Saturday, October 29 – Martinsville Speedway
Following the slew of post-race interviews, they immediately went into the sea of photos that were necessary after a win. From full team photos, to individual photos, to a few of her and the boss by themselves. The entire time, Sarina couldn’t help but smile as she stood there in total disbelief.
Was this really happening?
“That’s everything we nee-” Andy starts, in relation to all the photos.
“Not quite,” Kyle cuts him off, as he motions for Chase to go up on stage with her. “Go on…”
“It wouldn’t be a complete collection without you getting a photo,” Sarina says as he walks up with her, standing beside her. The pair both smile, as the flashbulbs go off multiple times.
“I haven’t seen that smile leave your face since you got out of the truck,” Chase comments afterwards. She just glances back, smile still firmly planted there.
“It feels amazing!” She then snags a kiss, which results in some more photos being taken. “I can’t even describe it. I can’t believe it.” Chase then laughs as he pinches her arm. “Ouch!”
“Believe it, enjoy it, and savor it. You deserve this beyond words…” She then pulls him back close into a hug. “I’m so proud of you. I’ve told you that before, but I mean it. You fought for this, and deserve it…”
“Thank you for dealing with my rough moments, including before quali-”
“You don’t have to mention it. I get it…” He then kisses her lips once again.
“Hey, you both can celebrate later!” Kyle yells out. “We have media center business to attend to!” Sarina turns to face the boss, wrapping an arm around Chase.
“But I don’t want to leave my boo…” She whines as Chase just laughs.
“Actually, I think you should go tell the world how you kicked Matt Crafton’s ass,” Chase suggests as she just glances back with a smile.
“That was the icing on the cake, really. I mean, he’s a veteran. He’s been doing this for so long. To come out here and beat the guy whose a veteran, done this many times, supposed to be ultimate here – it’s just amazing.”
“Not to mention that your boss was quite happy after Christopher got spun…” Sarina rolls her eyes, still not believing that. She was actually looking forward to getting the chance to race Christopher for the win. “Go on; we can celebrate later….”
“You’re comi-” He shakes his head as he points towards pit road.
“Cup practice, reme-”
“Kyle is coming and he has to qualify, too. There’s enough time….” He didn’t want to leave her as he wanted to savor the moment, but he also didn’t want to be late for qualifying. However, a quick glance at the time and text to Morgan and sure enough, time was on his side.
It wasn’t long until he was standing in the back of the media center, watching as her and Kyle fielded questions about the race from the various media personnel in the room. He could only smile with pride, glad that everybody was seeing what he saw in her from the beginning.
For the most part, everything was going smoothly with the same usual questions that they always asked. What did it mean to you? How did you make the move? How did you know it’d stick? It seemed like it’d be a nice, smooth day in the media center, until a comment caught his attention.
“Based on your reaction post-race and how chummy you have been with a fellow driver – plus the sickness last week, one has to ask – are you pregnant?” A reporter asked, which immediately caused Sarina to break out laughing. Chase could only look on surprised from his location, shaking his head. Of course….
“Are you seriously asking me that right now?” She questions, which fit the surprised glance from Kyle.
“Well, based on what we’ve seen-”
“I can assure you that I am not pregnant.” She bit her tongue as soon as the words escaped, though, remembering that night – and smile returning once again. However, she knew that couldn’t had resulted in something because they were careful, right? Besides, she had her period last week.
“I really don’t even think that’s a question that should be asked here,” Marcus Richmond comments as he looks between Sarina and Kyle. Kyle could only shake his head, though found himself giving both Sarina and Chase double takes. It wasn’t a bad theory….
“It’s honestly none of his business to ask that,” Kyle adds, knowing even if it was a good theory, it had no business being discussed in this moment. “Kerry?”
“It seems you guys are trying to divert the topic immediately…” The report continues on, which catches Sarina’s attention. Was this seriously happening right now?
“I have nothing to hide as I stated, I am not pregnant,” she repeats once again, beginning to grow frustrated. She wanted to focus on the key today – winning. “Would you be damn well satisfied if I placed a stick in your hand with a big negative on it?” Kyle was caught off-guard by her comment, but understood her frustration as he placed his hand on top of hers.
“Kerry….” Kyle states once again, hoping this would be a situation that NASCAR would handle swiftly.
“Sir, I am going to have to ask you to leave, please,” Kerry Tharp requests, following Kyle’s lead.
