Thursday July 12, 2018 – Kentucky Speedway
Sarina kicks her feet up, scrolling through photos on her phone.
“That’s not bad,” she comments out loud quietly, before looking at the next one. “This one is nice…” She then flips to the next photo, immediately making a disgusted face.
“I’m guessing that one is ugly?” Rudy questions, earning a glance from her as she nods her head. “I thought you’d be hanging out with Chase right now…”
“He’s doing an appearance for NAPA so I’m stuck here with you instead. Lucky me, huh?” Rudy just rolls his eyes as he looks away from his laptop at her.
“You can’t pick on me. I gave you a good handling truck all through practice, and with what I have before me, we should be good tonight.” She then looks over intrigued. “I bet that sounds a lot better than those photos you’re looking at.”
“I can’t complain when my crew chief tells me he is going to give me a truck that will win, now can I?” Rudy shakes his head no as he turns back to his notes.
“What are you even looking at to begin with, or do I want to know?” She then lets out a sigh as she kicks her feet up.
“Wedding photo ideas, actually.” Rudy now glances over surprised. “What? Did you think I was just going to stay engaged forever?”
“Based on what I know about you, wedding and commitment weren’t high on your list…” She then lets out a sigh as she looks back at her phone.
“That was before I met Chase, and saw what love was capable of. Now, I’m almost excited for it to be official and call myself Sarina Ott Elliott, or just Sarina Elliott.”
“If that’s all that matters, then let’s go pick the boy up and head down to city hall.” She then takes the small pillow that was beside her, chucking it at him as he laughs. “Besides, I can’t see you planning a wedding….”
“Hey now, I can be pretty just as much as I am tomboyish.” Rudy then shakes his head.
“So in other words, as we get closer to this supposed wedding, I should worry about having a panicking bride worried about the fine details, such as flower color and the invitations. Oh yeah, that’ll make great practice while we chase a championship. Say, when is this wedding?”
“January in Colorado.” Rudy’s jaw drops as he looks back over at her again. “What?”
“Don’t chew me out or anything, but Chase seems like the perfect family darling. I was ready for a Dawsonville wedding, or North Carolina wedding. But Colorado in the winter?”
“The cabin has been home to a lot of memorable, special moments, and it’s our place to just get away and be together without anybody judg-”
“…or wondering whether you’re with Christopher and he’s with Erin?” She slowly nods her head.
“Besides, his parents go to Colorado in the winter for some outdoor fun as Bill even came skidooing with us the one day. Everybody will be there and news flash, I think there’s enough room to invite you. And don’t worry, I won’t be one of those panicking brides. Yes, I have certain things that I would like to see for my wedding, but I’m not Bride-zilla.” Rudy then lets out a sigh of relief.
“So those images….” Sarina then glances back at her phone, before looking over at the crew chief.
“Flower ideas, dress idea, decoration idea. There are some that I saved when I first started thinking about it, along with suggestions from Samantha and Lindsay in stuff that they saw that may work.” Rudy then glances over to meet her eyes.
“And the groom?” She then smiles.
“He said that I can choose those finer details. He just wants to help in picking the venue, along with the guest list. As he put it, I’m his princess and he wants me spoiled.” Rudy couldn’t help but smile in response.
“It’s really nice to see you both so happy, and looking forward to something. I know it hasn’t been an easy road, and there are still hurtles to figure out. Don’t ever forget how special you are, and how special he makes you feel. You deserve the happiness, but don’t take it for granted.”
“I know better than to do that, Rudy. Monday was the perfect reminder of that…” She then takes a deep breath, letting herself get lost back in the images as she didn’t want to think about Alison and give her the power that came with that thought.
Sarina climbs out of the truck, gives one glance over to Rudy, before walking over and giving the crew chief a high-five. Qualifying was in the books, and she’d be leading the field to the green flag later on that night.
“That’s what I’m talking about!” She says as Rudy just smiles back in response.
“I told you that I had something for you to work with,” he offers, before sharing high-fives with the rest of the team. “We just got to keep our heads down, keep focused on this truck, and keep doing what we’re doing. We may end up where you want to be at the end of the night.”
“I believe in you both as well,” a new voice chimes in, bringing a smile to Sarina’s face immediately as she turns around to face Chase, giving him a hug.
“I missed you today,” she replies, kissing his lips.
