The Journey – Chapter 5: Daytona

With everything that they’d gone through, it felt great to be returning back to normal in many ways.

They were getting their relationship back on track, they were working at getting things sorted out with her, and now they were returning back to their favourite normal – raceday.

Standing on the grid pre-race, Devon could only think back to last year at this time when she was sitting at home, watching the race on TV. She remembered hearing the name Ryan Reed, and immediately being intrigued to learn more about him. She could remember her heart fluttering a little when he graced the television, followed by cheering her heart out for him to win the race.

It was crazy to think that a year later, she now stood on pit road at the biggest track in all of racing ahead of the season opener, with Ryan as her boyfriend.

Unfortunately, though, the race didn’t go as well as she would’ve hoped or wanted. He would get damage early in the race, before following that up with an issue on pit road. Needless to say, a mid-pack finish was not what any of them were hoping for on the day.

“We’ll grow and get better from here,” Seth Barbour tells Ryan after the race. “The contact wasn’t your fault, and if you’re going to have an issue on pit road, might as well have it here and not later on in the season. We have the speed, we have the ability, and we have the chemistry. We’ll be fine.” Ryan gives his crew chief a small smile, though the disappointment showed. He had hoped to be apart of that fabulous final lap battle that happened.

“I know we’ll be fine,” Ryan comments in response. “It just sucks in the meanwhile.” Seth wraps his arm around his young driver’s shoulders, sympathizing with the comment.

“I know it sucks, trust me I feel like you’re feeling. Now let’s use that for motivation.” Ryan smiled and shook his head in agreement. Rather than fret upon what happened, it was time to push harder next week at Atlanta in hopes of a better finish.

“That’s the plan.” He then walks over to where Devon was standing to the side, pulling her close into a hug. “Are you ready to go?” Devon knew that he didn’t want to stick around and dread about the finish. He was already set to move forward and beyond.

“If you’re done with the team, we can go,” she tells him. He gives a glance back at Seth, who simply nods his head. The pair then head off together, set to put the day behind them. She gives his hand a simple squeeze, followed by a quick kiss, as they walk together with a small smile. “Let it go…”

“I can’t just let it go,” he tells her. “It’s disappointing. This is one of those races that I had marked on the calendar that I thought I could run really well and win. But yet, here we are.”

“It’s Daytona. Sometimes it goes your way, other times it doesn’t go your way. Like Seth said, you’ll get them next week.” He knew that he had to keep reminding himself of that as it’d be the only way possible to get away from what had just happened this past weekend.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

The following Monday after any race brought forth a series of meetings that Ryan had to attend. It started off with a meeting of all the drivers and crew chiefs at Roush Fenway Racing, followed by a meeting with just his team. The key to these meetings was going through the weekend that had just past and dissecting it, and then figuring out how to do better at the next race.

While Ryan was busy with meetings, Devon had met up with Shelby in Bubba’s office, looking to sound off to her about some things that were on her mind.

“So remember how we talked about how I was moving forward and things were going smoothly?” She asks and Shelby shakes he head yes, remembering the discussion while Ryan was busy. “Well, it’s not going as well as I would’ve hoped. Ryan was going to go out after media day and spend time with Brett and Ryan (Truex), but ended up not going due to my nervousness about being alone at the hotel.”

“How did he figure out that you were nervous?” Shelby wonders as Devon lets out a sigh.

“I sort of let it show with concern of how long he’d be, and being a little quieter than normal.” Shelby could see that, having seen signs when her and Devon separated a couple weeks prior and she’d be alone for some time before Ryan got home.

“Given what you’ve been through, it’s normal to feel that way. Your mind plays tricks on you in giving you a sense that it’ll happen again and you’re vulnerable. It’s understandable, Devon. Lucky for you, you have a really understanding boyfriend.” Devon knew that she could in no way shape or form take Ryan for granted as that statement reigned true. It seemed Ryan would do anything for her.

“It’s just so frustrating, though!” Shelby could understand that, having seen how Devon was a very independent person who liked to do her own thing. Though she also knew that Devon liked to put walls up, and it was nice to see that Ryan could break them down and help her.

“I can understand why it’s frustrating. I get it. You don’t want to be controlled by something that you feel shouldn’t control you. But it takes time to get over those fears and concerns. Do you think someone who’s been seriously hurt in a car crash becomes comfortable riding in a car immediately? Do you think someone who has been in a plane crash just gets back in the plane right away? It takes time for the body and mind to realize that things will be okay. It’ll come…” Devon had heard that numerous times from many people, ranging from the doctors, to Ryan, to even talking with other friends. She wasn’t a patient person, though.

“But when?” Shelby wished that she could give Devon a clear answer to help her move forward comfortably.

“I don’t know, honestly. It’ll just depend on yourself and how your body & mind works at moving forward. Regardless, when you get frustrated, just realize how far you’ve come from what happened and hold on to the positives. You have a great boyfriend, everything else seems to be in order. It’ll happen.”

Devon wanted to believe what Shelby was telling her, and place belief that things would grow clearer in a matter of time. However, it kept feeling like there was a black cloud over her that’d never go away.

When would everything return back to normal?

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