The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 106: Pure Michigan 400

Saturday, August 11 – Michigan International Speedway

“I want to know how you kept that thing from getting any damage,” Alan comments after Chase climbs out of the car following practice.

“I want to know what adjustment you’re going to make to get the looseness out of the car,” Chase replies as Alan glances up at the chart. The session was pretty much a write-off considering the comments from Chase, and the fact they were ranked 18th.

“Is it that bad now?” Chase nods his head as he walks over to the crew chief.

“The rear-end is just too snappy that there was nothing I could do there but hold on.” Alan glances over his notes, as he tries to figure out what direction to go.

“Well, at least it isn’t tight anymore….” Chase just shakes his head as he glances over the data. “I think if I go in-between earlier and now, we’ll be fine – unless you want to go a little tight.” Chase thinks it over, while continuing to look over data – including some from his teammates.

“I’d rather be tight in the center than loose off like that, but perhaps you can fix both?” Alan glances over with a side eye.

“Now now driver, let’s not all get demanding for perfection here….” Chase rolls his eyes as Alan places a hand on his shoulder. “I’ll see what I can do for you. You can trust me…”

“I hope so…..”

Rudy walks over, wrapping an arm around her shoulders.

“You did good holding on at the end,” he tells her. “I’m proud of you.” She then glances over with a small smile on her face.

“It still sucks, though,” she replies and he simply nods his head in response. She had run top-five through the first half of the race, before getting the lead off pit road for the final segment. Unfortunately, battling a tight condition, she would end up finishing fourth.

“When you can say fourth sucks, you’re doing something right. Hey, brighter note – Bristol is next weekend.” She couldn’t lie that she was excited as it was going to be a fun weekend.

“Thanks as always, Rudy….” He then heads off as she glances over to her right at Chase.

“Fourth sucks, but it’s better than 14th,” Chase comments as she reaches over, giving his hand a squeeze.

“Still worried about tomorrow?” She questions and he just shrugs his shoulders.

“It’s frustrating to come off a win and struggle so much to find the speed and handling you want in the car. I want to be mad at the guys, but I can’t because I know how hard they’re working and how far we’ve come.” She then moves closer, leaning her head against his arm.

“But your push for success, perfection, and the playoffs still makes you ponder it, right?” He nods his head.

“The fact that we’ve always ran good here, too. This wasn’t a place that I was worried about.” She then glances up into his eyes.

“Look at the bright notes. You’re locked into the playoffs, this track isn’t in the playoffs, and boom – you guys are getting better. things could be worse, right?” He nods his head, accepting. “Say, why don’t we go back to the bus and I get your mind off of that pesky car?”

“Do I want to know what you’re thinking?” She then looks at him with a bit of surprise.

“I wasn’t going there, but I can if you want….” He moves his arm so it’s wrapped around her, instead of her head against it.

“Either way is fine by me, but I can’t deny that we have fun together.” He then kisses her lips, before they head off pit road together.

Sunday, August 12 – Michigan International Speedway

Starting 21st on the grid, Chase immediately made his way forward, running 12th as of the competition yellow at Lap 25. The combination of speed shown, along with happiness on the radio, brought some relaxation across the pit box in knowing the adjustments last night were the right ones.

Though their day wasn’t meant to go smoothly as Chase would have an uncontrolled right front tire on the pit stop, resulting in a penalty, sending him back to 34th for the restart.

“Of course…” Sarina comments after hearing the call, rolling her eyes in response.

The restart came, and brought forth complaints from Chase in regards to feeling a vibration.

“Is it getting worse?” Alan questions after a couple of laps, sending Josh down to check with the tire changers if they got the lug nuts tight.

“Yes, 10 percent worse,” Chase answers, earning another eye roll from Sarina. “I think it’s a right.”

Knowing it wasn’t getting any better – and not willing to risk the consequences, Chase headed down pit road at Lap 40 for an unscheduled pit stop. Now a lap down, Sarina could only sit there, arms crossed, frustrated.

“We’ve got a long time to make it back up,” Jordan tries to coach the situation as he rubs her shoulder.

Alan made the decision to leave him out at the end of the first stage, allowing him to take the wave around and get back on the lead lap. From there, they slowly worked their way back up through, finishing stage two in 14th, followed by ninth at the checkered.

“Can I bitch today?” Chase questions as he glances over at Sarina afterwards. She just chuckles and nods her head.

“If not for Jordan, I think I would’ve strangled the guys,” Sarina comments as Chase just chuckles.

“They don’t make a lot of mistakes – and they were heroes last week. But it still sucks.” Sarina nods her head in agreement.

“Hey, at least you guys found speed and you made moves to the front of the field. Progress, right?” He glances over with a small smile.

“I see my lessons are rubbing off on you…” She lays her head against him once again.

“I got to be smart if I want to win a championship this year, right?”

Wednesday, August 15 – Kyle Busch Motorsports

Sarina makes her way down the stairs after a meeting with Rudy Fugle ahead of this weekend, set to check in with the guys before leaving for the night. However, she pauses as she notices a familiar face sitting in the No. 51 truck.

She makes her way through the shop and over to the truck in question, peeking inside.

“I know you’re having a killer season in the XFINITY Series, but is Sir Bell missing his time here at KBM with me?” Sarina questions as Christopher just laughs with a glance her way.

“There’s something about Denny, Ryan (Preece), Daniel, and Kyle as teammates that doesn’t equal to your standard,” Christopher answers as Sarina places her hand on her heart.

“I’m so touched by your compliments. But do you realize how mad Harrison will be if he finds you in his truck? You’d be worse off than Goldilocks was with the three bears.” Christopher just smiles as he keeps his eyes locked on her.

“I don’t think Harrison will be too mad. Actually, he texted me today stating that he hoped that I had a good weekend.” Sarina now keeps her eyes on him, feeling more confused than ever. “Oh, you haven’t heard? I’m going to be your teammate this weekend, sweetheart.”

“Say what?!?” Christopher continues smiling as he glances back forward, running his hands over the steering wheel.

“He’s still feeling pretty sick after someone passed along their flu bug, but I wouldn’t know who.” Sarina glances down, knowing that she was one of the people within the shop to have had the bug at one time or another. She was still mad that she wasn’t about to run that weekend, too.

“So Kyle called you to replace him this weekend?” Christopher nods his head as he looks back towards her.

“Now can you try not to wreck me this time?” She then playfully punches him as he laughs.

“Can you seriously just let that go?” Christopher continues laughing, shaking his head no.

“You should know better than anyone that racers don’t forget when they come close…” She nods her head, knowing that was true. However, she couldn’t deny it stung when he made a comment about what happened.

“Recall I did apologize 100 times over for the contact, but relax – I won’t wreck you this weekend. I’ll just give you a slight bump when I pass your ass for the win.” He then looks on surprised.

“That’s some pretty tough talk there for a gal who has only two career wins to her credit, against someone who has hoisted a championship. Are you sure you’re up for the challenge?”

“Is that a bet, Christopher?” Christopher glances back out the windshield, before turning back to her with a serious face.

“You’re on, Ms. Ott. Be prepared to be embarrassed when you lose.” She just chuckles, before going to leave the shop. She couldn’t help but take a glance back and smile in watching him climb out, though.

