The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 77: North Carolina Education Lottery 200

Friday May 18, 2018 – Charlotte Motor Speedway

Chase makes his way up onto the pit box, giving Rudy Fugle a quick nod before taking his usual seat. Taking a deep breath, it was going to be a fun night under the lights.

The race started off strong for Sarina as he was ran second until Lap 15, before passing Johnny Sauter for the lead. It looked as though a stage win was in sight, when the caution flew with nine laps to go. Rudy made the call to bring her down pit road, where they’d come off strong in the running order.

“Speeding,” Rudy tells her. “Coming onto pit road. Tail of the longest line.” Chase could only let out a sigh as he watches her fall back down the running order to 22nd.

“We got a strong truck and there’s still a lot of laps tonight,” Sarina comments over the radio, surprising Chase as he half-expected her to be frustrated.

Once the green flag was back out, she made some moves, working her way up to 14th by the time the stage was finished. She was also able to gain ground under caution, with four trucks pitting, bumping her up to 10th to start stage two.

Once again, she showed more speed, working her way up to seventh mid-way through the second stage. However, it appeared the handling of the No. 18 Toyota Tundra was a little off, as she’d fade back to 10th by the checkered flag. Once again, Rudy brought her down pit road, giving her four tires, sending her back out to restart fourth.

The speed was back after the restart as the progress continued, with her battling Brett Moffitt for second when the caution came out with 56 laps to go for another truck going around. As per the other cautions, Rudy had her back on pit road for tires, set to restart seventh. She didn’t gain much ground this time on the restart, but another caution with 48 laps to go and more trucks pitting bumped her up to fourth. She was able to get a good restart, moving up to second before the next yellow flag with 22 laps to go.

With Kyle Busch on her back bumper for the next restart, Chase knew it was bound to be good and felt hopeful about her chances at possibly going back-to-back. However, Kyle got going before she did, getting into the back of her truck, sending her sideways, but she managed to hang on. However, it’d drop her back to 10th in the process.

“Lovely….” was all Chase could say as another caution came out with 15 laps to go. He really didn’t want to be around to hear what she said post-race as he knew she’d probably be fuming right now about Kyle.

The final restart saw her struggle a little, but she managed to gain some ground, crossing the finish line in eighth. As per usual, Chase and Rudy both made their way off the pit box together and were set to go see her. Chase felt a little nervous as they made their way over, not sure what her reaction would be.

“Where is he?” She immediately questions, and they both knew that she was referring to Kyle.

“He is in the media center,” Chase states, having seen him walk off in his own frustrated mode with his PR rep.

“Great. I’ll go wait for him…” Sarina goes to head that direction, when Chase puts his arm out stopping her. “Excuse me?”

“Maybe you should hold off talking to Kyle…” She then looks over at him surprised.

“We’re seriously going to do this again, are we? I mean, I thought you would’ve figured it out last year when you tried to stop me from talking to Chri-”

“I let you both talk eventually, remember? I made you wait until you were both away from everybody else and then I didn’t stand in the way as you basically went off on him. That’s all I’m doing here. Besides, Kyle is a little frustrated himself right now.” She then chuckles with a slight eye roll.

“That’s great. Ask me if I care, Chase?” Chase lets out a sigh as Rudy crosses his arms.

“The pit crew let him down twice tonight,” he starts. “Two penalties for being over the wall too soon put him back twice. I know you don’t have sympathy nor probably give a damn right now, but that’s why he’s overly frustrated. That’s probably why maybe he went a little early and got into you there. Chase just wants to save you from doing something stupid.” She then glances back at Rudy.

“So I’m just supposed to be the good employee and let my boss control my life? That sounds great, Rudy.” She then walks away from the pair of them as Chase lets out a sigh, following her. “You aren’t going to stop me, Chase…”

“I’m not trying to stop you, remember?” Chase questions before reaching out and grabbing her arm firmly. “Just please let’s save this and do it back in the motorcoach lot, just like you did with Christopher.” She then stops, letting out a sigh as she glances back. It was almost getting to be too much energy fighting him, and as long as she saw Kyle, what else mattered?

“Fine…” She agrees as they then turn and head the other direction, the frustration still stemming on her.

“Besides, I do have a question for you…” She rolls her eyes right away. “You spun the tires, right? Before Kyle even touched you, you spun the tir-”

“What are you getting at, Elliott?” He didn’t appreciate the tone, but that wasn’t going to stop him from going forward here.

“If you don’t spin the tires, he doesn’t touch your bumper, right?” She just laughs.

“You sound like Rudy….”

“Maybe he was just trying to help you get going, and didn’t realize that your bumpers weren’t lined up. We’ve seen that before.” He then reaches out and places a hand on her shoulder. “Think about rationally….” She then stops, taking a deep breath.

“Okay, so maybe you’re right. Maybe I am wrong to be upset with him. That just leaves me to be upset with myself. Great…” He then glances down, knowing that the situation had just gotten worse – even if Kyle was off the hook.

“You made a mistake. It happens. Live and move on. Learn what you did wrong from that restart so you never do it again. But do not beat yourself up because you drove a great race tonight, and you came out of there with a top-10.” He then wraps his arm around her shoulder. “Besides, I can’t let you leave in the morning if you’re upset.”

“Part of me still doesn’t want to go. Part of me wants to be here wit-”

“I’ll be fine, Sarina. Go and learn what you can about that place. Maybe even bring home a trophy.” She then smiles, giving him a small kiss in return.

“That’s the plan, right?”

Saturday May 19, 2018 – Charlotte Motor Speedway

Chase climbs out of the car and makes his way over to his teammates, knowing that there’d be a good discussion forth coming. It was the first time practicing the new package fully, and he had to say that it was different and certainly interesting. For the record, the practice had gone solidly too, as he felt pretty good about the car and ended up 10th on the charts.

“I feel if you can get that run off the corner, then you can make something work,” Alex Bowman shares with the group as Jimmie nods his head in return.

“But can you make it work so you actually clear the guy?” Jimmie wonders. “I almost felt stuck there at times.”

“The runs don’t come without you focusing perfectly on that timing. Like, you need to be precise or else you’re screwed big time.”

The teammates continue talking, as Chase listens on, not really having anything to add at this point. If he was being honest, Sarina being away was actually starting to bother him as he wanted her to lean on there right now. instead, he was stuck trying to find some way to get updates from Canada as there was not really the best of coverage for what was happening.

“Earth to Chase!” Chase hears, snapping him out of his thoughts as he looks up at Jimmie. “Dude, are you okay?”

“Yeah,” Chase replies, almost instinctively as he grabs his phone, hopeful for an update. He was glad that Sarina had sent one, noting that they’d practiced in the heavy fog which was certainly a new learning experience, and qualifying had been cancelled, setting her up to start 13th tomorrow. She then noted that they’d run another practice later on that day.

“He’s just missing his girl,” William comments before walking away as Jimmie watches him closely.

“Is he right?” Jimmie wonders and Chase nods his head. “I thought you’d be used to this with all the separate schedule stuff that you guys deal with.”

“It doesn’t mean that it’s always easy, right?” Chase offers and Jimmie could understand that. However, he was still a little caught off-guard by Chase’s behavior.

“I know what you mean as some weekends, I wish Chandra would bring the kids when she doesn’t. But really, are you sure everything is okay? I mean, I made mention of a bit of a joke last week and you like clamped up immediately. Then your deal with Ricky – which I can’t totally get mad at you for, and now this? Remember I always said that I’m here if you nee-”

“I’m fine, Jimmie, really.” Chase could see the sympathy in Jimmie’s eyes as everybody knew that his behavior was probably somehow connected to the mess with Alison. However, the details weren’t there and Chase was determined to keep things that way. “I have some things on my mind, but I’m fine. I’ll work them out.”

“Well, you know I’m here to talk if you need to.” Chase nods his head once again. “And for the record, I don’t know what all Alison did to you and Sarina, but don’t let that bother you. You’re strong, and nothing that she did or said matters.” Jimmie then walks away as Chase leans back against the pit box.

“If only you knew, Jimmie….” He then lets out a sigh, before grabbing his phone and Gatorade and heading off. It was only a matter of time before they’d be starting the night’s festivities, and Chase was thankful for that distraction.

After finishing the practice session seventh on the board, Sarina checked into her hotel room, getting comfortable on the bed as she opened the box.

“All-Star Race and Chicken Wings – perfect combination right?” She questions to herself as she glances over at the small stuffed animal sitting on the bed.

She smiles as she knew it’d be a good call to bring Hootie with her as it gave her some connection back to Chase. of course, if she was really looking for something, she just needed to glance at the ring on her finger.

Right from the drop of the green flag, she had to admit that she was proud of the package NASCAR had put together for all-star race in seeing the racing. It made her wish she was there, knowing that it was going to be a great show by the racing already.

“That’s it Alex!” She let out in watching Alex Bowman winning the first stage of the Monster Energy Open to qualify for the main event. Now Chase and William needed to do the same.

“So close….” She lets out after the completion of the second stage in watching Chase finish second to Daniel. She wanted to be happy for Daniel in being her Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, but she honestly wished more than anything that Chase would’ve won instead.

“Are you freaking kidding me?” She could only say after the third and final stage. He had led laps and looked like he was going to win it, until A.J. Allmendinger pulled the move out of nowhere with a jump from fourth to first in the last two laps to win instead.

Taking a deep breath, she wanted to believe in the fan vote. After all, it was clear that everybody liked her boyfriend just as much as her. However, she wondered just what would happen as she saw the campaigns put together by Darrell Wallace and Matt DiBenedetto.

The instant sigh of relief came in watching them announce Chase as the fan vote winner, including a fist pump in the air. It wasn’t how they necessarily wanted to get into the big show, but he was in the show and that’s all that mattered.

After washing up, and getting comfortable in her pajamas, she curls up on the bed with Hootie, ready to take in the all-star race that night.

Starting back in 21st, she was ready to watch him carefully make his way through the field.

“Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy…” was all that slipped out of her mouth as she watched him barely getting by Kurt Busch when he went for his spin, backing into the wall barely.

However, she couldn’t complain by the end of the stage as he had finished seventh. The happiness didn’t last, though, as it turned to anger and a bit of confusion in watching him miss his stall getting onto pit road, set to restart at the back of the field once again.

“He’s just keeping it interesting,” she tried to tell herself.

Through the back half of the event, it was all smiles as he put on a show, working his way forward, contending for spots, en route to a fifth-place finish. It wasn’t the million dollars, but it was great momentum heading into the Coke 600 next week.

Sunday May 20, 2018

Chase watches her walk over to the car, climbing in the passenger seat. It had been difficult to get updates on her Pinty’s Series event, but she had done well, running up front throughout the event, and finishing third. Not too shabby for a learning experience weekend.

“I missed you,” she tells him, leaning over the center console to kiss his lips.

“I missed you too,” he replies, deepening the kiss immediately as he grabs her hand with his own. “I couldn’t sleep last night without you. Nice job today, though.”

“The only reason I slept was because of Hootie….” He had to chuckle as he saw the owl sticking out of her sweater pocket. “But I was right. I should’ve stayed and took care of yo-”

“I’m fine. We have tonight to make up for that…” She then puts her seatbelt on right away, with a wink at him.

“The sooner we get home…..”

“….the sooner we can cuddle.” He then puts the car in gear, heading out of the airport parking lot, thankful that it was a short drive home.

Wednesday May 23, 2018

“This is the life,” Sarina comments as she hits on the edge of the boat, enjoying the sunshine.

“I’m not complaining,” Chase says as he keeps his eyes locked on her.

“Of course you wouldn’t.” She just glances back at him, giving him a wink, before looking back forward. “Can we spend every day on the lake?”

“Sure.” He then makes his way over, sitting down beside her. “As long as you promise to wear that every time.” She smiles as it was obvious the bikini fit every single curve perfectly.

“As long as you promise to leave your hair like that…” She then reaches over, playing with the ringlets once again. “So you have the Hooters Pageant this weekend….”

“Don’t worry. I promise you that you’re the only girl that I’m totally staring at in total awe of.” Her heart fluttered in response, but the assurance wasn’t needed.

“You don’t need to tell me, Clyde. I know that already….” She then leans in and lightly kisses his lips. “But that’s just a reminder of how much I know.”

“A reminder, huh? Maybe I need another one…” She then leans in for another kiss, as he wraps his arm around her, keeping her held tightly against him.

“Chase….” He then looks into her blue eyes, feeling lost in them immediately.

“Sarina….” He goes in for another kiss, as she places her hand against his bare chest.

