Following their conversation earlier in the week, Tony wanted to do what he told the others they’d do – give Chase his space and only intervene if they felt the right steps weren’t being taken.
Though 48 hours later, and he had to admit his worry hadn’t died at all. Perhaps that was due to seeing the first panic attack himself at Bristol, and feeling totally lost in that moment.
Taking a deep breath, he pulls up to the house and turns the key. He knew he should probably turn around and leave, as everything was fine if there were no signals being sent from Alyssa or Dale, but he couldn’t convince himself to doing that. He had to see Chase himself.
He climbs out of the truck, and walks up to the front, taking another deep breath for knocking on the door. What was the worst thing that Chase could say?
He waits a couple minutes, before watching the door open before him, smiling at the sight before him. He didn’t look too bad, considering.
“Hey,” he says simply as Chase just gives him a simple smile. “Can I come in?” Chase shakes his head yes, moving back to allow Tony inside the house, before closing the door behind him.
“I don’t mind the impromptu visit at all, but did you mention anything about coming or did Alyssa ask you?” Chase questions as he focuses his eyes on Tony. He knew he had been out of it at the beginning of the week, but nothing clicked together with Tony.
“Nah, this is a total off the cusp, I’m in town so I’m heading over for a visit moment. If you’re busy, I can leave.” Chase shakes his head no as he makes his way back through the house to the kitchen.
“I was actually just putting dinner together so Alyssa and I could eat when she got home before heading out to Darlington.” Tony could only shiver at the thought of Chase going through another weekend of traveling. With everything, he kind of hoped that Chase would take some weekends to relax at home by himself and focus on healing. However, he totally understood the reason due to his concerns surrounding Alyssa. As long as they didn’t repeat Bristol….
“Think she’ll have the same luck you did there?” Chase simply smiles as he had full belief that Alyssa was going to do well this weekend. She had done well there in the spring, and backing it up this time around would be nice.
“Have you seen the throwback scheme that she chose?” Tony shakes his head yes, having seen the photos flirting around the internet. She had chosen to go with Chase’s rookie XFINITY scheme, which obviously had a good history at Darlington. “Although admittedly – it feels weird to see someone using me for a throwback. 16 years man….” Tony shakes his head in disbelief as he still remembered when Chase was embarking on his first season of XFINITY racing.
“Do you remember your Daytona debut and how you were going around the garage, picking the minds of everybody for advice? Your dad was throwing stuff at you, but then you had myself, Dale and Kevin and you picked our minds like nuts.” Chase shakes his head yes, remembering how he was trying to soak in whatever he could. “By the way, I never should’ve given you all that advice.” Chase laughs as he knew he had used some of it very nicely.
“I wasn’t always good at the plate tracks, though.” Tony chuckles, remembering some of Chase’s crazier moments.
“I like the fact that you bring Hooters back to the sport, and debut it by letting Hootie fly at Talladega.” Chase laughs, remembering that experience and how it turned into a slew of jokes on twitter. “Hey, it’s nice to see you actually, and the smiles by the way.” Chase pauses, glancing over at Tony.
“You came over because you were worried?” Tony shakes his head yes as Chase lets out a sigh. He was used to everybody checking on him. For the most part, it annoyed him as he would rather be left alone to focus on what he needed to do. However, when it guys like Tony, Regan and Dale, he would let it go because he knew how much they helped at times.
“I was concerned after hearing about how this week started. But based on what I’m seeing, I say we’re making progress, again?” Chase nods his head.
“I’ve been taking the pills as instructed, and been getting back to a normal sleep schedule, which obviously helps my mood. They’re doing what they should so I can get through each day, doing what I need to do.” He then stops, glancing down at the pot before him, before looking over at Tony. He didn’t want to go further, but he knew Tony was owed the explanation. It was always better to be honest, right? “There’s moments that I have including the anxiety and concern and nerves and anger beyond what the pills are meant to control. I’m still having a difficulty finding the right strategy to handle that, and make it subside. But it’s coming…”
“That’s good. I’m glad. That’s all that matters. Any progress is good progress.” Tony glances out the window, thinking back some time in his own life. “You know, I can think about how upset and down I was after everything happened in New York. I couldn’t believe what happened. How could I have done that to a young man who had a whole future ahead of him? Admittedly, I had days where I wanted to throw in the towel and give up. I didn’t know how I could handle those emotions going forward. But Zippy was there with me and he told me I couldn’t do that. He kept reminding me reasons to move forward, and offer advice as to how to comprise every emotion. He also told me that if I could just keep a slim belief in myself, I could find a way. I was a fighter, and I could do it. You’re a fighter – just look at everything, so I damn well know you can do it.”
“I’ll try to always keep that in mind when I have those ultra tough days. Thanks…” Tony simply nods his head.
“And know that you don’t have to force it to happen sooner than it will. You know the guys at Hendrick loves you and will always have a place for you at the team for when you’re ready to return. But if for some reason they forget about how awesome you are, just give me a call.” Chase chuckles, though offers a thumbs up for the owner before him.
“I told Jeff that it’d be at least another 2 weeks, probably a month. I don’t know….”
“What about waiting till next year?” Chase looks over and shakes his head no. “How come?”
“That’ll make me go crazy through the winter.” Tony chuckles, knowing the feeling.
“You could always get a late model fix.” Chase thought it over, knowing it’d been awhile since he had ran the Snowball Derby. “You could also try a sprint car.”
“As tempting as that is, I don’t think I have the balls to do that like you and Kasey.” Tony chuckles once again, easily accepting.
“There was once a time that we almost Alyssa signed for a year in World of Outlaws for Kasey. But instead, she just did the quarter midgets only.” Chase looks on surprised as he didn’t realize that.
“Really?” Tony shakes his head yes, remembering the discussion with Kasey. “I always thought stock cars were the number one destination for her.”
“Yeah, but the age restriction almost changed that path. She’s always had an affixation for open-wheel since she did the midget deal.” Chase then thinks it over, remembering the rumors that he had heard.
“So would it surprise you if she ran the Indianapolis 500 one year?” Tony shakes his head no. “That’s what I thought. She put off the rumors earlier this year like they were nothing to her parents, but I figured there was some merit there.”
“Graham (Rahal) eventually got his shot in a stock car for JR Motorsports after going back and forth with Dale for years. It wouldn’t surprise me if there’s a sort of return the favor here.” Chase knew that was possible, based on the fact that they had Graham come out one week already this year to help with teaching paddle shifting. “Am I sensing some apprehension from you on the idea?” Chase shakes his head no.
“I know those cars are safe, and I know their probably a lot of fun to drive. I also know it’s a great opportunity and something that she could excel at. I’d have no nerves or issues if she did it. Now her parents, well, that’s another story.” Tony nods his head in agreement.
“Either way, if she was given the opportunity, she’d take it Chase.” Chase knew that was the truth, knowing parental concerns wouldn’t be enough reason to stop her.