Short Track Lovin’ – Chapter 92: “There’s something about you, and blue….”

Friday, June 9

Chase walked into the garage, smiling as he saw the crew guys all hanging around ready for a busy day of practice and qualifying. With the speed they’d shown lately, and a good run last week, it was time to keep the momentum rolling.

“Ready to go, superstar?” Jared Seate questions and Chase shakes his head yes. “Not missing the girl at all?”

“I’m confident that she’ll do well this weekend,” Chase answers, having followed the live updates from Kyle Busch Motorsports all-day Thursday on practice. While she wasn’t at the top of the time sheet, the fact that she felt comfortable and knew they’d be good in race trim was a good feeling. Now if they just borrowed a bit of Bell’s qualifying set-up, perhaps it’d be a stellar night for her.

“And let me guess – she’ll be here tomorrow?” Chase shakes his head no, remembering her plans.

“She’s going to stay back to watch the Stadium Super Trucks and the IndyCars. She’ll be here on Sunday, though.”

“I thought she’d be traveling back to be with you as soon as possible.” Chase laughs and shakes his head no, though partially wishing that a bit himself. He had to admit he missed her sometimes on weekends like this. Though, it was part of the schedule and he knew the summer brought that a lot with how the trucks did a lot of stand-alone events.

“We have our own lives, and our own desires. We both want to make this work. I respect hers just as much as she respects mine, so therefore we give each other space.” Jared crosses his arms as he couldn’t help but admire that.

“Then why is it your mother still has a problem with her? I mean, we’re four months removed and you guys have only grown more closer together. I mean, it’s the talk of the garage…well, besides Bubba getting a chance to drive for Petty. But still, it baffles me.” Chase knew the answer without saying much as he sat down beside the crew member.

“She still doesn’t trust her and fully grasp what happened there. She gets the reasons why she did it, and yes, she has a heart and understands. But I’m her baby and as she described to me, she’s supposed to protect me no matter what. It’s an underlying worry that she has still till she’s fully proven otherwise. It’ll take time, but it will happen. Besides, she admitted that she’s starting to grow on her….” Jared smiles, remembering that small detail amongst everything.

“I heard that comment at Dover, too – till she mentioned Sarina’s brother. It seems with her brother in the picture, it may not ever come though.” Chase knew that was a good possibility, having pondered that a bunch of times himself. It wasn’t like it was something he could brush aside either, recalling a couple recent conversations with Alan.

“I don’t blame her, honestly. I mean, look at what happened between us, right? I’ve told Alan straight out, too, that I don’t fully trust him either.” Jared watched Chase curiously, as he thought over his next question.

“Alan mentioned a worry about the poison deal being connected to him. Are you worried about that?” Chase wanted to straight out say no, however he couldn’t do that. He heard about Chris’ brief ‘fan zone’ disappearance, and seemed odd on the timing of the incidents. “I see some hesitation….”

“Let’s just say that I know what he said to me that day, and it has stuck ever since. Now, we have a job to do, right?” Jared shakes his head yes as he watches Chase stand up. “Let’s focus and do what we got to do.”

“Yes boss.” Jared then brushes his legs off, before heading the other direction as Chase lets out a sigh. Glancing at the car, he knew it was time to focus on the day at hand.

The team was able to put together a solid practice, with Chase ‘alright’ about the car after the session full of race trim runs. As they got ready to switch over for qualifying trim, he could only hope that it went accordingly to plan.

With some time to kill between the session, he made his way back to the trailer, snagging some lunch before relaxing in the lounge part of the hauler. Just as he was set to bite into his sub, his phone rang and an immediate smile formed on his face.

“Hey princess,” he says as he hit answers on the FaceTime request, instantly earning an eye roll from her.

“Oh, so you think that you can try that line on me since it worked so well for Christopher?” She questions as he laughs.

“But you’re my princess as I’d do anything to make you feel good.” She couldn’t help but giggle in response.

“Okay, that earns you a point Mr. Elliott. The only thing is I don’t know how I feel about you in orange yet. There’s something about you and blue…” He just rolls his eyes.

“Well, white definitely works for you, sweetie, as it shows off every curve – just don’t let people stare at that butt of yours.” She takes another round of chuckling.

