Short Track Lovin’ – Chapter 62: Daytona 500

Thanks for reading and reviewing. I honestly wanted to put off writing this because my heart just hurts for him after what happened.  Now based on the tweets that he sent out, along with what happened, here we are….

Sarina sat back in the chair, eyes focused on the TV above her head. She was thankful her brother didn’t mind her putting on the race but she had to admit she couldn’t go without watching the Daytona 500.

As she watched the event, she felt her knee bouncing up and down, nerves filling her body, as she watched how close the cars were. She watched the gaps driver dove for close up smaller, she watched the bumpers almost contact, the lines weave back and forth. She couldn’t explain why, but she was feeling nervous for Chase.

She watched the first wreck happen, feeling her heart break for Dale as she knew how badly he wanted to come out and run well. She watched the second wreck happen, shaking her head in disbelief at how things went down with Jimmie and Jamie. She watched the third wreck happen, shaking her head at to how people couldn’t believe that Blaney was pitting. She just hoped that his team got the car  fixed enough so he could get a good finish.

Then the fourth wreck happened. She tried to stay calm and relaxed, but the contact from McMurray’s bumper to the familiar yellow bumper caused her to jump out of her skin. She watched as his blue NAPA Chevrolet got sideways, somehow staying off of mostly everything in sight as the wreck happened around him. She let out a sigh in seeing him drive away, mostly unscattered.

“Easy sis,” she heard her brother quietly let out, noticing the reaction. “He okay.”

“Oh I know that he’s okay Chris,” she starts.  “But that was too close for comfort. McMurray is an ass for how he’s driving today. I’m glad that he’s done. Can you believe what he did?”

“He just help…” The speech was slightly off as he continued to heal, but it was enough now that she could understand every word.

“There’s a difference between helping and drafting like a complete asshole. I mean, why do you hit that hard? You know the chances you’re taking and there’d already been a bunch of wrecks. Figures, though, as it’s not the first wreck he’s caused.” She then lets out a sigh as she sits back in the chair, relieved by twitter and the driver communication she was listening to that it was fixable and he’d able to continue without issues. She just hoped he could get back up there.

“You nervous. You be there.”  She then looks over at Chris surprised.

“I should be there with Chase?” She questions and he shakes his head yes. “You just had brain surgery a couple weeks ago, but here you are telling me that I should leave you here alone and be there with Chase?”

“You love him. I sorry I jealous before.  It just…I no get it…I no know…” She then stands up and walks over closer to the bed.

“Hey, it’s okay. We all know why now. We all know that it’s not your fault, even Chase included. He actually told me that he wishes you the best and everything works out. You don’t need to beat yourself up about that. Everybody understands.” She then gives him a hug before sitting back in her chair.

“Still, you there with Chas-”

“That’d leave you alon-”

“I have cuzzy. I have nurses. I have friend. I no alone.” She knew that his cousins had stopped by, and knew that he’d become good at flirting with the nurses. However, there was fear of leaving him. Perhaps it was because she blamed herself for not getting him the help sooner, or perhaps blamed herself still, despite what Chase had said that night or by text message, for what happened.

“I know you have others, but I wouldn’t feel right if I was there. I want to be here for you to help you.  Once you’re better, than maybe I’ll get back to there.” She then buckles in, set to focus on the rest of the race.

She watched as he worked his way back to the front. She watched as he danced around lines with Joey and Ryan. She cheered as he took the lead with 25 laps to go. Her knee bounced, her nails got bit, her words became quiet as the nerves grew with each passing lap, watching him execute each block nicely, before watching him move up to the wall with ease to pull the pack around.

She pictured him in victory lane celebrating with his team. She pictured him soaking up the moment of being the Daytona 500 Champion. She even pictured herself sending a congratulatory text message to tell him that she was proud of him, and wished him the best. She even pictured herself typing more meaning into that message.

Then it happened. She watched as the No. 24 Chevrolet pulled down, slowing down, out of fuel. She heard the commands on the radio from both Alan and Eddie to hit the refresh as car after car went by. She felt tears of sadness, fist of anger form, as she watched Kurt Busch win with him 14th.

Glancing at her phone through the next five minutes, she took a deep breath before opening her messages and bringing up his name. Another deep breath and she began typing.

