Thursday, August 22
After landing late that night in Germany, the group checked into their hotel room, set to relax for the night before Thursday. Looking at the plans, they knew it was going to be long – but fun.
So the next morning, Chase was up first and finished getting early, relaxing back on the bed. He texted back and forth with his parents, while skimming through twitter and some e-mails. As Ryan and Sarina continued to get ready, he focused on an e-mail from Morgan.
“Whatcha looking at?” Ryan questions, noticing how Chase had been focused on the screen without changing it for a good bit as he slipped on a pair of shorts. He had to wonder if it was something from Morgan in relation to what happened before they went away, or something from the lawyer. “That e-mail sounds serious…..”
“Just an announcement,” Chase says casually without a second thought.
“Announcement?!?” Ryan and Sarina ask together as Sarina pops her head out from the bathroom. Chase glances between them, surprised by their instant reaction. They both should know e-mails like this were part of the job.
“Yeah. Hendrick Motorsports is making an announcement on the Monday we get back.” Sarina felt her stomach sink instantly, worried based on the recent turn of events. It was also not like Chase not to tell her something.
“Does it have to do with the trial?” She questions, and Chase instantly shakes his head. She lets out a sigh of relief immediately.
“Absolutely not,” he assures her. “If there’s anything they’re ever announcing that’s connected to you, your family – whatever, I would tell you right away. I’m sure Morgan would, too. She knows personal boundaries.” Sarina nods her head, accepting. She was beginning to like Morgan more and more as she heard details.
“Alan’s getting fired?” Ryan then guessed, trying to figure out what a team would announce mid-season.
“New sponsor?” It was common for multiple marketing partners, and Sarina could only wonder what was next. What do you add to auto parts, pizza, chicken wings, Mountain Dew, and solar panels?
“No, and no,” Chase answers as he looks up at Ryan, surprised. There was no way he would ever trade in Alan. He was great at his job, and had saved his life on a couple occasions now. “Under what universe would Alan be getting fired? He’s great at his job….”
“Maybe he is ready for a chan-” Ryan starts, knowing sometimes guys didn’t want to be crew chiefs forever. He remembered the shock when Ray Everingham left Jeff Gordon. He was waiting for the day that’d happen in similar fashion with Chad Knaus and Jimmie Johnson.
“I told you already – no.” Ryan then sits down on the edge of bed, pondering it over as he slipped his shoes on.
“New team alliance?”
“New crew member?” Sarina joins in the guessing game. “Like maybe Josh got an opportunity to crew chief for someone so you’re getting a new car chief?” Chase rolls his eyes, immediately. They obviously didn’t get how close he, Alan and Josh were – especially after Indianapolis.
“I like your style….” Ryan comments with a smile, seeing how she was putting the pieces together.
“No, and no,” Chase tells them, growing annoyed. “My guys are sticking together. We’re family, remember?” Sarina lets out a sigh as she lays on the bed before him.
“Can we get a clue?” She wonders as Chase could only roll his eyes once again.
“Can I buy a vowel?” Ryan adds as Chase just glances between the pair, surprised. Was this really happening? At least they had bonded well as friends….
“This isn’t Wheel of Fortune!”
“This isn’t jeopardy!”
“I just wanted something to start with….” Chase lets out a sigh as he sends a quick response back to Morgan. He knew he should’ve checked this another time.
“Guys, I can’t tell you,” he comments. “I mean, only executive staff at Hendrick know. Alan doesn’t even know…” Ryan’s eyes go wide as he thought being family, Alan would know the details – specifically if it surrounded Chase. However, maybe the clue could be used to his advantage.
“Does it involve Jimmie Johnson?” Ryan questions as Chase shakes his head, though thankful he didn’t mention William. That would’ve warranted a response, and sent them off the beaten path. On second thought, maybe that was a good idea….
“I bet your parents know!” Sarina lets out, going with his weakness. There was no way just those executives knew.
“Okay, so they’re the only ones that know outside of the executives – but for a reason,” he comments with a smile. He actually couldn’t wait till that moment he told his parents as his father’s reaction meant everything to him, and it was priceless. It also spurred off another idea between him and his mom, which he was excited to launch too. Letting out a sigh, that reminded him of something as he goes back into his e-mails.