“Are you sure you’re ready?” He knew why she was doing this, and almost felt annoyed immediately.

“Is that going to be your question every time I go to kiss you, or make love with you?” She knew she hit a nerve, but it was better this way than to have regrets later.

“I just don’t want you doing something that you don’t want to do…” He then keeps his eyes locked on hers, as their fingers intertwine together.

“There’s nobody else I would want to be with. There’s nobody else that I’d want to do this with. There’s nowhere else that I would want to be. I want this, with you, right now, full heartedly. Yes, she hurt me and yes, I still can’t bear the thought sometimes, but I know I want you fully right now.” She then brings herself right close, breathing lightly on his neck.

“Then what are you waiting for?” He feels every temptation grow immediately as he stands up, picking her up in his arms, carrying her back through the boat till they were underneath the cover, laying her back on the small couch.

“I love you…” He then brings himself down, running his lips across hers, moving his body against hers as their lips fight for control.

“Clyde…” She then reaches around, running her hands along the waistband of his swim trunks, hand slowly going in underneath.

“I’ve missed this so much…” He then reaches around, slowly undoing the top of her bikini.

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The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 76: “I could easily take this off, and enjoying it all….”

Friday, May 18 – Charlotte Motor Speedway

Chase glances at the radar. Everybody knew rain was in the area, but they hoped that it’d at least hold off for the morning so some practice would get completed. It’d suck going into tomorrow night with a whole new package and not a single lap on the car.

Sarina had gotten lucky through the morning as the truck series was able to get in both practice sessions. Despite being unhappy with the truck through the first session, she had ranked third on the chart. Rudy had been able to make it better during the second session, leaving her with a smile as they finished up ranked fourth.

Now it was Chase’s turn as he put his phone up, ready for the first Cup practice for the day. Although it appeared rain was all around them per the radar, it was right now dry at the track, and he was ready to take advantage of that.

A simple nod to both Jordan and Alan and he was climbing in the car, getting the belts all on and ready to go for the session. Jordan reaches in, giving everything a final check over before putting the window net up, with the cue to Alan to send him out.

Getting out there right as the session started, Chase was able to get a single lap in – though immediately cut it off and got down to the apron at the start of the second with the skies opening up.

He was back to the garage quickly, everything off and climbing out of the car as eyes fell back on the radar once again. Sure enough the green glob that he saw before was now right over top of them.

“Lovely,” was all he could say as he put his phone in his pocket, knowing that they’d be in a long wait.

“It’ll clear up and hopefully NASCAR will adjust the schedule in a smart matter,” Alan offers as Chase rolls his eyes. It was rare that the sanctioning body actually was able to work with them like that.

Knowing that they were getting nowhere and not wanting to linger around the garage area, he made his way back to the motorcoach, slipping inside as a smile found its way to his face immediately.

“You look pretty comfy,” he comments as he walks past Sarina, going straight for the fridge to grab a drink.

“I knew it was going rain so I thought why waste the walk to the garage area,” she offers as he lets out a sigh. “At least you got a lap in and know there’s nothing wrong with the car, I guess.” Chase nods his head, accepting.

“You’re just in a good mood because you were able to get both of your practices in, and have a good truck for tonight.” He then sits on the couch beside her. “Think you can beat the boss?”

“I beat him last week, right?” He smiles as it was certainly a great race to watch from the pit box. “I remember at the beginning of the year, I was questioning everything about working with Rudy and whether Kyle made the right decision. But I get it now, Chase. I get why Kyle does what he does. Rudy has been absolutely amazing. He has helped me improve my feedback, my driving, and is a great coach.”

“I’m actually surprised that he got you calmer on the radio, too.” Sarina chuckles as admittedly, she was surprised as well. “I just wish Kyle didn’t have a plan for you for this weekend…”

“Are you saying that you don’t want me to jet off to Canada?” He lets out a sigh. “Chase, you can admit it….”

“I understand, and I get why Kyle wants you go to run the Pinty’s Series race. It’s great experience for you ahead of the race there in the fall as you’re getting laps on the same track and it’s the first round of the playoffs. I know how well that worked for Christopher. But…” He then glances into her blue eyes. “The selfish part of me wishes you were here all weekend with me.”

“Trust me, anytime that I am away from you pulls at my heart because I hate being away from you and want to spend every second together. I want to be there for you, always. That’s why the schedule for the summer has me pulled at wits a little. But, like you’re saying, I understand the reasoning and that’s why I committed.” He then places his hand on top of hers.

“And I don’t want you to back out on that commitment, either. I’ll be fine. I have the guys, and you’ll have Lindsay with you. Besides, maybe you can bring home a trophy.” She then smiles as she leans in closer to him.

“As long as you promise to give it your all tomorrow night.” She then lightly kisses his lips. “And promise me to not cut this hair for as long as possible…” He then glances at her a little confused. “What? It’s adorable, honestly.”

“I have to admit that I’m starting to like it more this year than I did last year.” She got a little giggly, though instantly calmed down, feeling her breath hitch in her throat.

“Well please don’t let that opinion change anytime soon….” She then reaches over, placing a hand on his shoulder. “Besides, it can be fun to play with…” She then twirls a piece around her finger as she closes the gap between them once again, kissing his lips.

“Sarina…..” He deepens the kiss as they lay back on the couch together, lips locked together as she continues to play with his ringlets with her fingers.

“Like I said, these ringlets are everything….” She then pulls on the neck of his firesuit, making it loose, wrapping an arm around his neck as the fingers on her other hand continue to play.

“Your lips are everything…” He goes back in for another kiss, arms remaining firmly wrapped around her.

“You don’t understand what you do to me….” She then brings her fingers to the zipper on his firesuit. “I could easily take this off, and enjoy it all….” She then brings her hands back to his hair, playing once again. “But we’ll save that for another time….”

“Yeah….” It didn’t take his lack of words to see the change in his behavior immediately following the words escaping her mouth, as the fact that he was tensing up and his breathing was quickening said enough.

“Babes….” He then closes his eyes, trying to get himself to calm back down, as she slowly sits up. “Fuck me. I screwed up….” He then looks over at her immediately.

“No, no, you did nothing wrong….” He then sits back on the couch, calming down as he grabs the bottle of water off the table, taking a mouthful.

“No, I screwed up, Chase. I should’ve known to be more careful. I should’ve known to take it slower. I should’ve known to just leave it at making out and hair twirling until you were ready. I shou-”

“Stop, please.” He then reaches over, placing a hand on hers, squeezing it. “You didn’t do anything wrong. Even though I panicked a little, it’s not because of what you did and I wouldn’t want to change what you did. I loved every single minute of that kiss, and you can play hair twirling any day.”

“I still feel terrib-”

“I’m not mad at you, so let it go – okay?” She nods her head, accepting. “Your words took me back to a night with Alison. We had flown to Nashville because of meeting with the investigators. We agreed to stay in a hotel that night due to the investigation, and the fact that I was racing at Bristol in a couple days anyway. I kept my deal with Alison, and told her what hotel room I was staying in. She showed up as planned….” Sarina glances into his eyes, squeezing his hand as she could tell his breathing was quickening once again.

“Chase, you don’t need to tell me. You don’t need to go back there….”

“She made me strip down to just my boxers and lay on the bed, spread eagle, before stripping out of her clothes, down to just her bra and panties.” Sarina felt her own breath hitch in hearing the stripping out of clothes line, instant reminders of the possible pregnancy that loomed over both of their heads with her mind flopping back and forth. There was nothing that could describe the relief in hearing about clothes left on, but there was also still that layer of wonder and panic. “She then laid on top of me, ready to kiss me, move against like she before…”

“Chase….” He closes his eyes as he could see the images clear as day in his mind.

“That’s when she ran her finger along my waistline and said, ‘I could easily take these off – but we’ll save that for another night.’ When you said the same thing, it just took me back there and I instantly felt what I felt with her – sick to my stomach beyond any shadow of a doubt, wishing I could be anywhere else.” She then wraps an arm around him, pulling him close as she could a couple stray tears rolling down his cheeks.

“I wish I could make that pain disappear for you, and I’m sorry for bringing it all back…” He glances up at her.

“I told you – it’s not your fault. Don’t be upset, okay? Like you said before, we’ll get there – in time and eventually. I just need to let it go. But how? I don’t know sometimes because there’s no words to describe how sick she made me feel, how much pain I was in, and how I just wanted to rip every part of it away…” The tears become to fall more as Sarina holds him close, letting him lay his head against her as she rubs his back with one hand, and goes back to twirling his hair with the fingers on her other hand.

“I don’t know how to fix it, I don’t know how to make it better – but I wish I could make it disappear in a second’s notice for you. But know that as you work your way through, I’ll always be here to hold you, help you, and be there for you…” She then kisses the top of his head. “I love you, Clyde….”

The pair then sat there in silence listening to the rain fall outside, as he slowly calmed down with the tears slowing down in feeling her against him. She continued to rub his back, not moving a single inch over the next couple hours – even when various text messages came through from their teams about qualifying being cancelled for each of their respective races.

“Are you sure you’re okay now?” Sarina double checks and Chase simply nods his head in response, before leaving the motorcoach.

After a quiet afternoon, he had gotten a text message from Alan to meet him in the garage area to talk about the latest details from NASCAR ahead of tomorrow’s event. He had thought about changing out of his firesuit, but running late, he left it on.

He made his way into the garage stall, finding the crew chief right away with Jimmie Johnson.

“What’s up?” He asks as he leans back against the pit box.

“So they’re still doing all-star qualifying, no pit road speed limit pit stop without any practice,” Alan answers as Chase glances over at Jimmie with a bit of a surprise.

“Isn’t it wonderful?” Jimmie questions sarcastically earning a smirk in return from Alan. “And yes, I get to be the first one out to do it. I mean, why not? I’m 7-time. I can do anything, right?”

“For once, maybe being in the Open is a good thing,” Chase comments as Alan chuckles a little.

“Then NASCAR said that they’re going to do a combined one hour practice tomorrow morning so you can get a feel for the package,” Alan adds, which added some relief to the driver. It was a little nerve-whacking heading into a race without any laps on the car in a new package.

“Now why couldn’t they run that practice tonight and qualify us tomorrow?” Jimmie wonders and Chase shrugs his shoulders.

“That’d be too easy for NASCAR,” Jimmie just chuckles.

“And on that note, I better go find Chad before he kicks my ass. By the way, Chase, make sure you do up your collar next time. You give away what you’ve been up to during the delay..” Chase’s hand runs up to the collar, having realized it was left undone by Sarina in their fun, as he watches Jimmie walk away.

“For someone who supposedly just did tha-”

“Alan, please….” Chase starts as he does it up quickly, earning a curious glance from the crew chief. “Out of everybody here, you know what happened – and there you go…” Alan wanted to smack himself immediately.

“I should’ve remembered that it was a sensitive subject, still,” Alan starts. “I’m sorry….” Chase lets out a sigh as he returns to his previous stance against the pit box.

“Just like I told Sarina, no apology is necessary – and I’m sorry I snapped last week, and again right now.” Alan then looks over sympathy laced in his eyes.

“Listen, I know how tore up you were about what happened. I was there, remember? I spent that morning in the bathroom, and the days following. You don’t need to apologize. I understand – hence why I said on Monday that I bit my tongue in return. With that said, is everything okay with you and Sarina?” Chase nods his head as he takes a deep breath.

“Everything was going perfectly – and then she said something and it took me right there immediately. We then talked about it, before just cuddling together…” He then runs his hands through his hair. “I just want to get to a time where there’s no reminders. I don’t want to feel sick and disgusted instantly. And I know it’s going to take time, and I know all this and that – but sometimes, can’t I just wish it would happen instantly?”

“There’s nothing wrong with wanting that. And really, you’re making progress because you and Sarina talked about it. That’s a start, right?” Chase nods his head.

“And before that, man, I can’t even describe this…” A smile comes across his cheeks as he thinks about their kisses together, earning an eye roll from Alan.

“I know there’s questions about her ability to get pregnant – but at least wear a glove just in case.” Chase then looks back over at Alan.

“Have you been hanging out with Kyle lately?” Alan just chuckles as they head out of the garage together, set to watch the all-star race qualifying session.

Chase stands back and lets Sarina get introduced to the crowd, before taking her hand as they head back to pit road, ready for the truck race that night.

“We need to go see Brex!” She lets out as they reach pit road, making the short turn to walk over to where Samantha and Kyle were with him, rather than going to her own truck. They immediately smiled as they walked over, seeing him having a piece of cake.