It was now certainly going to be a really fun weekend.

Thursday, August 16 – Bristol Motor Speedway

The first day of the weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway was filled with lots of action for both Chase and Sarina, as it was alternating practices between the trucks and XFINITY Series.

The day started out strong as Sarina was ninth in the first truck series practice, but confident in how comfortable the truck felt despite not being up there in the top-three with Christopher.

She had walked over to the No. 23 pit during the quick break between sessions, knowing that Chase would be in a good mood after timing in sixth quickest.

“Can you go tell Christopher to slow down, please?” He questions as she walks over, just earning a chuckle in response. It wasn’t a surprise to see Christopher fastest with Kyle second, either.

“I’ll see if the guys can distract him for you, okay?” She replies, snagging a quick kiss. “I can’t stay for long, but I wanted to come see you…” He glances into her eyes, brushing a strand of hair off of her face.

“I don’t have a problem with that – just make sure your boyfriend over there isn’t jealous.” She rolls her eyes, knowing that Christopher’s pit wasn’t far from Chase’s.

“Let him be jealous all he wants because I only have eyes for a handsome Georgia Peach.” He smiles back in response, before playfully glancing around.

“I don’t see no one that fits that description.” She then tugs at the collar on his firesuit, getting his attention.

“I’m talking about you, of course. No other man can ever take this heart.” She then snags another kiss, which he pushes his lips against hers more so this time than before. “I didn’t just come here to flirt, though.”

“Should I be worried?” She takes a deep breath as she reaches into the pocket of her firesuit, pulling out a folded piece of paper. She slowly unfolds it, handing it over.

“This got dropped off in the mail yesterday…” Chase was a little confused, but went with it anyway.

“Shelley….” It didn’t take long for the mood to be killed as he read the top of the notice and saw the name. “Why didn’t you show me this sooner?”

“I debated just throwing it in the trash, or burning it…” Chase holds it over the garbage can.

“I can drop it in if you wan-”

“At least read it first, please…” Chase was surprised with the request, but followed through anyway as he read the notice in full. Simply, it was an apology letter as she tried to once again reason for her actions before in trying to free Chris, and help everyone in the family along. “I don’t believe a single drop of her apology, nor do I want anything to do with her. I get what she says about not having much family, but I don’t care anymore. All I need is Lindsay – no one else as I’m done playing games. I’ve got what I need in you, Samantha, Kyle, Christopher, Rudy, and those around me.”

“So you’re not going to entertain this meeting that she wants to have?” Sarina shakes her head no as she snatches the piece of paper back from Chase.

“I just wanted you to be aware of the notice before I threw it out.” She then holds it over the garbage can, but he grabs it before she can drop it in. “What are you doing?”

“I think we should accept the mee-”

“Are you serious?!? We let Alison get close by believing her trail of words with Bethany. Haven’t we done enough?” Chase nods his head, knowing there was no way he was going back down any road like that ever again.

“I didn’t say we were accepting her apology or allowing her to get close to us, did I?” Sarina crosses her arms.

“You’re agreeing to a meeting with her-”

“I want to hear her intentions said out loud. I want to hear the direction that she is wishing to go. I want to hear why she reached out now. I want to hear what she intends for the future. Not because I’m willing to accept the apology or move forward with her, but because I want to know what we’re facing this time. We set the meeting up, make sure to alert authorities in case it goes south, and see what happens. Can you agree to that?” Sarina understood his approach, but still wasn’t wanting to open those family doors once again.

“I am only going to say yes right now because I want you to be comfortable with the situation. However, if I see anything off, then I’m ending this. Do we have a deal?” Chase nods his head in agreement as he hands her back the piece of paper.

“Figure out where she wants to meet, and when. I’ll make the phone calls afterwards.” Sarina nods her head, accepting, nervously, as she shoves the piece of paper back in her firesuit.

“Not a word of this is spoken to Lindsa-”

“Only if her life depends on it. If anything happens to her, that baby, or Ryan, we’ll have some sisters who will throttle our asses.” Sarina lets out a sigh, nodding her head as there was no denying that. As it was, she had heard enough from Emma already.

“Deal.”

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The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 105: Michigan

Friday, August 10 – Michigan International Speedway

Alan walks into the Cup garage area, set to go find Josh and go over final set-up notes before the first practice of the day. However, he pauses when he notices Chase sitting in the corner by himself.

“Chase?” He questions out loud, slowly making his way over, kneeling down to his driver’s level. “Hey, is everything alright?”

“Do you ever feel like every time you take four steps forward you get knocked back two steps?” Chase asks, not even sharing a gaze with the crew chief yet as Alan sits down beside him.

“That’s better than one step forward, two steps backward as you’ve said before. I expected to enter the garage area with big smiles after last week. What would have you down so fast?” Alan could only reason that it had to deal with Sarina, considering that she wasn’t anywhere to be found.

“Alison.” Alan almost wanted to roll his eyes as he thought they were truthfully moving forward, but that obviously wasn’t true. “They spoke about the possibility of redemption and freedo-”

“She just got locked away not even a full month ago. We’re not even close to that happening, and they said there were steps that had to be taken. I thought you were fine with that decision, anyway.” Chase lets out a sigh, almost about to admit an immediate regret with that comment. Truthfully, it seemed that every situation with her was full of mistake and regrets. Taking a deep breath, he couldn’t let that trace his mind. It was not his fault no matter how it appeared were the words he had to tell himself repeatedly.

“What if that is sooner than we believed?” Alan now looks over with full shock on his face. “I got a note from the court house with an upda-”

“Why are they even bothering to keep you in the loop, to begin with? I thought moving forward involved no more reminders.” Chase wished that was the case as he would’ve preferred to not gotten the message.

“They feel I deserve a right to know due to being her primary target through all of that.” Alan actually couldn’t argue with that, understanding the dangers and safety here.

“There’s no way that they’d lock her up for a month and then relea-”

“They’ve found what was going on in her mind to cause her thoughts to be what they were and go insane, or appear of that nature. Bipolar Disorder is what they’ve diagnosed her with. The belief is once they figure out the medication regime to keep things under control, she will be able to function like anybody else and therefore no longer needing to be kept in the criminally insane.” Alan almost wanted to scream, but knew that wouldn’t help his driver’s state of mind right now.

“And because of that possibility, your mind is warped into 20,000 different theories. Let’s not forget this – it could take months to figure out the right course of action. It could even take years. They also have to make sure it true and tested before even giving her a possibility of release due to the nature of the crimes. I think you’re panicking too early.” Chase knew that, but that didn’t answer everything fully.

“But eventually, my thoughts will be reali-”

“That’s why there’s the review board. She could be told to serve jail time, or parole. Given the nature and depth of what she did to you, Chase, and what you’ve gone through because of that, they will not give her much leeway. You have to trust the justice system.” Chase almost wanted to laugh.

“Everybody has told me that since the beginning of the year when this started, but yet it took six months to get locked up. Would you understand if I didn’t feel fully convinced?” Alan nods his head, accepting.

“That’s why there’s restraining orde-”

“A piece of paper won’t stop someone from killing you.” Alan takes a calm deep breath, not even letting the thought enter his mind. He saw enough bullets, anyway.

