Friday, November 9 – ISM Raceway
Chase stands back, smiling as he watches Sarina take the required photos. She had done her job, laying down a perfect lap to snag the pole for the truck race later on that night. Step one complete. Now it was just up to him to do the same, followed by hopefully a celebration.
“Congratulations,” he says as she walks over once done the last shot, wrapping her arms around him immediately. “Easy….” He then rubs her back as she buries her head in his neck.
“I don’t care about the pole, I don’t care about tonight,” she starts as she looks into his eyes. “All that matters to me right now is that you’re okay.” He then pulls her back close, continuing to rub her back.
“I’m okay. We figured it out in time. Breathe…” She feels a couple tears roll down her cheeks, which immediately Chase reaches over to wipe away as he felt them fall on his shoulder.
“I was so scared. I literally practically fell apart in Rudy’s arms waiting to hear that everything was oka-”
“And it is, Sarina. It would’ve worked out no matter what. We had a plan no matter the situation. I’m okay.” He keeps her held close, debating if he would’ve followed through with Alison’s note. Would he been easily able to accept what she had to offer knowing everybody would be okay? “You don’t need to worr-”
“I can’t help but worry with her crazy ass on the loose. I love you, I care about you, and I want everything to be perfect for us, and…” He caught where she was going immediately, as he kept his hands rubbing her back to resist reaching there again.
“I know, and I love you, too. That’s why I want you to breathe, calm down, and not stress. It’s not good for you.” She smiles a little.
“Look at you, right back to caring for me as if nothing happened. Meanwhile, you just stared a bomb in the face like it was nothing.” It wasn’t quite nothing, but he wasn’t ready to admit that to her in wanting to keep her calm.
“I knew in my heart, I believed that it would work out. it’s meant to be, right?” She nods her head.
“I don’t know what I would’ve done without Rudy, if I’m being honest. I probably would’ve came running and sent everyone into a panic and went completely nuts.” Chase easily nodded his head, remembering when he sent the text message.
“That’s why I wanted you to stay with Rudy so he could keep you calm, and somewhat distracted.” Rudy had certainly accomplished that, as they reviewed over notes while discussing things – ultimately finding the secret to this pole.
“Trust me, he did a good job. He actually gave me some advice that I can really take to heart. I confessed some worries, and I was genuinely surprised but happy about what he said to me in return. Heck, even Todd said that I found the sweet side of him.” Chase had to chuckle, remembering everyone’s reservations at the beginning of the season.
“Kyle doesn’t hire people for stupid reasons.” She nods her head, remembering how everybody offered tips of confidence when she was curious how it’d play out, and ready to ask for Marcus back.
“I wouldn’t change things now. I mean, in some ways, I can’t thank Rudy enough for what he’s done.” Chase was willing to stand there and talk with her all day, but he also knew that the schedule wouldn’t allow that.
“I’ve got to go qualify….” She then slowly lets him go, only to clutch his hand tightly.
“I’m coming with you.” He looks at her a little surprised, but wasn’t ready to argue as the couple walked out to pit road together.
Sarina walks up behind him, wrapping her arms around as she lays her head on his shoulder. She had just gotten back from the truck series driver’s meeting, and was surprised to not see him in her hauler. They had agreed following qualifying, she’d go to the meeting and they’d meet back at her hauler before heading out to pit road for the truck race.
“Are you okay?” She questions, as he lets out a sigh.
“Is it okay to be disappointed in qualifying second?” He offers, and she couldn’t help but smile in response.
“You’re asking a fellow racecar driver, who tries to find the edge even more so than you always do. So what do you think my obvious answer will be, Chase?” Chase had to chuckle as he had seen enough of her frustrated incidents to know better.
“With how we practiced and how the first round felt, I told Alan that we had a good car and he had done everything right. It just felt like a pole winning car that would do what I wanted. But I just missed corner three – or one, or whatever – a little and boom, we’re second.” She had to chuckle at the corner comment, knowing that everybody’s feedback was all over the place with ISM switching the front stretch to the back, and vise versa.
“Second isn’t bad, and at least it’s not Sunday….” He nodded his head, knowing that she had a point.
“Qualifying has never been my strong suit, and I so badly want to get a non-restrictor plate pole. Today was my shot and I blew it..” She rubs his shoulders, knowing the frustration was not only coming from that, but rather the fact it was win or be done this weekend.