“Cake?” Brexton offers, grabbing a chunk of the small cake and holding it up to Sarina.

“I don’t want to be giving him the bath afterwards,” Sarina comments with a chuckle as she accepts the piece, eating it. “That’s actually really good.”

“Sarina!” Sarina wanted to pick him up as he wanted, but knew that’d result in getting cake all over her – not the best look before the race.

“Maybe later buddy.” She then kneels down before him. “I just wanted to come over here and say Happy Birthday. I can’t believe you’re three years old!”

“I can’t believe it either….” Samantha lets out as she tries to clean up some of the cake.

“Did you get my present?” Sarina questions and Brexton nods his head immediately. She had left a pedal car done to match her truck by the Busch motorhome earlier on that day. “We can have races against each other now at KBM!”

“Oh boy….” Kyle says as he rolls his eyes, earning a chuckle from Chase.

“’Hank you!” Brexton tells her, giving her a big hug in return.

“You’re welcome,” she replies, giving him a kiss on the cheek before standing up, as she glances over. She had luckily escaped getting cake all over her. Brexton then went to run off into the grass when Chase grabbed him, scooping him up in his arms, which sent Brexton into a fit of giggles.

“Not so fast,” Chase says as he turns him around in his arms. “I wanted to say Happy Birthday, as well! Oh, and I have a surprise for you later…” Kyle then looks over a little concerned. “I got you a bin to put all of your cars in neatly so you can take them all over – and it has a couple new cars in it. I figured daddy’s car needs a little more competition from me and my friends.”

“Now now, Jimmie Johnson cars are not allowed in the household,” Kyle teases as Chase just laughs.

“Sleepover again?” Brexton asks, catching everyone off-guard.

“Maybe another night bud, okay?” Chase offers and Brexton nods his head, accepting. Chase then sets him back down, letting him run off with a couple of his friends. “And maybe I should’ve included a Brad Keselowski car after all.”

“Well maybe I’ll just get you a Denny Hamlin diecast for your birthday, big boy,” Kyle replies, as they both laugh. “Good luck tonight. Stay out of trouble, and be smart. It’s easy to make a mistake here.”

“Gotcha boss,” Sarina replies. “Good luck tonight to you, too. See ya at the front of the field.” She then takes Chase’s hand as they walk off together over to her truck.

“I’m so glad that she has him…” Samantha smiles as she places a hand on Kyle’s shoulder.

“As much as it probably means to him to have her. I just wish that they could get the news they want about children…” Kyle glances over at Samantha. “I know what it feels like to not have that chance, feel that you can’t be a mother, you’re missing out. Of course, I can’t describe the overwhelming joy in being able to have Brexton.”

“We got our miracle. Maybe they’ll get theirs.”

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 75: KC Masterpiece 400

Saturday, May 12 – Kansas Speedway

Sarina could only shake her head as she sat on the pit box, seeing the performance that Chase, Alan, and the guys were putting together. It seemed no matter what adjustment Alan went with, it wasn’t improving the handling of the No. 9 car like Chase would’ve hoped, leaving them stuck in running in the teens, barely on the lead lap, all night.

When it came to the final 10 laps and Alan made the strategy call to stay out for track position and Sarina saw he was restarting fifth, she just crossed her fingers – hoping they’d make something out of the crappy night. Instead, the fade began immediately, and after being blocked in by Ricky on the last lap, that sealed his fate for a 12th-place finish.

“Ugh….” was all Sarina could say as she shook her head in disgust watching. She was hoping he would’ve at least had a decent finish to go along with her win.

“Oh boy,” she then hears Alan say, catching her attention as he points to the monitor. That was when she saw Chase make contact with Ricky’s back bumper on the cool down lap.

“I don’t blame him actually,” she comments and the crew chief simply nods his head in agreement. She knew if it was her and someone slid up across her nose like Ricky did on the last lap, they would’ve been seeing what the grass was like in the infield.

“I don’t either, but he’s an idiot as you can tell.” Sarina nodded her head in agreement, now feeling her own anger boil over a little in watching Ricky run into the side of the 9 car.

“What a jackass!” She then climbs down the steps, ready for a long quiet ride home.

She makes her way out to pit road, expecting for Chase to climb out, the usual post-race debrief, thoughts of a positive future, and for them to head out and leave this weekend behind. Instead, she was admittedly taken back when she watched him quickly climb out and make his way down pit road to where Ricky was.

“What was that?” Chase questions as he catches Ricky’s attention.

“I got loose off the corner,” Ricky answers. “I was clear – simple as that. You didn’t need to wreck me after the flag.” Chase could almost laugh in his face in response to that based on the contact.

“Oh really? What do you call slamming me in the door? Don’t do it again, or you’re going for a ride….”

Chase then turns and walks away, done with the conversation, considering it wasn’t getting through to Ricky from what he could tell anyway.

“What are your thoughts on the night?” A reporter asks as he makes his way back to the No. 9 Chevrolet and his team.

“Just scratching and clawing to run mediocre,” he said. “We have a lot of work to do.” He then walks over to where Alan is standing, catching the crew chief’s eyes. “We have a lot of work to do. No matter what you did tonight, we got nowhere. Some adjustments made it a little bit, but it was nowhere near close. I don’t know what you’re doing, but it’s not working man.”

“I know,” Alan replies as he crosses his arms back in response. “I know. We’re all working as hard as we can to figure out what we need to do to get better. We’ll get ther-”

“We’re further off now than we were a month ago. That should say something, right?” Chase then walks away without another word, not even caring whether Sarina or anybody was with him.

“He’s frustrated…” Alan takes a deep breath. “But he is right. We absolutely stunk tonight.” Sarina didn’t want to make too much light of the situation, but there was one bright side.

“You ran better than Jimmie, though….”  Alan rolls his eyes back in response. “You know as well as I do that all of that frustration isn’t from tonight, either.”

“I know…” Alan glances over at Sarina. “That’s why I didn’t snap back at him in return. That’s why I just let it go. He’s right to a degree, though, but we’ll figure it out. You go take care of him, and I’ll get my ass to work.”

Sarina makes her way into the motorcoach, taking a deep breath as she sees the pedal car by the door. They had so much fun that morning with Brexton, letting him play on it, share laughs together. Now that seemed like a mile away.

She quietly makes sure that she has everything together, knowing that he wouldn’t want to stick around after the night he had. She could hear the shower and almost wanted to go and offer comfort right away, be there as Alan said to take care of him, but instead sat down on the couch, pulling out her phone.

“Are you ready to go?” She hears about 10 minutes later. She could see by wet shaggy hair that he had gotten himself a shower. Her eyes immediately drew to the backpack that he was wearing, with everything as needed as packed, as predicted.

“Yeah,” she replies as she puts her phone in her pocket. “If you’re ready to get out of her-”

“Let’s go…” She quietly stands up, walking out of the motorcoach behind him, only glancing back to shut and lock the door. Her eyes keep on him as they make their way to the rental car, ready for the short trek to the airport.

While other times they’d hold hands or share details on the night, it was pure silence and lack of touch the whole walk. Even the drive over to the airport didn’t contain a single drop of discussion.

They got out of the rental car and she took the keys back into the place as he made his way to the plane, beginning to go through his own little checklist before take-off. It wasn’t long before she had joined him, standing back, letting him do his thing.

“Any issues taking the keys back?” He questions and she shakes her head no. “Alright. Well, it’s ready to go…”

“Okay,” she replies, before reaching out for his hand. “Hey, I love you….” He then glances back into her eyes, giving her a simple nod in return. “I know tonight was frustrating as shi-”

“Let’s just not talk about it, please?” She then lets out a long sigh, but nods her head in return.

“As long as you’re ready to go and in the right frame of mind, then alright…” He knew of her dangers of flying, and even in a pissed off state, he wasn’t about to jeopardize things for her.

“If I wasn’t, I would let you know immediately. I would never fly myself if I didn’t feel I could concentrate fully and let everything else go. That’s why I didn’t fly after we left the court room, remember?” She nods her head back in response. “We’ll be fine…”

Like everything else to that point, the flight was just as quiet as the walk back to the motorcoach, and the trip over to the airport. Though it had done the trick that was warranted. The quietness, serenity, focusing on something else, had given Chase the time to put everything in perspective.

It wasn’t the night he wanted on track. He didn’t want to have to deal with the haunting thoughts of Alison. He didn’t want to have to deal with what came in the future for her. There was the factor of Sarina’s infidelity.

Though, no matter what, things could be worse, and they would find their way through, somehow.

It wasn’t long before they were landed in Charlotte, key turned off, ready to get out and head home as per any other race day.

“You know some people run, or paint, or workout to make themselves feel better?” He starts, catching Sarina’s attention. “Everybody has something that helps them relax and forget for awhile. For you, I know that’s just purely racing once again – am I right?” She slowly nods her head yes. “Flying is that for me. When I’m in the air focused on what I need to be doing, admiring the view, it relaxes me. It allows me to think about everything and figure out what is bugging me the most.” He then reaches over, placing his hand on hers. “I’m sorry for how I acted earlier, by the way. I was a total jackass.”

“Chase, I understand,” she starts. “I’m the same way when I have a bad day. Okay, maybe you took it to the extreme, but I’ve done the same thing. We’ll both highly competitive people. That’s all that was coming out. Oh, and Ricky deserved it anyway.”

“I would’ve told him off more but I was worried that I would smack him with how I was feeling.” She actually wanted to smile as it would’ve nice to see that for those who questioned his passion. “It was more than just tonight, though. This whole month has been driving me crazy. I want to forget Alison, and not remember a single thing that she said, but that’s all I can think about…”

“She’s locked away, Chase. She can’t hurt you again.” He wanted to believe that, but a look into Sarina’s eyes said otherwise.

“She’s still coming between us. I know the baby is a touchy subjec-”

“Whether she’s pregnant with your kid, or not, it doesn’t change anything, though. I will love you, care about you, an want to be with you no matter what comes of that because I know it wasn’t your doing on purp-”

“I accepted the dea-”

“She put you in a box based on your vulnerability, and that’s using someone, and that’s unfair and not your fault. I’m not one bit mad at you, okay? And no matter what happens, I’ve come to grips with it. We’ll deal with it.” He nods his head, accepting, as he glances down at her hands together.

“I just wish I could forget the feeling. It’s just every time you reach out to me, I remember her against me…” He then closes his eyes, taking a shaky deep breath. “I remember how I felt in her body against mine, her lips attacking mine, her hand touching me, the motions. I know in my heart it didn’t mean anything. I know in my brain that reasoning says it doesn’t mean anything. But I can’t stop myself from shivering at the thought of you touching me and that instant flashback.”

“It’s going to take time, Chase. It’s instant reflex. It’ll take time but you’ll convince yourself, and whatever part of it that it needs to be convinced that things are okay, and we’re okay, and we can do that. And Chase, I’m willing to be patient. You’re worth every single second that I have to wait.” She then leans in, lightly brushing her lips against his. “She messed with you for months. You don’t just forget that overnight.”

“Thank you…” She smiles a little, before giving him another little kiss. “I love you.”

“I’ll always love you, Clyde. You’re stuck with me, whether you like it or not.”

Wednesday, May 16 – Catwalk for a Cause

Sarina looks at herself in the mirror once again, twirling around as she tries to look at herself at the same time.

“I hope it’s okay,” she tells herself as she glances at the necklace.

“Oh wow….” she hears and instantly freezes as she recognized the voice immediately – Sherry Pollex. It was Sherry that had picked out the dress for her to wear from the boutique since she couldn’t make it over to go through some of the selections, and it was her event.

“Is that a good wow?” The person simply laughs in response as she walks over, fixing Sarina’s hair.

“That’s an absolutely amazing wow, sweetheart. My oh my, I must say that I was right about this dress. It is absolutely beautiful on you, Sarina. The guys aren’t going to know what hit them tonight. They’re going to be like, ‘Are you sure that’s the same girl that kicked our ass Friday?’” Sarina chuckles in response as she glances back towards the necklace.

“I don’t wear jewelry much, but the little girl that you have me walking with – Jessica – she told me that I should wear a necklace tonight. I let her pick one out and she chose this.” Sherry takes a closer look, immediately smiling.

“It’s perfect. I’m glad that you were able to come tonight, by the way. When I mentioned to her that you would be her fashion partner, she was over the moon excited.” Sarina smiles as she glances over, seeing Jessica playing with some of the other kids.

“I am honored that you asked me to come, actually. I mean, what you and Martin have done here is absolutely amazing. Raising money for children’s cancer while featuring the kids – it’s perfect.” Sherry smiles as she wraps an arm around Sarina’s shoulders.