“You’ll just have to win me over with that lovely orange….” He looks on intrigued. However, he couldn’t deny that he was loving the chat as it was nice to get in some quality flirting.

“Maybe when you’re here on Sunday I can do that. Better yet, you can show up a day early and make my weekend that much sweeter.” She then sighs. It was a big toss-up for her. One of the reasons she loved the trucks racing at Texas was the fact IndyCar and SST ran the same weekend. She loved watching both, and it was nice to get a chance to see them live for a change. However, she understood the pain of being separated for a couple days.

“You know I’m just a ring-a-ling a way if you’re that desperate for company, Chase. But anyways, I thought you could take care of yourself.” Chase chuckles.

“Oh I’m not worried about myself, dear. I know I can handle cooking and all that day. It’s you that I worry about.” She had to laugh, knowing that her cooking was questionable at times. There were also times that she forgot to eat totally when she got busy.

“Does it make you happy that I’m eating while talking to you right now?” He shakes his head yes. “Good. So see, I can take care of myself.”

“Just make sure you have a good safe, fun, clean night. I want to see what a cowboy hat looks like on that sweet head of yours.” She smiles, wishing for the same result.

“I’m going to try, buddy. Alright – I better go as Marcus wants to chit chat soon. Talk later?” He shakes his head yes. “Love you.”

“Love you, more. Bye Sarina.” He then hangs up as he kicks his feet up, eating the rest of his sub as he watched XFINITY practice. That phone call was exactly what he needed.

The relaxation lasted for a good hour before a knock at the door, and he knew it was time for qualifying. Making his way out of the trailer, he grabs one of the markers off the counter and heads out. Taking his time along the way, he signs some autographs for the fans as he heads out to pit road.

He makes his way out to pit road and the walk down to his stall for the session, set to lay down the best lap that he could imagine.

“I was wondering where you were,” he hears a male voice as he reaches there, surprised to see his parents. They had told him they were coming, but weren’t sure if they’d get there for Friday or not.

“I was taking my time, but knew I’d be here with time to spare,” he answers as he fixes his shoes.

“Any updates from Texas?” He shakes his head no, knowing the truck series qualifying session was scheduled around the same time that he was supposed to go out for his session.

“She’s supposed to text me when she’s done, just as I am supposed to do for her.” Bill shakes his head, understanding. It was the same agreement that they had in place when she was racing a late model for him.

“Her brother and that supposed cousin with her?” Cindy asks and Chase shakes his head yes, only imagining what his mom would say next.

“Well, Bethany actually isn’t with them since Sarina told her off this week after the family comment stunt,” he starts. “Bethany stopped by and made some other comment about that reunion. Sarina told her to fly a kite because she wasn’t doing family drama anymore.” Cindy rolls her eyes.

“But yet she still hangs around with her brother?” Chase lets out a sigh, having a feeling that was coming.

“We’ve talked about this, and that’s all I’m going to say. I’ve told you what she’s said about her brother. I’ve also told you that I’m being cautious and careful. Now, can we drop it, please?” Cindy shakes her head, knowing there were bigger fish to fry. Besides, as long as he aware, that was all that mattered.  “It is nice to see you both, though.” Chase then walks away, heading over to Alan as Cindy watches on.

“You need to relax a little,” Bill comments as he rubs her shoulders.

“But I’m Mama Bear and it’s my job to prote-” Cindy starts.

“But your cub is growing up, and learning to handle things for himself. Besides, you both are just going around in circles. You see how much he loves her. Respect that, embrace that. Give her a chance.” She then looks back at Bill.

“You’re just worried that he’s going to be mad at me and not talk to me, aren’t you? You don’t want to lose that…” Bill just pulls her back close. “Don’t worry – I won’t let it come to that. But I will not back down when it comes to protecting him.”

The debates of the afternoon were all put aside through the next couple of hours with the focus being on qualifying. Still fighting a loose condition, Chase was unable to lay down the lap he wanted and barely missed out on making it to the second round, qualifying 25th.

“I should’ve went further on that adjustment,” Alan comments after the session is over. “I’m sorry.” Chase shrugs his shoulders.

