Cabin Fears – Chapter 90: The Monster Mile

Race Day – Dover International Speedway

Chase walks up behind Alyssa, rubbing both of her shoulders as she relaxes back in his arms.

“No pressure,” he whispers in her ear. “Just do your thing. I know the weekend hasn’t quite gone as expected, but as long as you do your thing, you’ll be fine. If it’s meant to be, then today will be your day. But if it’s not, we always have next week, and even next year. Believe in yourself.” He then kisses her cheek.

“I just need to focus and not let it get in my head,” Alyssa comments as she takes a deep breath. “I know I can do well here. The Monster has been my friend before. I just need to take it easy, run the laps, and it’ll come together. I believe in myself, I believe in Kevin, and I believe in this team.” He smiles as he continues rubbing her shoulders.

“Then what are we worried about?” She then turns around slowly.

“What if it doesn’t go the way I want this week, or next week at Charlotte? Then everything that I’ve worked hard to get back to doing will be for nothing.” He immediately shakes his head no.

“No, it’ll still be worth the world, because you proved to everyone how strong you are. You proved to yourself that you wouldn’t go down without a fight. You proved to those who doubted your ability. You’ve also grown a whole new world of admirers, of people who are faced with the same challenges, showing them that they can do it, too.” She smiles as she wraps her arms around him.

“Thank you, and you’re going to find your way back, too.” He nods his head, accepting, as he lays his head on her shoulder.

“I know. I’m working at it, slowly, one day at a time.”

“That’s all I ask, Chase. Any progress is better than no progress.”

The pair stand together for opening ceremonies, before sharing quick kiss together. He then walked away as she climbed in the car, set for 300 miles, hopeful that everything would pan out as expected.

Taking his usual seat on the pit box, he takes a deep breath and crosses his fingers, not willing to give up just yet.

The first stage wavered his faith as there was nothing good said on the radio about the car’s handling. By the end of the second stage, he was set to strange Kevin Meendering in seeing no progress being made, as she had almost spun it out a couple of times and was barely remaining on the lead lap.

“We can still do this,” Kevin tells her over the radio as he takes a deep breath. No matter what, he had to remember what Dale said. Just be positive and it’ll work out some way.

“Then give me something to work with!” She yells back in return, obviously growing frustrated as she seen her championship dreams slowly begin to fade away.

“I’m trying, Alyssa. I just adjusted the air pressure, and took the spring rubber out of the right front. It should fix the issues that you’re having.” She wanted to believe his words, but she was slowly losing faith considering that the car had slowly gotten harder to drive more each run.

“It better, because I can’t keep doing this…” She wasn’t about to say it straight out on the radio, but driving with one hand against the monster was physically taxing. Her left arm and hand felt like it could fall off with the amount of muscle strain that she was feeling having to pull so hard on the wheel. It had been nothing that she had felt before – whether testing, practice, or other races – but today it just seemed to be at it’s worse.

“Hang in there, and keep at it. There’s lots of time. We can do this.”

When the green flag came out, she pushed as hard as she could, putting every bit of faith that the car would handle better this run. As they got five, 10 laps into the run, it felt more secure than it had all day. She began to make passes, moving up a couple positions with ease.

As the run drew on, she caught more cars, and easily made her way by, able to roll the bottom unlike she had all day. She found herself quickly up into the top-10, followed by the top-five. With the laps counting down, she was now putting down some of the best lap times.

She easily made her way up to fourth, followed by third. Chase silently crossed his fingers for a caution, knowing that she could do it if they got a final restart – but that never came. Instead, she was able to get up to second – but never closed up the ground lost to Erik Jones, ultimately crossing the finish line in the runner-up spot.

While it was a great rebound for how they started the weekend, it wasn’t the finish she wanted as it wouldn’t be enough. With the engine blowing last week, she needed a win if she wanted to get to the next round, not a second.

It showed on her face as she climbed out of the car, leaning back against it, physically and mentally worn out as she did a series of interviews.

“I’m proud of the fight you showed,” Kevin tells her as he gives her a hug. “You were absolutely amazing out there. I’m sorry I didn’t give you a better car to start the weekend. We’ll get them next week at Charlotte.” She nods her head, accepting.

“She was a rocket at the end – just not quick enough,” she comments as she takes a big swig from the bottle of water. She then keeps her eyes down at the ground, still feeling the pain through her.

“Are you okay?” Chase questions as he makes his way over, and she glances up to meet his brown eyes.

“I’m disappointed beyond anything. I could just stand here and cry with how close we came after everything. I could just scream in frustration. I am pissed, upset, and I’m sore. I can’t tell you how hard I drove today. My arm is sore from fighting the car. But why is it when I need that late race caution I don’t get one, but I always seem to get it when I don’t want it?” Chase shrugs his shoulders as he begins to rub her arm with his hand.

“Like I said before the race – if it’s meant to be-”

“That’s not comforting right now, Chase!” Chase takes a deep breath as he tries to find the right set of words to say.

“I know it’s not, but that’s just how life is. Sometimes it’s fair, and sometimes it isn’t. Look at the bright side – you put in one helluva finish today despite everything, and you have the roval next week. If there’s any place where you can pull a rabbit out of your hat, it’s there.” She smiles, nodding her head. She was feeling quite confident after her performance at Road America.

“I just wish it would’ve ended differently…” He nods his head, sympathizing with her.

“I know. Why don’t you go do your media center commitments, and then come back to the motorcoach with me? I can run you a nice warm bubble bath with vanilla scented candles and a lavender scented bath bomb, and then make your favorite for dinner.” She smiles a little.

“You’re just trying to butter me up…”

“What else am I supposed to do? I know how you feel, and I know there’s nothing in the world that I can say to make you feel better. So I figured I’d take another approach, and at least help you out a different way.” She then leans in and kisses his lips.

“Thank you for understanding, and for just being here. You better not forget about that offer.” He smiles as she heads off to the media center with her PR rep.

Chase then turns on his heels, heading back towards the motorcoach lot. The walk back through the garage area was simple enough, followed by crossing through the underground bridge to where the motorcoachs were parked behind the track.

He wasn’t expecting the sea of people, though, as they immediately crowed around, holding out various merchandise, looking for autographs. He takes a deep breath, followed by taking out a marker, and begins signing as he keeps his feet moving forward.

