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Following their sweet time together and with time passing in general, it seemed all the pain that was on their minds and bugging them eased. They were able to put the past in the past, from Tony’s ill-happenings, to the attack against Willow, in the rearview mirror and put their focus on the future.
The future brought forth getting their house built, per the plans. As the off-season took place, they found themselves focused on moving on, painting and getting the final touches in place. With each room being completed, it felt nice.
To the pair of them, the house represented something. It represented a combination of their love together, in forming a partnership with the house designing. It represented a combination of moving forward, and putting new pieces together for their new lives. It represented a sense of hope, as there was hope in knowing that if they could accomplish this, they could build all the other pieces together.
Though in the process, there was the shocker of announcement that nobody had been expecting. Tony Stewart was officially calling the 2016 season his last season in NASCAR.
Willow had been caught off-guard by the announcement, and even struggled in writing the article. As a journalist, you’re supposed to keep your personal feelings aside. However, how do you do that when you’re writing about your husband essentially retiring?
She had gone through writing the article, and then decided to resign at the end of the 2015 season. She could’ve taken the role of returning once again as she loved writing, but wanted to spend the new year with Tony. She wanted to be by his side each step of the way, taking in all the final moments, while giving him all the support that she could muster. He wasn’t going to admit that there were emotions, but she could tell that there’d probably be, and knew that having her there would help.
For that reason, it was weird attending Media Day and not writing a single article, but rather sitting there as a significant other, taking in the words that he had to say. She felt hope in hearing the optimism in his voice about the new season and the team.
After having struggled the past couple of years, she hoped liked everybody else that this year would have some strong runs, possibly a couple wins, to end off on a high. It’d be a spectacular ending to the career if he could do something like Jeff Gordon did last year.
“It seems you have everything coming together perfectly,” they remembered hearing at the end of the media day, courtesy of Kurt Busch. “You’ve got your darling, you’ve got your house and everybody is finally leaving that incident alone. Why now?”
“Just because I’m getting out of NASCAR doesn’t mean I’m done racing,” Tony assured Kurt. “I have other events that I’d like to run. I’ve been here for years. It’s time to mix it up and do something different.”
Devon knew those words from previous discussions with Tony, remembering the week that they spent discussing the pending announcement and reasons for it.
She could hear the passion in his voice in discussing possible dirt events that he could run without having to be committed to NASCAR. She remembered hearing the passion in his voice in talking about spending more time with his dirt team, as he loved being at the dirt track. While NASCAR had its stresses, the dirt tracks were like family with relaxation and people to cut up with everywhere.
This decision wasn’t about getting away from racing. This decision was about refocusing his love for racing in a different avenue where he could let his true passion show through once again.
“Well, as your teammate, I’m here to help you in making this a great year,” Kurt offers.
“So you’ll push me to the Daytona 500 victory?” Tony asks and Kurt had to laugh. That was one thing about this being Tony’s last year – he had yet to win a Daytona 500 despite coming close so many times. That’d be the way to start off a retirement party.
“We’ll just have to see what happens, boss.” A grin forms on Tony’s face.
“That’s right – I’m your boss. Remember that.” Kurt laughed a little more before heading off to do more interviews as Tony simply stood there smiling.
“Are you okay?” Willow asks as she walks up behind him, wrapping her arms around his shoulders.
“I’m fine,” he answers as he turns back to face. “Why would you think otherwise?”
“It’s a lot to take in with this being the year. I just wanted to make sure that you were okay.” She then kisses his lips before letting him head off for his next interview.
I do have an idea to do one more story with these two, focused on the retirement tour for Tony. It will depend on whether there’s interest from everybody whether I do so or not, as I have other ideas that I would like to write as well.