“You’ll make up for it on Sunday when you do everything right and end the day in your rightful place. Believe in yourself, believe in Alan, and #di9 hard because this team is behind you all the way.” She then kisses his cheek, causing him to look back over his shoulder at her.
“Look at you dropping the advice….” She knew what he was referencing, as it was certainly a change in attitude compared to the beginning of the year.
“I guess you could say that your influence on me is paying off.” He then turns around to face her, keeping her held close.
“While that may be the case, I want to make sure you’re not losing yourself in the process. I don’t want you to change. I love every bit of you the way you are.” He then leans in, kissing her lips, which she easily accepts. “Shouldn’t be you getting ready for driver introductions and a race?”
“I couldn’t go out there without my man there for support.” He smiles, taking her hand as they head out of the garage area together.
They made a quick stop at the hauler – allowing him to change and a bathroom trip for her – before heading out to pit road for the truck race.
Starting on the pole, Sarina led the first couple of laps, before falling in line to finish the first stage second. Everything looked to be going smoothly until she headed down pit road, with the crew performing a slow stop, causing her to fall back to 19th for the restart.
“Of course…” Chase comments to himself, knowing that the night couldn’t go smoothly in trying to lock up her Championship 4 chances. It also wasn’t the first mistake by the pit crew this year, either, and it was getting to be a bit of a pain. Why hadn’t Kyle and Rudy addressed this yet?
Taking a deep breath, Chase kept himself calm as while it was a short race, there was still plenty of time for her to get back up there as she had a fast truck underneath her. On top of that, she just needed a decent finish; no heroics were necessary to make the Championship 4.
The climb back through the field would come naturally, with Sarina making her way back up to eighth by the end of the second stage. Now running back in the top-10 and the math looking promising, he could relax a little for the final sprint.
The pit crew redeemed themselves, getting her up to fifth for the restart. She also kept doing her job behind the wheel, moving up to third by the time the caution flew with 22 laps to go for John Hunter Nemechek spinning out of the lead.
“Never change bud,” Rudy comments quietly, earning a chuckle from Chase.
However, that quickly disappeared to be replaced by nerves. Late race restarts never seemed to go in Sarina’s favor and they couldn’t afford that to happen again. This time, though, she did her job once again as she was able to take the lead and began to cruise away from the field. Everything looked to be in their favor for a victory as she was out to a two-second lead, when the caution came out with eight laps to go for Riley Herbst going around on the frontstretch.
“Are you kidding me?!?” Chase questions, with a long sigh. Things just couldn’t go simply as planned.
The restart would see her get stuck in a side-by-side battle with Grant Enfinger for the lead, including some contact as they leaned on each other. That would allow Brett Moffitt to get the run down the frontstretch, using the dog leg to get by the pair of them.
Sarina was able to hold on, though, finishing second. most importantly, she was qualified for the Championship 4 next weekend at Homestead.
“Nice job,” he tells her after the race, handing her a cold bottle of water, which she immediately drinks. “You did a good job all night, fighting hard and staying focused to get the job done. I was especially proud of how you handled the adversity.”
“We had to do one job tonight and I wasn’t going to fail at that,” she offers, handing him back the empty bottle. He then glances over a little surprised. “It’s warm in the desert.”
“Do you want another one?” She shakes her head no immediately. “Are you sur-”
“What did I tell you about constantly worrying about me?” He then lets out a sigh.
“And what did I say about that as well?”
“Ah, look at the cute couple feuding,” Rudy comments as he walks over, offering a hug for Sarina. “Nice driving all night. You make me proud. Let’s do the same next week.” She nods her head in agreement.
Saturday, November 10 – ISM Raceway
Sarina glances up from her corner in the garage stall, smiling as she watches Chase closely. She could sit there all day and just stare as every butterfly fluttered inside her as she did so each time.
She had caught herself staring at his lips, licking her own in knowing how well they tasted, while he was talking with the crew guys in what they needed to do to be faster during the next session. They weren’t that bad off, though, having timed in sixth quickest.
She also caught herself letting her eyes trail down the full length of him, from those perfectly toned arms that held her strongly, to the perfect shaped ass, as he was looking over the car in-between runs.