“Give me a bit of space to walk please,” he asks as he feels every anxious part of him pick up the pace in seeing the crowd continue to thicken. Continuing to take deep breaths, reminding himself of nothing to be worried about, he is able to keep moving with ease and brings the panic down to a minimum.

“When are you going to come back racing?” One of the fans asks in the crowd.

“Soon, I hope,” he answers as he signs the autograph for them, before reaching the gates for the motorcaoch lot. He quickly flashes his card, going through the gates and continuing to walk in the direction he was headed.

With the crowd left behind him, he goes around the corner, pausing and leaning back against a fence as he takes a couple deep breathes. Closing his eyes, he continues going through the process of reminding himself he was safe, things were fine, and there was nothing to worry about.

“Hey, are you okay?” He hears, opening his eyes as he sees Leo Gordon standing there. He nods his head as he takes a final deep breath.

“Yeah, I’m fine actually,” he answers. “Just taking a quick breather.” Leo nods his head accepting.

“You know, if you want, I can walk back with yo-”

“No, it’s fine. I’m fine really. Thank you for stopping and asking.” Chase then heads in the direction he was going to go, actually feeling pride to himself in how he handled the situation with the crowd.

Maybe he would be ready to go back racing sooner than expected.


Cabin Fears – Chapter 89: The Monster Mile

The following week went smoother than all expected, which was surprising given the past couple of weeks.

Despite his own apprehensions and anxiety fighting him at times, Chase followed through in taking the medicine for the ulcers and anxiety as requested, and it had begun working. The pain in his stomach began ease much more with each passing day, and there weren’t any panic episodes.

He also kept taking the steps that he was supposed to be in figuring out a solution to the overall problem, having another couple sessions with Eric. Those paid off as he was able to get some of the emotions he was burying away out, which helped in finding the calmness.

His mind was also able to find ease in what happened earlier in the week, with the panic, seeing why it happened, speaking of the emotions connected, and strategies to avoid the fear and feelings creating another situation.

Although her thoughts shifted to the forthcoming surgery at times, Alyssa had gone about making the phone calls necessary to look at her options, stressing that she just had this week and next to do so. So far, not much had changed and everything was still set to take place after Charlotte as scheduled.

She didn’t leave her much time to think or worry, though, as her focus was on that weekend. With the blowing the engine at Kentucky, it was do or be done in the next two weeks. So over the past week, she spent every given chance looking back over video of previous races at Dover, seeing what she could correct in mistakes the last time there, and any ways to improve. She also spent time talking with Kevin Meendering each day, wanting to making sure every base was covered.

As she walked into the garage area on Friday and took a deep breath, it was time to get down and focus.

“I’m sorry I’ve been a little distant this week,” she comments as her and Chase walk together. “I’m just so focused on this weekend. I know I got to make it happen, and I just want to win so badly.” He wraps an arm around her, pulling her close.

“It’s okay – I understand,” he replies, having repeated her same actions earlier in his own career. “Listen, just take a deep breath and relax. If it’s meant to be, everything will come together either this weekend or next. Just control what you can control. Do the best that you can – and it’ll fall into place if it’s meant to be. You can’t let yourself get caught up in the little details. It’ll drive you crazy – trust me.” She smiles, nodding her head accepting. She had heard about those times in the early stages of his Cup career, and remembered a couple trips over to the house to see him where he was frustrated beyond anything.

“I’m trying. I just….We came into these playoffs with so much momentum, all the wins and success. It’s been a dream season. I don’t want to throw it away in the span of three weeks. These guys deserve so much more with what they’ve had to endure.” Chase understood, as while the events were traumatic and drove them both insane, the team didn’t have it easy either. They had to deal with relief drivers, and everybody having their eyes on them wondering if Alyssa could actually get the job done.

“Just remember what I said. If it’s meant to be, it’ll happen…” They then reach the garage, and he gives her a quick kiss before watching as she goes over to Kevin for a final briefing before the practice session.

He lets out a sigh as he leans back against the wall, watching the fury of activity in the garage stall, though finds his eyes wandering to where the Cup cars were parked. He knew he wasn’t ready for that yet, and time needed to be spent focused on himself. But, he also couldn’t lie that he longed to be part of that garage area.

“Soon…” He tells himself, as he glances back into the stall, smiling as Alyssa blows him a quick kiss before climbing in for the first practice.

He then makes his way across the garage with the team, climbing the steps to the top of the hauler, taking his usual position. Continued glances over at the scoring monitor, eyes focused on the track, he watched as she rode the concrete oval with ease. He couldn’t help but smile at some of the lap times during the session, and it seemed that the car was smooth as ever.

Though as they got into the second half, he watched her slip down the scoring pylon and just shook his head. This wasn’t what they needed right now in finishing off the session sitting 23rd on the board. He hadn’t paid attention to Kevin’s plans for the session, but he could only hope that they were as low as they were due to not making a qualifying run.

He makes his way towards the steps to climb down, hearing his phone ring. He pulls it out of his pocket, rolling his eyes as he answered the call.

“Hello?” He says as he stops by the railing.

“Hey Chase,” Cindy replies on the other end. “How are you?” He could only roll his eyes, again.

“I’m fine, Mom. I told you that you didn’t need to call and check on me…” He also knew that request, as always, fell on deaf ears. No matter what he did, he would always be her baby.

“I care about you, and I was worried. You have to get that after what happened, right? Can’t I give you a call and check on you once in awhile?” He didn’t mind talking to her. It was just her timing could use some improvement right now.

“Of course, mom. But, can we talk later, please? I was just headed to the garage area.” He wanted to go see Alyssa, make sure that she was still feeling pretty good about things despite the slip-up on the chart.

“Fine, I was just worried. Will you call later?” He felt like rolling his eyes, but knew he couldn’t deny her.

“I promise. Talk to you later, and I love you. Bye Mama.”

“Love you, too, always. Bye Chase.” He hangs up, continuing his way down the stairs.

He makes his way back to the garage area, instantly surprised as he sees Alyssa standing in the stall joking with Kevin, laughter purely filling her face with ease. Crossing his arms, he couldn’t help but smile himself, glad that there was nothing to be concerned about.

He could only hope that Saturday went smoothly and as planned.

