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Alan glances over at Chase with a surprised look as he sees Sarina holding his hand, heading his direction.
“Is something wrong?” Chase questions as Alan glances between the pair.
“So you’re here this weekend?” Alan asks and Sarina shakes her head yes. “I thought he let you off to go play with racecars.” She chuckles as it seemed everybody thought Sarina would be racing every week. However, that was difficult to do without any plans in place.
“No big races happening anywhere so it leaves me no choice but to hang out with him this weekend,” she answers as Chase rolls his eyes. Alan just simply smiles as he glances back at his driver, before looking over at Sarina.
“That’s a good thing. He’s less cranky when you’re around. Practice is in 20.” Alan then heads off, not giving Chase a chance to rebuttle the comment as Sarina looks over at Chase.
“Is there any truth to that?” He looks at her and shakes his head no. “Sure about that?” He then pulls her close.
“I will admit – it’s better when you’re here with me on the weekend as I don’t have to worry about you or feel lonely at all. But, I can also handle being by myself.” She smiles a little as she leans in and kisses his lips.
“But you admit that you were lonely?” A small smile forms as he shrugs his shoulders.
“Maybe…just a little…” A smirk forms on her face.
“Admit it, Chase. You love me.” He then wraps his arm around her waist as they keep walking through the garage.
“I’ve told you from day one that I love you. It was always you that wouldn’t admit it in response. However, I’m glad that you finally did.” She could only smile in response as she was glad, as well.
The weekend started off smoothly, actually much better than last weekend at Atlanta. He felt better about this week’s qualifying effort, seeing as though he’d start 13th for the race that afternoon. Although there was also a small part of him that was upset in the small mistake made to cause him to miss the top-12. But in the end, 13th was much better than 24th like the week before.
He was also pleased with how practice went, feeling good once again about his chances for the race. If he could just put together another solid day like he did in Atlanta, he’d be able to get himself a good finish.
The entire weekend seemed to go smoothly and it was soon race day as he changed into his firesuit. As he gave himself his usual final glance in the mirror, a pair of arms wrapped around him, kissing his cheek.
“I like how you’re not shy to show your affection anymore,” he offers quietly as he turns around to face her. She had to admit that she was opening up more, offering more cuddles and small kisses. Perhaps it was her trust growing him, or perhaps it was for another reason.
“I know what it feels like to be scared and worried about you,” she starts quietly. “I know what it felt like sitting in that plane, wondering if you were okay, wondering when you’d answer me back. I know how my heart stung at Daytona when you wrecked, and how much I paniced to Alan. It made me realize just how much I actually do care about you, and I want you to know that. I also know that we don’t know what tomorrow holds so I better show you how much I care now.” He could only smile in response to her comment, as he held her hands firmly with this.
“I love you and nothing will change that. But you also got to know – I’m not going anywhere so you don’t need to worry.” She smiles in agreement.
“Don’t worry – I’m not. I know that you have some things to do, like winning a championship first.” He shakes his head in agreement, before snagging another quick kiss.
The pair headed out to the gird shortly after, with Chase going through the usual driver introductions before joining Sarina, his parents and the team by the car. He had to admit that opening ceremonies were better this week than last with having a hand to hold, rather than reading a simple text message. It was also nice to give her another kiss and hug before climbing in the car.
The day started off strongly as he was right in having another solid car this weekend. Throughout the race, he kept himself solidly in position for another strong finish.
Then it happened.
Matt Kenseth would get a little loose after trying to get underneath Martin Truex Jr. to pass him, sliding up across the track, right in the path of Chase’s No. 24 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet. Crunch and just like that, the front end of his car was smashed.
He would climb from the car, making the mandatory trip to the infield care center. After getting checked out, he would walk out of the center to the sea of reporters. Taking a deep breath, there as no easy way to say his disappointment.
“Just disappointed, what a fast race car, I appreciate everybody working hard,” he told the reporters. “I feel like we made a lot of gains this weekend. Just a terrible job on my behalf. That is pitiful. We have run three races and finished one. Just a bad job on my end. I ought to know better to miss a wreck like that.”
He then answered a couple more questions before making his way back to the team’s hauler. He heads inside, grabbing a bottle of water from the fridge. He heads up into the lounge, closing the door behind him. He then flops down on the couch beside Sarina, shaking his head as he puts his feet up.
“I can’t believe I ran into the back of him,” he comments out loud, catching Sarina’s attention. “I should’ve known better.”
“From what I saw live and the replay, it looked like there was no way in hell to avoid that,” Sarina starts, catching his attention. “I’m serious! That was not your fault.” Chase lets out a sigh as he figured most people would have that view. However, he also knew the actions that he took inside of the car.
“I saw him siding up and hit the brakes, and just slid right into the back of him. I should’ve kept my foot in it and tried to go around him. I should’ve went to the bottom. I could’ve gott-”
“Should have, would have and could have. You don’t know for sure as you may have still caught the corner of his car, or maybe hit him even harder. You don’t know. Stop beating yourself up. I know that you want to do well and not have days like this, but they’re not always your fault. You’ll get them next week.” He lets out a sigh as he glances down at the bottle of water. Perhaps she was right. Maybe for once, or once again, he was taking it a little too harshly.
“It still sucks.” She then wraps an arm around him and lays her head against him.
