Sunday, October 29 – Martinsville Speedway
She felt her leg tap nervously as she watched the restart with 39 laps to go, seeing him pull away. Taking a deep breath, everything was fine….
She watched as he didn’t get too far out, though, watching the No. 2 Ford close the gap, silently cursing to herself. If there was anybody she didn’t want to see win, it was Brad Keselowski. Her eyes kept focused, seeing him roll the center, watching as he made the move and got by for the lead with 28 laps to go. Letting out a sigh, so much for the dream….
She shakes her head. She couldn’t think like that. There were still 27 laps now and anything was possible. It had to work out….
She had gotten herself into a relaxed state, silently hoping that Chase was able to work his way back to Brad and get around, though also feeling alright about a runner-up finish. It was a good start to this playoff round, right?
Though like everything had gone throughout the day, the whole day changed once again when the caution flew with 10 laps to go for Joey Logano having a flat tire. Taking a deep breath, the butterflies began fluttering immediately, fingers and toes tapping, nerves a flowing. Anything was possible on a late-race restart at Martinsville.
Her eyes focus on the track with five laps to go, watching Chase and Brad go down into the corner. She watches the bump from the No. 24 Chevrolet to the No. 2 Ford, fist pumping in the air as Brad slides up out of the groove and Chase rolls on by.
“All clear, take it…” She hears Eddie on the radio, her thoughts echoing the spotter.
Her eyes didn’t leave the action before her, watching as Denny quickly moved into second with Kyle in toe. Taking a deep breath, there was nowhere over as Denny was right there, set to make a move. She just glanced down for a quick second, hoping whatever came that Chase held off.
4 to go…..3 to go, and so far he had done an impressive job at the helm. He was running the perfect line, diamonding the corner to perfection, rolling the bottom. He was doing what he needed to do….
“Pushing you,” she hears Eddie over the radio as Denny gets into the back of Chase off turn two, though Chase keeps it straight as an arrow. “2 to go at the line..” She watches as Chase goes into turn three, with Denny close behind. It didn’t seem as if Denny let off the gas or anything, though, as his front bumper immediately met Chase’s rear bumper, sending the No. 24 spinning around.
“Fuck!” Sarina lets out immediately in disbelief as he stands up, shaking her head in disgust. Did that just happen? Did he just dump Chase for no bloody reason at all? Denny’s reason had to do with having no brakes or something, right? There was no way that he would just go do that….
“Douchebag!” She had to agree with Eddie’s words as her body filled with anger. She wished she could strangle Denny and each of his crew members one-by-one in that single moment. She also wished Chase wasn’t such a sweetheart and wouldn’t just go ahead and wreck the dumbass under the yellow.
“Yep, he definitely wrecked me,” she hears Chase and knew that wasn’t even up for debate. It wasn’t like Denny tried to do anything else. The replay confirmed it, too, as his bumper was direct as they come, no slowing down at all. Who in their right mind lifts someone wheel’s up entering the corner?
“I feel your pain, bro….” Eddie’s voice rang through her head as she sat back down, shaking her head in disgust. She could see the reflections on each crew member on the pit box. it was immediate disappointment, almost brink of tears for some of the guys. She could only imagine how Chase was feeling, knowing that she’d be a mix of a heartbroken and anger – actually, she was. There was also disbelief there, too. Did that actually happen?
“Did what happen what I think happened, or am I skewed?” She then hears Chase question over the radio. She shakes her head immediately, knowing how he was at times. He was so hard on himself at times, always over-critical of his own actions, obviously right now questioning whether he did the wrong thing. Clearly, he had done nothing wrong….
“Nah, he drove over your bumper and crashed ya,” Eddie replies, which deserved no other explanation.
“That’s what I figured. 10-4. Good to know. Thanks….”
As the field gets ready to start, there was only one thing that mattered in that moment – Denny better not win this race. She didn’t care who won now, even if it was Brad, as there was no way she wanted to see that No. 11 in victory lane.
She watches the restart, instantly cheering her boss as she watches Kyle dive into the corner, tagging Denny off of turn two and sending him up the track a bit as he squeezes on by.
“Thank you Kyle!” She cheers, watching him take the victory. She was happy for him – if Chase couldn’t win, then let it be her boss. However, that didn’t even begin to eliminate the heartbreak and anger that was remained.
“I feel your pain, bro,” Eddie says over the radio as Sarina just lets out a sigh.
All she wanted to do was get down there, hug Chase, hold him, and assure him that win was coming – and then kick Denny’s ass from here to the other side of the world. Her eyes then find their way t to the monitor, seeing the screens focused on the backstretch. She couldn’t help but smile as she watched Chase run into Denny on the cooldown lap – perfectly deserved.