“Hypothetically, let’s say that you do get pregnant,” the reporter continues despite the pleas. “Is there a plan in place? Have you discussed the possibility with Chase, your team?” Sarina immediately rolls her eyes, as Chase could only shake his head. It was taking everything he had to not say something himself right now as he kept his own eyes locked on Kyle.
“Am I hearing these questions correct?” Marcus questions as Kyle looks over at Kerry once again. He could feel the frustration boiling off of Sarina, and the resulting piercing eye glare from Chase.
“Kerry….” Kyle states once again.
“Sir, I am going to ask you to leave once again,” Kerry repeats. “If you do not leave, we’ll have security remove you.” It did not take long for the request to be followed accordingly, thankfully to all in the room. “I apologize for that out of line questioning.” Sarina takes a deep breath, knowing that one stupid reporter didn’t matter at that time. This was her moment, her time to celebrate, her victory. There was no way she was letting him spoil it…
“It’s not your fault,” she states. “For the record – that is personal, and will be kept between those who need to know. If I am ever pregnant, I’m sure you’ll find out in the proper time.” Kyle felt a nerve in those words, once again glancing between the pair, hoping he wouldn’t be getting that news anytime soon. While he wanted to see them have a great future together, he wanted to see Sarina reach her full potential with a championship, which he saw happening next season.
“Now, can we get back to talking about how awesome this win is?” Marcus questions, trying to get things back on track. “I mean, I want to know everybody’s reaction to that final restart. She was absolutely amazing!”
They walk into the bedsroom together, flopping back on the bed together as Chase rolls over on his stomach, eyes locked on her.
“You still look like you’re on cloud 9….” He comments as she laughs, glancing over with a big smile.
“I can’t believe it still,” she tells him. “I’m in total disbelief. It just doesn’t feel real. It feels like a dream. I know I climbed the fence – and I know I had a moment there….” He chuckles as he had caught full glimpse of that.
“First win, being overwhelmed – it’s understandable….” She knew that, but of course there were some fans that had their share of comments, along with the reporter.
“And yes, we took all the photos and all the interviews – but it just doesn’t feel real. I mean, did I actually pass Matt Crafton on the outside on a late race restart with 10 laps to go to win?” He laughs, nodding his head. “I, a rookie driver, passed a series champion on the outside at Martinsville. You’re not supposed to pass on the outside here!”
“Well, you made it work – and that’s because you’re absolutely amazing.” He then leans in and kisses her lips. “Do I need to hold you and pinch you and tell you 100 times over for you to realize that this is actually happening?” She laughs and shakes her head.
“You know, I feel almost like a 100 times lighter today now. I feel like the world is off my back. I don’t have to sit there and tell people anymore. I don’t need to sit and hear people whine, moan, and make excuses. There are no longer those that say I’m just here because I’m a pretty face or dating you. There are no more comments about how I don’t deserve this opportunity, or how my hard work is purely worthless. It’s like the weight has been lifted off my shoulders and I can be free almost…” Chase smiles as it was actually absolutely amazing to hear those words from her, considering the amount of relentless pressure she put on herself on a weekly basis. It was nice to see her letting go now.
“Kyle wouldn’t hire you for a simple reason because you’re pretty or because of me. He hires drivers that are talented, and can be molded into stars one day. Sweetheart, that’s yo-”
“I know that now. I believe in those words. But I will admit, there were times this year where I questioned whether I belonged here. Was this the right time for me to be here? Now, I don’t even know what to say…”
“Then don’t say a word….” He then curls up closer to her, kissing her lips lightly.
“Why is that?” He looks at her with a smile, his hand finding it’s his way to the zipper on her firesuit. “What do you have in mind, Mr. Elliott?”
“We need to celebrate your win, Ms. Ott…” He then gets up, moving so he was over top of her, kissing her lips once again as he toys with the zipper.
“Oh really?” Her fingers immediately find the way to his zipper, as they both begin to pull each other’s suits off.
“Oh yeah. I need to spoil you…” She then grins as they carefully slip each other’s firesuits off, tossing them aside, before he reaches for her undershirt.
“I wouldn’t mind that, either…” He then grins as he keeps his brown chocolate eyes locked on her blue eyes.
“Good, because you’re not going anywhere…” She then grins, putting her arms up above her head as she relaxes on the bed.