“That’s why you can hire personal security, bodyguards, and other options.” Alan then places a hand on his leg. “Trust me when I say this to you – we will not let you go through that again with her. One time is enough and we’re not taking chances at repeating it, even if I had to pull the trigger myself on her. You can trust that you’re safe with us, always.” Chase finally looks over towards the crew chief.

“So am I crazy for sitting here right now having this discussion with you?” Alan shakes his head no.

“You’re understandably paranoid because of what happened. Obviously you’re going to fear her, and fear the possibility of going back there again. Don’t ever underestimate fear or pain. That’s what made this worse for you to begin with. My only suggestion is I know you thought your therapy was coming to a close, but I’d take a session or two and openly discuss what you just told me. It’s obvious that you haven’t uncovered everything yet.” Alan then stands up, brushing his own pants off as he glances over at the team. “The guys are looking a little lost without my direction – imagine that – so I better go get them in line. Are we good?”

“Yeah, of course.” Chase then slowly stands up himself. “Thanks, by the way.” Alan gives him one final glance.

“Anytime you need to talk, don’t be afraid to ask…” Alan then walks away and heads over to Josh as he was originally planning to do from the beginning.

Alan looks up at the speed chart, making a note they ended the session sitting 14th on the charts. It wasn’t exactly where they wanted to be, but it wasn’t the worse situation either. it was obvious they were missing on the intermediate tracks and top-15 was better than outside of that as progress was slowly being made.

“Happy driver or not?” He questions as Chase walks over to join the brain trust of the team.

“It’s free off the corner to the point that I feel I can’t hold it,” he answers as he looks up at the data. “I don’t know if I’d say totally loose, but I just can’t get the bite that I need.”

“More bite to turn give you more speed?” Chase thinks it over as he looks over at Alan.

“I think, but I don’t want to go too far either.” Alan glances back at his notes as he flips through the pages of adjustments tried, along with spring notes. “Give something a little snug, and I may be able to get you a good lap later this afternoon.”

“I’m just worried if I go this direction, that I’ll screw you even worse there. I want to fix the middle as you’re right, but you still need good entry.” Alan looks back at the data. “The key to Michigan is your run through the middle and off due to the long straightaways. So if I lose a bit on entry, can you handle that for the other side?” Chase nods his head, accepting.

“If I have to accept one over the other, I’d prefer to go that way. But why can’t I be like Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch and have both?” Alan chuckles as he looks back at his notes.

“I wish it was that easy, kid. Would you like to take over my job?” Chase chuckles, shaking his head no.

“I still say we should just get Sarina to steal notes from Kyle for us,” Josh interrupts the pair as Chase just rolls his eyes. “She loves you a lot that she’d prob-”

“You obviously don’t know her that well to say that,” Chase cuts him off. “She also believes in integrity and competition and all those things, just like I do. I could never feel right about that, and neither would she.” Josh lets out a sigh as he glances back at Alan.

“I tried….” Alan shakes his head as he grabs the clipboard.

“Focus on your job, not your crazy antics,” he instructs before walking away. Maybe a conference with the other Hendrick Motorsports crew chiefs would lead to some answers.

Sarina climbs out of the truck, smile adorning her face as she looks over at Rudy Fugle. After topping the first truck practice, she had it backed it up with the sixth-fastest time in the second session.

“We’re fast once again,” she says as she walks over, grabbing a bottle of Gatorade out of the cooler. “Now can we actually put it all together tomorrow and win?”

“I’m trying princess,” Rudy offers as he looks over at her. “I told Kyle that the pit crew needs to pick up the slack, and he said he’d have a chat with the powers that be. Now we just need to communicate, and work on the handling accordingly. Can we communicate properly?” She nods her head.

“I feel confident in our communication. I know how to describe what she’s doing, as long as you give her what she needs.” Rudy then looks over surprised.

“She?”

“You always name a car after a girl’s name for her curv-”

“I’ve seen the movie Gone in 60 Seconds so I know how that goes. But even ladies believe in that?” Sarina nods her head, yes.

“I used to always name my late models after favorite females that I aspired to be like one day. Badass girls for that matter. Why do you think Pink had a pink splitter?” Rudy just smiles as he remembered the familiar paint scheme, while crew chiefing an event for Erik. “Now, I’ve gotten away from that with my trucks, but I still talk to them like their little girls.”

“Maybe we should refer to them as teenagers given the attitude some weeks.” She chuckles a little in response.

“Could you imagine a teenager with my attitude, but yet Chase’s sweetness?” Rudy was surprised by the comment, given everything going on, but just had to shake his head at the thought.

“Totally stubborn set on their ways, but yet sweet enough to get away with it.” She nodded her head in agreement, letting out a sigh afterwards.

“….and to think that Chase had a thought of us having two children one day. I almost got myself wrapped up in that vision, too.” Rudy wraps an arm around her.

“There’s options, and knowing the both of you, just like you’ve conquered everything else, you’ll figure this one out, too. Don’t ever limit your dreams as you’ll make them all come true.” She smiles as she glances up at Rudy. “For now, let’s focus on getting ourselves a win this weekend.”

“That sounds fine by me.”

“It’s just wasn’t quite turning like I was hoping it would,” Chase tells the media after qualifying. “But, we had a hard time here in the spring race, too. I’m not real sure why. Hopefully we can get it worked out tomorrow and move forward because that was not good.”

He then walks back over to where Alan was sitting, taking a spot across from him on the pit wall. They hadn’t done anythi9ng special in the session, ultimately ending up 21st on the chart.

“That adjustment obviously didn’t work,” Chase summarizes as Alan just nods his head back in response.

“I don’t know what to say,” the crew chief replies. “I tried going one way but that didn’t work during practice, and now the other way shows that we’re slower in qualifying. I’m literally running out of ideas.” Chase was actually surprised to hear this confession.

“So then what are we supposed to do?” Alan lets out a sigh as he thinks it over.

“I could change springs and shocks, but that’s like going back to the beginning. However, if nothing is working, do I have a choice?” Chase shakes his head no.

“We’ve got two hours tomorrow. That gives us a lot of time to explore. If you want to go a different direction during the first practice, then I say let’s go for it. Then we’ll compare and choose what we really want to go with for second practice.”  Alan nods his head, accepting.

“We’ve got to do something…..”

Saturday, August 11 – Michigan International Speedway

“Are we happier?” Alan asks following the first of two practices on Saturday.

“It’s better than yesterday,” Chase answers as Alan nods his head. The speed chart showed that with them ranked 11th after the first session. Chase then makes his way out of the garage stall, having heard that NBC wanted to do an interview. He was surprised, though, when it was Dale Jr. standing there to do it. “Is it okay to admit that this is a little awkward or strange?” Dale glances at him.

“As awkward as you and Erin?” Dale questions in response, which sees all emotion fade from Chase immediately.

“Excuse me?” Chase asks as Dale keeps his eyes locked on Chase.

“What did I tell you about when you have a good thing, man? Don’t screw that shit up! I thought you were over Eri-”

“There’s no feelings there for Erin. There wasn’t ever any fee-”

“Drunken actions are sober thoughts, man. I was also there at the banquet then.” Chase shakes his head.