“Is that a clue?” Ryan wonders, thinking those words over and over in his head.
“Maybe – but of course, it could just be because it deals with him,” Sarina offers as Ryan nods his head, accepting.
“Maybe….” After typing the latest message, Chase lowers the phone and looks between them. He didn’t feel like a headache this early in the morning.
“We were all told to not talk about it until it’s officially announced,” he informs them, remembering the meeting clearly. “You both drive for different teams…..” A smile forms on Sarina’s face, as she narrows down the options immediately.
“So it is competition related,” she comments as Chase rolls his eyes. There was no way to stop these two.
“He has a secret coming to beat your owner,” Ryan teases as Sarina taps her fingers on the counter.
“Shall I call Kyle now to inform him?” Chase could only roll his eyes.
“Are you kidding me? Kyle and Martin don’t need any more help finding an advantage!”
“Amen to that….and no, it’s not competition related,” Chase comments as he gets up off the bed. Maybe if he focused on getting the final little bits together, they could head out and forget this entire topic.
“Chase, I’m your girlfriend,” Sarina begins, changing her approach. There had to be a way to get him to crack. “Girlfriends and boyfriends are always find out each other’s work secrets.” Chase laughs as he had to admire her approach. However, he knew their world was different than most. He always had to watch what he shared simply because she drove for Kyle Busch, and some things couldn’t get back to him. he knew that went both ways, based on conversations about her shop meetings.
“And I’m your bestie,” Ryan adds, picking up immediately on the tactic. “We’ve always shared secrets with each other. I called you when I landed the Wood Brothers dea-“
“After you called your parents, your siblings, and Bubba,” Chase reminds him. “How is that supposed to make this special enough for you two to be one of the first to know?”
“Chasey, you can tell me,” Sarina begs as she walks behind him, wrapping her arms around him. “I won’t tell anyone. I mean, I love you and you love me. Shouldn’t I know?” She then gives him a light kiss on the cheek as he smiles. Maybe it wouldn’t hurt to tell them….
“Voulez-vouce couch-“ Ryan starts singing, only to be cut off by a pillow being thrown at his head. “Ouch!” Sarina wished she could beat his ass, too.
“Knock it off! You’re ruining my plan….” Chase smiles, as he turns to face the pair. This could be interesting, and maybe get their minds on another topic.
“Will you tell me if he tells you?” Sarina just rolls her eyes as she goes to follow Chase to the other end of the room.
“Absolutely not!” Though Ryan noticed the fingers crossed behind her back, and smiled.
“Great plan now that you’ve told me,” Chase comments as he looks back to face him.
“Can I find out, though?” Sarina wonders as she wraps her arms around back around him.
“I told you-”
“Yeah, yeah, we get told that every day. I wasn’t supposed to tell you about signing with KBM but I did tell you that, remember?” Chase nods his head, remembering how happy and proud he was of her for landing the opportunity.
“Yeah, I do. I couldn’t believe the smile on your face.” She nods her head, still remembering how much disbelief she was in when she signed the contract.
“So since I shared that with you….” He lets out a sigh as he rubs her shoulders.
“Trust me, it’s tearing me apart not to tell you. I just want to go to the roof top and scream it out.” He actually couldn’t believe how excited he was about this, as really, it was small in the grand scheme of things. However, it was something that meant the world to him.
“So tell us!!” Ryan and Sarina both instruct together as Chase lets out another sigh.
“Ugh, I’m not supposed to,” he comments once again, as he finishes putting a couple things in a backpack. “Don’t we have a trip to be enjoying?” Sarina crosses her arms, growing frustrated.
“Tell us the truth, and then we can enjoy the trip without any issues,” she instructs as he lets out a sigh.
“I told you that I….. Besides, I’m ready and you both are ready so let’s go. If we want to ride as many rides as we can, we should try and get there as early as possible.” Ryan glances at the time, shocked that they weren’t already on their way there.
“He does have a point,” Ryan comments as Sarina keeps her eyes focused on Chase. She just wanted to answer the question at hand.
“We could stage a sit in,” Sarina offers as Ryan shakes his head. Besides, he wanted to get riding some roller coasters.
“He’s too good for that. We’d probably both crack before him – or at least I would. Let’s go….” Sarina lets out a sigh, grabbing her purse, and reluctantly following the pair out of the room.