“I missed you, too, but I heard Rudy has been taking good care of you.” She then glances over at the crew chief, before turning her eyes back to Chase.
“Not as well as you can take care of me, though….”
“I heard light colored flowers work well with a winter wedding landscape in a cabin,” Rudy offers before walking away, earning a confused glance on Chase’s face as Sarina rolls her eyes.
“Since when did Rudy become knowledgable about weddings?” Chase wonders as Sarina just just shakes her head.
“I don’t know,” she answers almost chuckling to herself. “But he caught me looking over ideas for our wedding.” Chase then looks at her surprised.
“So has the bride picked out a dress, yet?” Her jaw drops in shock.
“When have you known a bride to pick out a dress so far in advance like now before her wedding, Chase? Besides, I can’t pick any of that out before we decide on the venue, and then we need to decide on flowers. Once I know the surroundings, then I can pick the perfect dress.” He then puts his arms around her.
“Well I don’t care what you choose, I know you’re going to look beautiful when it’s time.” He then gives her another kiss on the lips, before letting her go so she could take her pole winning photos.
The race started out well, as she was fast through the beginning portion of the event. She finished second in the first stage after leading the initial laps, followed by winning the second stage.
“Loose wheel….” She says on the radio shortly after the final round of pit stops under caution in a tone that could only be defined as frustration. Here they were another weekend with a fast truck capable of winning, and here they were set to once again not be able to close the deal due to something happening.
“Come back in,” Rudy offers, which she follows instructions as requested. “Wheel spacer needed…”
The extra pit stop would force her to restart 18th, rather than inside of the top-five. With a fast handling No. 18 Toyota Tundra underneath her, she was able to make her way back through the field to score an eighth-place finish.
“Sorry,” was all Rudy could manage after the race as he gave her a hug. “The guys let you down. We’ll get ‘em next week.”
“Just got to keep trying and eventually the pieces will fall in place, right?” She questions and Rudy nods his head back in response before walking away. “I didn’t want to say it in front of Rudy, but I feel Kyle needs to fire half of this damn team because these pit stops the past couple of weeks have been awful!”
“Does it feel better to get that out of your system?” Chase questions and she nods her head.
“But am I right?” Chase was about to say something, but bit his tongue instead. “Yeah, that’s what I thought. We’re supposed to be the championship team, set to do what Bell did last year once again, and boom – we’re stuck with crappy pit stops. You don’t win races by messing up on pit road.”
“Kevin Harvick does….” She then smacks his shoulder. “Hey!”
“I just feel as though something is missing…” He then wraps an arm around her, pulling her close.
“You’re just getting frustrated because you think you should’ve won five races this year by now, and you’re probably right. Just take a deep breath, put everything in perspective, and push forward. These guys will figure it out before the playoffs.” She then looks at him, intrigued.
“You really believe that?” Chase nods his head. “I’ll try to listen, okay?”
“That’s my girl…..” They then head down pit road together. “On a brighter note, the old you would’ve freaked out on Rudy and the crew guy.”
“Maybe I need to do that…” Chase then stops suddenly, looking over at her. “Kidding, of course. Besides, you’re right. These are my guys and they’ve proven they can get the job done before. We’ll be fine…”
Friday July 13, 2018 – Kentucky Speedway
The first practice was in the books for the Cup Series, and all that it could be described was decent for Chase Elliott and company. There was speed in the NAPA Chevrolet and potential for a good run on Saturday night, but the piece of the puzzle that had been missing over the past couple of months still remained that way. They were closer, but without that touch of speed, the thought of winning wasn’t even on the radar yet. For now, a goal of scoring a solid top-10 was on the mind.
Though as he stood in the garage area, that wasn’t the thought that consumed his mind at that very moment. Instead, he was brought back to a familiar thought process that had clouded him throughout the past several months.
“Hey, are you okay?” Chase hears, not even looking back to glance over his shoulder as he could already tell who was standing there.
“Yeah,” Chase replies as he lets out a sigh. It was time to shift those thoughts back to the shelf so he could focus on the racecar. Those were thoughts that he could worry about next week and the coming days.
“It’s okay to admit when something is on your mind, Chase…” Chase finally glances over his shoulder to look at his dad.
“I know, but I can’t worr-”
“You’ll never move forward if you keep avoiding it.” Chase then crosses his arms, actually beginning to grow annoyed of this discussion. Wasn’t his decision on Wednesday supposed to quiet the critics?
