Friday, August 18 – Bristol Motor Speedway
Chase lies there, pulling Sarina closer as he lets outs a sigh. He knew that Wednesday night still lingered on her mind, and he wanted to comfort her. He also didn’t feel like moving, even with practice time soon, as he was perfectly comfortable.
Though hearing a knock on the door, Chase rolls over and lets out a sigh. There was no sleeping in now…
“Are you kidding me?” Sarina questions out loud as she kicks the blanket off. Chase just smiles as he looks over.
“Go back to sleep,” he tells her, throwing the blanket back over her as he stands up. “It’s my parents. They probably just got in town. Get some sleep, and then come out later when you’re ready.” She smiles as she sits up, watching him get dressed quickly.
“Are you sure?” He nods his head.
“I can handle them…”
“Thank you!” She then flops back in the bed, pulling his pillow close as she curls up once again.
With another knock on the door, Chase makes his way out of the bedsroom, slipping the door closed before walking to the door. He opens it, immediately smiling.
“Did we wake you?” Bill questions as he and Cindy enter the motorcoach, each giving him a hug.
“I was awake – just hadn’t moved yet,” he answers, following up inside. He then makes his way into the small kitchen, pulling out the orange juice. “Sarina and I were up late watching movies so I was taking advantage of the time. She’s still sleeping…” The parents both sit on the couch, eyes focused on Chase.
“So what did you two kids do yesterday?” Cindy wonders, and Chase wasn’t surprised by the question. With nothing happening on track and not wanting to travel back for a single night, the pair agreed to take in the town with a fun afternoon.
“We found some great parks and caves to check out, so it paid off for a great afternoon of biking and running. We then spent some time at the lake, chilling and talking, before heading back here to enjoy a quiet night in.”
“Sounds relaxing,” Bill comments and Chase nods his head as he leans back against the counter.
“It was needed,” Chase adds. “She was pretty frustrated with how things played out Wednesday night…” Cindy looks at him with raised eyebrows.
“Like when you’d get frustrated and pick apart every single detail, frustrated?” Chase nods his head as Bill just smiles. “Now you get to see what we dealt with…” Chase just rolls his eyes.
“Thanks a lot, Dad.” Bill crosses his arms, remembering some of those nights.
“Let me guess – lots of pressure on her to win with the playoffs and a short track, and yet that was thrown away because of a crew member’s mistake?” Chase nods his head. “So obviously that ate at her big time. Did you tell her that sometimes that happens, you can’t take it back, she did what she cou-”
“I gave her every liner that you could use in that situation, but you know yourself – it doesn’t replace that feeling. That’s why I figured a day away would be perfect to forget it.” Chase then smiles as he thinks to the upcoming week. “That’s why I feel this trip is coming at the perfect time, too.”
“Are you sure you guys should be going away at this time?” Cindy questions, catching his attention. “You guys are knee-deep in legal messes with the trials, and we just got through everything that happened. If that was me, I would be wanting to relax and lay low for once.” Chase knew it was simply his mother’s worry speaking.
“Actually, I’m the exact opposite,” Chase informs her. “I’m open to having that perfect distraction, something else to think about for a week without a single thought. It’s a way to clear my mind of everything and just be free for once since it all started, you know? Plus, it’s almost like a reset for both Sarina and myself – Ryan, too – in regards to racing because we’re just escaping everything.” Cindy understood where he was coming from, but still felt nervous about everything.
“But are you absolutely certain that you’ll be safe, careful and nothing will happen?” Chase nods his head, remembering extra discussion spent with Ryan.
“Ryan and I have put certain things in place with where we’re going, and we’re always going to be watching our backs. Mom, you don’t need to worry – we’ll be fine.”
“You’ll call every day, though?” Chase could only smile as he walks over, giving her a hug.
“If it makes you feel better, then I will make sure to call…” He then puts his shoes on. “Practice is in a half hour. I better head to the trailer before Alan sends a search party.”