Cabin Fears – Chapter 88: Kentucky Speedway

Saturday at Kentucky Speedway

Regan’s well-wishes for a good day started out on point as she was running up front through the early stages of the event, having made her way through the field.

Though with 50 laps to go, the smoke began to trail out behind the car, as a series of disappointed faces filled the pit box. Just like that, their day was over and just like that, she was in a hole in the standings. They knew she had to get a win in the next two races or else their championship dreams were officially vanished.

“You ran good at both Dover and Charlotte in the spring,” Chase reminds her. “You still got a great shot at doing this.” She smiles back in return, simply nodding her head.

“We just gotta do what we know how to do, right?” She asks and he couldn’t agree more. If anybody could win under pressure, it was this group right here as they’d done it before.

“The roval at Charlotte should fall right into your wheelhouse,” Kevin Meendering adds, referencing her success a couple months ago. “But either track should be perfect for a win.”

“I haven’t lost a drop of hope, yet…”

As she broke down the discussion with the team, followed by a series of interviews, Chase couldn’t help but wonder from a distance as he watched her. Had he thrown her game off with what happened? But of course, that couldn’t be blamed as it was a mechanical failure, not driver error.

His mind also filled with a flew of thoughts, thinking back to his conversation earlier with Regan, and the past couple of weeks, as he found himself balancing the positives and negatives.

“I’m sorry I rambled on earlier this morning,” he finally speaks, catching Regan’s attention.

“What? Those rambles about your fears and frustrations?” Regan questions and Chase simply nods his head in return. “Don’t be. I’d rather see you get that out of your system, see some answers, then let it eat at you. I’d had no issues handling that this morning.” Chase was glad that he found that trust in Regan, but often wondered about other people.

“I know it’s the anxiety bugging me more than anything, but I just worry about things like that. How will other people see it? Will I get that same acceptance when I get back? Am I truly who I think I am? I just found myself worrying and wondering and asking so many questions…” Regan wasn’t about to end the conversation, actually glad to see his friend continuing to open that door.

“It’s understandable as a lot of has gone on, and I can see why that’s happening. I can’t say that everybody is going to be the most positive like myself, Dale, Alyssa, and others. There will be some that want to tear you apart at the seams. But in the end, do their opinions matter? Absolutely not. All that matters is the confidence that you have in yourself, and the confidence those around you closest to you have.” Chase knew that, even though the questions lingered once in awhile.

“But how do I stop myself from worrying?” Regan wasn’t quite sure he knew the answer, to be honest.

“I think you just need to focus on the positives. Focus on what’s happening, yourself, what you’re doing, and not try to let your mind wander outside that world. I know part of that worry comes with the fear, wondering if something else is going to happen. The only way to overcome that is to face the world and convince yourself that’s not going to happen, and you’re doing that slowly. I mean, you’re standing out here in the garage in a sea of people. As you convince yourself, put that into practice, and continually remind yourself that it’s over – it’ll come.” Chase hoped that Regan was right, but knew there was still one piece of unfinished business.

“I also worry about completely blacking out, or going through that phase where I just do stuff and don’t remember. I don’t want to do that at the wrong time, but I often wonde-”

“Hey, that’ll come with everything that I just said. As you get more comfortable and retrain the brain so to speak so it doesn’t go hide, it’ll come to be where you’re comfortable. I mean, we’ve been out here all day yesterday and today and nothing has happened, not even a flinch from you despite all the chaos. That’s progress, right?” Chase nods his head, but wasn’t about to say he was home free.

“But I’ve also been having someone look over my shoulder every single minute.” Regan knew the feeling of being ‘babysat’ didn’t quite sit well all the time with Chase. Here, a grown adult, was having to be watched by someone 24/7. It just didn’t seem right when you thought about it in that way.

“But you haven’t had to turn to that person to bail you out, or help you. Besides, what’s wrong in having a friend there to look over your back all the time?” Chase knew nothing was wrong with that, except that missing adulthood independence feeling.

“But you could’ve been hom-”

“I would’ve been here anyway. I just would’ve been watching like a normal fan, rather than down here in the midst of the Alyssa circus.” Chase chuckles, remembering they nicknamed the sea of reporters and photographers that just seemed to follow her around for whatever reasons due to being a princess.

“You know I really appreciate having you as a friend, right?” Regan smiles.

“You’ve told me a time or two, and that feeling is mutual.”

Cabin Fears – Chapter 87: “Did I hit a nerve or something?”

Friday at Kentucky Speedway

With Alyssa on track for the second practice of the day, Chase retreated back to his familiar perch on top of the hauler, fingers crossed it went smoother. Ultimately, that wish didn’t come true as smoke came out the back of the No. 88 Chevrolet as she went to go in the corner on her second run.

“Son of a bitch!” He lets out as he climbs back down the steps, knowing what that meant. Blown motor equals end of practice for the day due to having to change it, and starting at the rear on Saturday with a car that was handling worse than ever. Certainly going as planned…

“Aren’t you supposed to be relaxing?” Chase hears and immediately rolls his eyes without a glance towards Jeff.

“Is everybody going to ask me that every single hour today?” He responds back, the combined annoyance of the question and Alyssa’s issues obviously nagging at him.

“It’s because we care, Chase…” Chase stopped, took a deep breath, knowing that Jeff was right. So maybe he could give him the benefit of the doubt.

“Well, like I’ve told everybody else, I’m alright. I’m taking it easy, just out here supporting Alyssa, but following all orders that I was told. I don’t need everybody turning into my babysitter.” Jeff nods his head, accepting, as he places a hand on Chase’s shoulder.

“I get it, and you’re right. But just remember…” Chase nods his head, accepting, only so that way Jeff would carry on his own marry well.

Chase makes his way into the garage stall, waiting patiently as he watches Alyssa interact with the team.

“Did the car feel better that run?” Kevin Meendering asks and Alyssa rolls her eyes.

“Before the motor blew? Yeah, it did as I think we found the handle a bit better,” she answers. “I mean, I did pop up to fourth on the speed chart, right? But hey, I guess that doesn’t matte-”

“It gives us somewhere to start from going into tomorrow. Now, if we can start there and are at least close on the set-up, you can gain some ground and put it in the top 10. That’s all we need here. Solid consistency will get us to round two.” She lets out a sigh as she leans back against the car.

