Since the Easter Bunny 100, Chase and Sarina hadn’t been able to spend as much time together as they wanted.
While she attended the races with him on the weekend, she continued to spend her weeks with her brother. Thankfully, his schedule of healing continued accordingly and he was released from hospital at the end of April as scheduled. With the release, both he and their cousin Bethany moved to North Carolina to be closer to Sarina.
As things returned back to normal, Sarina was set on continuing her racing career this season as scheduled. It was why that weekend she was at Talladega Superspeedway ready to run the ARCA race. Kyle had set-up a deal for her to run some races for Venturni Motorsports this year, in an effort to get experience.
“You haven’t drafted before – so this will be some good practice for you,” were the words he spoke pre-season.
It was why now with Cup qualifying in the books, she stood by her car getting ready to go, with Chase not standing far away. He had gotten done qualifying, followed by answering the required media questions before making his way over to her car, still adorning his Hooters firesuit.
“I wouldn’t mind you wearing white all year,” she comments as she looks into his eyes.
“Oh really?” He questions and she shakes her head yes as she reaches an arm around him.
“It makes your ass look great.” He then rolls his eyes as he brushes a piece of hair out of her eyes.
“Well, you look amazing no matter what you’re wearing.” He leans in and kisses her lips, lightly. “I love you. Be safe out there.”
“Don’t worry – today is going to be an excellent day, Mr. Elliott.” She then turns to climb in the car, before glancing at him. “Are you going to sit up on the pit box?” He was surprised by the question. Normally it just happened with a late model deal due to owning the car, or while she was running the truck for Kyle as he knew. However, this was a different team.
“Do you think Billy would mind?” She shakes her head no immediately.
“He knows we’re together. Besides, it’d made me feel better.” He knew he couldn’t deny what she wanted.
“Then I’ll be up there all race long, with Hootie.” She then looks at him confused until he pulls a little stuffed animal owl out of his pocket. “I got stuck with him courtesy of the Hooters girls. He’s supposed to bring me luck.”
“Was he in the car for your qualifying lap?” He shakes his head no.
“He sat with Alan. I wasn’t taking a passenger.” She then chuckles as she reaches over, petting his head.
“Well then you can keep him to bring me some luck.” She then gives him one more final kiss, before climbing in the car and set to go.
Chase sat on top of the Venturini Motorsports pit box, feeling a little out of his element still in his Cup firesuit and having a stuffed animal owl in his pocket. However, there were no complaints to be heard through the opening laps of the event.
After starting in the second spot, she was able to immediately take the lead, and remain in front of the pack through the first half of the race. He felt comfortable with that, knowing that she could avoid any trouble that would come her way.
Though as the race neared the middle portion, he felt his own nerves grow as she got shuffled into the middle of the pack through a series of pit stops. Calmness still surrounded him, believing that she could get back up there. She had one of the quickest cars and was learning the moves required to make up ground. it was just a matter of making it happen…as he watched her move up into the third row.
However, then something else happened.
He watched as she got three-wide with two other cars, contact happening as one bounced into another, with all three crashing into the wall just before the start-finish line. He immediately felt a wash of concern, standing up as her car went across the track, hitting the wall, followed by being lifted up onto two wheels as a result of contact from another car.
As a driver and knowing the radio sat in his head, his ears immediately tuned in, waiting to hear something from her to let him calm down.
“Are you okay?” He hears Billy ask as his eyes focus on the floor of the pit box.
“Yeah, I’m…okay,” they hear in response as Billy gives Chase a quick nod to make sure he heard it. Chase simply nods back, unable to say anything.
“10-4. You were doing awesome out there.” Chase immediately takes the headset off and places it down beside Billy, before beginning to climb down the steps. While he heard her voice, he knew something was up. There was a pause and a break in her words – he knew she was hurting. “Chase!”
He then glances at Billy, before turning his eyes on the TV screen on the back. He saw her climbing out of the car, standing by it, hand resting on the car as she went to take a step, little stumble in her step.
He told himself to calm down as right there before him he could see her walking around the car and okay. However, the stumble and her pause in her words were still stuck on his mind.
He made his way through the garage, continuing to give himself that reminder over and over. As he rushes through the pits, he was beginning to understand just how Sarina felt at Texas last month when he crashed in practice.