“I’ll come,” Bill comments, chuckling.
“I got to go catch up with Ingrid and a couple others so I’ll meet back up with you later, okay?” Cindy says and Bill nods his head, accepting.
Chase quickly pops in the back, letting Sarina know that he was heading out for practice. She promised that she’d come out for the second session, once she got a shower and some breakfast this time around – but made sure to wish him the best of luck.
He then heads out, beginning the short walk to the garage area with his father.
“You know your mother was just pushing you because she worries, right?” Bill asks and Chase nods his head.
“Hence why I tried to be assuring and gave in to the promise,” Chase answers as Bill smiles. They then round the corner, as Bill finds himself back on a thought for a week ago.
“Chase, when you told me what happened with Casey, why did you just want to keep it between us? Why not tell your mother?” Chase thinks it over, debating the best way to express the reasons.
“It was almost surreal, and sometimes I find myself questioning whether it really happened, or it was just my imagination; maybe it was my conscious speaking to me. It took a lot to bring myself to tell you, yet alone anyone else. I just don’t feel comfortable talking about it more, or having everybody knowing.” Bill nods his head, accepting and understanding.
“That’s fine…” Chase then pauses, looking towards his father.
“I mean, is that okay with you? If you really want to tell her, then I guess you cou-”
“No, it’s fine this time, really. I get it. You wanted to say it out in the open to one person to test what you were thinking, but not tell everybody because of the doubts. It’s okay the way it is. I just asked because you normally share everything with both of us.” Chase nods his head, knowing that was always the case – there was no secrets with his parents.
“I appreciate that, really.” He then heads into the hauler, set to change into his firesuit, as Bill remains outside, waiting. It was time to focus on what was to come that day….
Leaning against the NAPA Chevrolet, Chase was pleased with how the first practice had gone, having ended up 11th on the board. It was certainly not near the top where he wanted to be, but the car felt pretty good so they were certainly making process. With another hour of practice to come, he believed that they could get the last little details ironed out.
“Well, well, the princess shows her face,” Chase hears, glancing towards Josh as he points back towards the other end of the stall. Chase smiles as he watches Sarina walk over.
“Nice of you to finally come out and say hi,” Chase comments as Sarina rolls her eyes.
“Not everybody is a sweet dear morning person like you,” she replies as Chase just smiles.
“I could’ve made you get up this morning….” She then lets out an aggravated sigh as she leans back against the car beside him. “You seem grumpier than normal, though…”
“Why would that surprise you? I mean, you were here Wednesday right?” Chase lets out a sigh, having believed that was the last thought on her mind after the day they spent away from the track yesterday. Besides, normally, a couple days removed, you began to put things in perspective and move forward.
“What is it going to take to get you out of that funk?” She shrugs her shoulders. “We talked about this Wednesday night. You did what you needed to do. It’s not your fault that they made a mistake. You’ve still got Canadian Tire Motors-”
“I have no road course experience, Ell-”
“Hey, I won there. Now that has to say something as I’m no road course expert, right?” Sarina just rolls her eyes. “Besides, Christopher won there before. He can give you some advice…”
“That’s if I can catch the guy to begin with!” Chase wraps an arm around her shoulders. He could understand where she was coming from in having to live up to the results of all-star teammates.
“What did we talk about Wednesday, too? Some drivers, it takes time for them to come into their own before their hit everything out of the park. I mean, Christopher will even tell you that based on last year. So why are we sitting here comparing ourselves again? What are we supposed to focus on?” She lets out a sigh, still annoyed.
“Focusing on bettering ourselves, improving with each run out there, and doing the best that we can.” He nods his head as he squeezes her shoulder.
“Just do that at CTMP and do that at Chicagoland, and where the chips fall, they fall. If you make the playoffs, it’s a bonus for you as a rookie. If you don’t, then focus on making the most out of the last seven races so you can come back stronger next year.” She wanted to believe in those words, but there were doubts about her future – as always.