“I could’ve never imagined it’d grow this big though…” Sarina glances over at her with a smile.

“That’s because you’re amazing, inspiring, strong, beautiful – and did I mention inspiring?” Sherry just smiles back in response.

“Just make sure to have fun tonight, okay?” Sarina nods her head in response.

She then watches as the show begins with introductions, followed by the first set of drivers heading down the walkway together. She had to chuckle at Kyle and Samantha with their warrior as Kyle’s dance moves were certainly on point tonight.

“Think we can do better than my boss?” She asks Jessica, who simply nods her head back in return.

They then take their turn down the catwalk together, doing the Soulja Boy dance once they had reached the end. They then spin around and head back, smiles affixed on their face. She even managed to kick it up a notch the second trip down, mastering the Hoedown Throwdown, which Jessica had picked in being a big Hanna Montana fan.

“Look like you have some dancing competition,” Aric Almirola comments to Kyle as he gives Sarina a high-five as she walks by.

“Where do you think she learned her dance moves from? Her boss of course!” Kyle replies as Sarina just laughs in response.

“But yet who out-danced you at the Christmas party?” She asks back as Kyle lets out a sigh. “It’s okay to admit defeat, Kyle…”

“And that’s why you’re both wrapping up the show together,” Martin states as he points towards the catwalk. Their separate walks down with their stars had caught everyone’s attention that they wanted a return trip. “We need someone to do something while we get all the kids together….”

“We got this, don’t we?” Kyle replies and Sarina nods her head in response. “I got the song…”

Sarina could only worry about the song that he had told the DJ to play, though instantly relaxed as they headed together.

“Teach me how to dougie…” She sang along as she did the dance, even a little more stylish than Kyle to his surprise. “You’re welcome….”

They all then stand back and smile in watching all the kids together with Sherry and Martin on the stage.

Once sharing some thoughts around, everybody separated and headed their own ways, set to get ready for the after-party which Cole Swindell had offered to perform a couple extra songs at.

“You got one up on me tonight,” Kyle comments as she smiles back in response. “I was surprised.”

“I’m certainly not surprised,” Sarina hears and instantly smiles in immediately as her eyes catch a pair of brown ones staring right back at her.

“Well how nice of you to join us Mr. Elliott,” she replies back in response, giving him a kiss immediately. Chase had been gone all-day, traveling up to Michigan to travel the Air Force base as part of a promotion with Michigan International Speedway. He told her that he would try to get back to see her on stage, and the whole show in general, but wasn’t sure if he’d make it.

“I got here just as you were heading out for the first trip down the runaway. I don’t know what was better – souja boy or hoedown throwdown. But I will say the dougie took the cake at the end.” He then twirls her around. “And you look absolutely stunning as always.”

“Got any moves of your own?” Kyle questions as Sarina chuckles back in response. “Oh so he does? He’s been holding out on us?”

“This white boy can’t dance,” Chase answers as Sarina now chuckles even louder.

“Your girlfriend’s response says otherwise.” Sarina just gives him a wink, as Samantha wraps an arm around Kyle.

“Come on; let’s leave the love birds alone,” Samantha says as she tugs Kyle away from them. “Sarina sees enough of you at work…”

“I think you should’ve busted a move for him,” Sarina comments as Chase shakes his head no. “Oh, but you do know how to dance. What do you call that line dancing boy?”

“What happens on vacation remains our secret,” he replies, as he snags another kiss. “Besides, you can’t tell all of my secrets or we’d have none.”

“I’m glad you’re here…” She then takes him by the hand, and the pair head to the after party, mingling with everyone and sharing jokes.

Sarina even caught herself looking over at him a couple times, smiling, as it was nice to see this side and getting back to the fun they were used to after everything that happened. She also didn’t complain one bit when he pulled her close, wrapping both arms around her, and swaying with her as Cole Swindell performed.

Baby, it just took one look at you
For me to change my one drink order to two
Like we already knew each other
Like we been talking all night
About a minute into our first dance
We got blindsided by your friends
All in a hurry like you had to go
Didn’t they know you can’t leave someone
Girl, you can’t leave someone

In the middle of a dance floor all alone
In the middle of an old school country song
Right when I was just about to lean on in
Why’d you have to go then?
Baby, in the middle of the glow of the neon light
It shoulda, coulda, woulda been the night of our lives
Girl, it ain’t right, no
How you gonna leave me right in the middle of a memory?

We were gonna dance till they shut it down
People’d be staring while I spin you ’round
Thinking we were so in love, yeah
They wouldn’t know we hadn’t even hooked up
I’d get your number and I’d give you mine
And we’d be hanging out tomorrow night
But now I don’t know where you are
I’m under these lights right here in the dark

In the middle of a dance floor all alone
In the middle of an old school country song
Right when I was just about to lean on in
Why’d you have to go then?
Baby, in the middle of the glow of the neon light
It shoulda, coulda, woulda been the night of our lives
Girl, it ain’t right, no
How you gonna leave me right in the middle of a memory?

Yeah, it’s like you walked right out in the middle of a movie
Tore the back half out of a book
And no, you’ll never know, girl, what you did to me
It ain’t right saying goodbye

In the middle of a dance floor all alone
In the middle of what could’ve been our song
Right when I was just about to lean on in
Why’d you have to go then?
Baby, in the middle of the glow of the neon light
It shoulda, coulda, woulda been the night of our lives
But, girl, it ain’t right, no
How you gonna leave me right in the middle of a memory?
In the middle of a memory
In the middle of a memory

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 74: 37 Kind Days 250

Friday, May 12 – Kansas Speedway

Chase stretches as he lets out a little sigh, glancing at the clock.

“Shit!” He lets out immediately, flinging the blankets off.

“Chas-” Sarina starts as she glances into the bedsroom.

“Did you see what time it is?” She nods her head as she walks over to him.

“Did you check the weather right now? It rained all morning so the track is soaked, and there’s lightening in the area. You know what that means?” He instantly relaxes as he sits down on the edge of the bed. He had been worried that he had missed the beginning of truck practice, which would certainly make him late then for getting to his pre-practice meeting with Alan. “Besides, you don’t have practice until 12-”

“I want to be there to support you….” She then smiles a little as she hovers over him, taking his hand into her own.

“I appreciate that, Chase, I really do. It means the world to me how much you care. But, you need to take care of yourself. That includes sleeping when you can because right now…..” He nods his head, knowing exactly where she was going with that comment.

It was no secret that he hadn’t been able to sleep well the past week as his head was filled with nightmares of Alison. He’d wait up in the middle of the night sometimes in a cold sweat, sometimes sick to his stomach, or sometimes just wake up, get comfy and go back to sleep once again.

“Alan kno-” She goes to continue, catching his attention.

“So you told Alan?” He interrupts, and she shakes her head no immediately. she had thought about it, but he texted her first.

“He realized that you seemed more tired than normal so he asked me before I could say something. Chase, it’s only because he cares and knows the truth ,and the fact that I want to help you and care about you, that I openly told him. So he made me assure him that if you were sleeping in, to let you do so as missing a bit of a pre-practice meeting was fine.” Chase lets out a sigh as he glances down at the floor. This was exactly what he didn’t want right now.

“If we’re avoiding discussions due to whatever reason, are we going to get better? Nope, and we need to be performing bet-”

“You’re putting too much press-”

“Sarina, we’re not even running regularly in the top-five, or challenging for wins. That’s not putting too much pressure on myself; that’s admitting that we’re behind and need to work on our shit. If I was driving myself insane about that, I’d be up a wall in thought about it – but I’m not, am I?” She shakes her head no, slowly. “Besides, if I start coming late to meetings, the guys are going to ask ques-”

“They know something happened with Alis-”

“They don’t know the exact details, and I’d like to keep it that way – please.” He then takes a shaky deep breath as he glances down at their hands locked together. “I can barely talk to you about it. I can barely even bring myself to think about it rationally. It’s enough that Alan knows, Jordan knows, my parents, Ryan, Kyle, Sa-”

“I hope you don’t mind me talking to Sam abou-”

“It’s okay, I understand that you need an outlet and I trust that Sam won’t say anything. I just don’t want more people to know, please…” Sarina nods her head, accepting.

“For what it’s worth, Chase, if it did get out there, it wouldn’t change how people thought about you. Actually, they may give you more benefit of the doubt in understanding what you’ve been through and seeing how strong you are.” She then kisses his cheek lightly. “I love you, and I believe in you – always. You’re going to figure this out, off and on the track for that matter because you damn well need to win a race this year.”

“I love you, too.” He then slowly gets up and heads off to the shower as she lets out a sigh, reminding herself of the advice from Samantha. She just needed to be patient.

Sarina climbs up on top of the NAPA hauler, giving a quick smile to Alan and Josh, before grabbing her headset and taking her usual spot watching. She had just gotten down her own practice, and couldn’t complain. The No. 18 truck had a ton of speed in it, and was handling great – even if she had ended up eighth on the chart, behind the boss for that matter.

She just hoped the good vibes carried over to Chase, knowing that having a good solid weekend would help everything overall. It’d put him a good mood and ease his performance concerns, maybe allowing him to properly address everything else going on – or at least what they could for now.

The thought of having to wait until July for the paternity test results from Alison was certainly going to eat at her. She wanted to believe what Chase said to her, and she so badly wanted to believe everything Alan had expressed to her. However, there was a funny small itch in the back of her mind that wondered if it was all a lie. What if Alison was pregnant? What if Chase had tried to forget that moment with Alison for obvious reasons? What if that’s why he was having the nightmares?

She then lets out a sigh, knowing that she couldn’t let that consume her mind. She had a race to focus on later on that night, and being all caught up in her emotions would not do any of them well.

She was intrigued in listening to Chase’s comments on the radio, from complaining about the car being edgy in the corners to start the session, to actually going tight through the middle of the session. However, she couldn’t deny the smile on her face when he made the comment the car was the best it had been at the end – even being ranked 12th on the speed chart. Fingers crossed, and maybe a couple more adjustments and Alan would have it perfect.

She then climbs down the steps carefully, before fixing her firesuit and pulling her hair back up in a neat ponytail.

“Do you have time to come see him?” Josh Kirk wondered as he took the headset from her and she shakes her head no.

“Tight schedule this weekend has me on track shortly,” she offered before heading in the opposite direction.

“Good luck!” Josh then headed in the garage, ready for the debrief to come with Alan and Chase.

“So for winning the pole at Kansas Speedway, we have a special gift for you….” The announcer states as Sarina glances at him surprised.

It had been a great qualifying session as for the second week in a row, she had won the pole for the truck race. Now she just needed to turn that into a successful finish and everything would be right in the world. She could never make up for last week’s disappointment totally, but this would be a good start.

“What do you think?” The announcer says as they walk over to victory lane where a little pedal car sat.

“It’s….amazing….” She lets out as she takes a careful deep breath. She wasn’t about to lie that the first thought that came to her mind was watching a child of her own ride around the house one day. Of course, that brought the reminder that she couldn’t….

“Are you okay?” Rudy asks, watching her hand immediately go to her stomach.

“Yeah.” She takes a deep breath, clearing the thoughts of her head immediately as he gives her a pat on the shoulder. “I’m still not totally come to grips with it, you know?”

“Have you thought about that second opinion?” She nods her head, remembering the discussion with Chase. She had followed that up with a call to Samantha to see if she could help put that in order with her contacts.

“Is there a problem?” The announcer asks and Sarina shakes her head no.

“No, not at all,” she answers as she walks over to where the pedal car sat. “It’s actually amazing, like I said. Really adorable, if I might add. Thank you….” She then sits on it. “I could get used to this….”

“Now, now, there’s no cruising around KBM on that thing,” Rudy comments, causing her to chuckle. “I don’t want to be telling Kyle that you can’t drive the truck because you fell off a pedal car.”

“Ah come on Rudy, I bet you’d look adorable instead….” He then walks away immediately as she laughs a little harder. “It’s actually pretty comfy….”

She then takes a couple photos of her sitting on it for the various photographers.

“Alright, see ya….” She then says, taking off on it as quick as her legs would let her, causing some more chuckles from the team.

“Oh boy….” Rudy says as he just rolls his eyes, imaging the worse immediately.

She then makes her way down pit road, earning strange glances and laughs along the way as she tries to get some speed going down the hill by lifting her legs up. She makes her way to a certain No. 9 pit, pulling up and purposely bumping Chase in the back of legs.

“What the hell?!?” Chase lets out as he spins around immediately. It wasn’t long before he was laughing, too. “I heard you won the pole….”

