Saturday, May 25 – Charlotte Motor Speedway
Despite starting in 10th, it wouldn’t take Sarina long to make her way up into the top-five in the first stage. She’d run up front all day long, keeping herself solidly in contention through the first half of the event. However, it wouldn’t last, with the crew being assessed a penalty for a loose wheel to start the third stage.
“Just barely….” Chase comments as they look at the replay, as the crew member barely falls over the wall trying to retrieve the tire. Dave Elenz simply nodded his head in return, knowing how close NASCAR had been watching that rule.
With the loss track position, Elenz made the strategy play to leave Sarina on track while others pitted with 54 to go, letting her restart fifth. However, that failed as she would fall back quickly.
So when the next caution came out with 40 to go, he went the opposite direction, bringing her down pit road for four tires and fuel. The grip later in the event compared to her competitors on old tires paid off as she made her way back up through the field, crossing the finish line for a fourth-place finish.
Chase walks over to the car, bottle of water and a cool cloth in hand. He watches as she climbs out of the car, immediately lifting her hair off of her neck, laying the cloth across.
“Holy cold!” She lets out, jumping a little at the initial touch, but relaxing at how nice it felt on her neck. He then chuckles as he hands her the bottle of water. “Where’s Abigail?”
“She’s making your crew chief feel better,” Chase comments, as Dave walks over with Abigail in his hands. “He feels bad for letting you down, even if it wasn’t his fault.” Sarina glances over at Dave, understanding where he was coming from as the crew was his responsibility. However, despite the penalty, she felt they finished right where they would’ve anyway.
“We had nothing for Reddick no matter what we did. I think we still ended up right where we should’ve been. He gave me a great handling car, and we put together a solid performance – one step at a time.” Chase nods his head in agreement, remembering how much she preached that with him through the rougher stretches. It almost felt odd in hearing the calm side of her right now; maybe motherhood had a good affect on her.
“Are you okay?” She then glances over at him, a little confused. “It was damn hot out there.”
“You don’t need to tell me about it, but I feel pretty good considering. I guess your workout traits and healthy tricks rubbing off on me are a good thing.” He wasn’t so certain of that at all times, knowing that he still needed to get better in some areas at times.
“You can thank Jimmie for his kickass advice, then.” She nods her head, not surprised given Jimmie’s dedication to working out.
She then takes a deep breath as she walks over to where the drivers were supposed to give their series of post-race interviews. She couldn’t wait to get home, relax, and get out of the sticky sweaty firesuit.
“We ran into a tire violation when someone fell over the wall, which put us to the back but we rallied back,” she commented. “That’s what we do on this team – we keep fighting no matter what’s thrown at us because you can’t keep us down.”
“Is that in more relation than just today?” The one reporter asks, and Sarina immediately knew the direction that they were going with the question. It always seemed the odd question in relation to Carter and the trial would surface.
“Absolutely. I’m not about to let someone take over my life and make me feel like a weaker person.” Chase walks over, lightly rubbing her shoulders as he could tell that the feelings were there beneath the surface for her. Just like he felt regret in not being there, she felt regret in not being strong enough to fight him off.
“In that respect, how are you handling eve-”
“With all due respect, as we’ve previously announced, I am not answering any questions in relation to what happened. It’s in the courts hands to handle and I’m sure the jury will find the right verdict.” Chase hands clutch on her a little tighter, ready to step in to say something if necessary as he hated to see her pressed more than necessary.
However, everyone co-operated this time around, circling the questions back around to the race conditions and what took place on track.
Sunday, May 26 – Charlotte Motor Speedway
Just like Sarina was able to do the day before, Chase made his way into the top-five through the opening stage of the event. He ran up front through the second stage, before grabbing the top spot during the final stage.
“There ya go….” Sarina lets out with a small fist pump in the air.
The happiness was sort lived, as he would be passed by Martin Truex Jr., complaining of the car being slightly tight.
With the conditions not to his liking, Alan elected to bring Chase down pit road for four tires late in the event while others stayed out. Unfortunately, the restart initially did not go as planned, as he’d slip back a couple spots, due to sliding sideways as he battled a loose racecar. However, he was able to fight back, making a mini charge in the late laps to finish fourth.