He felt the panic, the worry, the nerves, the fear – and just like she tried to explain, it was something that he’d never gotten before at the race track. He was a racecar driver. He was set to race tomorrow and be at the risk of doing the same. Fear wasn’t a thought. But yet, here he was worried for his girlfriend.
Trying to shake off the feelings he felt, he enters the medical center and walks up to the desk. He knew drivers hated to visit these places, and considering he’d been here before at the wrong end of a deal he didn’t need any reminders either.
“May I help you?” The secretary questions, probably thinking something was wrong with him.
“Sarina Ott – she just crashed in the ARCA race not that long ago,” he states as he watches the secretary fumble through the folders.
“Thank you.” He then walks past the desk and down the short hallway, peaking his head into the second room.
Another wash of relief came over him as he saw her laying there before him, conscious and a small smile at the sight of him. She was okay. He then walked into the room, noticing the ice on her ankle as he glanced between it and her eyes.
“They think I either spranged, twisted it in the crash – possibly rotated it the wrong way when I climbed the wall,” she comments, knowing the question was coming.
“But other than that, you’re okay?” He questions as he walks up to her and she shakes her head yes. “That’s good.” Having tried to avoid the sense of panic that he was feeling, he couldn’t hold it back anymore as he reached out, pulling her into a hug and holding her.
“Chase….I’m okay….” He continues to hold her as she finally returns the favor, wraping her arms around him. “I’m okay.” She then backs up a little, looking into his eyes. “You were worried, right?” He shakes his head yes as he brushes a bit of hair out of her face so he can look into her eyes clearly. “I can see it…”
“Remember when you launched yourself on me in worry at Texas in the hauler? We both said that it caught you off-guard. Well, this totally caught me off-guard, but I get it now. As soon as you hit the wall, I felt my stomach drop. As soon as you said that you were okay on the radio, I felt a sense of relief – but yet worry in the pause. Then seeing you walk around the car, I felt the relief continue. But for those seconds that you didn’t answer Billy, I was nervous beyond anything.” She then runs her fingers through the bottom of his hair, keeping him held close.
“It’s okay. I understand and Chase, I’m okay…” He knew that, but couldn’t find it himself to let her go.
“I know. I love you, I care about you, I don’t want anything to ever happen to you, ever – no matter what it is.” He then gives her a kiss, before finally allowing his arms to release the grasp that he held on her.
“I love you, too, and just like you told me, it is okay to worry. Remember what that means?” He shakes his head yes.
“I care about you a lot. I’ve told you that before, but I mean it more than ever.” She then reaches out, grabbing a firm grasp on her hand. “So other than your foot, you’re o-”
“Nothing else hurts, and I feel pretty good considering I just rode the Talladega wall. No pain, no headache, no other comments. I’m fine.” He continued to let those words soak in as he took a seat in the chair next to her bed. “And by the way, you can tell Hootie that he’s mean for not sharing the good luck with me.” He then laughs as he takes the owl out of his pocket, giving it a small smack.
“Bad Hootie.” She then laughs as she snatches it out of his hands. “Hey!”
“He’s actually kind of cute. Do you get to keep him?” Chase shakes his head yes. “He can be my buddy when we’re not together.”
“Then what’s my buddy?” She then looks over, thinking it over.
“I’ll have to get back to you on that, okay?” She then looks back at the owl. “Now listen here mister, we have to have a talk….” Chase then rolls his eyes as he watches her.
“Chase, I can take care of myself….” She lets out as he carries her into the motorcoach. “You can let me walk; I can hobble. You don’t need to do this…” He then goes inside, laying her down carefully on the couch. He then finds a pillow, propping her foot up on it. To make sure that the injury didn’t grow use, they had put her foot in a temporary cast till she saw a doctor that week.
“You took care of me before, so I can take care of you,” he tells her, before kissing her cheek and handing her back the owl. “Now take care of Hootie while I order us up some chicken wings for dinner.”
“Really?” He then shrugs his shoulders as he takes out his cell phone.
“I don’t feel like cooking, and Hootie tells me that he has really good chicken wings to make up for what happened.” She then rolls her eyes as she looks at the owl.
“I tend to agree with him on that as they are good. Make sure to order some extra ones.” He makes a note as he heads to the kitchen, grabbing her something to drink and bringing it back to her before handing the remote over.