,” Dale replied. “You’ll see it go down in the final 20 laps if he’s up there where I think he’ll be in the top five. I can’t let this go down without getting a piece of revenge for Daytona for not only myself, but for you and the guys.” Steve then smiled as he wrapped an arm around his driver, looking down the starting grid to see Jeff there with his wife and kids.
“I appreciate that, but it’s not necessary. I just want to see things over with for you, Lindsay and Angelica.” Dale smiled as he looked towards Lindsay and Angelica, who were engulfed in their own conversation with one of the crew guys.
“Just make sure after the race to keep your eyes on them. Tony has my back with his part so you have their back.” Steve shook his head in agreement, knowing how much they both meant to Dale and knowing that Tony would definately have Dale’s back no matter what. “They mean everything to me.”
40 laps to go….
Last round of pit stops didn’t go as planned as Dale came first and went out eighth. According to Steve per the radio, it was due to a hang up on the left rear. Though with fou laps left, there was time to work their magic.
“We’ve ran up front all night so you can get back up there,” Steve encouraged his driver under caution. “24 is leading by the way.” With the plan they had in hand, it seemed it was coming together perfectly. Jeff was up front, as predicted, and it seemed that if it was going to happen, it’d go down better than expected. A look at the scoreboard was also show that Jeff would have his hands full on the restart virtue of Kyle and Tony.
“Top seems to had been better all night, strangly, so this could be to our advantage,” T.J. added. While Bristol was a short banked track, it had been true that most people were making passes to the outside. The outside groove was the quicker way around and if you wanted to pass, the bottom was tough to do it. T.J. sensed that they’d be able to make some quick passes early on the restart and then show their strength continuing to make their way through the field. “I’ll try to get you clear as soon as I can.”
“I’ll leave these final laps to you both but 40 laps, strong car, you can do it buddy!”
As they got near the end of the race, it had played true. Dale had made his way through the field, making some passes high on the restart, some passes low as the laps ticked away. It was a show to watch as everybody was wondering if they could pull off a win after last week in Michigan.
“5 laps.” Steve said across the radio as there were five laps to go and now Dale ran second to Jeff, just a couple car lengths behind. In an amazing feat, their plan was coming together way better than they expected.
“You’re catching him,” T.J. came across the radio, noticing how much quicker Dale seemed to be in the middle of the corners. “Faster in the middle of the corners. No lap traffic around you.”
Chapter 22: Bristol Part 2
Bristol – Saturday Night
It marked three laps left and Dale was there, right on Jeff’s bumper coming off of turn two to go down the backstretch. Down into turn four, Dale kept himself right there, giving Jeff a slight tap, knowing that he had to get Jeff thinking about what he would do.
“Two to go,” T.J. said as he crossed the front stretch finish line. “Save move for last lap.” By watching his driver, T.J. could tell there was possibility of a bump and run happening. Steve and Dale hadn’t told T.J. of the plan nor any details, however everybody sensed it by how the pair were racing each other.
“You can do it,” Steve encouraged his driver as he watched them head down the backstretch, biting his lip. The plan haunted him now as he watched the pair. He knew what was coming. What this really the right thing to do considering everything? “Final lap.” He stood up, watching the pair go into turns one and two, just waiting for it to happen. It was only a matter of time now.
Going into turn three, Dale knew that it was time and he gave Jeff the bump, sending him down the banking and for the spin as Dale went on to take the victory. A smile crossed his face in knowing what had happened, though there was a sense of fear building. Maybe the plan wasn’t the best idea.
“I didn’t mean to turn him – just bump him,” Dale came across the radio immediately as he crossed the finish line and Steve stood on the pit box, smiling, high-fiving the guys. He knew that the comment was a total lie, enough to cover for the guys on the 24 team, but it was what it was. “Way to go guys on an awesome car! Steve, this thing was a rocket! Awesome job!”
“Nice job Dale,” they all heard a new voice chime in, knowing that it was the boss’. It was questionable as to whether there’d be a discussion following the race that Rick was thinking of. He had a discussion after Daytona, but it was determined probably in his mind to do it again. Though with what was about to go down, Dale knew that discussion would be a lot bigger.