“So why does it feel like I’m climbing a freaking mountain? Nothing has gone right, Kevin. What makes you so sure about tomorrow?” Kevin then spins around, eyes focused straight on her.

“Because I believe in my team, I believe in my driver, and I damn well know that we can win this championship. Now, are you in or are you out?” She then looks at him, eyes turning a dark navy blue laced with determination.

“I wouldn’t be here if I was out, Kevin. I wouldn’t schedule an important surgery around my racing career if I didn’t believe what was possible. That said, we better bring our A-game tomorrow.” She then puts her sunglasses on, walking out of the stall. Chase could only let out a sigh as he goes to follow, not saying a single word, just there for support for when she finally said something.

“Did I hit a nerve or something?” Dale nods his head as he watches Alyssa and Chase walk off together.

“Never question her determination, desire, or drive,” he starts, glancing back to the crew chief. He knew exactly what she was going through from his own experience as she was like him more and more each day. She hated to have someone question her desires; she hated to be surrounded by people with doubt. Confidence was everything to her, and sometimes determined just how far she would go. She needed that positive energy, even if the world was imploding, to get to that next step. “Just be positive and a cheerleader, no matter how she gets. She’ll be fine tomorrow.”

Dale then follows suit, knowing that he wanted to go give her a boost of confidence – if Chase hadn’t done that already. He also pulls out his phone, sending a quick text message to Steve LeTarte. Stevie had always been good at knowing what to say and boosting him up. Now maybe he could translate that to his daughter.


Saturday – Kentucky Speedway

After a quiet night filled with simply watching movies and playing video games as a distraction, it was time for a new day – race day. All that mattered today was getting something good out of what had been a disastrous past couple of days.

Alyssa had woken up early, sneaking out to meet up with the team. She immediately apologized to Kevin for her attitude, which he accepted with an apology of his own. He also followed the advice of her father with some quick works of encouragement, with the pair set to do what they could that day.

As they headed out for qualifying, their goal was simple – use it as a test session to shake down the car, and see where they stood on set-up, but not go beyond the limits since they were starting last anyway.

Chase had slept in a little late, with Regan taking the role of hanging out with his friend for the day. Regan didn’t have any obligations, having finished what he needed to do on Friday. Thankfully, he turned a long Thursday night into a solid Friday with a third-place finish in the truck race.

Now he was ready to focus and help his friend….

“I can’t do this,” Chase’s words catch his attention away from the television screen as he looks towards the small kitchen table where Chase stood.

“Can’t do what?” Regan wonders, watching him closely. After hearing positive things from Friday, he was shocked by the words.

“This, all of this…. It isn’t me.” Regan felt a wash of confusion, but his eyes didn’t leave Chase. Was he talking about the situation? Was he talking about needing someone? Was he talking about the pain? Or was he talking about the white capsules in his hand?

“What? Struggling to find answers? Lacking that perfection? People run into issues-”

“No – these pills.” Chase holds up the small white pill, which Regan knew was for the anxiety. “Anxiety pill, sleeping pill. It’s not me. How did we get to the point where I need these to get through every day?” Regan takes a deep breath, not expecting to turn into consult this early in the day.

“By a series of traumatic events that are out of your control.” Regan then stands up, walking over to where he stood, placing a hand on his shoulder. “Chase, like everybody has said, everything is okay. We get why you would struggle. We get the emotional breakdown. And like Eric said, this is just temporary till we find the right strategies that will work for you.” Chase had heard those words over and over since July, but yet seemed to be further away from the point he wanted to be at now more than ever.

“Do you think we will ever find them?” Regan had grown used to the uncertainty, knowing it was the anxiety playing tricks on his mind, as well as lacking what he desired the most right now.

“Absolutely. I haven’t changed my viewpoint since day one.” Chase knew that, and appreciated the confidence from Regan. However, he also began to wonder some, though.

“What if I don’t?” Regan didn’t want to process that thought as he wanted his best friend back, totally.

“Let’s not think about tha-“

“But what if?” Regan takes a deep breath, knowing he couldn’t escape the question.

“So you have a case of anxiety, so you have a case of the nightmares – do you realize how many people deal with that? There are some that you don’t even hear about. Don’t even dare look down on yourself one bit because you have to take that pill or that pill. Don’t ever think it’s a bad thing if that you have to do. It’s understandable. The important factor is that you – you know who you are, your desires, your wants, and you’re striving for that. We haven’t lost you in the midst of this, despite thes-”

“Sometimes I wonder….” Regan shakes his head, keeping his hand firmly placed on Chase’s shoulder.

“Trust me – I would know if we were losing that, and so would Alyssa. I also know that you’re taking the right steps, doing the right things – and you will find your way through this. It will take time, it will be tough, but you’ll find your way. Sure, we’ve hit two steps backwards lately – but damn, look at the progress since then. It’s coming together…..” Chase nods his head, remembering some of the steps that he had taken, from various conversations to confessions. It had to mean something, right?

“I hope you’re right….” Chase then puts the pills in his mouth, followed by a big swig of water to wash them down. “For now, though, we have a princess to focus on….”

“I think it’s going to be a good day…” Chase crossed his fingers, hoping that Regan was right, as they both settled in to watch the remainder of the qualifying session.

Cabin Fears – Chapter 86: “It’s on me.”

Thursday night, Kentucky Speedway

Once the plane landed, it was a short trip to the speedway with the group immediately finding their way to the infield. Couple goodbyes said, and both Jimmie and William headed in their own direction. Dale and Regan stuck with Chase, wanting to make sure he got settled for the night with everything that went on.

They go to the motorcoach, with Chase unlocking the door, quietly walking in. It didn’t take long before Alyssa had her arms wrapped around him tightly, holding him. Dale couldn’t help but smile knowing that was classic her, remembering when she did that to him a couple times.

“You shouldn’t have come,” Cindy starts as she is the next one to hug him. “You need to be home, taking care of yourself…” Chase lets out a sigh, as it didn’t matter how old he was, Momma was always going to try and take care of him.

“I’m fine being here in Kentucky,” he assures her. “The doctor said it was fine for me to fly out as Regan asked. Besides, if I was home, I’d be worried even more over what was going on here. I’ll take it easy, okay?”

“Don’t worry Cindy,” Alyssa adds. “If he doesn’t take it easy, I’ll kick his ass for you.” Chase then looks at her a little skeptical as she just smiles back in return. “You heard me….”