“There’s a lot of ways to get to the front, strategy or passing,” Chase says. “We’ll work on the car a little tomorrow and be fine for Sunday. Don’t worry.” Alan smiles, liking the confidence from his driver.

“I believe you’re right as we know what we need to do now.” Chase shakes his head yes as he grabs his phone off the pit cart. “Any update?” He shakes his head no as he lets out a sigh.

“Pole!!!!” Jared Seate lets out, causing everyone to look over confused.

“Um, none of our cars on the pole,” Alan states the obvious as Jared laughs, shaking his head.

“Truck Series live timing and scoring – I have it loaded on my phone from NASCAR’s website. Someone is going to love-a-dub his update from his girl.” Chase then looks over at Jared with a face of amazement.

“Seriously?” He questions and Jared shakes his head yes, walking over as he shows Chase the scoring monitor.

“Read it and weep, baby. Sarina Ott just got her first career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series pole at Texas Motor Speedway. How does that feel?” Chase immediately smiles as he lets out a small woohoo.

“That’s awesome!” He then grabs his phone, texting her immediately to say congratulations, knowing she’d get it once done with all the photos and such.

“So, where are you watching this truck race tonight?” Chase looks over at Jared, intrigued. “We were stealing Alan’s suite at the hotel tonight because he’s got the 70 inch screen in there. That’d allow you to see her full screen…”

“Do you really want a panicking boyfriend ruining our viewing experience?” Chad Avrit questions as Chase laughs.

“Me? Panicking?” He asks and Chad shakes his head yes.

“I saw you at Talladega. You’re nervous watching her.” Chase chuckles, though knew that the crew guys were right.

“Regardless, I think it’d be fun if you join us…” Jared continues as Chase thinks it over, figuring company was perhaps a good idea since Ryan and Darrell had ditched him.

“Fine, just so I can drive Chad crazy,” he comments.

Short Track Lovin’ – Chapter 87: Coke 600

Sarina sat on the pit box, focused on the action on track. Everything that happened pre-race was out of mind without a single worry left to think of. For now, she was focused on Chase and them having a good night of racing.

Her eyes flip to the monitor, watching smoke begin to trail from Jeffrey Earnhardt’s No. 33 entry, knowing that it was a possible blown motor and a caution was to come. Her eyes then focused on track as the No. 24 NAPA Chevrolet came into view on the frontstretch.

She watched as it slowed dramatically, what appearing to be fire in view by the front wheel well, before being slammed into the back off and lifted off the ground by Brad Keselowski.

“What the hell?!?” She yells out loud in shock of what happened, her hands immediately landing on her mouth. There were no words to describe what happened before her.

“Chase, are you alright?” Alan immediately cues the radio after what happened. “Looks like a lot of fire there….” He then sits back on the pit box, eyes focused down the frontstretch where both Chase and Brad had ended up.

“He’s out guys,” Eddie D’Hondt tells them over the radio. “He’s out and walking around. He’s okay…”

“10-4.” Alan then takes off his headset, putting his notes together as he lets out a sigh. So much for a fun night of racing.

“What the heck happened?” Sarina questions once again as she looks over at the crew chief. He could only shrug his shoulders, though his eyes then laid on the screen. He saw the debris come out from Jeffrey’s car, followed by going through the nose of Chase’s car. It was obvious the fire was due to the oil cooler being knocked off. “Why the hell didn’t NASCAR call the caution sooner? Are they freaking insane? They caused that crap by not calling the caution! Jeffrey was smoking for a whole half a corner before they thought of anything. Are they insa-”

“There’s nothing that we can do now so take a deep breath, relax, be glad that he’s alright and go see him at the medical center.” She then takes a couple deep breathes, knowing that Alan was right no matter how mad she truly was. She makes her way down the steps, beginning the long walk back.

After climbing from the car, Chase made his way to the ambulance, climbing inside followed by Brad.

“Are you okay?” Brad asks and Chase shakes his head yes. “I didn’t mean to hit you. It’s just I didn’t realize how slow you were going till the last minute….” Chase could understand that, given how quickly everything happened.

“I hit a piece of debris off Jeffrey’s car and it punched a hole in the nose, hit the oil cooler, caught fire,” Chase explains, as Brad shakes his head understanding. Everything made sense now. “You’re okay, right?” Brad shakes his head yes.