“Way to go buddy!” Steve came across the radio as he climbed down from the pit box. “You did a heck of a job driving through the field there after that pit stop. Great team effort tonight!”
Dale smiled as he was surrounded by the crew, everybody drowning each other in any liquid they could find. The smiles on their face proved that this was needed. It felt good to get back to victory lane. It felt good to get their piece of revenge for what had happened in Daytona. Even though the 24 was their teammate, there was some anger still felt by what had happened in the final laps. He looked over to see Lindsay and Angelica smiling, enjoying the moment, and it just seemed perfect. Thinking things over, he knew it was a matter of time before they were completely perfect.
“You son of a bitch!” He heard being yelled and turned to see Jeff standing there, instantly wiping the smile off of his face. He knew that Jeff would probably come pay him a victory lane visit.
“That is what you call payback for what you did in Daytona,” Dale said simply as he turned to go back to the crew, when he felt a hand grab his arm. Tensing up slightly, he knew instantly by the feel of the hand and grip level who it belonged to. “I had to do it for my guys. They didn’t deserve what you did to us in Daytona.” He felt the hand tighten its grip, biting his lip as they both backed away from the crew guys.
“I don’t care what you’re reasoning is; you had no fucking business to do that. For that, I will make sure you pay. For that, I should just send out at least one of the secrets to show you who runs this show. Now what do you think about that?” Dale looked down, not expecting that to come out. He had planned it to meet back at the motorcoach and then bring in the arrest with a total cover-up.
“No – don’t do that, yet.” He saw the confusion in Jeff’s eyes by his words.
“What do you mean ‘yet’? What are you trying to say Earnhardt?” Dale looked down, before turning his gaze back up to Jeff as he could feel a gaze on his back. He knew that belonged to Steve as Steve was the only one who knew the truth behind everything that was in victory lane at that moment. Where was Tony? “What are you thin-”
“Don’t do anything yet. Let me deal with the media in the media center and then I will meet you back at my motorcoach – alone.” Dale knew in a matter of the time he had, he would work it so Tony would be finding the person they needed and Steve would have watch on Angelica and Lindsay. It was a twist to the original plan, but it had to be done.
As he watched Jeff walk away, Dale then turned as he walked over to where Steve stood, now joined by Tony who had made his way over.
“What was that about?” Steve asked as he watched his driver walk over. “Dal-”
“We do media center and then after that, you keep Lindsay and Angelica at bay at the trailer as they know what is going down,” Dale started, knowing they had only a matter of time to plan it out. “He’s going back to my motorcoach – he knows my password to get in by the electronic lock. Tony, you’re in charge of what you were before – get the officer and meet us there. I’ll keep him busy so he doesn’t do anything that we’ll regret. He was going to leak all the secrets out as per the incident, but agreed not to by my words. This is working out according to plan boys.” They both then smiled as Dale then picked the champagne bottle up, going over and dumping it on Lindsay’s head.
Lindsay let out a smile as she felt it run down her body, though felt a bit of concern. She had heard the discussion and the possibility of the secrets being told. What if they were? What if her cover was blown? Was she ready to put Dale and his daughter in harms way?
Chapter 23: We Meet Again
Bristol – Saturday Night
Dale walked back to the motorcoach, typing the password into the keypad, surprised the door wasn’t unlocked. He knew what he faced once he was inside, but he wanted to have a talk with Jeff before everything went down. This is why he had planned it out like he had.
Hearing the click of the door, he opened it, walking inside and closing it behind him. As he made his way inside, he saw the one person that haunted his nightmares sitting there on the couch, waiting. By the looks of it, waiting impatiently. Dale couldn’t help it if the media had kept him longer than expected with a crazy list of questions.
“You could’ve helped yourself to a drink while you waited,” Dale commented as he walked up to the individual, eyes focused down him. There was no question that the hatred between them was spewing worse than ever.
“I wasn’t thirsty,” Jeff replied back to Dale as he stood up so their eyes met on even level. It was no question that Jeff’s dark blue eyes equaled anger from what had happened. It was no question that on any other given night this would have ended with torture beyond torture and no ending to it. “I was only hungry for kicking someone’s ass.” Dale crossed his arms, keeping his eyes locked with Jeff’s.
