Short Track Lovin’ – Chapter 154: Frustration

Friday, September 29 – Dover International Speedway

“I am going to miss you this weekend,” Chase says as he sits in the lounge of the trailer.

“I am going to miss you more,” Sarina replies. He just smiles, as that response was no surprise from previous conversations. It was one of those split weekends as she was off to Las Vegas, while he was at Dover.

“Just remember – it’s the last weekend that we have this problem.”

“That makes the heart swell and feel good. Hopefully I make it worth my while out here…” He knew what she was eluding too, and he hoped the same – even if he wouldn’t be there to celebrate with her.

“Just remember to stay focused, do your best, and don’t be too hard on yourself. I meant what I said. You’re having a great rookie year.” It seemed like he was on repeat, saying the same words every week, but he was going to do that till they soaked in and meant something for her.

“That’s the plan, superstar. You better do the same. Put together a nice solid run and get yourself into the next round. One race at a time, right?” He smiles, knowing that was the goal at hand. It also felt good to have both Alan and Josh back in the fold.

“Exactly, and let’s make sure we call each other every night at a decent hour, too. I got to remember the time change.” Being that she was in Las Vegas, she was three hours behind him. Hence why he asked her to call that morning when she woke up, not wanting to call too early.

“Three hours, that’s all you have to remember. That, or you can call me an hour after my final time on track so you know I’m available and it’s not too late for you.” He liked how she immediately come up with a plan.

“Alright. Well, I got to go as practice is soon so I will talk to you later. I miss you, and I love you.”

“Love you, too. Stay safe, babes. Bye Chase.”

“Bye Sarina.” He hangs up, leaning back as he lets out a sigh. There was no time to focus on her any longer.

Taking a deep breath and standing up, he knew that the focus had to shift to that No. 24 Chevrolet. They had to have three good practices this weekend, qualify well, and run well, if they wanted to be in the next round.

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

Friday, September 29 – Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Sarina was pleased with how her first practice went as the truck felt decent, and they’d shown enough speed to put themselves in the top-10. Now it was just carrying that forward in the second session, and tomorrow.

“So you’re happy?” Kyle’s voice on the other end of the phone catches her attention.

“So far,” she answers as she relaxes in the hauler. Like every other weekend, she spent time debriefing not only with Marcus, but also with the boss, even if by phone on weekends like these. It was worth it every time as he had good advice.

“That’s good. Just follow this advice, though – try the high side in the second practice. You may be surprised.” She had to chuckle, knowing that was coming after her conversation with Marcus. She was a bottom feeder, and it showed during the first session. But at a place like Las Vegas, trying everywhere was critical.

“I’ll give it a shot, just for you and Marcus. Are you happy now?” She hears a chuckle at the other end.

“Actually, I’m greatly satisfied. Did you see where I was on the speed chart?” She smiles, having checked those speeds before her session. She was impressed by her boss but not surprised, and satisfied with the boyfriend.

“You’re doing great so far. Now let’s see if you can actually beat Truex on Sunday for a change.” She knew the comment would sting, but it was always fun to pick on Kyle a little bit.

“Are you sure you don’t want to be here on Sunday?” She was caught off-guard by him asking the question, but should’ve known it was coming. With being in Las Vegas, he had offered to fly her to Dover for Sunday’s Cup race so she could be there for Chase. However, she felt it was just not necessary as Chase would be fine by himself. Besides, she wanted to fly at least as possible if she could help it.

“I appreciate the offer, Kyle, but it’s fine. Chase will be fine one weekend without me.” Based on the phone conversation earlier, she knew that he’d probably prefer she accept the offer, though.

“But will you be fine?” She then lets out a sigh, shaking her head. When was she ever known to solely rely on a guy?

“I’m a grown woman, Mr. Busch. I can handle myself. How about you just focus on kicking ass this weekend, okay?”

“Alright, fine. Don’t say I never offered though. Good luck…”

“Thanks, and same to you. Bye Kyle.”

“Bye Sarina.”

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

Friday, September 29 – Dover International Speedway

Chase had to look back at the scoring monitor, decently satisfied. It wasn’t the best qualifying effort, but it was also not their best. It also didn’t help that he had just posted the slowest speed of the drivers in the third round. But still, starting 12th for Sunday wasn’t too shabby.