Chase sat quiet the rest of the ride, fingers fumbling around the clips on the HANS device. It seemed the wreck was the perfect way to end May. Nothing had gone right through the month. From doubts and fights with Sarina, to multiple wrecks including a flying at Talladega, no luck seemed to be in his corner. Combine that with the Jared incident and he knew he wouldn’t miss May one bit.

Reaching the care center, he climbs out, eying Sarina immediately standing there as he walks over, wraps an arm around her and kisses her forehead.

“I’m okay,” he tells her as he looks into her eyes. She looks back into his, shaking her head immediately. Despite the nature of what happened, she was much calmer than she had been all month so far.

“I know and I’m glad,” she replies, kissing his lips. “It just sucks period that you have no luck and NASCAR can’t call a damn bloody race.” Chase then looks at her surprised. “Well, I’m sorry but the caution should’ve been flown sooner.”

“They didn’t know he was leaking flui-”

“There was smoke coming out of the back and going that fast, there should be no chances taken. That could’ve been a lot worse!” He then pulls her as tight as he could to him, rubbing her shoulders.

“Calm down, deep breathes. There’s nothing we can do. Let me go checked out and then we can get out of here, okay?” She shakes her head yes. He then lets go and heads inside as required.

He comes out of the medical center about 15 minutes later, handing his helmet and HANS over to Morgan before walking over to the media waiting for his comments.

“Yeah, I saw parts and pieces flying,” he starts. “I don’t know if he blew a tire or something and I ended up hitting something that he had on track. I hit it pretty hard. It was really solid, so I knew it was rough. I saw some fire, tried to get stopped and get out of the way and I guess Brad got in my oil and couldn’t get slowed down, so I hate it.” He then takes a pause, thinking back through his thoughts earlier. “Man, it is so just ridiculous. I wish I knew what to do to try to fix things like that, but at the end of the day you really can’t.”

He then walks away from the group after a quick wave, meeting up with Sarina as they head towards the garage area together.

“That wasn’t your fault one bit,” she starts. “ I heard your comments. There’s nothing that you could’ve done, as ridiculous as it was. You did what you could. Just luck of the draw.” He knew that she was right, but he still felt terrible as he glanced up on the scoreboard to see who was running where. He hated being eliminated out of the race so early – Lap 19 out of 400. It just sucked, period.

“I know…” He simply replies as he leads her into his trailer. “It just sucks…” She then spins around, pulling him close to her as she rubs his back.

“Things are going to get better. You guys are running great, and that’s half the battle. You’ve proven that you can run up front and contend for wins. If you keep doing that, you’ll shake this bad spell and damn well get some wins. I believe in you and I know it’s going to happen.” He gives her a slight smile as he leans in for another kiss.

“I appreciate the vote of confidence, really. It helps…” She then smiles as she lays her head against him.

“I mean it, every single word of it. Everything is going to be fine. We’re stuck together like glue, things are coming around with Chris, and we’re both going to have success this year…” He just hoped that her words played true in every regard as he held her close.

“I believe you….” She then slips her fingers up his front, grabbing the zipper on his firesuit and pulling it down slowly. “Sarina….”

“Relax, Chase….” She then slips the zipper down, before reaching up and pulling the top off his shoulders. “I’m not going to make you do anything that you don’t want and I’m not going to do that. I just figure a nice massage would help.”

“That’d actually be nice…” He then turns around as she rubs his shoulders, followed by down his back a little.

“You know that you never have to be uncomfortable with me. You can always tell me what you’re feeling or want or don’t want. I’ll listen. We’ve had this deal from the beginning – we won’t push each other no matter what. We do this at our speed. And Chase, I know that you’re not ready for that and it’s fine. I don’t think I’m ready either…” He feels himself relax against her as he looks back at her over his shoulder.

“I’m sorry I tensed there when you started. I just thought the worse….”

“It’s fine and understandable. Now sssh…” She then works his fingers in a little deeper as he feels himself relax more and more.

The pair remained there for awhile, before he got changed and they headed out. Once the rain delay hit, Sarina texted Chris and Bethany that she was leaving with Chase and they headed back to the house.

As they sat in the living room set to watch the final 200 laps of the race together, they could only hope that Miles treated them much better than this past weekend.