“I didn’t say that it didn’t suck. We both know it does. I’ve been in your shoes before so I understand. At least you know you have fast cars and were doing well before that happened.” He shakes his head in agreement.
“What the….?” Chase questions out loud as he reads his twitter feed. He had been randomly scrolling twitter later that night as he laid in bed and noticed some odd tweets.
“What is it?” Sarina asks as she glances over, interested. She had been focusing on playing Candy Crush but didn’t like the unease in Chase’s voice.
“Something’s happened….” He then closes his twitter app immediately, flipping to his text messages. He then sends a couple of messages out to a variety of crew guys that he had in his phone, an unease feeling taking over.
“What’s happened?” Sarina could only worry about this point without any response from Chase in regards to any of her questions.
“A couple crew guys tweeted about having to make an emergency landing in Memphis.” Sarina immediately feels the unease that Chase is feeling in hearing those words. The last time she heard words in relation to that resulted in her crashing into the ground. It also didn’t help either of them that their sabotager was still on the loose. “Okay, that was Josh (Kirk). Everybody is okay.”
“But what happened?” Chase sends another message back to Josh in relation to that, as the pair sit there waiting for a response.
“He said the pilots made the decision to make an emergency landing due to smoke in the cabin, believing there was an electrical problem. The other team plane is already on its way to pick them up from Memphis and get them home.” The pair then glance at each other, unease and worry filling them both.
“You don’t think that Harr-”
“I’m already texting Kendall, and then I’ll text Josh so he can be aware of our suspicions.” Sarina slowly shakes her head in agreement as she lays back down, setting her Ipad aside. There was no way that she could concentrate on those candies now.
“How would he access the pla-”
“The same way that he accessed my plane.” Sarina swallows a lump in her throat, realizing just how easy it seemed that this guy could make things happen.
“Why would he go after the team though?” Chase shakes his head, unsure of the answer. Though he could only wonder as to the possibilities of why this Harry Butler guy was after him.
“Come in!” Chase announces without glancing towards the door. He had gotten the call from the front desk about Kendall coming to see him, so he knew that it was her at the door. He was interested to see her in regards to what had happened a couple days ago.
“Mr. Elliott, it’s nice to see you – despite the circumstances,” she states as he takes his eyes off of the computer screen to focus on the FBI Agent. The notes from Alan could wait till later.
“It’s nice to see you as well. I assume that you have some answers?” She smiles and shakes her head yes. She knew that Chase wasn’t one to mess around when it came to the times that she came to see him. He wanted his information and reasons why, with nothing else interfering.
“I do. Your suspicions regarding the team plane were correct. Upon review by the mechanics, there was some unauthorized work done to the electrical system that could’ve resulted in a major fire if not for the pilots landing when they did. We were also able to match the finger prints on the plane to those on yours.” Chase felt himself freeze upon hearing those words. That flight could’ve meant serious trouble for everybody. Now he seriously wanted to know the meaning behind this guy’s motive.
“I don’t get why someone would go after me, and then the team plan-”
“Perhaps your girlfriend is the target and he thought that she’d be on the plane. Perhaps you are the target. Could you think of any reason that someone would go after you?” Chase shakes his head no as it seemed beyond imagination. “There’s also the possibility that his motive could be beyond you, in relation to your boss or someone else.”
“Whatever the motive, it’s been a whole month now since my accident and you haven’t caught him. He’s now put the lives of all our crew members in danger with his latest stunt. When does this end?” She understood his impatience with the situation, given everything that was at stake.
“We are heightening the search in putting more officers on the case, and more eyes on finding him. Normally when we do that, it doesn’t take much longer than that. Furthermore, every driver and team plane that is connected to this tea-”
“You should also include anybody at JR Motorsports as they have a close affiliation with us.” She flips open her notebook, making a note.
“Okay. Every driver and team plane that is connected to Hendrick Motorsports and JR Motorsports will have its own security guard. You and Sarina will still have your own guards. I am also putting a request for your boss, as well each driver on both teams to have a guard at all times. We don’t know who the target is so I want to cover all bases.” Chase shakes his head in approval. “Do you have any questions, or additional requests?”
“Sarina is doing her own late model racing across the country with Ricky Turner and a couple other guys. That involves doing some flying outside of what she does with me. I want to make sure that she’s protected on all basis.” Kendall shakes her head in regards to the concern.
“I would advise working it out to use a private plane at all costs to eliminate the risk. I would also make sure that the private plane you use, whether within HMS or your own means or a friends, has a good security detail to not take any chances.” Chase shakes his head, accepting.
Sarina and Ricky wouldn’t accept a shift on the racing schedule, especially after the win to start the year, despite the threat over their heads. They were racers – they were going to do whatever it took to go racing, and wouldn’t accept anything else. He knew that he could try and tell them no as the boss, but it wouldn’t have them pleased and he didn’t want to do that. Plus, why should they have to change their schedule due to this?
However, he knew how much he found himself worrying when she made the trip to Kern County. He remembered the nerves in hearing about her flight being delayed. Wit the advice from the agent and some thoughts in mind, he knew that there’d be a couple phone calls to be made.
The Hendrick Motorsports plane deal – they actually had to make an emergency landing flying home from Las Vegas in Memphis. It was due to a mechanical issue causing the smoke in the cabin, not a sabotage issue as the story describes though.
As soon as I heard about it, though, well….the gears started turning……