“Well, I’m going to go get settled so I will see you later,” Regan states. “Chase, if you need me, just give me a ring. Take it easy, and I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Thank you,” Chase says once again as he gives him a hug. “I mean it – thank you.”

“I’m always just a text message away.” Regan then gives Dale a quick pat on the back, before heading out to leave the group by themselves.

“Alright guys, it’s time for you to give them some time to chill,” Dale instructs after awhile. He knew sleep was the best thing for Chase right now, and having the motorcoach crowded wasn’t going to lead to that. “He needs to relax, and she needs sleep before a busy day tomorrow. Time to say goodbye.”

“You’re going to be careful, right?” Cindy asks once again and Chase nods his head. “Alright. Take care of yourself and get some sleep.”

It didn’t take long before everyone cleared out, leaving Alyssa and Chase to themselves, as they both got ready for bed and got comfortable.

“Are you sure you’re okay right now?” Alyssa wonders, still worried about him. He just simply responds by pulling her close to him.

“It’s a little sore, but I’m fine,” he answers honestly. “You don’t need to worry about me.” She then rolls her eyes, knowing that was impossible.

“I always worry about you – I always have. You can’t think that a moment is going to go by where I’m just going to sit back and not worry. Give me a break, Chase.” She then lays her head on his chest, a bunch of thoughts running through her mind at what seemed like 100 miles per hour. “I can’t believe this happened, and it’s on me-”

“What do you mean?” She then lifts her head up, staring into his brown eyes.

“Well they stated it was stress related and it clearly happened after my appointment. You’re stressing out over me, which is nothing new.” He then lets out a sigh, rubbing her shoulders. Well she was certainly on his mind, that wasn’t the start of it.

“I’d been dealing with a couple of the signs before then, but chalked it up to nothing. Besides, I’m not stressing about what’s about happen for you. I know that whatever works best, whether amputation or another road, is for the right reasons. I also know that you’re strong beyond anything. You’re like your father in a lot of ways. The world may throw a bunch of bricks at you, but you don’t change; you keep that sweetness, honesty, and every great quality about you. I know you’ll get through it so I don’t stress about you.” She knew he was just trying to make her feel better with his advice, and make it not seem like it was her fault.

“And now you can cut the cra-”

“My stress comes with my anxiety and fears. I’m stressing about everything that I’m going through and feeling. I’m stressing about trying to do the right thing. I’m stressing about the worry in whether I can make things better, come back from this. I’m stressing about…. It’s me that’s causing my own issues, not you. This isn’t something that just started over night.” He then takes a deep breath, remembering the doctor’s words in trying to find some way to cope with it all. “I just need to find a way to cope with it all.”

“You’re going to find that, Chase. You will move forward. Everything will get better. We’re not going to be stuck in this situations forever.” He nods his head, hoping that she was right. But admittedly, there were times he wasn’t sure about that.

“I believe you, and I’m trying.” She glances back up at him, again.

“You’re doing a helluva job, admirable. Just take it one step at a time, okay?” She then reaches up, kissing his lips. “Now, I wouldn’t be doing my job if we weren’t getting comfy and going to sleep.”

“Yes, Nurse Earnhardt.” She just smiles as they get comfortable together, set for a good night sleep.


Chase made his way through the garage, falling in suit with the crew members, ready for the first XFINITY practice of the day. So far, it was business as usual. Spend the morning hanging out with Alyssa, walk to the garage together, let her get ready to go, and head to the hauler to watch.

“Hey!” Regan says as the pair cross paths. “How are you feeling?”

“Alright,” Chase replies, and that was honesty. The pain had laid off with taking both the pain killers and other pills. It was just a matter of hoping things were starting to heal down there. He had also been keeping himself nice and relaxed, which came easily at the track, so he was following the stress rule so to speak.

“That’s good. Listen, just take it easy, alright?” Chase nods his head. “I’m serious. I don’t want to be creating some emergen-”

“I’m fine, Regan. It’s not that bad and I’m chilled out. Your truck looked good in practice so best of luck later on today. I’m headed to watch Alyssa.” Regan easily lets him go, though his eyes linger on him for a little while longer. He couldn’t help but worry.

The practice went smoothly, with no incidents at all. But that didn’t mean it was all smiles in the JR Motorsports camp as struggling wasn’t the word for it. No matter what they did to the car, it just seemed to be too loose all throughout the session and as a result, she timed in 24th quickest.

“This is ridiculous!” She comments as she runs her hands through her hair. First round of the playoffs and they looked like a bunch of idiots who didn’t know what they were doing. What happened to all the speed they had shown the past couple months?

“I am going to go see if Leo’s guys have any suggestions,” Kevin Meendering says, before walking away. She rolls her eyes in response, not believing that now they were having to rely on their teammate, their competition at that, so they could figure it out.

“Hey, you’ve started weekends like this before and they’ve turned out beautiful,” Chase reminds her as he wraps his arms around her shoulders. “Take a deep breath, think, and relax. You’ll be fine.” She wanted to follow those words, but the drive and desire to succeed was telling her otherwise. “Think about how you’re detailing of what the car is doing, and try to rerun those laps over and over in your mind. Was there something that you missed? Did you maybe not explain something how Kevin needed to hear you? Could you change up or give a bit stronger feedback to get the car where you need it?”

“Maybe it’s not necessarily loose, but tight on entry,” she finally says out loud as she glances over her shoulder at him. “Maybe I’m not realizing that, trying to overcorrect my line, and causing the other issue. So therefore, we’re not fixing what the real problem is….”

“Why don’t you give that a try in the next session?” She nods her head, accepting, ready to tell Kevin when he got back.

“Are you okay?” He immediately rolls his eyes, growing annoyed at every person asking him already throughout the day.

“I’m fine – just focus on getting the car better for tomorrow.”

Cabin Fears – Chapter 85: The Truth

“Mr. Elliott?” A doctor peaks his head into the room, catching all of their attention immediately.

“That’s me last time I checked,” Chase states with a small smile as he tries to relax, despite the pain he was feeling. The doctor enters, file in hand – which immediately is where all eyes lie right away.

“I have the results of all the tests that we ran for you. Now, I understand that Eric signed off on your file and such so I won’t touch that.” Chase was glad for that reason, as he wasn’t about to tackle that stuff with a stranger now. “The pain in your stomach is not related to what you were thinking, but rather stomach ulcers.”