“I thought you would’ve been sick of that by now.” Jeff shook his head, not believing the words that spewed from the person in front of him. Why weren’t they in the bedsroom already?
“I never get sick of seeing the pain written across your face and you know that.” Dale felt Jeff’s fingers wrap around his wrist, having felt this many times, having become immune to it. “It’s a satisfaction that nobody else can give me.” Dale shook his head as he looked down, ready to spew his own thoughts.
“Not even Harvick, right? The funny thing Jeff is that I heard you were cheating behind my back with Kevin for at least a month. In speaking with Kevin about that relationship, Kevin said that you guys did it at least 10 times while I was with you.” Dale then flung his wrist away from Jeff, knowing that he had said what needed to be said. Dale had found the news about Kevin and Jeff being together through Tony when Tony got drunk one night. When Tony was drunk, he turned into super confessional. He spilled the details and Dale then went and confirmed them with Kevin. Kevin said he had broken the relationship off as a result of not wanting to interfere with the family he was starting with Delana. “So you fuck Harvick 10 times behind my back and yet you’re mad at me for fucking Johnson three times? That doesn’t even seem fair at all! Maybe this is over the fact that you have been left out of having a partner and feel the need to take that anger out on me for whatever god damn reason. I mean, after all, I did sleep with the guy who you were brought into the sport because you wanted a playmate.” Seeing the shocked expression on Jeff’s face, Dale shook his head, almost laughing. “It’s kind of funny, isn’t it? You brought Jimmie into Hendrick just as we were starting to get close.”
“You fucking bitch!” Jeff then went to grab Dale, though Dale pushed Jeff back, causing Jeff to fall back on the couch. The secrets were finally revealed on the table. Dale and Jeff got together late 2001 season, the same time that Jimmie was signing his contract. The pair had a good relationship till 2004 when both cheated on each other – Jeff slept with Kevin while Dale slept with Jimmie. Dale and Jimmie broke ties due to Chandra and the kids while Kevin broke tires due to Delana and the family they had coming. Furious with the fact that he had nobody to go with, Dale didn’t want him back and no new fling, he lashed out starting in 2011. Dale seemed to be the easy target due to no kids to mess around in the middle with and due to having the secret with Lindsay that Jeff had run across due to some inside sources.
“You’re just as much as a bitch as I am Jeff for what you did, too.”
“Wait till I get my hands on you!” Jeff then stood up grabbing Dale by the wrist and pulling him close. “Do you not realize what I could do to you? Do you not realize that I could throw your ass into jeopardy so quickly with a simple text message of secrets?” Dale then flung Jeff’s hands off the couch, causing it to break on the floor with a smile.
“Now how do you plan to do that again? I’m sick and fucking tired of what you’ve done to me and I’m sick and tired of dealing with it. I can’t deal with the pain anymore.” Jeff then moved his other hand to Dale’s suit, grabbing a handful of it to keep the pair of them locked right close to each other.
“So what are you going to do then?” Dale then took a deep breath, knowing that Tony would be there soon.
“I’m going to do what I should’ve done a long time ago.” Dale then gave Jeff a punch right to the jaw, causing Jeff to let him go.
“What? Kill me?” Dale then laughed as he heard the door open, seeing Tony Stewart walk in with an officer.
“If it was up to me and legal, I would have you dead in minutes,” Tony commented aloud as the officer walked over to where Jeff sat on the couch, putting in hand cuffs.
“Mr. Stewart told me about what you have done and showed me a piece of video proof,” the officer started. “Mr. Jeff Gordon, you’re under arrest on charges of assault abuse and rape in your behavior towards Dale Earnhardt Jr. You have the right to remain silent.”
“Killing you would be an easy form of torture, Jeff,” Dale comment aloud as he sat back on the couch, letting out a long sigh. It felt good to see things officially end. As he sat there and watched the officer leave the motorcoach with Jeff, he felt arms wrap him, knowing exactly who’s they were.