“How do you feel about your run tonight?” One of FOX Sports’ reporters ask as they walk over.
“We had a really solid car,” he comments with a sigh. It was just like a couple weeks ago – fast through the middle, but missing that little bit at the end. “It was a solid race all around. We just needed a little bit more there at the end and needed to not give up control to get to Martin (Truex Jr.) in those last 40 to 50 laps. We just needed to finish a little stronger. I think I have some work to do on my end to make sure I’m keeping up with the track, giving the right information and not getting behind. I feel like I’ve made some mistakes the last couple of weeks and have just gotten a little off.”
Sarina shakes her head as she stands back watching, not totally feeling every bit of his comments. While adjustments depended on driver feedback, they also depended on the crew chief making the right call. So as Chase seemed to shoulder the blame here, she knew that it partially rested on Alan’s shoulders as well.
However, she was used to this reaction from him as it was right up his alley. He was always his hardest critic, and would nitpick the smallest things that he did himself to focus on improving forward. She knew the feeling as she was like that in some ways, though would grow more frustrated than he would.
It was a trait that she appreciated as it was always about finding what you were missing in racing so you could get better and beat your competition, but yet frustrating at the same time to see it harped on. That’s why with a deep breath, she knew that it was another night of offering a couple lines of encouragement.
“Did the car change a lot from day to night?” Another reporter asks as he has a couple writers surrounding him.
“The track just gains a lot of grip when the sun goes down,” he explains.” Yesterday in practice it was kind of weird that it didn’t really lose any grip during the day, but when the race started today, I felt like it was the normal Charlotte. I had to adjust to that a little bit and luckily we were able to hit it pretty close. We just needed a little bit more there at the end.”
He then answers a couple more questions accordingly, for making his way over to Sarina, giving both her and Abigail little kisses on the cheek.
“I love you,” he replies, wrapping an arm around her shoulders. “I’d say that we had a pretty good Memorial day weekend.” Sarina nods her head in agreement, as there was nothing to complain about when you have a pair of top-five finishes.
“It’s the little things – we’re both running better in spots than we were earlier this year,” she reminds him, which he couldn’t help but nod his head in return to. Top-five was certainly better than running in the teens any day.
“Now if we both improve on the little things, we can take this princess to victory lane where she belongs.” Sarina smiles as she was certainly looking forward to that moment as a family after how special Talladega was together.
Monday, May 27 – Arizona Court Room
“I’d rather not have to make this trip every week,” Sarina muses to herself as they walk through the court room doors. Just like they had done the past several weeks, it was another flight up to Arizona.
“It will be over soon enough,” Chase tries to assure her, pulling her close with a kiss on the cheek.
They then make their way into the court room, taking their seats as they had done the past several weeks. It was just merely going through the motions lately.
“All rise!” The baliff announces, causing everyone to stand in the room as they had been doing. “Now presenting the honorable Judge Jackson Pruitt.” The Judge enters and takes his seat as he had done previously as well, with Chase beginning to wonder if there would ever be a week where they wouldn’t see him.
“You may be seated,” the judge instructs, resulting in everyone being seated. “We will begin today’s court session with a motion that has been filed by Alison Reynolds. Ms. Reynolds, is it true that you are giving up having Ms. Nellie Martin as your legal representation?”
“Yes sir,” Alison answers, as which causes a nod of approval between Alycia and Chase as they had done previously. Alycia knew the direction that Alison was going, and knew that Chase would be pleased with the result.
“May you state your reason for the court?” Chase glances down, taking a couple deep breathes, as there was only one thought that came to his mind when he saw Alison and he didn’t need any reminders of that anymore.
“I tried to file a change of plea, and reasoning, but she kept dismissing my claim to file.” The nods between Alycia and Chase quickly turned into small smiles. This just helped to further prove Nellie’s connections to Carter’s plan.
“Very well. Now, may you please explain your change in plea and reasoning?” Chase shakes his head, as he already knew what she was going to say having read the series of messages from Alycia.