“Let’s make it interesting,” Chase offers as they get on the elevator. “You guys can guess all day what it is…..”
“And if we get it right?” Sarina questions as Chase smiles.
“I’ll tell you.” He honestly hoped they figured it out, too, as he couldn’t wait to talk about it with them.
The group climbed into the Camaro together, instantly hitting the road with Chase at the controls as he drove them to their spot for the day. Given they were all adrenaline junkies, Europa Park was their destination for the day to enjoy some of the biggest thrills the park had to offer.
“Is the announcement a special paint scheme reveal?” Ryan questions as they stand in line waiting to buy their admission tickets. Chase shakes his head.
“We’ve revealed all the paint schemes for the season,” Chase offers as Ryan nods his head. He figured that based on the variety of colors he had seen.
“What is the second race for Hooters again?” Sarina wonders, more curious for the sake of Hootie.
“Phoenix in November – but he will be at Talladega in the fall due to Chase U.” Sarina rolls her eyes, knowing that would be a race that’d eat every nerve on her body. Why did a restrictor plate race have to close out a round in the playoffs?
“You followed the protocol of a full bath?” Chase nods his head.
“Superstitious there, Sarina?” Ryan questions as Sarina gives him a look. “Just saying….”
“Did you see what happened that weekend?” Sarina wonders and Ryan nods his head. He remembered how worried Chase was after her wreck in the ARCA race. “Well then, you can see where I’m coming from. That has to be one of the most nerve-wracking races of the year. Like I told your mom at Daytona, I don’t know how she does it.” Chase pulls her close, rubbing her shoulder.
“Relax, it’ll be fine…” He assures her, followed by a kiss.
“Want to tell me the announcement to ease my mind?” Chase laughs and shakes his head.
“Good try….” He then grabs one of the park maps. “But, you can choose the first ride of the day.” She looks over the schedule, thinking what looked intriguing.
“Let’s go on Arthur!” Chase glances back at the map, seeing that it was a roller coaster that you took through a forest, based on some trilogy of movies.
“Are you sure you want to start with something like that?” She nods her head.
“But if you disagree, you could always tell the announcement and I’d let you choose….” Chase laughs as they head into the park. He had to admire her determination, and was almost set to spit it out. But, he wanted to have some fun with this….
“Nah, I’ll be fine….”
“Are you sure?” Ryan questions and Chase nods his head.
Chase takes a deep breath as they got off the roller coaster, glancing between the pair. He didn’t mind roller coasters, but something about your feet just swinging in the wind didn’t seem to ever fit well with him.
“Are you okay?” Ryan wonders, having seen Chase on other rides like this in previous trips.
“Yeah,” he assures him as he snatches the map. “My turn…” There were plenty of options, but he was set to kick up the thrills a notch. If they could get lost in the fun of the day, maybe the questions would be destroyed. “Matterhorn Blitz.” They then head towards the old wooden roller coaster, which used small carts of two people in each to remind you of those back in 1785. The entire ride, rated 4 out of 5 on the thrill scale, featured big drops while taking you back in time through the Swiss Alps and viewing chalets that included period correct decorations.
“A history lesson with a thrill…” Sarina comments as they begin the walk towards it. “Now, is this announcement JR Motorsports related?” Chase shakes his head.
“Not at all…” Although if he wanted to confuse them, he could’ve said it was since it was stepping back to those routes in a way. They then step into the line-up, taking a quick snap shot of them all standing before the mountain together.
“Are you going to run a truck race?” Chase raises his eyebrows.
“Hendrick Motorsports doesn’t have a truck tea-”
“GMS has an alliance with them, and Morgan handles all of your PR.” Chase had to admire her direction and ideas, but laughed as it was not even close.
“No truck races, no XFINITY races. This is totally connected to my Cup car.” Ryan leans back against the railing, thinking about all the possibilities.
“You keep saying that the crew is family, and turning down options, but is there any connec-” Ryan then starts.
“Nope,” Chase cuts him off.
Through the rest of the day, the group rode the variety of rides in the park while playing some games – including Chase winning a German Shepherd stuffed animal for Sarina to take home. Sarina and Ryan kept guessing what the announcement could be, but none of their guesses came close.