**********************

Chase couldn’t believe what had happened. He couldn’t believe that one minute he was leading set to win the Daytona 500, next minute he was out of gas. Why hadn’t he found the refresh switch sooner? Why hadn’t he remembered? It was a mistake he knew that’d bite him in the ass for days to come.

Stopping the car at the end of pit road, he takes off his helmet as he lets out a sigh while sitting in the car. He felt gutted, heartbroken, torn to pieces. The fact that they had a fast car, great team, and a solid Speedweeks didn’t matter to him in that moment.

Slipping the belts off, he slowly climbs out of the car, laying his head on the roof for a second before fully climbing out. He leans back against it, unzipping his firesuit slightly. He felt the pain creep into his side immediately – knowing it was due to the forces of racing, and the added force of being punted in the left side during that wreck. He bit his tongue a little as the pain increased, wanting to hide away with a pack of ice.

“Here you go,” his PR rep Morgan walks over, handing him two Tylenol and a bottle of Gatorade. It was custom to have the sponsor product in the photo, but not wanting him to take mountain dew with the Tylenol, a fellow Pepsi product would have to do.

“Thank you,” he immediately accepts it, placing the Tylenol in his mouth without hesitation. Taking some deep breathes, he knew he had to get it unwrapped and some ice on it as soon as he could with what had happened that day.

“Sore?”  He looks over and shakes his head yes. “Are you sure you don’t need to be checked out?” Chase already knew what they’d say in the medical center.

“They’ll just tell me that I aggravated it, to get some rest, breathe easy, and put ice on it. It’s just the wreck that we had in the corner when I slammed in the door there, it caused it to go up a little. I’ll be fine, though.”  She shakes her head accepting, simply taking the steps to do her job properly. The pair stood there for awhile – probably around 10-15 minutes, waiting for some media to come and ask questions. However, glancing around, it seemed that nobody cared about him or Martin. “Nobody?”

“That’s strange as everybody talked about you being the major story, and probably wanting to get your thoughts. It seems their busy with everybody else, though.” She then takes a glance down pit road before looking back at Chase. “If you want, you can go. There’s nobody headed this way, and you should get some rest. I know you need to get those unwrapped so I’d vote that you head off.”

“Are you sure?”  She shakes her head yes.

“Just message me later a statement and I’ll forward that to Chevrolet to send out.” Chase shakes his head, accepting. “Thanks for a fun weekend. Sucks it didn’t go better at the end.”

“That’s racing.” He then heads off, making his way into the hauler in the infield.

He quickly takes off his firesuit, unwrapping himself, before getting dressed. He knew it’d be best to lay on the couch for a bit, take some deep breathes with the ice on him to calm down, but he also wanted to get out of Daytona as quickly as possible.

“Ready to go?” Bill asks as Chase walks out of the hauler. Chase simply shakes his head yes as they both get in the rental car and head for the airport. Chase sits back in the seat, letting out a small groan of pain as he places the ice pack on his side. “Sure you’re okay?”

“I’m fine,” he states as he focuses on taking some deep breathes.

“Listen, I know you’re upset and disappointed. I know that a loss like that is hard to take. But hey, you had a quick car and you did a great job leading that field. It’s not your fault that you ran out of gas, and believe me when I say that I know you’ll win some races this year.”  Chase looks over at his father with a slight smile.

“Thanks…”

He then pulls out his phone, seeing he has some unread messages. He opens them, looking at who sent them before bothering to read them. As he looks through the names, he notices one in particular in which he opens immediately.

Chase,

I know you’re upset about what happened. I know you’re probably kicking yourself in the ass. But hey, you were impressive to watch today. Say goodbye to the kid who knew nothing about drafting and wanted to get better because you are turning into a great plate racer. Some of those moves were badass.

I know it’s hard to soak in now, but be proud of the effort. Be proud of the drive that you had. Be proud of the car that you guys had. Be proud of every move you made today. You made everybody realize that you’re a contender, and you’re here to win – and will win this year.

I know I haven’t talked to you much, nor have I bothered to accept the offer to talk things over yet. If that’s bothering you, I apologize. My brother is getting better, which is good for me as it has helped improve my mood.  With that said, as he continues to get better, it makes me realize just how much I miss you and how much I miss us and what we had together. I want you to know that I miss you, and I want to have that talk eventually – not today, but maybe in the next couple days or week when I’m absolutely ready. I just hope you’re willing to wait and accept, and we can work things out.

Love you and miss you, your little racer, Sarina Ott.  xoxoxo

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