“Your honor, I would like to either plead not guilty per a stipulation or request a lesser sentence. I admit my wrongdoings with Chase. However, they only occurred as a result of Carter forcing me and playing on my mental emotions.” The attempted plea was met with chuckles throughout the room, the same that Chase had in reading the initial message from Alycia.
“With all due respect, Ms. Reynolds has previously been found not mentally stable, hence being secured in the facility,” Attorney Kyle Gates adds, causing a couple intrigued glances. What was in his benefit to defend her now? “Ms. Reynolds was diagnosed with a couple different conditions, which ultimately previously caused an obsession with Mr. Elliott that ranged through an entire year with several sexual advances. Mr. Williams was aware of this behavior, and simply took advantage of the situation to accomplish what he wanted.” When it was worded like that, it didn’t seem so insane. However, the fact that Alison would get off easy for drugging him did not sit well with Chase.
“Wasn’t it previously established that Mr. Williams entered the orbit of Mr. Elliott due to being hired by Ms. Reynolds?” Nellie Martin counters, which was a true statement of fact. Carter was her legal hand through the year of torment, hence why Chase was wanting neither to get off easy no matter the theory they tried.
“While Ms. Reynolds pulled the early strings, she let me know that this situation was simply that of Mr. Williams turning the tables. Perhaps Mr. Williams was frustrated that he did not get what he wanted out of the deal and wanted to pull some revenge of his own on Mrs. and Mr. Elliott.” Once again, Kyle was playing the theory perfectly – and it brought both satisfaction and confusion in watching it happen.
“It will be for the jury to decide based on evidence presented and testimony whether Ms. Reynolds is correct in her account,” the judge finalizes, which seemed to be the standard procedure for everything in this case. “Should the court find in Ms. Reynolds’ favor, she will be granted the lesser sentence. However, she still has plenty left on her sentence and there are possible conditions stemming due to the attack happening within a mental facility. Are you aware of this, Ms. Reynolds?” Chase had already been made aware, courtesy of Alycia. Simply put, stricter provisions would be placed on Alison moving forward.
“Yes sir,” Alison Reynolds simply answers, before glancing over at Chase. “I miss you peachy.” Chase feels the vomit rise up his throat by the mere mention of the comment, as he takes a couple calming deep breathes.
“She can’t hurt you anymore…” Bill says quietly, rubbing his back as he saw the reaction instantly. “Deep breathes…” Chase easily follows the instructions, repeating those words over in his head. Everything was going to be over soon and there’d be nothing left to remind them of what happened.
“Court will reconvene at a later date to finish off the remaining testimonies,” the judge then states. “Court adjourned!”
Everybody easily files out, as Chase repeats his own process over, while holding Sarina tight to him.
“Chase!” Chase hears his name, stopping as he recognized the voice immediately. He turns around to face Alycia. “I just wanted to clarify Kyle’s behavior as he spoke to me before going about today as he did. It’s no secret that Alison is going to spend many years behind prison bars, and these added years for whatever she gets here are a mere bonus. The focus right now is simply making sure Carter and Nellie follow the same suit. That’s why Kyle went forth the route of pressing everything on their shoulders with his approach today.”
“It makes sense,” Chase quietly comments, not really caring on these mere details. As long as everything ended with the jury finding them guilty and adding multiple years together, that was all that mattered to me. “And you feel that we have enough to make that happen.”
“Absolutely. Between the physical evidence, the testimony that you offered, the past that we’ve linked together, Damien’s testimony and Carter’s connection to Alison, it should just merely come together. I honestly don’t see any way that the jury could miss connec-”
“Alison was able to escape before and come after me a second, third time. I don’t want that happening this time around, please.” Alycia takes a deep breath, obviously understanding the fear and concern laced in his voice.
“Chase, you can trust me when I say this – we’re making sure it’s done with lock and key this time. I’ve got your back 100% and I am making sure that Kyle does it air tight so that cannot happen.” Despite how messed up the process had been to this point, Chase knew that he could believe her words considering what she had been able to accomplish this far.