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Rick Hendrick was busy working on some paperwork that was needed to be done when he heard a knock on his office door.
“Come in,” he says out loud, assuming it was either one of the team media representatives, someone from management, one of his drivers or a crew chief. He then glances up, noticing Chase standing there. That was one individual that he didn’t expect to see, especially after the lecture and Alan offered a couple weeks ago. “I told you that you were not allowed in the sho-”
“I wasn’t allowed on the premises till I was feeling better and healed,” Chase cuts him off, remembering the lecture clearly. Both Rick and Alan insisted that he was to go home, whether there in North Carolina or back in Georgia, and relax and work on healing, rather than attending to things in the shop. He reluctantly agreed at the time, not wanting to argue. That was all over and done with now.
“So why are you standing here in my office, Chase?” Chase places the piece of paper that was in his hand on the desk before the boss with a smile on his face – clearance papers for Daytona.
It had been two weeks since the plane crash and during that time, Chase had followed the regime of rest and relaxation without much stimulation. Of course, that meant not watching a lot of TV or playing video games, which had been more annoying than anything. However, it was now all worth it and despite everything that had happened, he wasn’t going to miss any of Speedweeks.
“I’m not feeling any effects from the concussion, from the headache to the dizziness at all,” he starts. “I went and did the required IMPACT test, and got checked out, and everything came back good. They’ve cleared me to return to my normal duties.” Rick picks up the piece of paper, reading it over. It was certainly a good sign, in the form of business, as he wouldn’t have to worry about a fill-in driver. However, from a personal standpoint, he was still slightly worried about his young driver’s condition.
“What about your ribs?” Rick asks, concerned. Chase knew that the topic would come up, having already heard the same thing from his mother. The concern was reasonable, though, considering that it’d still take them time to heal.
“That’s going to be another four to six weeks of healing. If I can tolerate the pain and discomfort, the doctor says I’m fine racing with them as they are, just to be careful and take the necessary precautions.” Rick shakes his head, slowly, understanding. He figured that was probably the case, and wasn’t surprised. Drivers always had a tendency of pushing through pain and stuff of that nature to do their job as a driver. It still had Rick slightly worried.
“Are you sure that you can handle the pain?” Chase was confident that he would able to, but nobody knew the answer to that question till they got on-track and felt the G-forces.
“I’m confident that I will be fine, sir, but obviously the true test will come with Daytona 500 qualifying practice. If it is too much, I will admit it and we’ll work at getting either Elliott (Sadler) or Justin (Allgaier) in the car, as discussed.” Rick shakes his head, accepting. It gave him some sort of comfort in knowing that Chase was taking the necessary careful steps.
“I’m glad that you’re feeling better, and I have all the confidence that you will do well this weekend, and the entire season.” Chase smiles in response to the comment from the boss. “I just have one question that I’ve wanted to ask you, but was uncertain about.”
“What is that, sir?” Rick knew that he was trotting careful waters in going this far with his questioning in what happened, but felt it was necessary.
“You don’t have to say anything if you don’t want to, as I understand. However, are you sure that your suspicion with Sarina surrounding the accident isn’t valid? You have stated numerous times that you believe that she had nothing to do with it, nor does it have a connection to her past. However, what if there is a connection?” Chase shakes his head no immediately in response to Rick’s comment. There was no way that everything could be related.
“Sir, with all due respect, I am sticking by what I said. Sarina and I love each other a lot, and she wouldn’t do anything to hurt me. I’ve seen numerous examples of that. As far as your second point, why would they come after her all these years later, and are they going to have the smarts to take down a plane? It just doesn’t make sense. Regardless, even if that is the case, I am not backing down my support for her because of how much I love her.” Rick couldn’t help but smile as he heard just how much Chase was in love with Sarina.
“I just thought I’d ask the question as it was on my mind since hearing about what happened. I didn’t mean to offend you in any way. If you believe in her, then I have no choice but to believe your word because I know you are a good kid at judging character. Perhaps you can put the perfect cap on that love, and score a Daytona 500 pole for Valentine’s Day.” Chase smiles as that was the plan that he had in mind.
It would certainly be a story if he could start off his season with the biggest pole of the year. It would be an even bigger story if he could win the Daytona 500.
First, though, it was about getting down there and making sure that he could do his job behind the wheel.