“You’re reading into this too much. There are no feelings. Hence why I’ve already talked it over with both Erin and Sarina. Hence why I’m still getting married to Sarina. I was inviting you to the wedding, but I don’t know now. Really?” Dale was actually caught off-guard on the retracted wedding invite.

“I thought I was planning your bachelor party with Jimmie still?” Chase laughs and shakes his head no immediately.

“I’ve heard enough stories from Jimm-”

“We aren’t going to do anything that extreme.” Chase just continues to shakes his head.

“I want to actually be at my wedding, Dale. I don’t need a Hangover movie written after me.” Dale keeps his eyes locked on him.

“I wouldn’t do that to you – as long as you can guarantee me that you’re in this for the right reasons.” Chase then looks over at his former boss and teammate.

“There’s not one shadow of a doubt in my mind that I am.” Dale nods his head, accepting.

“Then I will make sure that you are there on your wedding day to say those words.” Dale then clears his throats as the camera man gives them a 10 second motion. “Ready?” Chase nods his head, as he takes a deep breath, focused back on his practice thoughts.

Sarina gives Rudy a high-five, pleased with their qualifying performance. It wasn’t the pole, but certainly she could make something happen from third later that afternoon.

“We’ve got the speed – let’s be smart,” Rudy reminds her as she nods her head in agreement. “It’s all about closing the deal.”

“I’m ready to build that momentum, put solid runs together, and get myself ready for those playoffs,” she offers and Rudy nods his head in agreement.

“You can do whatever you want for the first half of the season. All that matters, though, is how you perform those last seven. Let’s focus on that momentum.” She smiles as she leans back against the pit wall.

“I’m 100% focused on that.” Rudy could tell as he takes a quick glance around.

“So where’s the fiancé anyway?” She was caught off-guard by the question, but saw where it was coming from.

“His car has been handling like shit most of the weekend so he’s been focused on getting better. He got the win last week, but doesn’t want to be a fluke. The pressure is there to keep that momentum going, but they’ve struggled here. So they’re trying to figure out what they need and that takes times.” Rudy could relate to that, thanks to long nights spent going over notes.

“Am I still going to have a friend on the pit box during the race?” She smiles, nodding her head. No matter how busy they got on race weekends, they always watched each other’s races and always spent the night together to rehash over the events from the day. “I’d be worried if he didn’t show up.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Rudy shrugs his shoulders. “Rudy….”

“It’d be out of character and when you start doing things like that, you know something is going on. I’m hoping you’re both done with drama for the rest of the year.” That was her wish in response, too.

“I hope so, Rudy. I need a break. I think the win and knowing Alison is locked away will bring that calmness. Now we just need to get the job done.” Rudy places a hand on her shoulder.

“That’s not a problem for me, ever.” He then walks away as she just smiles back in response.

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 104: A Victory Party

Sunday, August 5 – Dawsonville, Georgia

There were advantages to his father being at the track beyond witnessing the win, and having a pilot’s license. The convincing of both Jimmie and Ryan had began the drinks early, which was easily allowed to continue with Bill agreeing to fly them home.

The flight home was filled with laughs, including Ryan reaching into his bag to get something, instead pulling out a bottle of AXE and spilling it right on Chase’s lap.

“I feel like I peed myself now jackass,” Chase commented with a laugh.

“At least you smell good for later,” Ryan teases with a wink as he knew there was no doubt Sarina and Chase would have their own celebration later.

“Just remember to follow Kyle’s golden rule about gloves,” Lindsay adds, having heard Kyle tease them about that enough times.

Landing in Georgia and getting a hug immediately from his mother was beyond adorable, as Sarina could only stand back and smile the whole time. After not being able to see her reaction there in victory lane, those simple 10 seconds made up for it.

Knowing they were in for a fun night, the group had already gathered around the swimming pool at the Elliott household shortly after, with another round going around.

“So you got a bowling pin?” Ryan asks, as he glances back at the trophy which sat up on the deck. While promising to bring it by the shop early next week, the guys had no problem with Chase taking it home for the night.

“two actually…” A new voice chimes in as they look back, laughter immediately escaping from Ryan and Lindsay in seeing Sarina adorning the bowling pin costume that the mascot had worn in victory lane. Chase could only stand there in shock shaking his head as she made her way over to them. “I think I’m the cuter one.”

“How in the world did you manage to swipe that thing?” Lindsay questions as she takes a photo on her phone.

“How did you sneak that onto the plane?” Chase adds as Sarina just smiles back in return.

“I have my ways children,” she offers them both.

“I wanted to do this since I saw that thing in victory lane…” Ryan then muses, pushing her into the pool. Surprisingly, the costume floated perfectly.

“Ryan!!” Lindsay was the first one to yell in response.

“Didn’t you learn anything from the 4th?” Chase adds, remembering his own incident.

“Yeah – that you shouldn’t walk on pool decks so I should help you, too,” Ryan comments, then giving Chase a shove into the pool with Sarina.

“Ryan Michael Blaney!” Lindsay then shouts his full name, earning the attention of both Bill and Cindy, who just shake their heads.

Lindsay couldn’t be too mad, though, as looking into the pool, it was adorable watching Chase swim around his “bowling pin,” with the pair sharing laughs in the process.

“You can be dorky as ever with this thing, but you’re adorable,” he tells her, giving her a kiss. He then helps her stand up, followed by working their way out of the pool, now both dripping wet. “Come on, I’ll help you out of that…” He then takes her hand, leading her into the house and down to the bathroom.

Once inside the bathroom, he shuts the door behind them, slowly peeling the costume off of her. His lips then finds, as he pushes her back against the wall, working his hands underneath the t-shirt that she was wearing.

“Chase…” She slowly lets out as he does so, earning a glance from his eyes to hers.

“To the victor goes the spoils,” he offers, before bringing his lips back to hers.

“But…the…party….” He knew it was going to be a long night, and all he wanted to do was take a moment with her to celebrate. Through everything, she had been there for him and he wanted her to understand how much he appreciated that.

“Between the drinks, pool, and music, they won’t notice I’m gone…” She so badly wanted to object once again, but the taste of his lips, and feeling his skin against her fingers as she lifted his shirt caused the words to escape her.

“Oh Clyde…” She then spins them around so he’s pinned against the wall, taking control as she works his t-shirt off, followed by the jeans.

**********

The pair emerge from the bathroom, taking a glance at each other with a wink, before grabbing themselves a drink and heading into the sea of people that now filled the backyard.

“I was wondering where you went,” Lindsay says as Sarina walks over to her.

“Is it that obvious?” Sarina questions and Lindsay just laughs.

“Only because I was actually looking for you. Don’t worry – you both deserved that. Even Ryan and I agreed on the plane. Heck, if we weren’t there, you would’ve joined the mile high club.” Sarina shakes her head no immediately.

“It’s bad enough that we did that in his parent’s bathroom, forget doing that while his dad is flying the plane.” Lindsay just laughs in response.

“I’m just glad that you’re not drinking too much tonight since I can’t even drink anything…” Sarina smiles as she glances at Lindsay’s stomach, seeing it begin to pop out a little. She then looks back towards her own glass. “Oh my gosh, you are drinking….”