“What if I’m not back at KBM next year?” Chase then looks at her, surprised.
“Kyle and Samantha adore you. I see no reason that they’d drop you based on the solid performances that you’ve put together this year, Sarina.” She rolls her eyes.
“Right, and what about the sponsor? What if they don’t retur-”
“They love you, as well. Why do you think they brag about you constantly? Why do you think they sponsored your late model program?” He takes a deep breath, trying to resist the urge of flipping out on her. It frustrated him to no end to see this self-doubt. “For once, believe in yourself, please. Believe in yourself. Believe in everything around you. Believe in what you’ve worked for, earned, and the fact that it’s not going to be stripped away this time. It’s going to pay off…” His words hit home, hitting her doubts right in the middle – she was afraid due to having seen everything continually fall apart in her life, one piece at a time.
“You really believe that?” He nods his head.
“Absolutely without a doubt.” She smiles as she leans in, and kisses his cheek.
“You’re amazing. Thank you…” He smiles as he keeps her held close.
“No, you’re amazing. I’m just blessed with the fact that you finally accepted my offer.” She laughs, remembering how many times she turned down his request.
“I don’t know what I was thinking then….” He could only smile, glad that they were at this point where they could joke about that now. With her, it was baby steps in the relationship, and he was glad to continue taking those each day.
“I don’t know what you were thinking accepting the offer, though,” Nick O’Dell chimes in, receiving a middle finger from Chase, causing laughs throughout the stall. “I mean, can you really handle this guy? He’s quite the character…”
“You should hear what she tells me at night when you’re sleeping,” Chase comments, causing a couple surprised glances from everybody.
“Now now, no bedsroom tal-”
“I didn’t mean that one bit!” He then laughs, realizing how his comment came across. “I totally didn’t mean it that way. Oh my gosh…” His cheeks immediately go a bright shade of red as laughter erupts around them.
“So what are we missing at night, guys?” Josh questions as he leans over the roof, peeping in between them, with a glance either way.
“That I’m the most amazing, perfect, sweet guy that she’s ever met,” Chase brags as the guys begin rolling their eyes and laughing. “What?”
“Please Sarina, do us all a favor – do not fill his head with these stories. I’ll have to get Jordan to get a bigger helmet for his head if you do that.” A couple guys laugh as Chase just rolls his eyes.
“Relax Josh – he keeps assuring me that I’m lying and he’s just some ordinary guy,” Sarina says as Chase receives a couple surprised glances.
“I’m just an ordinary guy who appreciates the opportunity he gets to go fast every week,” he comments.
“Down to earth, sweet, amazing – actually, Sarina may be onto something,” Alan says from his perch. “I guess that’s why we put up with you. But guess what? It’s time to say goodbye to the girl and get your ass ready to go make some more laps. We have a job to do, right?” Chase gives him a thumbs up, before looking over at Sarina.
“See you after practice?” She nods her head, snagging a kiss, before walking out of the stall to go on top of the hauler.
Chase climbs out of the car following qualifying, smiling. Fourth wasn’t too shabby at all. It was better than they practiced all day, and he could certainly do a lot from there tomorrow night.
“Nice job!” Sarina says as she gives him a big hug. “Now, want to hear some even bigger news?” Chase then looks at her surprised, intrigued what could be more important in this moment. “They arrested Bethany in Florida. She’s being transported back up to Indiana as we speak.”
“Really?” He questions and Sarina nods her head, showing him the message from the detective. “Step 3 in our plan to take back our lives is complete.”
“But can they make the charges stick?” Chase shrugs his shoulders, not sure. He knew that depended on what Allison had to say.
“We’ll see…” He then pulls her close to him. “But for now, we’re not going to worry about Bethany, Chris, or Allison. We’re going to enjoy this darling weekend, taking in the XFINITY race together, enjoying another movie together, before having a thrilling race night tomorrow. And then we’re off on a world vacation…”
“I can’t wait!”