“What do you think of my stylish wheels?” She questions as he just smiles.

“They’re perfect for you….” She then smiles. “I’m surprised Rudy actually let you ride that out of victory lane.”

“He’s too slow for me now….” He laughs once again as he kneels down, kissing her lips.

“Try to not get into any trouble. I love you…” She then smiles back in response.

“I love you, too. Go win yourself one so we can race each other.” He then chuckles as he stands back up.

“Do you got a bottle of NOS that I can sneak in the car to catch Harvick?” She shakes her head no with a slight laugh.

“Got a bottle I can stick on this so I can go faster?” He then looks at her full of surprise, as she chuckles again before turning around and heading back up pit road.

“She’s one of a kind,” Alan muses as he watches her cruise away on her little wheels.

“I wouldn’t change a single thing, though,” Chase offers with a smile as he snaps a quick photo on his phone. “Alright, let’s see what the hot rod has today….”

With qualifying complete, Chase was left feeling pretty satisfied. It hadn’t gone as well as hoped, but he couldn’t complain with 17th based on the speed shown in practice, and the fact his first run in the second round had been screwed by Kyle Larson’s spin ahead of him. They could work their way to the front from there tomorrow night.

After getting changed out of his suit, he stood with her on pit road, giving her a quick kiss before she climbed in the truck set for the night. He then made his way to the No. 18 pit box, taking his familiar seat up behind Rudy. It almost felt weird to not having Kyle sitting up there beside him tonight.

The race started off solidly, as while Matt Crafton passed her initially on the start of the race, she passed him back on Lap 5, and led the rest of the way in the opening stage.

“What the hell?” He questions as they head down pit road, with Kyle practically pushing Sarina down the length of pit road until he reached his pit box. Chase had to chuckle a little in response, but had no complaints in watching her come off pit road first.

There was also no complaints in watching her dominate the second stage, leading all of the laps once again. It didn’t even bother him much when she came off pit road in second behind Justin Hayley – who elected for two tires rather than four. He knew that Hayley would fall back immediately, and that happened as Sarina got by him on the restart, taking the lead back.

Everything seemed to be going smoothly as the laps continued to tick down, opening the window for the green flag pit stops to close out the race. It caught Chase a little off-guard when Rudy elected to bring Sarina down first amongst the leaders, putting four tires on the truck. That turned into nerves when he watched Stewart Friesen and Kyle pit in the next couple of laps, electing for two tires each.

“Give me four mister feel-goods any day and I’ll be just fine,” Rudy comments, seeing the nerves on Chase’s face as he catches the driver’s attention. “Trust me – she’ll be fine….”

Chase wanted to believe his words, but felt every nerve say otherwise in seeing the gap that was now between Sarina and them. However, as Rudy predicted, she was able to quickly close the gap, passing them both with ease. Of course, that didn’t put her in the lead yet – as both Myatt Snider and Austin Hill were trying to play the fuel game.

“Come on Sarina,” he says quietly, leg beginning to tap nervously on the pit box as he watched the laps count further to the end. Those nerves turned into excited nerves as he watched her catch them both, putting the No. 18 truck into the lead with five laps to go.

Sarina was then able to lead the rest of the way, picking up the victory.

“Hell yeah!” She lets out immediately on the radio. “Way to go guys! Thank you for a great truck! Thank you for a great job well done, Rudy and Tony! Way to go everybody! Great way to come back after last week! Thank you, thank you!”

“Way to go, Sarina!” Rudy says on the radio, before slowly pulling the headset off, and glancing over at Chase with a smile. “What did I say?”

“I see why Kyle likes you now,” Chase comments, giving him a high-five. “Nice job tonight. Congrats.”

Chase watched on with pride as she did a burn-out on the frontstretch, before making his way to victory lane. It didn’t take her long to get there, and get out, standing up on the back of the truck. After posing the photographers, she turns around and leaps down into his arms, kissing his lips immediately.

“Way to go!” He tells her as she just smiles back in return. “Way to go!”

“Thank you for what you said last week, thank you,” she replies, before letting him go.

She then goes over to the interview with TV and radio as Chase feels a slight tug on his pant leg.

“Hey Brexton!” He says, before scooping him up in his arms. “Where’s mommy?”

“Trying to keep up with that monkey,” he hears Samantha say as she makes her way over. “Have you ever tried running in high heels?” He shakes his head no. “Don’t, because it’s impossible.” He then laughs. “He normally only gets excited when Kyle wins, but as soon as he heard that she won – he was like immediately wanting to be in victory lane.”

“He’s always welcome in victory lane with us, right bud?” Brexton nods his head back in return.

“Sarina won!” He lets out, catching her attention as she finishes up the second interview. “Yay!” Sarina smiles back in response as Brexton leaps out of Chase’s arms into Sarina’s.

For the rest of the night, Brexton joined the group right in the middle of the photos, enjoying throwing confetti in the air with the crew members. He was even extra happy when Rudy let him help soak both Sarina and Chase in champagne.

“He admires you both so much,” Samantha starts as she stands back with Chase and Brexton as Sarina does her solo photos later on. “I couldn’t believe his smile when she won.”

“It probably didn’t match mine,” he comments, causing Samantha to smile. “Listen, you’re tired and I know you want to get back to Kyle. Go on, and I’ll keep him for the night.” Samantha then glances over at Chase surprised.

“Seriously?” He nods his head in response. “Are you sure that’s okay with Sarina?”

“What’s up?” Sarina questions as she walks over, having finished her last photo of the night.

“Chase offered to watch Brexton tonight,” Samantha states and Sarina glances between them both surprised. However, a single glance into Chase’s eyes and she didn’t need to say another word.

“Yeah, it’s fine. I don’t mind spending time with him anytime.”

With Sarina still having to do media center post-race availability, as well as some other one-on-one interviews, Chase took Brexton back to the motorcoach with him as he could tell the little man was tired.

“Car!” Brexton lets out as he notices the pedal car inside the motorcoach immediately.

“That’s Sarina’s pedal car,” he tells Brexton, earning a curious glance from him. “Maybe if you ask her nicely tomorrow morning, she’ll let you drive it around outside, okay?” Brexton nods his head excitedly.

“She love me, Chasey….” Chase smiles, nodding his head in agreement.

“So you think she’s going to say yes?”

“Yes!” Chase smiles as he spins him around once, before setting him down on the couch.

“You’re probably right, but you still have to wait until tomorrow…” He then picks up the backpack that Samantha had left with him, which was supposed to include the essentials. “Let’s see what your mommy packed for you….” He then opens up the bag. “Ah, pajamas and a book. Now if you put your pajamas on quickly, maybe then I’ll read you a story.”

“Okay!” Brexton then goes to take off his pants immediately as Chase just smiles.

Once getting him changed into pajamas, Chase set him up on the couch, pulling the book out. Reading the story, he didn’t even notice that Brexton was out like a light after the second page, or the fact that Sarina had made her way into the motorcoach halfway through.

Sarina had remained quiet, taking a couple deep breathes, feeling her emotions all come back her once again.

“Hey….” Chase lets out as he notices her sitting on the other couch. “I didn’t even notice you come in.”

“It’s okay,” she replies as she stands up, grabbing a blanket and putting it over Brexton. “I didn’t want to disturb you guys.” That’s when Chase noticed the tears in her eyes.

“Are you okay?” She nods her head slowly, as he grabs her hand. “I know you’re so happy about winning tonight. I hope I didn’t ruin tha-”

“You didn’t, Chase.” She then takes a deep breath. “Small moments, like the pedal car, or seeing you with Brexton, they’re reminders of what could’ve been. It just gets my emotions going – but I’m okay. I’m handling it, slowly, just like you and what happened.”

“We also have the second opinion which may open that door.” She nods her head in agreement. “You can always talk to me, too.”

“That goes both ways, Chase. I know why you invited Brexton to come stay over tonight. You were afraid of a victory celebration and not being ready for that after….what….happened.” She could tell by the distant look in his eyes that she was right, as she reached out for his other hand. “Look, it’s okay. I knew you wouldn’t be ready. I knew it’d be too soon for that. I want you to know that I understand there’s nerves and feelings there, and I’m willing to wait until you’re ready – whenever that is. As long as we have each other, that’s all that matters.”

“Thank you…” She then lightly kisses his cheek as he pulls her close against him. “I really am proud of you. You did an absolutely amazing job tonight. From following Tony’s advice to keep the lead, to staying poised despite the crazy strategy, and being able to put last week behind you. I’m glad that everybody is seeing the talent that I saw in you.”

“I just can’t believe it sometimes that I am a truck series winn-”

“Do I need to pinch you?” She laughs, shaking her head no.

“It just seems surreal though with everything that happened.” She then glances back at the trophy sitting down on the table. “How does a small town Michigan girl who saw her life tore apart make it to here?”

“By being absolutely amazingly talented behind the wheel, and super strong…” He then places his hand against her chest. “…in here, and having the ability to fight through whatever challenge is thrown her way.” She smiles as she glances into his brown eyes.

“She also is glad to have a knight in shining armor by her side, willing to do whatever it takes for her no matter what. I’ll never take what you did for me for granted, ever. I love you, Clyde.” She then kisses his lips once again.

“I love you, too, forever and always…” They then head into the back room together, laying down and cuddling up in the bed, knowing tomorrow would be another long day.

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 73: “Not Guilty or Guilty?”

Saturday, May 5 – Dover International Speedway

Chase glances over at her, smiling, as she just rolls over onto her stomach.

“So how are you feeling this morning?” He questions as he gives her a little kiss.

“Better than I thought I would be,” she answers. “I mean, I’m not sore. I guess your massage did the trick, huh?” He just smiles back in response.

“I guess I have the right touch.” She nods her head in agreement.

“Did you sleep through the whole night?” It was now time for the surprise to be shifted in return.

“The best sleep that I’ve gotten in awhile. I think it’s because I was glad to have you back – even if you were only gone for a night.” She takes a deep breath as she places her hand on top of his.

“Remind me not to do something stupid like that again. I should know we’re stronger together.” Chase knew he could simply give her the lowdown, but that wouldn’t be fair because he understood where she was coming from after talking with Alan.

“You came back, right? That’s what matters. As long as you always take the time you need, but come back to me when you’re ready – that’s all I care about.” He then bends over, placing a kiss on top of her ring. “I know you wouldn’t have accepted this ring if it wasn’t forever.”

“Sarina Elliott. Sarina Elliott Ott. Sarina Ott Elliott. And strangely, Chelsy Elliott. Actually – no, let’s just stick with the other options. My point is it has a nice ring to it.” He nods his head in response. “Given our schedules, I hope you don’t mind a winter wedding.”

“Did I just hear you say the word ‘wedding’?” She laughs, nodding her head in response. “I thought we were taking this slow, going to do it when you were ready with no pressure. But yet, here you are, mentioning the word before I do – with a plan in toe.”

“Actually, what do you think of a Florida wedding?” He then takes a closer look at her. “What are you doing?”

“Seeing if you are really who you say you are…” She then gives him a light smack. “I wouldn’t have a problem with that, actually. Just please no getting married at the track – as cliché as that sounds.”

“I won’t do that to you. Or we could get married in Colorado in the mountains. That’d be majestic.” She then lets out a sigh as she shifts over, laying her head on him. “The more I think about us together, the more I warm up to the thought of marriage. I find myself talking more about a future together, with everything involved. Trust me, I’m not planning no wedding yet, Chase, but it does sound nice…” He smiles as he was glad to see the change in pace with her. However, there was a topic they were avoiding.

“What about parenthood? And I’m not talking about Alison because she’s not pregna-”

“Let’s pretend that doesn’t exist until we have to see her in court, okay?” Chase slowly took a deep breath, swallowing the lump in his throat. He wished that wasn’t even necessary as it was obvious she was guilty. After all, she had pled guilty to charges before. “I am going to ask if I can get a second opinion. I know Samantha says that this doctor is amazing and he knows everything and he’s on the leading edge, but I want a second opinion before we make any decisions going forward.”

“I have no problem with that – as long as you let me be there for you this time, please…” She glances up into his brown eyes, nodding her head yes in return. “Thank you…”

Chase walks over to Alan once they were done the second practice, smile firmly planted on his face. The day couldn’t had gone any better to this point.

“Was it better that last run?” Alan wonders and Chase nods his head yes. “That’s what I thought. It looked pretty sporty.”

“Just need a minor adjustment to fix a tick loose and you’re perfect,” Chase replies as Alan smiles.