Let’s face it – she was one spoiled girl, and she wasn’t going to forget that, or let him out of sight. Certainly sitting in the motorcoach or trailer would be more comfortable, but having a set of eyes locked him was certainly more satisfying.
“What are you doing?” Jordan asks, snapping her out of the thoughts as she looks back down at her Ipad. She couldn’t let on that she was checking him out the entire hour long practice, and half-hour since it was over.
“Figuring out wedding venue plans,” she answers, earning a curious glance from the interior mechanic. With Jordan not having much to do while the rest of the guys worked on the mechanics of the car, it usually left him to spending time with Sarina.
“I thought you had everything plan-”
“The venue called earlier this week, and told us there was a double-booking by accident. They took the first one whom booked, which was not us. So now we need to re-plan the venue.” Jordan was taken back by the news, however didn’t see it as complicated.
“Couldn’t you just choose another cabin in Colorado?” She shakes her head no, which brought another glance of confusion from Jordan.
“Nothing else seems to work, and really, having a chance to re-plan made me reconsider everything. Well, actually, it made Chase reconsider having a wedding in Colorado since that’s our getaway spot, where we go when we want to leave everything behind. Do we want to bring everybody there?” Jordan could understand where they were coming from.
“So what are the options?” She then shows him the Ipad, which had included a rough list that she had drafted over the course of the past couple days. “So you’re doing a home wedding now.”
“It makes sense to do it close to everybody that we love, and obviously we want to be special in how we plan this. It’s also easier on travel since it’s the off-season, and well….” She then pauses, as she couldn’t divulge the final reason in her pregnancy quite yet. What could she use as an excuse instead? “My maid of honor Lindsay is eight months pregnant so I want to make it easy on her, too.”
“I can’t argue with any of those points, to be honest. I was actually surprised originally when the invitation said Colorado so hearing it’s back home is welcoming.” She smiles as she knew there was no way she’d let this wedding go off without key members of Chase’s team there. They had been instrumental in helping the couple during the tough moments, and they deserved to witness the celebration. “Georgia or North Carolina…..”
“They’re both home for us. We spend so much time in both states, almost split if you ask me. We’re in Dawsonville at least two days a week, and then we’re in North Carolina because of team meetings and commitments. Besides, North Carolina is practically home for me since it’s where I started everything over.” Jordan knew her story, so the connection felt special in return. “We also want to keep it simple, like we are. I’m no Cinderella or Bridezilla, so there’s no way I’m doing one of those all-out insane weddings.”
“Thank Gosh because a bridezilla racecar driver would probably drive everybody insane.” She had to chuckle, knowing that was probably already going to happen with pregnancy symptoms and cravings in the midst of it all. “How traditional do you want to go? Do you both need to get married in a chur-”
“Chase told me he doesn’t care how it gets done, as long as he gets to tell me how he feels, and the words that matter. Ryan suggested City Hall, but that got a smack from Chase.” Jordan shakes his head, not surprised in hearing that from Ryan.
“So we want something special, but it better not be so simple like City Hall….” She slowly nods her head, accepting. “I also can understand wanting privacy, too.”
“Privacy and security are very important, given the fact that Alison has been on the loose.” Jordan nods his head, accepting. The close encounter from yesterday gave him enough warning, if that was really even needed with her history. “Although hopefully she’s arrested before then, but I’m not holding my breath.”
“I’d hope not as you’d probably pass out by then.” Sarina wanted to chuckle, but couldn’t as it was a brutal realization in how things had gone. Instead, though, a glance back at her list gave her an idea.
“What if I ask my future boss a favor?” Jordan then looks over a little confused. “What if we have the wedding in the Whiskey Town?” While he was confused, it actually started to make sense.
“Dale has the security and privacy with the property, and there’s even a church there, plus a saloon for the reception. I would ask him and see because that’d work, if that’s what you and Chase really want.”
“I’ll ask Chase and see.” Jordan then stands up, knowing the second practice was about to start.
“Where are you having the honeymoon, by the way?” She then stops dead in her tracks, as she shakes her head.
“I don’t know. Probably just head up to Colorado to the cabin and spend some quiet time together.” She knew that’d be a good thing to do as their lives would be crazy next year with a baby and both of them racing, combined with the usual chaos.
When were they going to sneak in some sleep?