“That’s why I made the appointment for next week. That’s why I’m beginning to do what I need to do. However, in this moment, that isn’t something I need to be worrying about. I have a racecar and a race team to focus on, Dad.” Bill lets out a sigh, having grown used to this response from Chase.
“That’s every bit important, but your health is more important than that….” Chase leans back against the pit box as he just shakes his head.
“Dad, can we please discuss something else for once? I’m doing what I can….” Bill places a hand on his shoulder.
“I know, but I can’t help but worry as your father. You do understand that, right?” Chase looks over and nods his head. “Like I told you, I’m proud that you took the step in admitting that you need the help, and making that appointment. I’m proud of how far you’ve come since you woke up freaking out about what happened. I’m proud of the strength that you’ve shown, as so many people wouldn’t had been able to do what you’ve done. But I can also see on the inside that it’s tearing you apart just as much…”
“Some days are worse than others. I can go through a day and not have a single thought about anything. Then the next day, it’s the only thing that consumes my mind. That’s how I knew I needed to do something because I can’t keep going through those days.” He then glances towards the ground, taking a deep breath. “Sarina was talking about the wedding yesterday, and the beginning stages of planning. I can’t wait for January for that moment, but then it made me realize something else. Everybody plans on a wedding, followed by their future together. That future includes children, and well, that’s something we’ve realized isn’t going to work how we thou-”
“There are options, though….” Chase nods his head, having heard that from so many people over and over. he was glad that there was options and knew he and Sarina would need to explore those, if need be. However, it still didn’t replace the feeling of an opportunity torn away.
“Everybody talks about the amazing feeling in watching their wife or girlfriend carry the baby for nine months, feeling it kick against them, the sensations that they feel during that experience. Just ask Ryan about Lindsay, or Kyle when he talks about everything he went through with Samantha. Kyle don’t get emotions, but that affected him. Is it wrong to feel like you’re being stolen of that experience?” Bill shakes his head no.
“So everything isn’t just about Alison in what you’re feeling….” Chase slowly looks up towards his father.
“But it always gets back to her though, right? Because while Sarina receives this news that she can’t carry a baby full term, Alison wants to prance around the fact that she’s my baby’s fath-”
“What if she isn’t?” Bill then looks at Chase confused.
“What are you trying to say, Chase?” Chase takes a slow deep breath, remembering the discussion with Alan.
“I trust every one of my instincts fully. I know what I believe in, and I fully believe that I remember everything that happened. I fully know to myself with my instincts that she didn’t conceive that baby. But when you’re going through these emotions, realizing that you’re trying to escape it every way possible but head on, you begin to wonder. What if I escaped that by blanking it out of my mind? What if that happened? There’s a small bit of self doubt that creeps in every once in awhile and I wonder…” Bill didn’t want to face the fact, but knew it was possible if Chase was bringing it up to him.
“What are you going to do if that is the news you receive?” Chase shakes his head.
“I don’t know. I’d like to say that I’d do the right thing and raise the baby as if it’s my own without a drop of doubt because it’s not the child’s fault, and it is a piece of me regardless. But, can I look at the baby and raise that child without thinking of everything Alison put me through? I don’t know, Dad…”
“I think for now, you should focus on what you know. You focus on what happened, and moving past beyond that. Think about the emotions that you’re feeling in regards to pain, and regret, and how to move forward in the best way that you can. I wouldn’t think about the baby until the news come down. Then once you have that news, then if it is what it is, then take your time to think about it. You can’t control the unknowns, but control your future and what you know. You only got so long and you don’t know when your time is up…” Chase takes a deep breath.
“That’s what I’m trying to do. That’s why I made the phone call and the appointment because I want to take control of these emotions and my life. I’m done being her puppet and living a life controlled by how she manipulated me. I’m done dealing with her unknowns and the games.” Bill places a hand on his shoulder.
“That’s what I like to hear. And I know it won’t be easy, because there will be days where therapy may seem hard because of everything you’re dulging into. But remember that it’s worth it for you, and you will get through this. Your mom and I are always here for you…” Chase nods his head, accepting.
“Chase, second practice……if you’re ready,” Jordan Allen says as he walks by, placing the helmet on the roof with his gloves.
“Got to go to work,” Chase states as he gives his dad a hug before walking over to the car.
“Remember what I said…” Bill reminds him before leaving the garage, letting him focus.