“Oh shit…” Regan lets out, knowing what those were right away as he lays his head back. He could sympathize with the pain Chase was feeling there.

“Now, the ulcers are basically painful sores in the stomach lining,” the doctor continues. “Now, it’s my understanding you had surgery not long ago….” Chase lets out a sigh, not wanting to reflect back to that experience.

“Tears in the stomach lining resulting in stomach bleeding in July,” Dale states, not flinching one bit as his hand reached for his phone. It was almost to the point where Cindy and Bill deserved a call. “That came courtesy of a strong poison injected into him.”

“That would explain the severity marked in the file…” The doctor makes another note as Chase’s eyes follow the pen closely. “With the healing time, you were pretty much set from that point and looked to be home free. However, it did make them tender and susceptible to more issues in the near future. Were you given any warning?” Chase nods his head, remembering the advice from the doctor. “So right now, the stomach acid isn’t breaking down correctly – therefore bringing this issue to the forefront…”

“Lovely,” Chase muses out loud as he shakes his head. Of course this would happen on top of everything else.

“Now, the reason for that is simple – stress. Stress rarely causes an issue like this, but if you’re under a tremendous amount, it is possible. Given everything that’s going on psychological and in your life, I would see it easily part of your life.” Regan thought back to Eric’s words in making sure to accept the doctor’s advice carefully. Certainly cutting stress would be along those lines.

“So, what’s the next step?” Dale questions, his fingers still resting on his phone in his pocket.

“We’re going to issue you mild pain killers to help the pain, as well as Dexilant to help reduce the acid in your stomach,” the doctor explains. “Both taken three times a day should relieve what is causing your problem. Once that is done, the sores should heal accordingly – but the process will take two to three weeks minimum, up to three months. If they do not heal, then you know the alternative.” Chase rolls his eyes, not wanting to go back down the road of stomach surgery once again. That was even worse than being stabbed in the leg. “In the meantime, cutting down the stress in your life – whatever way you can, will help you tremendously. I suggest you try to work on that, okay?”

“Yeah,” Chase comments as he lets out a sigh. He understood the reasons and knew that it’d be a good idea. However, that was obviously easier said than done considering everything going through his mind, the nightmares, the flash moments, and Alyssa’s situation.

“You should also check in with your doctor in two weeks, 14 days, to make sure that things are healing accordingly. Other than that, I am going to let you go with the prescriptions in hand…”


After stopping by Regan’s house to let him get his stuff, the group immediately headed to the airport. Jimmie and William both met them there, concerned with how Chase was doing. Chase easily explained the situation regarding the ulcers, leaving out the details of the dream, as they got set to the board the plane. Although Chase was originally going to fly them out himself, Dale immediately put down that idea, ordering his pilot and plane to be ready for the group.

“So they’re letting you fly to Kentucky no problem?” Jimmie questions and Chase nods his head. “Well, just be careful and take care of yourself.”

“Hope you feel better soon,” William adds as he follows his teammate onto the plane, taking a seat beside him.

Chase then goes to his usual spot at the back of Dale’s plane, curling up immediately with pillow and blanket as they get set for takeoff. After leaving the hospital, he got the prescriptions filled, and had taken the first dosage. The pain killers were already working, taking the edge off.

“Are you okay?” Regan asks as if they’d been in the air for a bit with a glance over the seat at him. Chase glances up, nodding his head.

“Yea,” he replies quietly. “Hey, can we keep this between us, please? Everything that happened….” Regan hadn’t thought of doing anything else otherwise. He understood the sensitivity in what happened.

“You know the rule….” Dale then glances over at the pair, having his own theory.

“Actually, the stomach ulcers, tears and stress – we should tell your parents and Alyssa, at least,” he suggests. “That way they can keep an eye-out, too, for your own good. Alyssa is going to notice, anyway.” Chase couldn’t argue with that, as he wasn’t concerned with people knowing about that. It was the other part as he wasn’t willing to touch those emotions otherwise.

“That’s fine, I can do that,” he tells Dale. “But the other – can we just not talk about that? Can that be something only we three talk about together?” Dale could see the fear and edginess in his voice upon the confession, immediately. Glancing at Regan, it was all about comfort here….

“Absolutely. That’ll be our secret.”

“And no matter what, it’s going to be okay….” Regan adds, before focusing back forward.

With everything that had gone on, they all knew that Chase needed to catch up on his sleep – especially now the pain was subsiding. Beyond the pain, the emotions of the day’s confession with Eric, along with the craziness of how he was woken up and another round of confessions had drained every last bit of emotional strength he had with him, too.

Letting out a yawn, it wasn’t long before he was curled up and sleeping away on the flight.

“Are you okay?” Dale questions as he looks over at Regan.

“Yeah,” Regan replies. “How about you?” Dale looks back at Chase once again, letting out a sigh as he turns back to Regan. Every fear was tingling in knowing they’d used the code word.

“I’m alright. I’m just glad that he reached out to you, and you were there….” Regan nodded his head, but knew there was no need for anymore discussion. You never turned your back on your friends.

“I told him I’d always be there. That was a promise, Dale….” Dale knew that, remembering when it was originally spoken.

“I still remember when I first met him, and I also remember when he first came to drive for me. It’s crazy to think back to then. A sweet, endearing 18-year-old with the world at his feet. You couldn’t had found a nicer guy at that age, or polite, or mature. I remember the jokes and the shyness at times.” Dale takes a deep breath. “It’s crazy to think how much he’s grown over these years….”

“He’s certainly grown up and became even more amazing, but some things don’t change. He’s still got that kindness, and he’s still afraid to talk about things. But we’ll get there with time.” Dale believed in those words, even with the setback, because of the signs of strength that he had seen at times over the night. “Could you ever imagined that he’d be dating your daughter?” Dale then laughs.

“Never in a million years, but I wouldn’t have it any other way….”

Cabin Fears – Chapter 84: “It won’t come to that….”

Dale makes his way down the hall, glancing at the room numbers, remembering what Regan texted him. He freezes when he sees the number, glancing inside. He was surprised to see Regan sitting there in a lone chair, clipboard and paper in hand.

“Hey,” Dale says as he enters the room, catching Regan’s attention as he looks up from the clipboard.