“Not a bad Saturday so far. Fourth in the first session, second in the second. I know you mentioned yesterday not wanting to talk about Sarina, but I saw she qualified second and did you guys actually walk into the track this morning together?” Chase lets out a sigh, but nods his head yes. “Oh my…”

“I went to see her after the truck race, and offer a piece of comforting advice, to check on her, because she was tore up about it. That turned into us both realizing we need to put aside the Alison situation and be there for each other because we’re better together.” Alan crosses his arms.

“Isn’t that what we’ve all been telling you both since the beginning? How is it that it took you guys two years to realize this?” Chase lets out a sigh. “Regardless, I’m happy for you both. I know it’ll make it easier on Eric today.”

“Hopefully she has a good run and we can move forward from this weekend…” Alan catches a change in glance from Chase as he watches closely.

“Talk to me…..”

“I don’t want to see or deal with Alison ever agai-”

“She was arres-”

“We still have court procedure to go through.” Alan lets out a long sigh. “Lawyer messaged me to say that we need to address the additional crimes, what they are going to do moving forward considering she escaped, and the pregnancy because court officials have confirmed she’s pregnant.” Alan’s jaw drops as he feels a new wave hit him. He had strongly believed Chase before in saying that he wasn’t the father, but now began to wonder.

“Look, I know this won’t be easy for you and I wish just like you we could avoid it like it never happened. But we can’t do that, can we?” Chase lets out a sigh, shaking his head no. “You need to be strong. You need to remember that she can’t hurt you anymore. You need to remember that it’s not your fault no matter what she says in that court room. You’ll have Sarina, me, your parents. It will be okay.”

“I know…” Chase feels his breath hitch as the thoughts surround him, trying to shake them off immediately.

“Your facial expressions say otherwise…” Chase glances down at the ground, swallowing the lump in his throat.

“I told you what happened. I know you keep saying it wasn’t my faul-”

“Because it wasn-”

“But I still need to convince myself of that. I also can’t get rid of that sick feeling of her touching me, and how it made me feel. I’m trying Alan, but I can’t…do…thi-”

“Yes, you can.” Alan puts an arm around him. “Chase, you can do this. It’s going to take time, but you can do this. You can figure it out, do what you need to do, talk to the people that you need to talk to, and move forward. Like I said to you before, I will go see a professional with you if that’s what you need, or I will listen to you for hours. I’m sure Sarina or your parents would do the same.” Chase glances up at the crew chief.

“I can barely talk to Sarina about this…..”

“That’s understandable, but you will be able to in due time. She’s patient and she understands. You’ll figure it out.”

Wednesday, May 9 – Delaware Court Room

“I would rather be back at Dover, fading back to outside of the top-10 despite running there all day than here,” Chase offers as they reach the court house doors.

“I’d rather be dealing with Friday’s disappointment than here,” Sarina adds as she grabs his hand. “But we can’t do that, can we? Just breath, relax, and know – it’s going to be okay. We’ll get through this, today and whatever comes, together.” She then lightly kisses his cheek. “I love you, Clyde!”

“Hey, stealing my nickname now?” Ryan asks, earning a glance from Sarina that basically said for him to quiet his lips. “She’s right, though, as we all have your back.”

The group enters the court room with Chase remaining silent the rest of the way, taking his seat behind the prosecutor. He feels Sarina wrap her hand around his left, and knew without a glance that Alan and Jordan sat on his right. Behind him, there was his parents. He was also surprised too that Ryan and Kyle had both shown up, as well.

It was nice to have everybody there willing to offer support, but it didn’t make the feelings go away.

“Your first court appearance Ms. Reynolds took place in California in regards to this case,” the judge begins. “You pled guilty to a list of charges – poisoning Mr. Chase Elliott and attempted murder of Mr. Gustafson. You pled not guilty to a sexual assault charge against Mr. Elliott, as well as an attempted murder charge against Mr. Elliott or Mr. Ryan Blaney. You were supposed to go for a psychological evaluation, where you escaped the facility. Do you realize that you are guilty of Escape in the First Degree, which is liable for five years in addition to your sentenc-”

“Your honor, no sentence was given due to needing to see if my client was mentally stable enough to withstand trial,” the defense interrupts, earning a stern glance from the judge.

“I will not stand for being interrupted. Therefore, you just cost your client any leeway that I was going to give as there was a possibility of that being dropped depending on the new psychological evaluation. Therefore, stable or not, you will spend at least five years in federal prison.” Chase takes a deep breath as it was a relief to see there’d be some time. However, five years seemed pity considering. “For the prosecution, do we have any objections against a second psychological evaluation?”

“As long as Ms. Reynolds has guards around her at all times and cannot escape once again, I do not see a problem,” the prosecutor states. “However, if these terms cannot be met, we will have a problem due to the danger that she is to the public.”

“Motion accepted,” the judge replies. “There is also a question of where the courts are to take place due to the fact crimes have been committed in several states. Since she was arrested here, we will continue the proceedings here. Now, there are new charges that we need to discuss. Guilty or not guilty, you enter a plea and nothing else.”

“Yes ma’am,” Alison says as she stands there, smile firmly planted on her face as she kept her eyes locked on Chase. It was so nice to see him once again after their lovely nights together.

“How do you plead to the charge of assault in the state of Virginia?” Sarina shook her head as she remembered that snowy night at Martinsville. She remmberd the initial fear that shook through her when Chad had called the trailer after finding Chase sore, lying in the snow. She also couldn’t forget the days that followed with the pain he faced due to the bruises along his back. She chuckled thinking back to how the floor of Ryan’s motorcoach turned out to be the comfy spot of the night.

“Not guilty,” Alison replies as Chase just shakes his head. Of course it was going to be chalked up to the fact that he tripped due to the snowy conditions.

“How do you plead to kidnapping Ms. Sarina Ott in Tennessee?” It was Sarina’s turn to let out a small shiver as she remembered the lonely experience of being stuck in Alison’s grasp with so many questions, worries, concerns. She had generally not let it bother her, but that was getting impossible due to what could’ve happened during that time.

“Guilty.” Alison then glances over at Sarina. “She’s always getting in the way due to being jealous of me and her boo. I had to keep her busy for a bit.” Chase glances down, not wanting to look into her eyes, as he clutches onto Sarina’s hand tighter. He was just glad that Alison hadn’t done anything else to Sarina.

“How do you plead to robbery against Ms. Sarina Ott in Tennessee?” Sarina glances down at her hand, seeing the ring firmly placed on her finger. She remembered the tears and shrieking that had occurred when Alison had ripped it off her finger, followed by the relief when Chase slipped it back on in the hospital. However, she began to worry now wondering what price did he pay for it.

“Not guilty. I gave the ring back, didn’t I?” Chase doesn’t even move, taking a couple deep breaths, as he remembers the conversation in the room. The fact that he said he would do anything for Sarina’s safety and to get the ring back, and the fact that he had initialed the kiss on her lips said it all.

“But you admitted that you took it without authoriza-”

“She could’ve been borrowing with position,” the defense interrupts as half the court room breaks out into laughter.

“Fine, not guilty,” the judge states. “How do you plead to sexual assault against Mr. Elliott in Tennessee?” Sarina and Alan both grab onto Chase’s hands a little harder knowing the thoughts that were going to be flooding through his mind as the jaw drops on those in the court room who didn’t know what had happened yet.

“He asked for it, right?” Alison questions, as Chase shakes a little, his breath quickening. Those words were going to haunt him forever, no matter how much Alan wanted to tell him that it wasn’t his fault. Alison was right on the money as he accepted the deal. There was nothing he could do now but try to move forward with those feelings. “Besides, he’s always wan-”

“Not guilty or guilty?”

“Not guilty, your honor.” She then looks over at him, grinning widely. “Once he tells the court what happened, everybody will know the truth, including his precious fiancé.” A couple tear roll down Chase’s cheeks as the panic increases slightly, followed by a flip of the stomach. The thought of having to tell everyone what happened was the worst feeling known to mankind.

“It has been discovered that Ms. Ott is pregnant so she will be held in protective custody as a result for that reason until the next trial date. We will be commencing a meeting following the psychological evaluation before moving forward. Other than that, there is no bail due to the escape, either. Does the prosecution have anything else to add?”

“We would like to contest the paternity of the baby,” the prosecutor states. “Ms. Ott wrote a letter to both Mr. Elliott and Ms. Ott stating that she was pregnant and implied that he was the father. Mr. Elliott denies this allegation beyond a shadow of a doubt based upon what happened. Therefore, we would like to know the paternity as soon as possible.”

“Ms. Reynolds has been found to be four weeks pregnant as of right now,” the judge reveals. “The earliest we can find out the paternity would be 14 weeks. A quick glance at the calendar, and we can perform a test as early as July 18 to determine whether Mr. Elliott is the father.”

“But my baby….” Alison lets out, wrapping her arms around her stomach.

“Both amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling involve inserting a needle into the womb to collect the sample,” the defense begins. “That has shown to put the baby at ris-”

“The test we will be using is non-invasive and prevents no harm to the mother or baby,” the judge interrupts. “It simply involves comparing genetic profiles of the fetal cells, the mother’s blood, and a sample collected via a cheek swab from the alleged father. Besides, Ms. Reynolds gave up her rights of decision when she left threatening notes, escaped custody, and committed her other crimes. Mr. Elliott deserves some peace of mind and truth after everything. Court adjourned!”

Everyone slowly starts to get up and leave the room, as both Sarina and Alan remain in their spots alongside him.

“I’m going to be sick….” Chase lets out as they reach just outside of the court room, breaking free from the pair to immediately go into the bathroom.

“I’ve got this,” Alan offers as he follows him, making his way to the stall as he sees Chase kneeling over the toilet, everything coming up. “Ssssh, easy….” He rubs Chase’s back as it continues to come up, mixed in with shaky breathes and tears.

“I couldn’t take it any longer…” Chase then slowly sits down on the floor, leaning back against the wall. “Every word, every smirk, it just made me sicker and sicker. I can’t do this…”

“Yes, you can….” Alan then sits down alongside him. “You got through today – barely, yes, but you got through today. She didn’t see any of this and you got through this. Sure, you’re throwing up and sick to your stomach, but you got through it. That’s a step in the right direction, just like talking to me, and just like you and Sarina being able to bare things with regards to Alison. You’re doing better than you believe.”

“She just makes me so sick to my stomach….” The tears roll down the cheeks as Alan focuses on him.

“Take a deep breath, count to 10, take a deep breath. Remember that she can’t hurt you anymore and you’re safe now. Remember that she’s locked behind bars and she won’t touch you again. Tell yourself that over and over. Just relax….” Chase tries to follow the instructions, slowly calming down.

“We can’t do the test until July. That gives her 10 weeks to come between Sari-”

“That’s not going to happen, Chase. Sarina has already made that clear. Sure, she’s coming to grips with everything surrounding it and the possibi-”

“I’m not the fath-”

“I know, Chase. I believe you when you say that. Sarina just needs that paper proof, okay? And I know it sucks waiting all this time but trust me, it won’t make you two fall apart or anything. She believes in you, and she loves you. She’s going to be right there for you just like today.” Chase nods his head in response. “Just breathe, please. It’s going to be okay. We’re going to get there somehow…”

After allowing him to calm down and wipe off his face, the pair made their way out, and with a simple nod everybody else left the topic alone. It wasn’t long until they were at the airport, onboard the plane, and he was curled up in the back. With Sarina rubbing his back and clutching his hand, sleep came easily as there was no denying he was wore out from everything.

“I love you, Clyde,” Sarina whispers in his ear. “And I’m not going anywhere….” She then gives him a small kiss.

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 72: JEGS 200

Friday, May 4 – Dover International Speedway

After having finished the Cup session – ranked 14th with only four laps on the board due to the tech inspection issues, Chase had made his way back up on top of the NAPA hauler to watch truck qualifying. Even if they weren’t talking right now, he wasn’t about to not support her.

He could see immediately what she was talking about feeling comfortable in the truck as soon as she took to the high banks, watching the No. 18 go instantly to the top of the chart. He found the smile on his face widen when she was able to repeat the performance in the second round of qualifying, winning the pole.

“Way to go!” Rudy says as he gives her a high-five. “That’s how you get the job done.”

“Thanks for the great truck,” she replies with a smile locked on her face. “Now, I got to go. XFINITY practice.” The crew chief just gives him a nod in response as she makes her way through the crew, giving them high-fives along the way.

She makes her way quickly down pit road, headed for the XFINITY Series garage knowing that Eric was waiting for her. Though as she turned the corner, she wasn’t expecting to see the sight before her.