“Amsterdam can make someone change their mind about alcohol very quickly with their flavors of interest. Goose Island?” Lindsay just looks back in total shock.

“Who the heck names a drink Goose Island?” Sarina shrugs her shoulders as she swirls the glass around.

“It beats me, but the combination of caramel, vanilla, and chocolate with a touch of burnt oak in beer makes my taste buds soar.” Sarina then takes another long sip as Lindsay shakes her head.

“None of that adds up to Goose Island….” Sarina nods her head in agreement.

“Oh trust me, we were just as caught off guard as you are. I was also surprised with Chase agreed to order me a couple cases to keep if we were having a night like this.” Sarina wraps an arm around Lindsay’s shoulder. “When you’re done being pregnant and feeling up to it, we are going on a girl’s trip to Amsterdam and I will let you see the menu those boys explored from. Let me tell you – we tried some interesting things that night.”

“I can only imagine the fun that was spent….”

While the girls spent time chit chatting, Chase was making his way through the crowd, catching up with all different friends of his from through the years. He was even surprised to see Ryan getting close with some of the guys, too.

The drinks certainly kept flowing through the whole evening, and not just beer anymore as Ryan had broken out the bottle of Jack Daniels, making Chase promise to split the bottle with him. Everybody knew what meant immediately, and Sarina could only sit back and be entertained through the process.

Somewhere along the lines, she was caught off-guard when Chase picked up the guitar and made his way over to her, sitting before her.

“You know how much I love you, right?” He says and she nods her head.

“I love you just as much, too,” she replies, kissing his lips lightly.

“Well, this is for you….” She hten looks on intrigued, but watches as he strums a couple cords.

Your lips
Your hips
When you touch em to mine each and every time
I’m hypnotized, I’ll admit it
Your moves
Your grooves
It’s some heavy stuff, I can’t get enough
Girl your love’s a drug, I can’t quit it

I’m a broke record, a broke record.
You’ve got my heart-heart skip-skip-skipping a beat
From the needle through my ahead, hit repeat
I’m a broke record, a broke record.
You’re a song I gotta sing along with the men
When it gets to the end I gotta play it again and again

My friends, are wearing thin
They’re tired of hearing your name
It ain’t a healthy thing, this obsession that I’m living
So baby please
Rescue me
I ain’t never had nothing stuck in my head
I guess a melody I keep on hearing

I’m a broke record, a broke record.
You’ve got my heart-heart skip-skip-skipping a beat
From the needle through my ahead, hit repeat
I’m a broke record, a broke record.
You’re a song I gotta sing along with the men
When it gets to the end I gotta play it again and again

Like a yo-yo-yo-yo-yo-yo babe is what I feel like
Up and down, driving me crazy
Keep yank-yank-yanking my string-string baby baby
Don’t stop, don’t stop

I’m a broke record, a broke record.
You’ve got my heart-heart skip-skip-skipping a beat
From the needle through my ahead, hit repeat
I’m a broke record, a broke record.
You’re a song I gotta sing along with the men
When it gets to the end I gotta play it again and again
Again, again and again and again
And again and again and again and again

And again, and again

Sarina kisses his lips afterwards, more passionately before, as a couple hollers emerge from the crowd.

“You know, your little secret is out about the singing now…” She offers as he shrugs his shoulders.

“But everybody also knows the lovely lady that has my heart forever,” he replies, kissing her lips once again as his hands find their way to her hips. “You wouldn’t dance with me that night, but will you tonight?”

“I guess I can’t deny the winner what he wants after that adorableness…” She then stands up, as he pulls her close, wrapping both arms around her as he gives Kurt Thomas a quick flick of the fingers to play a song.

As the night drew on, people began to slowly file out and leave the party, with just the core four remaining as they stood on the back porch.

“I see something yellow popping up in the sky….” Ryan comments as he points up to the sky, with the sunrise having begun.

“You do realize that’s the sun, right?” Chase questions as Ryan gives him a playful slap. “Hey, I didn’t say this earlier today or tonight or whatever, but I want to thank you, too. I’ve thanked Alan for being there, Sarina for being there and amazing, but I owe that you to. You were there as someone to distract me from what I was thinking, You were also my escape to Ireland when I needed a break. Until I was ready to actually handle everything, you let me just be loose with you – and I appreciate that.” Ryan glances over with a small smile.

“That’s what we’ve always done best, though – just been there for each other to cut loose and forget the world that we’re thrown into. You don’t need to than-”

“Oh yes I do-”

“No, you don’t, because I was just doing what we’ve always done, and being there as your best friend. And as I’ve said from the beginning, I don’t regret getting caught up in that mess either because I’d rather be there for you.” The pair then look back out over the back porch. “How are things going with that anyway?”

“Great, actually. therapy was exactly what I need to do, and I almost wish I did it sooner. We’ve talked about a lot of things that I was avoiding, and I think I’ve found that closure that I needed. There’s still a couple real small things, but I’m ready to move on from Alison.” Ryan then glances back over with another smile.

“That’s great, honestly. I’m glad my best friend is back to raise hell with me.” Chase chuckles as he looks over.

“You’ve always been there, and I want you there for one more special occasion. Sarina and I are getting married in Colorado in January. Will you be my best man?” Ryan looks over surprised.

“Is that even a necessary question? Of course I’ll say yes and freeze my ass off for you.” Chase chuckles as Ryan glances back out over the yard. “I still can’t believe that you guys are engaged, and getting married.”

“I can’t believe it sometimes, either, considering how things started. But I will tell you – it’s been worth every minute.” He then looks back over at Ryan. “So, when are you getting married?”

“Woah bud, easy now. One step at a time…” Ryan then glances down at the girls talking by the pool with their feet swirling in the water. “I don’t know when. I’m just enjoying the ride right now. I can tell you that we’re absolutely happy together, and we both can’t wait to meet our little girl or boy in December. Beyond that? We’ll see what happens, man.”

“That’s not a bad approach, really. I actually can’t wait to meet the baby, either. I bet he or she’ll be adorable –as long as they get their looks from their mommy.” Ryan then gives him a playful smack as Chase laughs. “Alright, I’m headed to bed. I at least want to be laying down before Mom gets up.”

“Is Chasey still scared of getting in trouble with Mama?” Ryan teases as Chase gives him a look.

“No matter how old I get, let’s just make it clear that she can always bring the heat if she wants.” Ryan went to say something in return, but just nodded in head knowing better as he had heard the lectures from Cindy at times.

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 103: Go Bowling at the Glen

“A lot of emotion. A lot of relief. It’s been a tough road. Makes a helluva story.” – Chase Elliott, August 5 2018

Sunday, August 5 – Watkins Glen International

“Happy birthday big guy!” Sarina says as she climbs up on the pit box, giving Alan a big pat on the back. “So are we old or ancient now?” Alan chuckles as he looks back at her.

“Easy there young lady,” he offers. “You’re going to be 43 one day and regretting those words…” She just rolls her eyes as she takes her usual seat behind Josh alongside Jordan.

“Here we go….” She puts her headset on, hoping the race just went smooth as possible.