“Hey,” Regan replies, before glancing back down. Dale takes a look to the right, noticing it was totally empty, before looking back toward Regan.

“Where is he?” Regan looks back up once again as he takes a deep breath.

“They took him for tests. X-ray, ultrasound, couple different things.” Dale could understand that as he made his way to the one side, leaning back against the wall.

“Oh, okay. How is he?” Regan takes a deep breath, knowing that was a loaded question as he tried to focus on the form.

“Scared out of his mind, confused, in pain. So much shit.” Regan then pauses as he looks at the sheet, shaking his head. “Fuck, I can’t fill this out!” Dale then looks over confused as normally Regan was the calm one in these situations.

“What is it?” Regan hands over the clipboard as he takes another deep breath. “Psych evaluation?” Regan nods his head as he looks over, taking the clipboard back. He knew whether he liked it or not, he needed to finish it.

“Because of how I explained it and how he’s feeling, they asked me to fill this out based on tonight and the past couple months.” Dale was confused, if it was possible to even more so after reading Regan’s initial message.

“Why?” Regan shrugs his shoulders.

“I guess to have an idea of his mental state.” Dale knew there was no more sitting around waiting. Things were serious, and he needed to know now.

“What the hell is going on anyways? Your text message confused me.” Regan takes a deep breath, not even knowing where to begin. How were you supposed to describe this to someone?

“My head has been swirling since he texted me, so bare with me…..” Regan then tells him everything in the best way that he can possibly describe it, just hoping that it made some sort of sense.

“What do you believe happened?” Regan admittedly had gone back and forth with possibilities since then.

“There’s no signs at the house. Heck, you would’ve known as you have all the security detail of who enters the property. Plus, he’s 99% sure that it’s just a dream. So I don’t see it as happening now. So it’s either a dream, maybe it happened before….” Dale ponders it over, while making a note to double check the cameras incase.

“He did sleep with Demi at the cabin a long time ago. That was feeling of betrayal, pain. You heard him when he told us. Could he be re-invisioning that with the images and thoughts from Kassandra?” Regan shrugs his shoulders as he glances back to the forms.

“Who knows at this point, to be honest. You could be right. Either way, for his sanity, we need to figure what’s going on.” Dale knew that was the primary focus, as he wanted to see the same thing – for multiple reasons.

“Well, you made the right decision coming here. If something happened, then we and they can handle it. If nothing did, the emotions can be handled.” Regan believed in those words, but he also remembered the desperation and tone Chase had used with him.

“I just don’t feel right filling this out. He asked me if he was crazy, losing his mind, and I told him he wasn’t. But filling this out, it doesn’t feel right….” Dale places a hand on Regan’s shoulder, sympathizing with him immediately.

“It’s not supposed to, Regan. He’s not the type to go crazy or lose his mind. He’s the calm, focused one. Heck if anybody should be that it’s me as I was always the nervous panic type.” Regan couldn’t argue with that, though, as he looks up with a small smile.

“You found your way, though, and he will too. I know that in my heart.” Dale believed in that, no matter what. It was the only way they could move forward.

“You’re right. He will…” Regan continues filling out the paper, not wanting his support to waiver, though the final words on the page catch his attention.

“It says here that by filling this out and understanding the terms and situation, the individual could be committed. I can’t see them doing that. That would be the last straw for both him and Alyssa. They both need what they can hold on to…” Dale couldn’t even imagine what Alyssa’s reaction would be if she was there, or he had texted her to tell her.

“It won’t come to that….” Dale’s voice trails off as they watch the nurse bring him back in the room, both flashing a small smile.

“Is that form filled out Mr. Smith?” The nurse asks Regan after she is done getting him situated.

“Yeah, pretty much…” Regan answers as he hands over the clipboard, not taking his eyes off of Chase in the process.

“Thank you. The doctor should be here soon with your results.” The nurse then leaves as both Dale and Regan keep their eyes locked on Chase.

“Hey,” Dale says quietly as Chase just gives him a little wave.

“Everything go smoothly?” Regan questions and Chase nods his head. “Did they say anything?”

“Not a single world,” Chase answers as he tries to get comfy, rubbing his stomach. “Oh man…”

“How long has that been bothering you?” Chase knew where Regan was going with the question and knew that needed to end right there.

“It just started today when I woke up.” Chase then closes his eyes, taking a deep breath, as he lies his head back on the pillow. “I still can’t believe myself….”

“About?” Chase opens his eyes as he focuses on Regan.

“The reason I texted you initially. I don’t get how that flashed in my mind so vividly…” Regan and Dale glance at each other, as if they could share mental notes, before both focusing on Chase.

“Nightmares can be like that…” Dale remembered a couple of his own, along with Alyssa’s past experience.

“Sometimes they’re worse than what happened itself,” he adds as Chase glances towards the small window.

“I don’t get why this is so tough to wrap my arms around,” Chase starts. “The others – yeah, they were tough, and they certainly freaked me out. I know they took time to handle, too. But this just doesn’t seem to be getting better, and almost endless at times…” Dale wanted to simply walk over, hold him, do whatever he could to just make everything go away in a flash. But he knew that wasn’t the answer.

“This is just feeling worse for reasons that we can’t explai-”

“Not only were you attacked, but the number one person that you love with everything as well,” Regan interrupts. “That’s why it’s tearing at more heart strings than you could imagine. You’re feeling what you felt towards you, but you’re also feeling a strong sympathy pain and regret for what Alyssa experienced.” Chase could see where Regan was coming from with that explanation.

“And it will get better eventually, right?” Chase asks and Regan nods his head. He wasn’t sure how soon, or even how to begin with, but he would never give up on his friend.

Their attention is then caught to the doorway as they watch Eric enter, slipping the door closed behind him. Regan’s eyes immediately find Dale, every possibility of the paper he filled out swirling through his mind.

“Hello Dale,” Eric says quietly as Dale simply smiles.

“Hey,” he replies. Eric then glances towards the chair at Regan.

“You must be Regan. I’m Eric.” Regan shakes the man’s hand.

“Nice to meet you,” Regan replies. “Wait – how do you know who I am?” Dale just chuckles in response.

“You’re a superstar….” Dale muses as Regan just rolls his eyes.