“Hey,” was all she could manage quietly as she stopped face-to-face with him.

“I just wanted to say congratulations,” he offers, flashing a small smile. “That was a great lap. You’re going to have a great truck later today….”

“It seems that Miles likes me after all.” He chuckles a little, though the chuckle instantly fades in knowing that they’d spent the previous night apart, along with most of today.

“I know you’re busy so I won’t keep you, but can we talk later, please?” She could see the pain laced in his voice, and felt her heart breaking immediately. However, her own heart was brought back to the note.

“I got to go, Chase…” She then heads off without a single word, leaving him standing there stunned.

The rest of the way to the XFINITY garage, her heart was torn between the emotions all over again from the previous night, along with the conversations that had taken place with Eric, Rudy, Alan, Kyle and Samantha. What if she was doing the wrong thing? What if they just talked it out together? What if she just put her feelings aside? What if her nerves right here were a sign of things to come?

Reaching the garage area, she takes a deep breath, shaking everything out of her mind as her eyes focus on the car sitting there before her in the garage stall. She couldn’t think about that anymore. She had a job to focus on, and thinking about her own drama would be a disservice to the team. With the truck handling the way she wanted, it was time to get the car doing the same thing.

Chase gets out of the car, glancing over at Alan with a smile, before walking over to the crew chief. Considering the way their day had started with all of the tech issues, there was no complaints about qualifying sixth.

“We can work with that on Sunday,” Alan comments and Chase nods his head as he sits down beside him.

“That was a much better balance than I had the practice run,” he offers, which causes the crew chief to smile. At least they were headed the right way in adjustments, too. “Turn 1 and 2, you have it exactly where we want it. But we need to work on turn three and four because I lost a lot of time there. I screwed up a litt-”

“Hey now, let’s not get down on that lap, okay? That was still one great lap. We’re making progress. Let’s just take solice in that, okay?” Chase nods his head. “So I have to say that you’re having quite the Friday. Sarina ran great in both XFINITY practices, you qualified well, and she has the pole for tonight. Oh, and obviously I take it you’ve heard the big news of the day about Alison.”

“Can we please not talk about her, Alan?” Alan could understand where Chase was coming from in wanting to avoid the topic, given the emotions that were still there despite the fact that they’d talked some more the night before. “I stopped Sarina earlier to congratulate her on the pole. She then told me thanks, and made a crack about Miles. I almost thought that we were getting somewhere, and then I asked to talk later, and she just walked away.”

“Remember what I said last night? You need to give her time, Chase. At least she accepted the conversation about racing, and had a bit of fun with you. That should give you hope, right?” Chase lets out a sigh.

“I just wish that we weren’t doing this at all. I love her, Alan. I want to be with her. I want to be there for her every single moment of the day. I want to be having our fun times at the track together. I want to have everything that a relationship entai-”

“That sometimes includes fights. No relationship is a fairytale, Chase. I’m sorry if your parents didn’t tell you that one.” Chase chuckles a little. “Seriously, I can see how much she loves you and cares about you via what she said to me. I can see that in how she offered the conversation. I can see that in how she was watching you qualify. She just needs space to come to grips with the ne-”

“What is there to come to grips with, though? Alison isn’t pregna-”

“As much as you keep saying it, and as much as I believe you, the possibility is there based on seeing those words on a page. Hence the feelings that she’s having. Once she comes to grips with that, along with her own infertility, I have a feeling it’ll be like nothing ever happened.” Chase glances over, feeling a bit of hope in hearing that detail.

“But how long do I have to wait for that?” Alan shrugs his shoulders. “Great…”

“In the meanwhile, can I make a suggestion for you? You’ve told me that there’s still emotions there, and you’ve told me this may change things for how you and Sarina move forward. Maybe as she comes to grips with her feelings, you address yours…” Chase knew the crew chief had good intentions with his advice, but it seemed like the steepest mountain possible.

“I’m trying, okay? It was a like the weight had been lifted off my shoulders when Jimmie told me what happened in Alison getting caught. It was a relief that I couldn’t describe. Knowing that we’re safe now, I think it’ll be easier, I hope.” Alan reaches over, placing a hand on Chase’s leg.

“I know you’re trying and I know it’s going to take time. I’m not trying to push you sooner than you’re ready. Just remember, it’ll be okay…” Chase nods his head, accepting.

Chase climbs the steps up onto the pit box, slowly taking a seat beside Kyle, as he glances over at him.

“Are you sure about this, Kyle?” He questions, having been caught off-guard by Kyle’s text looking for him.

“I’m the boss and what I say goes,” Kyle answers as Chase simply nods his head in return. “Besides, I can tell you myself that based on what she was saying to Sam, you have nothing to worry about. She still loves you a lot.” Now there was a small smile in hearing those words.

Chase settles in, set for the race, hopeful for the best of endings, and it started out that way as she led the entire first stage of the event from the pole. However, coming down pit road, there was a small hang-up on the jack, causing her to slip back to seventh for the restart.

“Lots of time here,” Kyle says as he settles in for the restart, double checking where the other KBM trucks were running, too.

“I’m surprised how calm she was on the radio when Rudy told her,” Chase offers, catching a glance from the boss.

“That’s why I put Rudy with the children as he knows how to calm them down. Besides, he says that having both cars for her this weekend, she’s been more focused than normal.” Chase could relate to that, having watched how she kept a strict schedule in making sure to get ample time with both teams.

“You know how she is about her racing – 100% heart and effort. Besides, it’s probably a good distraction…” Kyle knew by that response that it wasn’t just a distraction for Sarina, but for Chase after what had happened. But there wasn’t time to push that issue right now.

Instead, they settled in and watched as she was able to gain some ground on the restart, making her way back up to fifth by the end of the second stage. She then started off the third stage solidly, but dropped back some spots, running seventh as she fought a looseness condition with the rear of the truck.

A round of pit stops with 44 laps to go played in her favor, though, as the pit crew redeemed themselves, getting her up to third for the restart. She then put together the restart of her life, too, jumping up to second behind Johnny Sauter. She was set on catching him, slowly closing the gap, when a pair of trucks made contact before the leaders with 20 laps to go.

“Holy shit….” was all Chase managed to say as she barely snuck between them, escaping without any damage.

“The fun is just beginning,” Kyle comments with a chuckle as Chase rolls his eyes. He couldn’t help if he got nervous for her.

“Bottom does win 40% of the restarts here,” Rudy starts his pep talk for her as Kyle just sits back with a smile on his face. It was almost like the pieces were setting up right perfectly for a great day.

They all watched the battle intently on the restart, seeing her and Johnny battle side-by-side for the lead. There were nerves in watching a couple bumps back and forth, as well as excitement when she was able to gain a bit of an edge. However, it was all forgotten when Johnny got a run on the outside, and they bumped not once but twice, causing the No. 18 truck to snap around quickly, making heavy rear-end contact with the wall.

“Shit!” Kyle and Chase both let out at the same time.

“Is she okay?” Chase asks, instantly switching to worry in seeing the damage, and in-car camera.

“Yeah, she’s good,” Kyle answers as they watch her climb out of the truck, disappointed. “I can’t be mad at her. I know she tore up a truck, but she was going for the win and that’s what we racers do – we go for the win no matter what. It was just one of those racing deals where she got crossed up. Live and learn, I guess.”

“Yeah…” Chase slowly stands up, following Kyle off of the pit box as he lets out a sigh. This was obviously the worse time for a wreck of this nature to happen.

“I know you guys aren’t talking, but I wouldn’t be against you coming to see her right now – even if just for a couple of minutes. I know it’d be beneficial to you both, even if she won’t tell you that.” Chase nods his head, accepting, trying to fight off his own nerves about following that advice.

After going back and forth a little on the thought, he followed his heart and made his way to the care center, waiting for her to come out. he knew he could go in and see her, but figured the space was necessary right now. It didn’t take long for her to emerge though, immediately met with media.

His heart instantly broke as he saw how dejected she looked after the incident, and continued to break further in listening to her interview. He just shook his head – he knew he was hard on himself sometimes, but she was taking it to a whole new level.

He didn’t move at all as each of the media members asked their questions, slowly leaving one-by-one. Once the last media member had left and she was set to leave, he made his way over, placing a hand on her shoulder.

“Sarina,” he says quietly, catching a glance from her. “I know you’re upset and I know you’re disappointed in yourself. But you need to be a little easier on yourself.” She shakes her head as she looks into his brown eyes.

“Aren’t you the person that said you need to be set to rate yourself and tell yourself what you did wrong so you become better?” She questions and he nods his head.

“There’s a difference between doing that, and being so hard on yourself that you’re tearing your heart apart. That’s what you’re doing right now. Yes, you made a mistake. Yes, it sucks to tear up a truck. But you were right there, fighting for a victory, doing whatever you could to win. You had put yourself in that position. Give yourself more credit that you are – you’re an amazing driver, and you did a great job today. You’ll learn from racing that close and trust me, it’ll be a lesson that turns you into a winner one day.” She smiles a little.

“Thank you….” He pulls her close, letting her lay her head against his chest. “I can’t honestly say that I’m just going to let it go like you want me too, and certainly I’ll be disappointed for the rest of the night and maybe days to come, but thank you for your advice.”

“Just think – you have a chance to redeem yourself tomorrow. You have another great car underneath you from Eric. What better way to put this behind you than prove tomorrow how awesome you are?” She smiles, nodding her head in agreement. Considering how well the past two weeks had gone, it’d be nice to cap off her XFINITY schedule with another great run.

“The same way that you’re going to kick ass on Sunday, right?” He nods  his head back in response.

“Are you okay?” He rubs her shoulders as she lets out a long sigh. “That wasn’t no light hit, Sarina…”

“It took my breath away, I won’t lie to you. It caught me off-guard just how hard it hit when it snapped around.” He rubs her shoulders, as he looks into her eyes.

“I know we’re not talking right now, which I hate by the way, but maybe you could bend the rules for a massage and bubble bath tonight?” She glances back up into his eyes.

“You play a hard game…..” He chuckles a little. “Being away from you is the hardest thing ever, if I’m being honest. I love Samantha, I love Kyle, and I love Brexton – but nights like that aren’t the same.” She then glances back down. “Chase, I’m so sorry for how I handled that yesterd-”

“You don’t need to apologize. I get it, I really do. It caught you off-guard and you didn’t know how to react. Everything boiled over and you didn’t know what to do with those emotio-”

“I ran like I always do-”

“It’s okay, though. Sometimes we need space so we can figure out everything. I love you, I’ll always love you. If you’re willing to accept it, can you come with me back tonight?” She smiles, nodding her head yes accepting.

“Can I be honest, though?” He freezes, feeling every bit of nerve in response. “I haven’t come to full grips in what the note said, what Alison did, and how to move forward with everything. But I know being together side-by-side, holding hands, we’re stronger than we are apart. That’s why I want to be there with you so I can figure out what I need to do, what you need moving forward to help you, and what we can do together and for each other.”

“Just you being there helps me, Sarina. It makes me feel safe…” She then tightens her arms around him a little more.

“If all it takes is holding you to help you, then I’m for that…” She then backs away, taking his hand with her own, as they begin the walk through the garage area. “Now, what were you saying about a nice massage?”

“You don’t need to beg. Just promise me that you’ll always love me.” She then looks over at him.

“That’s not a problem at all, babes.” She then kisses his lips as they head out together.

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 71: “That can’t be true, Rudy….”

Thursday, May 3 – Dover International Speedway

Sarina walks through the garage area having finished the first of two practices for the day. The first session had gone decently, with her ranking sixth by the time it was said and done. Feeling comfortable with the truck, she couldn’t wait for the second round.

Stopping by the KBM hauler, she grabs herself a snack and bottle of water before heading back out, knowing that it would be starting sooner than later. That’s when she freezes though, noticing an envelope sitting on the ground by the hauler.

“Rudy?” She questions, catching the attention of the crew chief. He immediately looks down at the envelope, shrugging his shoulders.

“Maybe an admirer left you a note during the practice,” he offers, and she could only roll her eyes. That was less likely, but rather something else. She couldn’t help but admit it’d be odd if it was that, though, considering Alison was typically leaving the notes for Chase.

“Or it could be the wicked witch..” She then picks up the envelope, ripping it open immediately as Rudy stands there intrigued. She pulls out the slip of paper, revealing a note.

“Well?” Sarina reads the contents, her breath catching in her throat as the note falls from her fingers to the ground.

“That can’t be true, Rudy….” Rudy was now confused as he reaches down to pick up the piece of paper, reading it himself.