“It’s over, finally,” Tony simply said as he pulled Dale close, watching the officer return back inside.
“Thank you for your help, Tony.” He then looked towards the officer, who stood there in front of them.
“Mr. Stewart has supplied enough proof with what he has shown and claimed to have on him,” the officer started. “However, we do require you to come down to the station and make a statement.”
“Okay,” Dale replied quietly, knowing that meant telling somebody outside of their circle every single detail there was to know.
“Do you want me to come?” Tony asked, knowing that his friend needed his support. “I want to hel-”
“Yeah, please.” Dale then looked up towards the officer, having a request first. “I’ll be there in about 20 minutes. I need to go see some people.” Dale knew that he had to go talk to Rick about what had happened and he had to go see both of his girls to make sure they were okay.
“Dale, Rick knows virtue of Stevie and Stevie has the girls. Let’s go get this over with.” Tony knew exactly what Dale was thinking, but also knew what needed to be done. “Plea-”
“No, I need to see my girls and Rick first…..oh, and Jimmie.” Dale knew that Jimmie had to find out at least some of the details from him first with what was about to come out. There was also a video still hidden away, too.
“That is fine sir as I understand you’re going through a lot of pain right now,” the officer interrupted the pair. “Take your time, but please do stop by tonight. Oh, and wear a light t-shirt because we will need do some photos to go with the investigation.”
“Okay and thank you for understanding,” Dale replied as he watched the officer leave the motorcoach. He then stood up, making his way to the back of the motorcoach, grabbing a pair of jeans and t-shirt to change into. Who knew! Tonight he was supposed to be celebrating one of the biggest wins of his career at Bristol, and yet now he’d be spending the night explaining his twisted life to a police officer. As he changed, he looked down at his phone, checking the text messages. There were some messages of congratulations, though there was one that stood out.
Dad, where are you? I can’t find Lindsay!
Dale froze at those words, knowing who exactly that message was from as worry filled his mind.
“Steve was supposed to be protecting you guys!” He yelled as he furiously hit reply quickly.
Where are you now, Angelica?
I’m at the trailer with Stevie. He told me you were busy and to wait here. Dale let out a slight sigh as he read the message, though there was still worry.
“Fuck!” He screamed as he went to type back to his daughter.
Is Lindsay there?
No. She ran after the victory lane party – Jason saw her. I was talking with TJ and didn’t know. Dale sat on the bed confused by those words from his daughter. Why would Lindsay run from victory lane? Where would she go? Where was she?
“Tony?” He called out as he walked back into the main part of the motorcoach, feeling an unease come over him as he kept reading the message over and over. He then heard his phone beep, causing him to look down at his phone.
We heard Jeff is arrested. Come to the trailer. I know Angelica is texting you about Linds. She wasn’t kidnapped. She left a note with Jason for you. Hurry man! Dale’s heart broke as he read those words from his crew chief, scared of what the contents of her note contained.
“We need to go to the trailer right now!” He said to Tony before running out of the motorcoach, quickly followed by Tony.
Chapter 24: Lindsay’s Note
Dale and Tony made their way to the hauler, seeing Steve sitting on the front steps with a piece of paper folded in one of his hands.
“Rick and Linda are inside with Angelica,” Steve started as he looked up at the pair before him. Dale knew with the arrest happening and probably all over the news, it would only be a matter of time before Angelica knew what was going on.
“What does she know?” Dale asked as he crossed his arms, concerned about his daugther’s thoughts. He knew he could worry about his own later.
“She heard the breaking news so by that she knew that Jeff had hurt you.” Steve then looked up at the pair, keeping himself calm when he really wanted to scream about what was going on. “They left the rape fact out of the public news stream so nobody knows about that except myself, Tony and Rick. Rick has basically told Angelica that Jeff has been hurting you for awhile – no details on the secrets or anything beyond that. She’s just worried about you and Lindsay.” Tony then crossed his arms as he focused his eyes on Steve. Upon hearing the news about Lindsay, he wanted to strangle Steve. Steve was given the order of business to watch over the pair for them.