“I do watch some racing, but I figured you’d be here as I know Chase turns to you on a lot of things,” Eric comments, which Regan could see easily making sense. “And then there’s you. We just saw each other earlier today. I mean, I don’t mind seeing you, but not under these circumstances. How are you feeling?”

“Sore,” Chase comments quietly as Eric could only nod his head.

“That’s understandable. When the doctor comes in after, he’s got something that’ll help with the pain, okay?” Chase nods his head, accepting. “Now, I’ve read over everything that they gave me that you and Regan told them, along with everything they figured out.” Eric then places the file aside, keeping his eyes on Chase. “I don’t care what the paper says. What really matters, end of the day?”

“My feelings.” Eric nods his head.

“Right. Now, obviously the biggest concern from both you and Regan was a potential rape scenario. What are you thinking about that, right now?” Chase takes a deep breath, as he focuses up on the ceiling. He would rather not say a single word.

“That I was a fool for saying that happened. I was totally wrong in every aspect of what I said. The more I think it, the more I realize that I was just woke up panicked from my dream – like when you wake up screaming because you’re set to scream in a nightmare.”

“You’re never a fool, okay? Actually, you’re a bigger person for doing something about it and contacting a friend. You’re also a bigger person for lying here, and having figured out what happened. The doctor went through with the rape kit, checking to see if there were finger prints or any trace anywhere of the possibility. Nothing came back. With what you’ve said and what we’ve found as a whole, I am confident nothing happened and what you’re saying is true.” Regan felt more confused now as he watched the pair closely.

“Then why is he feeling this random pain in his stomach?” Regan wonders as Eric glances back at him.

“There’s a reason, and you will get that reason when the doctor comes in after,” Eric answers. “For now, I’d like to take the steps in talking about why I’m here.” Regan nodded his head, accepting. He knew why they had called Eric as it was all about the paper he filled out earlier. “With what I’ve told you, does that make sense and can you accept that?”

“Yeah,” Chase says, as it made sense. A combination of trapped in his dream, along with a new pain, would easily equal what happened.

“What if this is a case of a rape that happened but he totally blocked it out of mind and it wasn’t caught due to other things?” Dale then questions, remembering his conversation with Regan about the possibilities. It was better to explore them now with Eric, than enter that scenario later.

“That’s possible, but I feel this is more a combination of his fear and thoughts twisting around itself,” Eric explains. “We’ve talked about fearing rape, scared of what could’ve happen if things had played out as envisioned. We talked about fearing a rape against Alyssa by photos that Randy had taken. We talked about fearing a rape by Kassandra when at her disposal and hands, even being touched unfairly in that moment. A new sense of pain, combined with nightmares of a possibility, and you have this scenario.” Chase could only shake his head as Eric broke it down. There was only one more thing to say.

“So I am crazy….” Chase comments, causing a surprised glance from everybody in the room.

“Chase….” Regan says quietly, remembering their discussion earlier.

“Going through the trauma that you experienced, and running into a situation like this does not mean you’re crazy,” Eric tells him. “It just means that the mind is having a hard time processing everything and making sense of these feelings. In this situation, we’ve simply watched your nightmares pick up to a new level of intensity. It happens as there are plenty of people who deal with this scenario. So for future sessions, we can talk about that, and work through strategies to make coping with them easier.” Chase nods his head, accepting. As long as there were answers that could get rid of this feeling, he was on-board.

“What do we do in the meanwhile?” Eric glances over at Regan, again.

“He has a mild anxiety drug that he has been taking once in the morning to soothe off extreme emotions – and it is working for what we want it to do. For the night time, I can either suggest taking another dosage or a sleeping pill to allow him to relax. That’s something that me and him can discuss.” Regan nods his head, accepting. He could now understand why Dale always suggested to go to Eric when there were problems. “Other than the words that I’ve spoken, there is not much else that I can say. Do you have any questions?”

“This pain…” Chase comments, voice trailing out.

“The doctor has an explanation for you that connects in a way, but I will let him explain,” Eric states, as he picks the file backup, opening it. “The doctor did request a psychological evaluation form to be filled out and overlooked by myself. Regan, I appreciate your patience in filling it out accordingly. The form is meant for me to give my recommendation on what to do from a psychological standpoint. Now, this can include treatment, drugs, further evaluation under a physician, or ground rules of a type of sta-”

“So basically, you’re supposed to judge if I’m to be admitted to the psych ward or not?” Regan froze at Chase’s revelation, glancing towards Dale. Dale just glanced back at Regan with a calm glance, hand slightly up.

“That is part of it, yes, depending on patient safety and whether they’re a danger to themselves or the public.” Eric flips through the pages to the last one in the file. “I’m not supposed to tell you my recommendation or what I write in here, but we have an open-book policy so I owe it to you. I am simply going to state that I went over with the patient the bearings of what happened, and we determined that a trauma-caused nightmares were the result of your feelings. It is also worth noting that previous time spent with you showed clear signs of PTSD. My recommendation is to either increase our anti-anxiety medicine or give you a sleeping pill to put off the feelings until they can be further discussed, broken down, and handled accordingly. That seems right, so far?” Chase nods his head.

“That’s exactly what you told me.” He then lets out a yawn as he lie back. “Sleeping has been a pain in the ass, so I hate to say this but maybe that’d be a good idea…”

“The focus should be on yourself, your health, and how you’re feeling. If it’s going to help make things easier, then I would fully open that door if I was you. That doesn’t mean you have to open it forever, or become dependent. It’s just a strategy till you find a better one.” Chase nods his head, accepting, even if part of him wanted to chuck the pills across the room. “Furthermore, I do not believe you to be a danger to society or yourself, so I see no emergency reason to keep you on a psychological basis. I will strongly recommend that someone be with you at all times – 24 hours a day, just in case an episode creeps up until we see some noteworthy progress. Is that possible?” Chase nods his head, with both Regan and Dale joining in.

“I’ll come spend time if nobody else is available,” Dale adds, knowing he’d do whatever it took.

“My signature is on the file, and we are done,” Eric says as he signs off, closing it. “Now, I will let the doctor see this, and then he can tell you what he has to say. Trust me, you’re going to fully understand why you’re experiencing the pain once you see the results. My advice? Take every bit of what he is going to say and consider it. You can always call me if you need me.” Eric then leaves the room, as the group takes glances towards each other, pondering what is next.