“I have a present for your darling boy that he will be seeing in nine months. Isn’t it lovely?” Rudy then looks back towards Sarina. “She’s pregna-”

“She has to be bluffing, Rudy. She can’t no way be pregnant. There is no way in hell that she can be having his baby when I can’t!” Rudy gives Sarina an intrigued glance. “I found out that I can’t carry a baby full term. Happy?”

“Sarina….” He walks over, wrapping an arm around her shoulders, and pulling her close immediately. It was a surprise considering he was normally all focused on business, but he could feel his heart breaking for her right now. “I’m sorry to hear that. You know there’s options, right?” She slightly nods her head. “And have you got a second opinion?”

“I thought about doing that, maybe I will. I don’t know…” She then glances back to the piece of paper in the crew chief’s hand. “Do you know what it feels like to have a dream ripped from your hands? Now take that feeling, combined with the fact that somebody else can give that person what you can’t? She’s tormented and ruined so many things, but yet she may be able to give Chase something I can’t…”

“You said there was no way it could be tru-”

“I don’t know that for sure, though. Chase hasn’t told me everything that happened when they were alone. What if? It would explain why he’s so tore up and told me that it’d change things moving forward.” Rudy holds her a little tighter as a couple tears slide down her cheeks. “What am I supposed to do?”

“You can’t keep this to yourself. It’ll just grow tension and obviously it’s got you upset. You need to talk to Chase. You need to tell him about the note, and you need to see what he says. Maybe it’ll put your mind at ease.” She nods her head, accepting.

“But he won’t even talk about what happened…”

“Maybe if he knows how upsetting this is for you, he will tell you something.” He holds her for a little while longer, opening the bottle of water as they stand there, getting her to drink some. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah, I’m fine. I’m ready to go for this afternoon.” She takes a deep breath, fixing her hair a little, before heading down the garage area and back out to pit road for the second practice. “Coming, Rudy?”

“Ready to go….”

Sarina hears the door open to the hotel room, glancing towards the door and tries her best to put a smile on her face. However, there was no way that was happening considering the note that still remained on her lap.

“Hey,” Chase says as he enters, setting his bags down, flashing a smile at her. He was then surprised when she didn’t move, or flash one back in return.

“Hey,” she replies as he makes his way over, sitting down beside her. His eyes found their way to the paper, wondering what the contents were. Maybe it was just a note from post-practice.

“How did practice go?” That was something that she could smile about, even if the rest of her life was falling apart.

“Sixth in the first session, second in the final practice. Rudy has the truck handling really well. I feel good about my chances for tomorrow.” Chase couldn’t help but smile about that as he knew seeing the chemistry build between her and Rudy was progress.

“That’s great. I tried to get here as soon as I coul-”

“Chase, we need to seriously have a talk.” He freezes immediately, demeanor changing in seeing the change in hers. There were only few instances where she took this approach with him. “Alison left a note for me by my trailer during practi-”

“Please tell me you weren’t wandering about the garage alon-”

“I always had a crew member with me, but Chase, that’s beside the point. I want to focus on the note, please.” He knew the note had to be serious if she was this set and focused on it, considering she had always been telling him to not let Alison’s words bother him. “Read it….” He takes the piece of paper from her, reading the contents, letting out a sigh immediately.

“Oh man…” She could see by the look on his face that he wasn’t surprised, and that caught her off-guard as she thought he’d be shocked by Alison’s latest tactic – or truth, who knew.

“Well?” He then glances over at her. “What do you have to say in response?”

“There’s no way that she could be pregnant. Yes, she touched me all over. Yes, she…” His breath hitches as his mind immediately goes back to the images of the nights together. “She pushed herself against me, but never in the way that she could get pregnant, Sarina.”

“You don’t seem to surprised by the note…” Chase glances over, feeling guilt immediately as he remembered Alan’s advice, cursing himself.

“She left me a note at Talladega on pit roa-”

“And you didn’t tell me?!?” He takes a deep breath as he tries to keep himself calm.

“It was right before you told me that you couldn’t carry a baby full term. I didn’t want to put this in your mind when you were already upse-”

“Chase, are you saying that she’s telling the truth?” He shakes his head no, immediately. “Then why would you hide it from me? Why would you want to comfort me? If it’s not the damn truth, then hell, I’d be calling her damn ass out right away. But the fact that you hid it….”

“I swear that she isn’t pregnant with my kid, Sarina. I know what happened. I remember everything. I wish I could forget, but I remember. I deal with that pain every day. I see it over and over in my head like a movie. I would know if she went that far.” Sarina wanted to believe him and knew that they had an uncandid amount of trust considering everything, but she couldn’t help but feel a bit of doubt in her heart. “Please tell me that you believe me….”

“I don’t even know what to say. I want to believe you, Chase. I want to trust you. But I keep thinking what if?” He nods his head, accepting, as he reaches to touch her hand.

“That’s why I didn’t want to tell you until I proved for certain that she wasn’t pregnant.” She then glances over at him.

“But what if she is?” Chase just shakes his head no over and over once again.

“That’s not possi-”

“Anything is damn well possible! I mean, people have collected other people’s semen and made babies from that. What if she did that to you?” Chase shakes his head no once again.

“You have to believe me, please. I need you….” She looks into his brown eyes, seeing the heartbreak there.

“I wish I could just say what you want me to say, but I can’t…” She then slowly stands up and walks away, as his eyes follow her around the hotel room.

“Sarina?” She then goes into the bedsroom, wiping the tears that had formed on her face out of her eyes, before grabbing her bag from the floor and emerging. “Where are you going?”

“I can’t do this. I can’t look at you right now and think that maybe she, the worst person on this earth, is having your baby…” He then stands up and walks over to her.

“Sarina, please, listen to me. I can assure you that she’s not pregnant. This is what she wants. You’re giving her what she wants right now….” Sarina could feel that possibility, but she couldn’t bring herself to look into his eyes right now either.

“I just need some time, please….” She then leaves the hotel room, closing the door behind her and heading down the hall.

Feeling the emotions boiling over, he leans back against the wall, sliding down, tears falling, as he glances at his phone. He dials the only number that he could think to dial right now as he tries to convince himself that things were going to be okay.

It didn’t take long for the crew chief to get there, knocking on the door shortly after.

“Hey,” was all Alan could manage when Chase opened the door and let him into the room. “Have you heard from her?” Chase shakes his head no as he closes the door. “I texted her, by the way. I told her that she should believe you because of what you’ve told me so far. The fact that you detailed what happened and nothing adds up to what she’s saying. She appreciated my vote of confidence, but said that there was still a possibility because you could’ve left out a detai-”

“I told you everythin-” Chase starts and Alan puts his hands up.

“Hey, I believe you, okay?” Chase nods his head, accepting. “She told me that she’s with Kyle and Sam and she didn’t want to say anything else right now. Least she has someone, right? And you have me…” Chase then goes and sits back on the familiar couch.

“I just wish that she would’ve believed me, trusted me, or at least stayed here…” Alan walks over, sitting down beside his driver.

“You have to understand where she’s coming from. You both talked about becoming parents, and how much you would like to see that one day down the road. Then to find out that the dream you envisioned isn’t possible, but yet mostly every other woman in this world can do that, it crushes you. So obviously it explains her emotions being all over the place.” Chase nods his head, understanding. But it still didn’t make him feel right now.

“That’s why we need each other, Alan….” Alan could understand that, and wished it was that easy. He had also pleaded with Sarina along that point that they needed each other especially at this time with everything over the past month, but she wasn’t buying it. It was at that time he had cut off sending anymore texts for the night, not wanting to drive her too far away to not talk to him at all.

“But you have to understand where she’s coming from. She just learned that somebody else can give you something that she can’t. She can give you love, comfort, laughter, fun times – anything, except that. Now somebody else is set to give you that? I can see where she’s coming from, Chase. Besides, she knows in your heart that you’d do anything for a child, no matter who the mother is.” Chase wasn’t so certain about that, considering his own feelings at the time.

“I don’t know if I could look at the child and not think about Alison – if she was pregnant. But I don’t even want to discuss that because Alan, she is not pregnant.” Alan nods his head, accepting. He wasn’t about to argue it.

“I think if you give Sarina some time to process the news, think about what you’ve told her, and wait until calmer heads prevail for a future discussion, you guys will work it out.” Chase glances over at Alan.

“Are you sure about that? Isn’t this what Alison probably wanted?” Alan couldn’t argue against that, either.

“You guys will find your way back to each other. You always do. Just give her some space tonight, okay?” Chase lets out a sigh, nodding his head, accepting. “And if you want, I’ll stay here tonight so you’re not alone.”

“Will there ever come a day when I don’t feel like this about what happened? I can’t even mention her name without a flashback. I almost couldn’t say a word to Sarina because I was stuck in that moment, unable to breath, feeling that pain again…” Alan scoots a little closer, wrapping an arm around him.

“There will come a time, don’t you worry. It’s just going to take time to get there. You just need to face your emotions, fears one bit at a time. You’re making progress. While it may be slow and seem never ending, you’re making progress. You will find your way…”

“I accepted the deal. I told her to go forth with it. I knew what she was going to do. I knew the conseque-”

“You could’ve had known the feelings that would be associa-”

“But I accepted the deal, Alan. I brought this on mysel-”

“You were trapped, Chase. She caught you in a corner with your vulnerabilities against the wall. She knew that you would agree because she knows how much you love Sarina.” Chase glances down at the floor.

“I never should’ve agreed. I never should’ve said ye-”

“Look at me right now, Chase.” Chase looks back up at the crew chief. “It is not your fault. None of this is your fault. You’re not to blame for what Alison did to you. You’re not to blame for this whole mess right now. It is not your fault. She played you, and you’re a victim just like anybody else. Never blame yourself because it is not your fault.”

“I’m trying, but I just can’t help but think back to that night she offered the de-”

“A one-sided, shady, slap in the face deal that played to every weakness. It’s not your fault that she played you, Chase. It’s not your fault that it went on as long as it did.” Chase tried to let the crew chief’s words soak in as they sat there quietly for the rest of the night.

Alan only moved one single time when he heard his phone go off, seeing a text from Kyle. He assured him that Chase was okay and he was there with him, while sharing a bit of his side in the matter. He read the response from Kyle, smiling a little in knowing that he was there for Sarina as long as Samantha.

He knew if both sides worked together, the pair would find their way back together sooner than later.

Friday May 4, 2018 – Dover International Speedway

Even though they weren’t talking right now – despite the fact that he reached out to her by text in the morning to no response (Alan told him to give it a little bit more time), Chase couldn’t help but smile in seeing her top the first XFINITY Series practice.

Of course, his happiness was cut short in knowing the situation that they were currently stuck in not talking to each other, along with the fact that Cup practice was starting and his car was stuck in inspection. He makes his way up on top of the hauler, watching as the first couple cars head out.

“You still stuck in tech too?” Jimmie questions, catching his teammate’s attention and Chase simply nods his head back in return. “Damn….”

“Something about the splitter,” Chase comments, and Jimmie nods in agreement having heard Chad’s comments.

“NASCAR wants to crack down on them since teams are getting a little too carried away.” Chase could only roll his eyes in response. “I’m surprised you’re here, and not in the NASCAR hauler, or with police officers.” Now it was Chase’s turn to look over confused.

“What happened?” Jimmie glanced back surprised, thinking Chase would’ve learned before anyone else.

“Alison was arrested by a couple security guards after she was spotted by, I believe, a couple of Harvick’s crew guys.” Chase looked over, surprised. Why wasn’t he told? How were able to spot the person that seemed like a ghost? “She headed over down that way according to what I heard and she was wandering around like nothing. Someone thought they saw her, so they reported it. But yet they ended up finding her down at that end…”

“Really?” Chase then pulls out his phone, half-expecting to see a text. Sure enough, there was one confirming Jimmie’s news. He then forwarded it to Sarina, knowing it’d give her comfort despite not talking together. “Finally…”

“That has to make you feel good, huh?” Chase looks over, nodding his head in response.

“I can’t begin to describe how good that makes me feel actually…” Jimmie smiles a little as he glances towards the tech line. “It’s over, finally. I don’t need to worry about it anymore. I can finally focus on moving forward…”

“You know you always a friend in me, right?” Chase nods his head, accepting, before watching Jimmie head down the steps.

“Finally….” He runs his hands through his hair, letting out a sigh, feeling an instant sense of relief come over him, even combined with a couple of tears in letting it go.

Alan was right. He was making progress as he could talk about what happened to the crew chief. But there was still a long way to go. Maybe that’d come easier now…