“Speaking of Lindsay, what’s going on?” Tony asked. “How did she get away from us? You were suppo-”
“She did it while I was in the media center with Dale and Rick,” Steve cut him off, knowing that Tony was going to go off on some unneeded lecture.
“I don’t blame you or Jason as you weren’t there and Jason didn’t know,” Dale interrupted the pair of them in their stare down as he was stuck in thought. He was worried about where Lindsay could be and what the note contained. He was also worried about Angelica and her feelings about him. “Can I have the note please?” Steve shook his head yes as he handed Dale the piece of paper.
“I also spoke to Jimmie, as you requested, and told him about the Angelica threat, the video and what had been going on. He said he’d come by and see ya sometime this week to see how you were.” Tony’s heart cringed at those words as he knew the connection that Jimmie and Dale held from their previous relationship. He wondered if what had happened would re-open Jimmie to that relationship and bring him back in Dale’s life. If that was the case, where would his feelings for Dale end up? “I haven’t touched the note as I didn’t want to interrupt your privacy. I just told Jason that I would pass it along.” Steve then sat there in silence as he watched Dale unfold it, opening it to read the writing inside.
I’m sorry. I know of your plan, but I am scared. What if it doesn’t work? What if it works, yet Jeff tells the world my secret? I don’t want to put you and Angelica in harms way because of what I did so I have to do this.
I hate to break your heart. I hate to run away like this without seeing you first – but I have no choice. I couldn’t live with myself if you or Angelica got hurt because of me.
Thank you for the love that you have shared with me and the memories. You have certainly helped me become a better person with everything that had happened in my previous life. You taught me friendship and love, two things that I never knew could be as special as what we have together. Thank you for not judging me by what I had done, hearing my story out, understanding why I did what I did and giving me a chance. Not everybody would do that for me.
I am going to my poppa and momma to explain things and protect myself. I hope you understand, but know that I will always love you forever.
– Lindsay, xoxoxo
Dale folded the note back up as tears streamed down his face, not believing what was happening. With Jeff arrested and hopefully going away for a long time, he thought that his life would get back to normal once again. He thought that he could have the life that he had always dreamed of with Lindsay. However, due to her own fear, due to the possibilities, she was gone.
“Dale?” Steve asked as he saw his best friend standing there crying before them. It was no secret what the note contained by the emotions that were now written on Dale’s face.
“She ran away,” Dale started as he put the note in his pocket. “She ran away because she was afraid.” He then pulled his phone out, turning away from the group, quickly dialing her cell number. He couldn’t lose her like this after everything.
“Please answer him Lindsay,” Tony begged as he wrapped his arms around Dale, holding him as they both waited for an answer.
“Hello?” They both heard on the phone and Dale pulled himself away from Tony, wanting to be alone with his phone call.
“Lindsay?” He said as he walked away from Tony and Steve, heading between a couple of the haulers towards pit road. Tony went to follow, yet Steve grabbed the driver’s arm to stop him.
“Let me go Ste-” Tony started yet Steve just held on tighter.
“Leave him be,” Steve started. “They need to have this talk by themselves. I have a spot you can watch from.” Steve then led Tony over to the stairs that led to the top of the hauler. “Go up there and keep an eye on him while I go tell Rick is going on.”
“Fine.” Tony hated to go up on top of the hauler and peer over Dale, however he knew that Steve was right. This was something that Dale had to do by himself if he wanted to. Depending on what happened, though, Tony knew that he’d be there for his best friend.
“Lindsay, can we talk?” Dale asked as he sat down on the pit road wall, knowing that he had to do whatever he could to get her to come back. He had to convince her that things would be okay. “The plan worked. Jeff is arrested and going away.” He then looked down, waiting for a response from her, just wanting to at least have a decent conversation with her about what had happened.
“I’m glad that he’s arrested Dale,” Lindsay started carefully. “But I can’t come back. There’s still a chance that he could release the secret. I can’t put you and Angelica in jeopardy because of my past so I’m sorry but I have to do this. I love you and I don’t know what I’d do if you got caught in the middle of my bullshit. It’d break me apart.” Dale kept his eyes on the pavement, fighting back the tears that were trying to force their way out. How could this be happening? “I know it hurts for me to leave, but I have to do this Dale. Let’s just cut our losses so that way it doesn’t make it worse. I’m sorr-”
“Lindsay, you have to fucking listen to me – please. Jeff is arrested and there’s rules set in about what he can let out before trial. Once trial takes place, we’re going to stress the factors and make sure that he can’t get any messages out.”