“Screw him!” Eddie cheers on the radio as Sarina could only laugh in agreement. A punch to the head would be fitting right now.
She watches as the pair come to a stop, both starting to climb from their cars, eyes focused on Chase. She knew how he was when he got angry. she knew the feisty side that he could show, if warranted. Anybody who raced him in late models knew that. She couldn’t help but cross her arms with a bit of pride watching.
“Alright, face-to-face guys, outside the car…” Eddie dictates the action over the radio as Sarina’s eyes stay locked on the screen.
How could this happen? Why did this happen? And what the hell was Denny Hamlin thinking?
Chase was in total belief of what had just transpired in a matter of a couple of laps. One minute, he could potentially see his first career victory; next minute, he was turned around backwards.
It was one thing to bump a guy, give them the bump-and-run, rough them up a little. However, the key was that you didn’t totally wipe the guy’s chances of a decent day or result in heavy damage to his car. You also gave him a chance, should he save it and get back to you, to return the favor.
It was another thing in entirely just wipe a guy out no questions asked – and that’s what had him riled up. He wasn’t going to stand for that, no matter who it was that did it to him to begin with.
That’s why following the event, he made sure to go looking for him, set to send a message and tell him he wasn’t happy and wouldn’t put up with that bullshit. Driving into him was satisfaction for the frustration that he was experiencing.
Following the bumps and seeing Denny stop short of pit road, it didn’t change his views at all. Instead, he was set to actually give him word for word what he thought of him. Throwing the steering wheel on the dash, and the belts off whatever direction they’d go, he began to climb out, set to meet him eye to eye. It was time to be a man and face the consequences of what he did…
“That was bullshit running into me after the checkered!” Denny yells to start, not even fully climbed out. Chase had to chuckle to himself and look back in disbelief. Was this guy serious?
“You’re kidding me, right?” Chase questions back in return as he finishes climbing out, watching Denny come walk up to him face-to-face.
“No matter what, that was ridiculous…..” Chase couldn’t believe this at all….
“You wrecked me….”
“I had someone right on my bumper…” Chase almost laughed back in his face, knowing that wasn’t true as he had glanced up in the mirror once Denny had bumped him off of turn two. He knew exactly where they stood entering the corner.
“There was two car lengths between you and the other guy…”
“I just tried to move you….” Chase almost laughed again, really not believing he was hearing this, especially from someone who had been racing as long as Denny had been.
“You wrecked me, plain and simple…”
“I did not mean to wreck you. I just meant to give you a bump….”The intentions of the actions didn’t really matter at this point. Besides, if you’re going to attempt to use the bumper, you have to know it’s a possibility. Why wouldn’t Denny just own up to it already?
“But you just wrecked me!”
“You got into the 2 car. What’s the difference?” Chase really wanted to laugh in his face now. This was unbelievable….
“Come on man….”
“I got into you just like you got into Brad…” Except Brad wasn’t turned around backwards.
“Come on man…..”
“You know it was just hard racing.”
“You had my back wheels lifted up going into the corner!”
“Whatever…” Denny then turns on the heels, heading back to his car at the request of the NASCAR Official as Chase just shakes his head in disgust.
Chase rolls up to where he was told to stop on pit road, sitting back in the seat, shaking his head. He almost broke out laughing as he thought about the excuses and reasons that Denny tried to use for his part in what happened. The anger also hadn’t left him at all, either, along with the disappointment. It was another week that he had been mere inches of winning, and come up short again.
“I want you to be smart here,” he hears, glancing out the window to see Jimmie standing there. “Be smart, watch your words, and don’t lose your true self. Don’t stoop to his level because he’s an ass. You did a great job, and you will win.” He gives Jimmie a simple nod, used to receiving the odd tip of advice here and there.
He climbs out of the car, giving the couple of crew guys a quick hand-shake and nod as he turns around, crossing his arms. There was no way he was just letting this go and moving on as anger was certainly not leaving him no matter what he tried. There was also that sense of disbelief.
His eyes wandered over to where the TV cameras had stopped, getting Denny’s side of the coin first. He actually brought himself to laugh in hearing the amount of boos that were being let out by the crowd. You know you royally messed up when your own home track is mad at you…
He patiently stand there, set to give his take on the action, knowing it was going to be kept simple and to the point.
“My mom always said if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. He’s not worth my time,” he tells NBC.
Sarina couldn’t help but smile off to the side at the comment, as her heart remained torn in pieces at what had transpired. It was taking every urge to stop herself from going over and kicking Denny’s ass.