Knowing they were done for the day, he begins his walk back to the hauler and change. He debated sticking around and watching the K&N Pro Series event, or going to grab a bite to eat. Either way, it still felt a little weird not having his best friend to help make the decision with him.

“Chase!” He hears and glances back, rolling his eyes. He would’ve preferred to finish this walk without being bothered, but that obviously wasn’t happening.

“Hey Denny,” he says as his fellow competitor catches up with him.

“Hey. Where’s Sarina this weekend?” Chase was caught off-guard by the question as Denny was the first person to ask. He obviously didn’t follow the truck series schedule. Furthermore, why did he care?

“Las Vegas for the truck race. Where else would she be?” Denny felt like smacking himself in the head. That should’ve been obvious.

“Right, I’m sorry. I totally forgot about their schedule.” Chase just shakes his head, already wishing the conversation was over. “Bet it feels good to have Alan and Josh back this weekend.”

“Obviously…” Denny knew he had started off the conversation on the wrong nerve based on the responses, but felt a turnaround was possible.

“Tell me that you knew they wouldn’t get away with the crap they pulled there. I mean, there’s no way that they could’ve thought they’d get away with that.” Chase lets out a sigh, having grown annoyed of talking about it already.

“I didn’t know what they were up to, and that’s their decision. Listen, nice seeing you, but I need to go.” Chase then picked up the pace, hopefully Denny just simply obliged and headed another direction. He really didn’t need this discussion right now.

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

Saturday, September 30 – Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Sarina leans back against the truck following Saturday night’s truck race, letting out a sigh. She actually wished she was heading to Dover now as it would be a good way to forget the night.

She had started off great, running up front and looking poised for a good strong finish. However, the handling faded during the second half and she fell back some positions. Unable to fix the handling or make up ground, she ultimately crossed the finish line in 13th – exactly where she started.

“That sucked….” She comments as she takes a sip from a bottle of water.

“Yeah,” Marcus agrees with her as he glances over his notes. “I’m sorry. I tried everything I could.” She knew of the adjustments that they’d gone through, knowing it wasn’t for lack of effort.

“You did a great job from your perspective, Marcus. There’s nothing else you could’ve done. I maybe could’ve been a bit better on my feedback to you, or maybe tried a different line. We did what we could.” He nods his head in agreement, still not happy about it.

“Live and move on, right?” She nods her head. “We got a week off so I’m going to go through everything and make sure that we’re on our A-game for Talladega.” Her thoughts paused immediately as she remembered the plan for next week.

“Ah shit!” He then looks at her confused. “I told Chase that this was our last weekend apart. Well, that was a lie. He’s going to be at Charlotte, and I’m going to be at Winchester.”

“Right, because you agreed to run the Winchester 400 for Kyle?” She nods her head, remembering that discussion. She absolutely adored late model racing, and knew she needed a break from the chaos that was ensuing at the NASCAR level. It was why she agreed to take a weekend away to get some late model driving in. She wondered now, though, if that was the right decision.

“I absolutely want to be there for Chase and support him, and I damn well hate missing his races. But, I couldn’t pass up the chance. I mean, I love late models so much and I haven’t gotten to run as much as I wanted this year.” Marcus could understand why, seeing the chaos that had gone on in their lives.

“Chase will understand. You just need to explain why…” She nods her head, knowing that he wouldn’t say a thing even if he wasn’t happy. That’s just how he was – always making sure things were good for them both, no matter what. “By the way, it seems things are quiet on a court front for once…”

“We handed in our schedules and they’re supposed to work around those. Ultimately, it doesn’t work with the judge’s schedule that well so hence why we haven’t returned to court in Florida for my brother in what seems like forever. I’m supposed to speak next as to what happened. I’m ready for it. I’m not letting him get away with anything. When it comes to Bethany and Allison, it’s in the jury’s hands as to whether they want to lock Allison up for her doings or not.”

“You’d think the jury would’ve decided by now…” Sarina could accept that perspective, as it had been a couple weeks since Allison stated her full confession as to what happened.

“It’s a tough decision for them, I guess. Do you find fault in her actions or sum it up to a threat? I mean, if it was up to me, you know where she’d be right now.” Marcus could sympathize with that as he was in agreement.

“And until that’s decided, Bethany is on hold?” Sarina didn’t know what was up there, nor did she care. All that mattered to her was all guilty parties are held behind bars.