“I want to believe that will work, but how do we know that for sure?” Dale shook his head, not knowing what to tell her at this point. How could he change her mind? “We don’t and I can’t take that chance. You have a loving family with your mom, Kelley, Angelica, Tony and Rick – I don’t want to ruin that. I can’t do that to you after what you’ve done for me. I know it’s hard to understand, but I’m sorry.” Dale wiped the tears away, looking up at the start-finish line before him. Just hours earlier he had crossed as the winner and fulfilled the bump and the run. It was the start of fixing everything and making things better. How could the pain continue?
“Lindsay, I don’t give a shit about the worry that you have. I will take that and deal with it over you running away from me. I want to help protect you because I know why you did it and I know that it’s not your fault. You need to stop letting this tear you away from the people that you love the most. I knew when you dropped those words on me what I was in for and I’m not backing out now. Please come home to me.” As she sat on the plane, looking out the window, her heart was broken. This was originally the right thing to do, but now she felt bad for the pain that she had caused Dale in the process. It had made her realize just how much they had grown to love each other and why they badly needed each other. Maybe he was right. Maybe the secret wouldn’t be revealed and all of his plans would work out. But how could anybody know that for sure? Taking a deep breath, she knew she couldn’t chase him away forever.
“Listen, it hurts so much for me to do this to you so let’s make a deal, alright? If everything works out and you can get all these locks put in place, I will come home. The minute they are in place, I will come home. Till then with a chance of a screw up, I am going to have to keep my distance from you in case.” Dale smiled slightly at her words, knowing it was better than nothing. At least there was a chance to fix this. And he knew that it would work because he knew that he would be able to convince the judge to do as he requested after what Jeff had done. “You’re free to text me while we wait things out so that way we can keep in contact. I love you and I don’t know what I’d do without you. That’s why I convinced myself to do this.”
“I love you, too, and don’t worry – it will work out.” She smiled, hoping he was right.
“I hope you’re right babes. Oh, by the way, just so you know – I’m going home to see my mama. I haven’t seen her since I was let out of jail so I can’t wait to tell her about all of the details in my life, especially about you. She’s moved to New York actually and says that her and papa got out of the game. So don’t worry – I’ll be safe with them.” He smiled at her words, glad they could come to some compromise.
“Have fun with your parents then and I hope they approve of me. I’d be scared if they didn’t.” She laughed, though wondered in her mind what they would think of her dating a southern racecar driver.
“You’re a sweet loving, caring, southern darlin’ so I don’t think they will hate you. And if they do, I won’t let them lay a hand near you. Alright – I got to go so I will talk to you later. Text me when you get a chance. Love you and good luck.”
“Love you, too. Bye Linds.”
“Bye Dale.” Dale hung up, still full of mixed emotions as he made his way back to teh trailer. He was glad that they had a compromise and they could keep in contact. He was also thankful to hear that she would be safe while she was gone. Though he also felt heartbroken with the time they’d be apart. Lastly, a bit of fear touched the surface as he wondered whether he could really make this all work out. Would the judge listen to their requests?
“How’d it go?” Tony asked when Dale reached the hauler, having made his way down the steps. From his vantage point, he saw the tears that flowed, but also saw signs of them stopping.
“She’s going to stay with her parents till I make sure Jeff can’t squeal,” Dale answered and Tony smiled. He was glad that the pair had a compromise and knew that they could make the plan work in full force. “Let’s go see these cops so I can head home. I just never imagined celebrating a win at Bristol like this.”
Tony delivered the news to Rick, who sat with Angelica and Linda. It was agreed then that Rick and Linda would head home with Angelica, meeting Dale and Tony at the house once they got back. Rick knew from the sounds of it that Dale was in for a long night in talking about what had happened.