“Appreciate the effort on that Sun Energy 1 car. Looks good.” Sarina had to agree with the crew chief based on how things went yesterday. She just hoped they had that speed once again today.

“Appreciate it fellas as always,” Chase replies on the radio. “Nice and smooth today.”

The race wouldn’t start off on a calm note, though, as the first few laps saw Kyle and Denny begin the crazy battle for the lead ahead of Chase.

“Are you going to be able to handle today?” Jordan jokes as he sees the look on Sarina’s face as they watch them go through the bus stop on the monitor.

“Maybe Kyle will do us a favor and wreck Denny,” she offers, earning a laugh from the interior mechanic.

It also didn’t take long for the first caution to come out, either, as Joey Logano went off course to the surprise of everyone.

“That was pretty damn wild to be the first two laps,” Chase immediately comments on the radio under the yellow to the agreement of everyone.

Once the race restarted, the action didn’t slow down as there was craziness throughout the field. Chase, meanwhile, ran it clean as possible, running fourth throughout the stage until Alan called him to pit road with three laps to go. While it sucked to rejoin the field and finish 11th – one spot outside of earning points, she knew the reasoning behind it and believed in the crew chief’s strategy.

Once everybody else pitted under the yellow, Chase cycled up to the front and immediately made it worth his way, taking the lead early in the stage. He wouldn’t look back throughout, crossing the finish line for another stage victory.

“Alright, green-checkered here,” Eddie D’Hondt says on the radio as Sarina let out a small fist pump in the air. “Save fuel. Save fuel.”

“Good work, bud,” Alan adds as he glances over at the notes from the engineers on fuel strategy.

The restart would not go as planned as Chase would get loose through turn one, allowing Kyle to grab the lead. Chase wouldn’t let him get out that far, actually gaining ground at times through the bus stop and carousel. However, it wasn’t enough to actually get back by him.

“Hey bud, if you can’t get him, just take care of fuel for me,” Alan suggests, earning a small bit of nerves from Sarina in knowing that fuel was going to come into play at the end of this thing.

“What’s more important because I might have a shot at him?” Chase questions in return, and Sarina believed those words. It was easy to see via the lap times that they were making good time, and she believed through the second half of the course, he could make something happen.

“If you can get him, then get him. We just can’t run behind him and lose fuel.”

They didn’t have to worry much longer about fuel numbers to the end of the race as the caution would fly for Matt DiBenedetto blowing up with 37 laps to go. While it was good to not worry as much about fuel, there were still a couple small nerves in knowing they were one lap before the fuel window opened now pitting under yellow.

The pit stop was fast, though Chase would go just before Nick O’Dell was clear of the car, barely clipping him as he left the pit box, coming off pit road in second.

“Sorry about that Nick,” Chase says immediately over the radio.

“He’s okay; he’s laughing,” Alan replies, even chuckling himself at the landing motion.

Sarina just shakes her head as she climbs down off of the pit box, walking over to where Nick was with the guys.

“Are you sure you’re okay?” She asks and he nods his head. “You realize you were just hit by a stock car right?” He nods his head once again.

“But I held on to the air gun, and that’s what matters,” he tells her as she smiles back, remembering the discussion from pre-race. “I just didn’t think he’d actually test the theory.”

“Well, you earned your gold star from me today. Love ya, Nick!” She gives him a big hug, before heading back up to her post.

“Chasey gonna be jealous if he hears about that hug,” Chad Avrit teases, which Nick just flips him the bird back in response earning a laugh from the other guys.

“I’d rather him be jealous over a hug than starting at the tail of the field for this restart,” Nick comments as the team gets comfortable, ready to watch the final laps unfold.

Everybody was then caught off-guard when Kyle Busch made the trip back down pit road, giving up the lead to Chase.

“No fuel in the car whatsoever,” Alan reports over the radio. “He’s not going to be a factor.” Sarina felt herself pout a little, feeling bad for both Kyle and Samantha in being her bosses. Besides, she was actually looking forward to seeing her boss and fiancé fight it out for the win.

“Copy that,” Chase replies. “Is everybody pretty much good to the end here?”

“It’s close. Just save all you can. When you get an opportunity to attack, you know, attack. But just don’t be frivolous with it.” Sarina felt her nerves kick up, already imagining him running out of the gas in the closing stages while leading.

“Frivolous?” She repeats, earning a glance from Jordan. “What? Does Alan think that Chase carries a dictionary in the car or something?” Jordan just chuckles in response as he pats her leg.

“Just relax and enjoy the show,” he starts. “It’s time for your man to do what he was born to do.”

Chase would get the perfect restart with 33 laps to go, pulling out to a solid lead ahead of Martin Truex Jr.

25 to go. 20 to go. 15 to go. 10 to go.

5 to go. The gap was still steady and enough to not get too nervous, but Truex was there if Chase did something.

4 to go. 3 to go. 2 to go.

Sarina felt everything on edge as he took the white flag for the last lap and went down into turn one. Then it happened. The back of the car kicked out a little as he wheel-hopped entering the corner, but he immediately got it back rolling.

“Did he just kick it out of gear to fix that?!?” Sarina questions, feeling every bit of nerve as Jordan just shrugs his shoulders. “Come on, Chase!!”

The moment allowed Martin to shrink the gap considerably, but not enough as Chase held onto the lead, putting together the perfect lap the rest of the way through the course, set to come back around to the checkered.

“Just bring it home, bring it home….” Eddie D’Hondt says as he comes off of the final corner.

“Baby, that’s how you do it!” Alan lets out as he crosses the checkered line. “Get the checkered flag, son!” Sarina lets out the double fist pump, before grabbing Alan from behind, and hugging the crew chief.

“Yeah, baby yeah!” Chase screams on the radio as elation hits the pit box with everybody hugging each other as a couple stray tears roll down Sarina’s cheeks. “Hell yes! Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you!”

“Proud of you guys, proud of all of you,” Bill is next over the radio, earning a small smile from Sarina. She almost wanted to cry a little bit more in knowing that Cindy wasn’t there to experience it, but rather at home with grandma. She could only imagine the emotions that she was going through. “Burn that son of a gun down, boy!”

“Right here for you big boy…” Sarina glances up at the big screen, set to see the burnout through the back half of the course – but then the car stalls suddenly. She just shakes her head, knowing that they must’ve been closer on fuel than she thought, and was glad that Alan didn’t keep them totally in the loop as she would’ve been more nervous than she was. “Oh, just kidding! I’m out of gas. I need a push Eddie, I need a push.”

“I’m working on it, man,” Eddie replies as Sarina just shakes her head. She was actually looking forward to seeing him lay down his first win burnout. It’d been awhile since she saw him lay down a good one.

“I got my man, Jimmie Jam, coming to push me…” Sarina just smiled in watching Jimmie line up perfectly to give Chase a push back around to the front stretch.

“That’s a pretty cool victory lap right there,” Alan comments as Sarina nods her head in agreement. She knew the friendship the pair shared, and could only imagine the meaning that it meant to Chase.

“That is badass, man!”

“Come on!!” Both Jordan and Josh yell at Sarina as they hurry for the steps on the pit box, wanting her to follow as they were both set for the frontstretch celebration, and wanted her to be right there in the middle of it.

