Moving Forward – Chapter 18: Can-Am Duels

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Congratulations to Chase on winning the pole! Not a surprise considering Hendrick Motorsports’ ability to be quick on the plate tracks in qualifying, and in general.

 

February 2016 – Thursday

“So explain how this works now?” Chase asks as he looks over at Alan. Alan simply shakes his head yes, having gotten word of the latest developments in Daytona.

“Elliott (Sadler) won the Daytona 500 pole with Dale’s car, but driver change results in giving up the pole and starting from the rear of today’s Duel,” Alan answers. “Therefore Denny Hamlin will lead the field to the green in today’s first Duel, with Dale starting at the rear of the field. Whomever wins today’s first Duel will lead the field to the green flag for the Daytona 500.” Chase shakes his head, understanding. It seamlessly somehow made sense.

“And then our duel…”

“Johnson leading the field to the green as second place qualifier, followed by Kenseth and then you. Just stick with Jimmie, and get a good finish, and we will start strong.” Chase lets out a small chuckle as he shakes his head.

“Easier said than done.” Alan gives him look as Chase shrugs his shoulder. “I’m just saying. Daytona can be wild.” Alan gives him a pat on the back.

“You’ll be fine, kid.” Their attention then turns to all the fuss and noise as they glance in the direction, both smiling. “The Royal family has arrived with children in toe.” Chase couldn’t help but smile as he saw Dale and Marie together with their two little girls.

The pair made their way through their way over, letting some of the attention faze down before making their way into the crowd. It seemed that they were the center of attention with everyone wanting to catch a glimpse of Elsa for themselves.

“You’ve got some time before the race – nice timing,” Dale’s PR Laura comments as she leans back against the car, sending out a couple messages to social media.

“Can I see her?” Chase asks as he makes his way over to Marie, who had Elsa clutched against her.

“I’m going to head back to the motorcoach soon to keep her out of the noise and hoopla, but I think that can be arranged,” Marie answers as she moves Elsa away from herself a little to allow Chase to catch a glimpse of her. An immediate smile formed on Chase’s face in seeing how she had Dale’s smile, but certainly got her mom’s eyes.

“She’s adorable. Congratulations.”

“Thank you.”

“Chasey!” Chase hears a small voice and immediately smiles as he looks towards the source.

“Hey Alyssa,” he says as he kneels down to her level. “So you finally made it down here, huh?” She shakes her head yes.

“I come see you and daddy race. You gonna win?” He stays there, giving her a thinking grin as he thinks it over. He knew that he had a car capable of winning. It was just a matter of doing his job behind the wheel.

“I’m going to try to win. Do you think I can win?” Alyssa shakes her head yes. “Well, hopefully I do and then you can come celebrate.”

“Okay!” Chase then smiles as he looks over at Dale and Marie together with Elsa, talking to all the people that had gathered to see her for themselves.

“Do you like your baby sister?” Alyssa shakes her head yes.

“She cute. I hold her with daddy.” Chase smiles, having seen the photo that had been forwarded around of that moment.

“Are you going to help mommy and daddy take care of her?” Alyssa shakes her head yes. “That’s a good girl.

Everybody hung out for awhile longer before splitting, with Dale getting ready for the first Duel, Chase getting set to watch the race with Alan, and Marie heading back to the motorcoach with kids to keep them both out of trouble.

The first Duel went smoothly without any incidents, surprisingly, despite the chaotic three-wide racing through the field from start to finish. Dale was easily able to make his way up to the front of the field, putting himself in position to capitalize late in the race and possibly score the victory.

Unfortunately, his plan didn’t come together as warranted as he’d end up a close second, finishing behind Hamlin. Regardless, there were no complaints on the 88 team as that meant they’d get to start third in the Duel.

“It’s all about Sunday,” Dale tells Greg once the race is done. “We’ve got a really strong car. We’ve proved that we could make the moves today. It’s just about perfecting on it and making the right moves on Sunday.”

“You did a great job out there,” Greg says as he gives him a hug. “Now, I’m not going to keep you. I hear there’s a family that wants to spend time with their daddy.” Dale chuckles and shakes his head no.

“Actually, Elsa has been mommy’s little cuddle bug since she was born. But, maybe I can change that.” Greg smiles as he watches Dale head off to join Marie and the kids in the motorcoach.

The second Duel would go how Hendrick Motorsports wanted, as Chase followed the instructions of his crew chief to a key. He stuck to the bumper of Jimmie from the drop of the green flag, continuing to give him little pushes to keep the pair 1-2. When it came to the first pit stop, the No. 24 team was quick and handy in their pit work, getting Chase off of pit road ahead of Jimmie.

No complaints from either Chase or Jimmie in that, as the key was to stick together, work together and finish 1-2, regardless of the order.

Despite being challenged heavily through the final laps, Chase was able to hold off all challengers with the help from Jimmie, crossing the finish line to pick up the victory.

In victory lane, the celebration quickly started with the team spraying liquids of all sorts all over each other, and high-fiving each other. It was certainly nice to not only start off their year on a high note, but know that they had a stellar piece for the Daytona 500.

As Chase was celebrating with the team, he felt a small tug on the pant leg of his firesuit, looking down with an immediate smile.

“She kept bugging to come see you,” Justin Allgaier comments as Chase smiles. “So I told Dale that I’d bring her over.”

“It’s usual – she always comes to victory lane when I win,” Chase says before picking her up into his arms.

“You won!” Alyssa says as she wraps her arms around him.

“Yep, you were right that I could win,” he tells her, before setting her back down. “Did you watch the whole race?” She shakes her head yes. “So, do you think I can beat your daddy on Sunday?” Alyssa thinks it over, and then shrugs her shoulders.

“Maybe. Me no know.” He just chuckles as he playfully messes with her hair.

“We’ll just have to wait and see what happens, right?” She shakes her head yes.

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