“I guess. I don’t know, nor do I care. I’m just glad that she’s finally been caught for being a total asshole.” Marcus laughs, though fully understood the viewpoint.

“Well, I do hope it works out for you both and Chase. You guys deserve happiness, and we’re going to get that first win soon.” She smiles, knowing that Marcus was right, as the next couple weeks produced some great opportunities. She then felt her phone buzz, glancing at it.

“Oh great, of course…” Marcus then looks at her confused. “Jury has reached a verdict on Alison, and they’re not waiting until Monday to give it out. So looks like I’m headed to Indiana instead of home, while Chase races this weekend. Isn’t that just swell?”

“I’m coming with you….” She nods her head, accepting, knowing support of any kind would be nice.

***********

Sunday, October 1 – Indiana Court Room

Sarina’s eyes focused on the floor as she watched Alison walk in, the judge file in, and the head jury member stand with his envelope in hand. Why was her stomach flip flopping so much?

“The defendant pled guilty and requested no time in jail due to coercion,” the judge begins. “How does the jury find the defendant in relation to the charges?”

“We, the jury, find the defendant not guilty, and therefore wave all charges,” the head juror states, causing Sarina’s jaw to drop immediately.

Sure, Bethany had threatened her. Sure, Allison was probably scared for her life in some ways. But to totally just let her off of every single charge? There had to be some guilt associated with the fact that she had followed the steps, cornered Chase, and almost succeeded in accomplishing what Bethany wanted.

“Thank you,” the judge states. “Ms. Reynolds, you may be released without any re-precautions. Let this be a warning to you about who you choose to associate with, and how you choose to handle situations. Court adjourned!”

The court room immediately begins to file out as Sarina sits there completely stunned and in shock still. How was this happening?

“If you would like, we can file a restraining order request against her for both you and Mr. Elliott,” the prosecutor states as she faces Sarina. “I know it’s not much at the end of the day with what she put you through, but it is something and security for the future.” Sarina nods her head, accepting the narrative, almost laughing back in response. It seemed ridiculous now.

“Restraining order is just a piece of paper,” she states as she stands up. “It doesn’t fix what she did, nor does it stop her from doing it again. You have to love our justice system, right?”

Sarina then turns and heads out of the court room without a single word as Marcus just follows quietly in return. He knew if she wanted to talk or say something, she would offer the first glimpse.

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

Sunday, October 1 – Dover International Speedway

Following a slew of media interviews, Chase returns back to the trailer, closing the door behind him and just leaning back against the counter.

“Fuck!” He could only let out as he reflected back to the final laps of the race just a half hour ago.

He had been leading and looking set to finally break through for his first career victory. However, lap traffic was another thing and he found himself stuck behind Ryan Newman. Fearing the car wouldn’t work up high, he stayed in the groove he was in, hoping a bit of respect would eventually be shown. Instead, Kyle was able to run him down, pass him, and score the win – with Chase finishing second instead.

Since that moment, those laps had been going through his mind repeatedly as he wondered what would’ve happened if he would’ve taken the chance. Would he have made it by Ryan? Would he have stopped Kyle from chasing him down or passing him? Would he have finally broke through for his first win?

Like he had earlier this year, another mistake had cost him a shot at finally being able to celebrate in victory lane like he desired.

Frustration, anger – it just seemed to consume him and matched perfectly when he looked over his text messages, seeing how Allison was just getting off scot-free after everything she had done. How does someone just get away with drugging someone and bombing a bunch of others like that? It didn’t even seem fair.

He notices the door crack open a little, expecting Alan or another crew member as he glances over. He was almost ready to yell back and tell them to go jump in a lake with how he was feeling at that moment. Instead, he was caught with his guard down when he saw Jimmie instead.

“Can we talk?” Jimmie asks quietly as he takes a careful slow step inside.

“What about?” Chase questions in response as he focuses his eyes back forward on the cabinets.

“Those last lap couple of laps, and what you’re feeling. I have some advice that may help you…” Chase glances over slightly, before turning back forward. He wanted to run and hide and just dwell in the disappointment and frustration. But, that wouldn’t make things better for the future. If he wanted to move forward, he needed to figure it out and do what he needed to do so this didn’t repeat itself again. Maybe listening to Jimmie was a good idea.

“I’m all ears….”

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