Thanks for reading and reviewing 🙂
February 2016 – Saturday
“Chasey, you win tomorrow?” Alyssa asks as they head back to the motorcoach together post-race. He picks her up in his arms, spinning her around as he thinks about it.
“What about your daddy?” He offers. “I think he has the quickest car and may win.” He watches as Alyssa thinks it over, immediately shaking her head no.
“Chasey win!” She then wraps her arms around his neck as he laughs.
“I’ll try my best and hopefully win, okay?” She shakes her head yes as they reach the motorcoach. He then knocks on the door, which is opened a couple seconds later.
“I was beginning to wonder where you were,” Dale says as he lets the pair of them inside.
“Alyssa figured that she’d join me for post-race interviews and we’d grab a bite to eat since it was dinner time,” Chase offers as he sits down on the couch, with Alyssa finally letting go of him. Chase’s eyes immediately look over at Elsa as a smile forms on his face. “Keeping her fed so she doesn’t freeze the world?”
“Hah hah funny,” Marie comments back, with a glance at Dale who simply shrugs his shoulders. There was bound to be some Frozen jokes. “I’d gladly let you try to calm her when she’s hungry if you don’t have food.”
“No thank you. You are doing a good job already. She’s a cutie, though.”
“Cuter than me?” Alyssa asks, with a bit of a frown as Chase looks back at his buddy.
“You’re still my favourite buddy, okay?” He tells her and she immediately smiles and shakes her head yes. “And I suppose you’re cute, too.”
“But if you want to spend time with Chasey and everybody tomorrow, you need to go have your bath and get ready for bed,” Dale adds, earning the crossed-arm frustrated look from Alyssa. “Alyssa….” She then lets out a sigh as she gets up off of the couch.
“Fine Daddy,” she gives in, walking down the hall. She knew that when it was time for a bath, she was supposed to get her toys out, as well as get her pajamas from her room.
“I wonder where that stubbornness comes from…” Chase comments, earning a quick smack as Dale gets up to follow his daughter. “Hey now, no beating me up. I’ll get Mama to come see you.”
“Still running to your mommy?” Dale asks as he looks back at Chase, earning a shrug of the shoulders from Chase.
“It’s okay Dale,” Marie comments. “Chase can be a momma’s boy. I heard that the ladies find that adorable.” Chase rolls his eyes, though lets out a sigh after a bit, earning an extra glance from Marie. “Did I hit a nerve?”
“I just rather not think about the ladies right yet.” Chase explains and Marie shakes her head, understanding. She knew that it’d take him time to fully move forward from what happened with Demi.
“Is it getting easier?” Chase shakes his head yes, which was an honest statement. There was not as many nightmares or flashbacks, and he was finding a way to reason with what happened. He knew it may be in his best interest to share with someone the flashback before the XFINITY race, but didn’t find it necessary. He believed that he could handle everything himself. “That’s great to hear. I’m glad…” She then glances back down at her daughter as she takes a deep breath.
“There are times that I find myself glancing at you and feeling bad immediately.” She then looks back over at him. “You should have never been involved in any of this. It’s all my fault for bringing my family into everybody’s liv-”
“It’s not your fault, Marie. I’ve told this to Dale a number of times when he blames himself – it’s not your fault. Everything happened because Mariela, Randy and Demi made the decisions that they made. They chose to do what they did. It wasn’t beca-”
“But you’re guilty by associa-”
“And that’s fine.” She then looks at him surprised. “You’re a great person, a great mother, and you make Dale happy. I wouldn’t want to take anything away from that. I know you never meant to cause us any trouble, and for that reason, I’m not going to let you sit here and blame yourself. So let it go and let’s move forward. Let’s focus on that wedding that you’re supposed to be planning. Let’s focus on raising your children. Let’s focus on this season. I’m moving forward, step by step, and you should as well.” Marie could only smile and look back at Chase in amazement with regards to his comments. It didn’t seem like a 20-year-old was sitting there on the couch beside her with the words that he was sharing.
“Thanks, and I’m trying. Getting through this weekend is the first step in doing that.” Chase shakes his head in agreement, having gone through the same steps himself.
The conversation served as a reminder, though, in that he didn’t need to face it all alone, either. There were others that were dealing with the same type of pain, and sometimes it was okay to admit things. He thought that perhaps he was too harsh on Alan with his comments. Perhaps it was good to have the crew chief concerned and checking up on him. Perhaps it was for the best, considering before the XFINITY race.
After discussing a couple other things with Marie, Chase headed out of the motorcoach and retreated to his own space. Taking a deep breath and a glance at the phone, he dialed a familiar number that he had grown used to dialing.
“Hey Chase,” he hears at the other end and smiles.
“Hey Alan,” he replies as he lies back on the couch. “Listen, I may have been too hard on you earlier. It can’t hurt to have someone to talk to, and someone to check up on me. I mean, things could be tougher than I think they’ll be.”
“No need to apologize, Chase. I may have been a little too overbearing at the same time. You don’t need to worry, buddy.” Chase smiles as it was nice to have the understanding. That was something that’d go a long way on race day, and tonight.
“Before the XFINITY qualifying session, I was standing on pit road lost in my own thoughts. I caught a glimpse of the 88 on the door and how it’s Dale’s number. It sort of made me reflect back to last year and the pre-race in that feeling odd, and then Randy catching my attention with the plan.” Alan listens carefully, surprised to hear the confession from Chase. Though it was understandable that reminders of what happened would trigger a flashback.
“It doesn’t seem as it affected you as you were able to post a solid time in time trials, followed by winning the race. How did you get through it?” Chase recalled, remembering the crew member’s voice.
“Cory snapped me out of my thoughts before it got to the nitty gritty, actually. Then it was like I didn’t have any thoughts at all as my mind went into race mode in focusing that one lap and what I had to do.” It was a little more complicated than that, as he had followed the calming protocol as well, but that wasn’t necessarily important.
“They say that a visit back to the same location can trigger memories. That’s probably what happened. Though it proves what I said – it’s still on your mind and bothering you, a little.” Chase lets out a sigh, wishing Alan hadn’t drawn a direct conclusion. He could already see babysitter mode returning tomorrow.
“So bring back the babysitter and continue to chec-”
“Whoa, easy on that. listen, I realize that you grew annoyed with that so I’m not going to take that approach. Besides, if I know that you recognize what’s happening and are talking about it, then I have belief that I don’t need to watch you like a hawk.” The confidence from Alan in him gave him a boost of confidence. Perhaps he was right and the flashback was nothing to worry about. “We don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but I want you to know that if you have any flashbacks or nervous moments, let me know and I will help you. It seems that once you’re in the car and ready to go, there’s nothing to worry about. Let’s work together on getting to that point without issues and everything will be fine, okay?”
“That sounds fine. Alan, I appreciate the sup-”
“You don’t need to thank me, kid. I believe in you and I want to see you succeed. I know part of that is also helping you in other places at times. I don’t think I can even begin to imagine everything that you went through last year. That’s why I want to help you. No matter what happens tomorrow, whether flashbacks or not, we’ll get through it and have the best Daytona 500 that we can together.”