As soon as he stopped on the frontstretch, the crew surrounded the car as he jumped out, letting out a big fist pump in the air. He then hops off, immediately meeting with Alan as he pulls him into a hug.

“Way to go kid,” Alan says as he gives him at a pat on the back.

“Happy Birthday, man!” Chase replies as he then looks into the crew chief’s eyes. “Thank you, thank you for everything. I mean it when I say I wouldn’t want to work with anyone else. Thank you….”

“I’m just glad that we could win one!!” They then share another hug together, before Alan lets him go.

Chase then goes through hugging the rest of the crew guys, including a special hug for Nick, along the way. He then stops as he reaches the last person on the line, pulling her right close as he locks his lips with hers.

“I love you so much,” Sarina tells him. “Congratulations Clyde!”

“I love you, too, and I can’t wait to celebrate with you,” he replies, giving her another kiss in return.

“So are we going to head to victory lane or are we just going to party here all day?” Alan questions as Chase shrugs his shoulders.

“Does it matter? We’re winners!” Sarina lets out as Chase just smiles, keeping her held close.

The crew then starts pushing the car to victory lane – with Chase only stopping to share a hug with Jimmie – before continuing to join them on the journey.

“Can you believe it?” Sarina questions and he shakes his head. “You’re a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race winner. Do I need to pinch you?”

“It’s slowly sinking in….” Chase answers as he glances over into her eyes. “I’m glad that you were here.” He then gives her another kiss.

“I just wish your mom was here….” Chase nods his head in agreement.

“She’s probably having a ball running the party in Dawsonville. The siren is going to be blaring tonight!” She chuckles as they reach victory lane.

Chase sits in the car, waiting for the cue to climb out. As he does, a series of drivers come in for hugs, beginning with Ryan and Bubba, to Kyle. Chase made Ryan promise he’d be at the party that night, while Sarina stopped Kyle to offer him a hug.

“Nice drive back up through to third,” she tells him. “I was actually looking forward to you two racing each other.” Kyle glances back towards Chase, before looking at Sarina.

“Would you have been mad at me for beating him?” He questions as she laughs.

“Who says you would’ve?”  He then laughs back, giving her a playful punch before heading off out of victory lane.

Sarina remained in background, smiling as Bill walked over for a hug with Chase, just standing there in pure admiration and amazement.

“I was wondering what was going to go wrong this time,” Bill confesses and Sarina nods her head, having the same theory at times.

The trophy presentation went smoothly, with everyone set for the champagne shower afterwards. Sarina had to laugh at the crew mostly dumping it on Alan, but knowing he deserved for his birthday.

“You still want to be close even though I’m stinky of sweat and champagne?” Chase says as she cuddles up close for photos.

“I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else,” she offers, giving him yet another kiss.

After posing for a bunch of photos, they instructed for just Chase to remain there for the obligatory hat dance. Sarina stood back watching, earning an idea of her own as she walked over to the bowling pin mascot.

“I have to ask one question….” She starts, with a smirk on her face.

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 102: Watkins Glen Weekend

Friday, August 3 – Watkins Glen International

“Ugh, why is it raining?” Sarina lets out as she grabs a snack from the fridge before flopping down on the couch.

“Wet air rises, cools, and water vapor forms those things called clouds,” Chase starts as he glances over with a small smirk on his face. “When those clouds get large and heavy enough due to tiny particles of dust or pollen swept up high in the atmosphe-“

“I don’t need the science behind it, jackass!” He then laughs as she chucks a pillow at him. “But seriously, though, why does it have to rain today and now? Why not later?”

“So you would rather race in the rain?” She then lets out a sigh as that wasn’t the best solution, either.

“I was third in practice. Now I have to start 18th today. Do you see my point?” Chase nods his head.

“More practice for you in passing as you’ll have to make your way to the front now…” She then chucks another pillow at him. “What? You said this was practice for Canada?”

“Do you want to just come out and ask for your ass kicking instead?” He then sticks his tongue out.

“You have no more pillows…” She then glances around the couch as she smirks.

“But I do have a fist, and it’ll come over to your side of the room….” He just laughs as he resets the game he was playing. “Geez, maybe I should just go see Christopher. He may be better company than you’re being right now.”

“Oh really?” She nods her head as he sets down the controller. “Yeah, well, there’s one thing that he won’t do that I know you love to do during a nice, long rain delay to relax.” He then walks over, planting a kiss on her lips. “Now is the rain so bad after all?”

“Maybe we could make use of our time…” She then wraps an arm around him, pulling him back close as she locks her lips with his.

It felt weird to be sitting on a pit box with strangers, but it was his norm for when she raced so he wasn’t going to do otherwise. All he hoped was the day went smoothly, and she made her way to the front.

The K&N race started off well for her as she made her way through the field, running third by the 15th lap. However, a bit of confusion over the radio in whether to pit at the mid-race break or not, resulting in staying out, ultimately cost her as she’d pit outside of the window later in the event. Per NASCAR rules, that was a one-lap penalty.

She was never able to make up the lap either, ultimately finishing the race in 21st.

“Remind me to read the rulebook if I ever want to run one of these races ever again,” she tells him as they leave pit road together after the race.

“But did you have fun and learn how to turn left and right?” He questions and she glances over with a nod. “That’s all that matters then.” He then wraps an arm around her as they head back through the garage area.

“You’re an oddly cheery mood this weekend…” He then shrugs his shoulders.

“Therapy is going well, worries about Alison is off my back, and I feel like for the first time since everything, I’m really moving forward with my life. Besides, I also have a good feeling for this weekend…” She then smiles as she clutches his hand.

“Here’s to you having a better race than I did then.”

Saturday, August 4 – Watkins Glen International

Chase makes his way into the garage area, leaning back against the toolbox as he glances over at Josh.

“What are you doing?” Chase questions as Josh glances over a touch.

“Reading some posts on twitter,” Josh answers as Chase was now surprised.

“Aren’t you supposed to be working?” Josh shrugs his shoulders, passing over the notebook, before looking back to his phone. “Okay, fair.” Chase then sets the notebook back down. “What are you reading on twitter?”

“Who gave you the right to ask 20 thousand questions?” Chase chuckles as he keeps his eyes on the car chief. “Have you seen the whole hashtag debate?”

“Charina or Sarell? Sarina showed me that. Did you vote?” Josh nods his head.

“I obviously picked Sarell….” Chase then gives him a fake punch as Josh laughs. “But seriously, who believes that Sarina and Christopher should get together over you and her? Did these people miss the fact that you’re engaged and planning a wedding?”

“It’s the same people who have the fascination that I should be with Erin.” Josh then looks over shocked.

“As in Erin Blaney?” Chase slowly nods his head yes. “Okay, actually, you guys sort of were cute together at the banque-”

“Seriously? You’re not helping!” Josh lets out a sigh as he looks back to his phone.

“Do you even care about all of this, though?” Chase shakes his head no.