“I’m not fighting for your offer, am I?” He then laughs as she slips off her undershirt.
“Then what are you waiting for?” She then points towards him. “Me?”
“You said you were going to spoil me because to the winner goes the spoils, right?” He laughs as a simple grin forms on his face. “As long as we don’t give Kyle a surpris-”
“Did you see the look that he gave me when the reporter asked that question?” She laughs, nodding her head. She had watched the glances that Kyle was giving them both carefully then. “For that reason, you’ll be glad that some important shopping was done this week…” He then reaches over to his nightstand, slipping the drawer open, reaching his hand in a box, throwing a small package on to the bed.
“I’m glad you did because I don’t want to see my boyfriend dead before year’s end…” She then gives his boxers a tug, bringing him back to her. “Now, where were we?”
“I was about to spoil you…”
Sunday, October 30
The joy of victory didn’t fade on Sarina the next day, either, as the smile remained on her face throughout the entire morning as she spent time at the Toyota Racing display answering questions, and signing autographs.
It didn’t fade when she made her way out to pit road before the Cup race, accepting an array of congratulations from various drivers and crew members along the way. She politely accepted each of them, still in disbelief at times.
As she stood there holding Chase’s hand during the national anthem, her focus immediately shifted away from her own joy to the task at hand that day for him. The goal was to have a solid day, no mistakes, and continue to lock down the top-fives to work towards punching their ticket to Homestead. She knew the day came with pressure and unease, as Chase was the first to say that Martinsville wasn’t his best track. While he had finished well there in the spring, he still hadn’t grown comfortable in finding the line he wanted to run there. She almost chuckled to herself on the thought as he had qualified third earlier that morning. Now it was just about turning that starting spot into a great day.
“Good luck,” she tells him, kissing his lips. “Be safe. I love you.”
She then walks away as he climbs in the car, making her way over to the 24 pit box. She climbs the familiar steps, taking her usual spot behind Alan Gustafson, flashing a quick smile to Josh and Jordan.
While Chase would insist that Martinsville wasn’t his best track, that didn’t show at all through the first half of the race as he kept himself in the top-five, battling for positions, looking as comfortable as the others around him. It especially didn’t show as he challenged for the lead, taking the top spot for the first time that day from Brad Keselowski on Lap 385.
“Watch the cross over,” she hears Eddie D’Hondt over the radio, but Brad’s attempt to get back by was to no avail. “Nice work, nice and smooth.”
Glancing down, she couldn’t even fathom the amazement and joy that would be if everything played out accordingly today. Wouldn’t it be ironic if they both got their first wins the same weekend?
Taking a deep breath, she had to get the thought of her mind. There was still a long way to go as plenty could happen in 115 laps.
“You’re doing a great job out there,” Eddie’s words fill her ears once again, and he spoke the truth as Chase began to build a gap between him and Brad. “Just keeping show a little more discipline. That diamond looks good there….”
She kept her eyes locked on the track, trying to ignore the thoughts of what could happen knowing that’d just cause nerves and knowing how crazy things could go. However, her heart couldn’t help but wonder as the gap continued to grow more and more.
Then it happened……
Caught right in the midst of lap traffic with 63 laps to go, Chase tried to make a move to get by one of the many cars that he was working his way through. However, a little contact, and you could see a bit of smoke off of the fender immediately.
“Got a left rear tire rub here,” Eddie reports back to the crew as Sarina feels her heart sink immediately. If the tire blew out or they had to pit under green, that’d certainly end all hopes….
“Try to adjust your track bar up and down to see if it’ll clear up a bit,” Alan suggests and Sarina crosses her fingers, hoping that Chase could do something to survive here.
The smoke would soon fade – causing a mix of concerns. That could be good as the rub may have gone away, but that could be bad as next thing they may end up with a punctured tire and a big mess.
She was then caught off-guard another way when the caution flew with 43 laps to go for Carl Long spinning. She hated to see the field bunched up, but she knew the caution was the perfect opportunity. Now they could fix the fender…
Her eyes stay locked on pit road, focused down below the pit box as the crew goes to work immediately. She watches the tires go on and off, fuel dumped into the tank, along with a careful tug on the left rear quarter panel to pull it back out. She watches him peel out as soon as the work is done, lifting her fist in the air immediately as she watches him lead the field off pit road.
Taking a deep breath, her leg beginning to tap on the pit box, she knew the nerves were going to pick up from here on out.