After the interviews were done, she walked over and wrapped her arms around his shoulders, just holding him, as the crew joined her.
“Hey, if he wants to race that way, you know what to do next time,” Alan tells him. “I’m sure he’ll be fine when you lift his back wheels going into the corner at Texas.” Chase lets back a small smile, knowing what Alan was thinking.
However, that wasn’t his style. Revenge and anger and dirty driving were not morals that he had grown to know. Instead, it was focus and driving as hard as you could to put what happened in the rearview.
“Hey, I just wanted to say I hate what happened to you guys,” a new voice pops in from Denny’s crew chief Mike Wheeler. “That was bad…”
“Go tell your smartass driver that,” Sarina spits out, keeping her arms around Chase.
“Excuse me?” Chase then wraps an arm around her in return.
“You heard her,” he starts. “All Denny could do was give me 20 million excuses. Go…” He then turns around, facing away from Mike, but letting his eyes land on Sarina right away.
“I’m so sorry,” she simply says, pulling him close as she puts her head against his chest. “Denny is an asshole. You’ll get that win soon…”
“That was utterly insane!” Ryan comments from his seat in the plane.
Following the race, it was a short flight back to North Carolina from Virginia with Ryan, Chase and Sarina all boarding together. For all of them, it was great to just get out of Martinsville as soon as possible.
“But I got to say, I’m proud of you,” Ryan continues as Chase keeps his eyes focused ahead.
“Why is that?” He questions as Ryan smiles, reading over the various tweets on twitter.
“You made the world proud, too. You did a great job from your interview to standing up to him. That’s what you need to do. I’m impressed…” He then glances up from his phone. “Although, you should’ve punched him on behalf of the whole field. He freaking turned down across me and Kurt!”
“So why did you punch Kevin?” Sarina asks, referring to Ryan’s visit with Kevin Harvick. She had been scrolling through twitter herself before they left, and saw a clip of Ryan giving Kevin a small punch. “Well according to him, I brake-checked his ass off the corner earlier in the race and fucked him over at the end of the day. I proudly told him that I wasn’t doing that at all during the race, and it was all freaking Denny’s fault at the end. Needless to say, we disagreed and had a small punch fest.”
“Crazy….” Ryan didn’t care about his deal with Kevin, though. He knew that was going to be forgotten within days. On the other hand, that wouldn’t be the case with Denny….
“So what are you going to do about Denny there, Mr. Pilot?” Chase had been toying with a bunch of thoughts since the conclusion of the race. He wasn’t a dirty racer, but payback was certainly entering his mind big time for what had happened. He wouldn’t mind something happening at Texas….
“I don’t know,” Chase answers. “We’ll just have to wait and see….”
“How about we just forget about it for one night and have some fun?” Sarina suggests, knowing that she could use a good distraction after the chaos.
“Isn’t that why we’re going to Blaney’s epic Halloween party?”
Chase glances at himself in the mirror at Ryan’s house, shaking his head. How did he get himself into this mess wearing this costume? He had seen Ryan’s Woody costume and Jordan’s Buzz Lightyear costume and both felt more comfortable than this.
He had totally forgotten about the party, and had not gone costume shopping. So prior the weekend, he informed Ryan in hopes his best friend would help him out. Certainly, Ryan did as he had an extra costume and would allow Chase to borrow it. He didn’t expect it to be this, though.
He almost felt scandalous, a little ridiculous, and knew for sure there was too much skin showing below the waist. Feeling a little shy, he knew every person would probably be analyzing his package.
“Damn….” He hears, recognizing Sarina’s voice and smiling. “I know you bike a lot, but holy damn tone in those legs…” He had to laugh to himself, as he spun to face her. An immediate smile formed, liking her voice – Batgirl. They’d be Batgirl and Robin that night.
“You look just as sexy right now,” he answers back in response. The black leather of the outfit clang to every sweet dear curve on her body, with the skirt long enough to cover but short enough to tease everything below.
“As soon as I heard Ryan had a Robin costume for you, I got Samantha to run a small errand for me. I figured we could match.” She then walks over closer, wrapping her arms around his shoulders. “You make one amazing superhero, but damn, I didn’t expect you to show off as much….”
“Is it too much? I almost feel like chang-”
“No, it’s fine; it’s absolutely fine. Besides, everybody down there will be too caught up in the party to realize. Now, are you ready to go have some fun?”
“Absolutely…” He then takes her by the hand, leading her out of the room and to the stirs with a smile.
It was time to leave behind the Martinsville disappointment and frustration for a night…..