“They can say what they want – the more power to them. All that matters to me is the commitment that Sarina and I have to each other. If everybody can’t understand that I’m just friends with Erin as she’s just friends with Christopher, well, oh well.” He then gives the car chief a pat on the shoulder. “Now, I have work to do, and I think you do too…”

“I think so, and for the record, I voted Charina.” Chase gives him a small high-five before walking over to the car, set for the first practice.

Climbing out of the car after the pair of the practices, a smile could be seen from Chase’s face from a mile away. The ‘ol No. 9 Chevrolet was working as he wanted, and that showed with him leading the final practice session.

After breaking down what Alan needed him to do, he made the quick trip back to the motorcoach, knowing they had a bit of time before qualifying later on that afternoon.

He walks inside, surprised to see Sarina sitting at the small table in the kitchen with a photo album before. He quietly makes his way in, not wanting to disturb her concentration, as he grabs a drink from the fridge before sitting down.

“Nice job on the practice charts,” she says, giving him a quick kiss, before looking back at the photos. The comment had went right over his head as his eyes were now focused on the images before him, as well. He recognized them without a doubt, smiling at some of the memories.

“Why are you looking at my baby album?” He questions, knowing that sounded odd as it came out of his mouth but he was curious. He remembered when it first surfaced at the house as she wanted to see the photos of him after they had looked through the images that were given to her in the toy box. It now surprised him to see it in the motorcoach.

“I’ve got a lot on my mind, and seeing some of these gives me a little peace.” He then brushes a strand of hair off of her face. “We’ve talked about my future as a mother and there’s decisions to be mad-”

“….which you can take whatever time you need making, and do when you feel is right. Just because a doctor told you that you can’t carry a baby full term and need to explore options doesn’t mean you need to do that right away. It’s a big decision, Sarina. It’s something that we both actually need to explore all the options, talk about, and see what we want to do for us.” She nods her head, remembering the discussion they had shortly after the news and the fact that he added then he’d support her no matter what.

“I know, and I remember that, Chase. However, I can’t help but still be stuck on looking at those options. It broke my heart to lose the baby in January even though I had no idea I was pregnant. It broke my heart to learn that I can’t carry a baby full term if I wanted to one day. But looking at these options, it makes that pain easier to handle because I know I’m totally not ripped at the chance of doing something that mostly every other female can do in this life.” Chase rubs her shoulders.

“I understand….” He could see where she was coming from – same way he used certain things to help cope with everything Alison had done before. “You can’t avoid the pain forever, though.”

“I know, but dealing with it slowly rather than taking everything at once makes it easier for me.” She then glances back at the photos. “Those options make me feel a lot of things, Then when that becomes too much, trying to figure out what to buy for Lindsay or Emma can offer relief. The other thing is looking back at baby photos, whether you or me, and thinking happy thoughts about the situation. I don’t know if it’s strange or weird, but it helps me.”

“I’m not going to judge you, because we all deal with things in our own way. If this helps you, then hey, go ahead and stare at little me.” She then flips through a couple more pages.

“Your dad wasn’t the first person to hold you after your mom gave birth, right?” Chase nods his head as he looks over the photos.

“Dad gave that opportunity to Casey.” She then looks over at him, slightly confused.

“Every parent dreams of that moment of holding their child for the first time, but yet he offered you to your cousin?”

“At that time, they knew Casey was dying. However, the hope and happiness of mom being pregnant with me gave the family something to hold onto. He was happy for my parents, too. So when it came time for that day, he came to the hospital to meet me, and he followed my dad down to the room where they weigh you. Dad said in watching someone lose everything, you want to give them something to hold onto, a piece of happiness. That’s why he did it, and he said it paid off as soon as he saw Casey’s eyes light right up.”

“So he has no regrets over the decision?” Chase shakes his head no.

“That happiness that he saw from Casey was worth every part of why he did it. The weeks after, he would go over to see Casey and Casey would always ask how I was doing. He brought me a couple times, too. That was something that they could share in happiness, along with other stories and stuff, and just for a moment of time let go of what was happening.” She then smiles as she looks back at the photos, seeing one of them of Casey holding him.

“That’s why the car means so much to you for Darlington…..”

“There’s a bond there that I can’t describe because for me, I don’t remember those moments or feelings, but yet I feel connected when people tell me.” He then pauses, remembering the one conversation that happened last year. “And I know he’s watching over me, Ernie, everyone.”

“I always feel that my dad is with me, no matter what anyone else may say. Sometimes I think I feel him, too, or maybe I catch a glimpse of a butterfly or a ray of sunshine and it makes me think of him. I don’t want to lose that memory, either….” He then reaches over, squeezing her hand a little with a small smile.

“You won’t, because he’ll always be someone that we talk about together, share stories about, and tell our children one day.” She then looks at him a little surprised.

“Children? Wait a second, here. We are talking about possibly having problems surrounding having a child, and you just said children.” He nods his head, knowing what he said exactly.

“We have options, and we’re going to find what exactly works for us, and we’re going to have the child, or children that we want to have. Remember the daydream I told you about?” She nods her head as that was a discussion she’d never forget, either.

“A boy and a girl….”

“We’re going to live out every fantasy that we’ve dreamed of. The world is ours, and we can do whatever we want.” He then leans in and kisses her lips. “First, though, I need to go win the pole.”

“Please say pole…” Sarina says as she stands watching Chase come by to complete his lap.

“Third,” Alan replies instead, earning a disgruntle sign from Sarina. “Tracker looked good until the back end of the course. He was close…” She lets out a sigh as she sits down on the wall.

“That just stinks. I mean, it’s great to be starting up front, but to be oh so close and miss it by oh so much…” Alan nods his head in agreement.

“The worst part is he doesn’t slip up in turn 11 and we probably would’ve beaten Denny.” She just shakes her head in disgust.

“Of course it’s Denny winning the pole and not Kyle, too.” Alan glances over at her.

“Are you still mad over Martinsville?” She gives him a surprised look in response.

“Aren’t you? I mean, it’s one thing to do what he did, but it’s another to act like he did afterwards. Those actions aren’t to be forgotten, Alan.”

“I was over it once Chase got his sweet revenge at Phoenix…” Sarina smiles as that was a well-played moment indeed. “Listen, who cares if he starts in front of us tomorrow. All that matters is whose leading on the last lap.”  She nods her head in agreement.

Sunday, August 5 – Watkins Glen International

Chase walks over to the guys following driver introductions, giving them each a quick fist-pound.

“Ready to go?” He questions and they all nod their head in response.

“Remember what I said, right?” Nick reminds Chase, catching his attention. “We get in trouble for removing pit equipment, we don’t get in trouble for moving people. Alan tells you to go, you ju-”

“Hit the gas pedal and get outta there as you’ll get your ass outta the way.” Nick nods his head, glad the pre-race discussion had set in.

“I just don’t want us losing valuable time because you’re worried about me.” Chase places a hand on his shoulder.

“I know you’re a tough guy and can handle it….” He then glances down a couple other guys. “Unlike Jared and those fools.” Nick laughs as Chase walks away from them.

He goes and puts an arm around Sarina, placing a light kiss on her cheek.

“Here goes nothing, right?” She replies, as she leans her head against his chest. “Do your thing today and everything should work out just fine.”

“That’s the plan…” He then gives her another quick kiss, before they get set to stand for the national anthem.