Short Track Lovin’ – Chapter 86: “Are you and Chase Elliott dating?”

Chase walks into the trailer, smile on his face as he makes his way by the guys, sliding the snack drawer open and stealing a bag of Reese’s before closing it. He then hops up on the counter, opening the package as he sits back.

“Someone is a little happy today…” Jared Seate comments as he looks over his shoulder to notice his driver.

“Get lucky last night?” Jared Erspamer questions, causing Chase to choke on his candy. He then chucks one at the crew member as laughter erupts from everyone.

“I swear you guys think you’re in high school still sometimes,” Alan says as he makes his way through the crowd to the far end of the trailer.

“For your information, that is not why I’m smiling,” Chase comments with a look towards Jared. Anybody that knew him well enough, they knew that wasn’t quite on his radar yet.

“But the girl did make you happy, right?” Jared Seate asks and Chase looks over with a wink.

“Or it’s just the fact that I know we have a good car for tonight and we’re about to have some fun.”

“The last time you said that, you went flying through the air at Talladega if I recall,” Jared Erspamer comments. “Just because you’re a pilot doesn’t mean you can fly a racecar.” Chase then looks over at Jared.

“You’re just full of jokes today, aren’t you?” Chase questions. “Besides, aren’t you supposed to be on relaxation mode? Why are you dressed up for tonight?”

“I’m here to support my guys – that’s all. I haven’t touched a tool all day.”

“Actually, you handed me a wrench…” Chad Avrit reminds him as Jared rolls his eyes.

“Jared, what were you told?” Alan’s voice reigns through the trailer, catching everyone’s attention. They knew when the crew chief spoke that they were supposed to pay attention.

“I just handed him the wrench – nothing else, sir,” Jared pleads. “I am behaving as best as I can.”

“I’m sure Chase would say different,” Nick O’Dell comments, earning a glance from the crew member.

“Just make sure you’re behaving Jared,” Alan says as he approaches the group. “Now, let’s leave high school and focus on the actual race here, okay?”

****************

“So where are you guys going to watch the race from?” Sarina questions as she glances towards her partners in toe.

“I liked the view from up top on the roof so I was headed there,” Bethany says.

“I was going to join her,” Chris adds as he glances around pit road.

“Alright, that’s fine,” she tells them. “I’m off to see Chase and sit with Alan. Have fun!”

She then makes her way down pit road, giving Kyle a quick good luck wish as she walks by, before walking over to the 24 car. She slips her sunglasses off, leaning back against it as she watches him interact with some of the guests.

“Are you Sarina Ott?” She hears, turning her eyes forward and shaking her head yes. “Are you and Chase Elliott dating?”

“Yes we are,” she replies, confused as to who the person was.

“Well I have news for you – he’s not your type. You should leave him right away.” Sarina could only chuckle as she watched the girl before her.

“Really? That’s odd, considering that last night Chase told me that he loved me a lot, wanted to be with me as much as possible, and we really understood each other. But hey, what do we know?” The comments causes an angered glance on the girl’s face.

“Yeah, you just wait and see what happe-”

“Why are you talking to my sister like that?” Chris’ voice cuts off conversation as Sarina looks towards her brother surprised. “How about you start walking up pit road?”

“Oh, so you’re my boss now?” The girl questions. “Real cute having your brother protect you.”

“Listen here swee-”

“What are you going to do?” Chris closes the gap between them, catching the attention of everyone around them. Sarina immediately pulls her brother back as Chad Avrit puts his arms around the girl and pulls her back.

“Can we have security, please?” Alan questions, pointing towards the girl. The officer then takes the girl and escorts her away as Alan looks towards Chris and Sarina. “Are you both, okay?” They shake their heads yes. “As annoying as she can be, you can’t be approaching her like that. It’ll get Chase in more shit than good. I suggest you just calm your jets next time, got it?”

“Sorry Alan,” Sarina apologizes as she turns her eyes on her brother.

“Why is it such a big deal?” Chris questions as Sarina puts her arms around her brother and leads him away from the group.

“Because Chase has a certain image to maintain and can’t be having stuff like that associated with it. When it comes to those types, they’re every where in this garage. You just have to deal with what they’re saying calmly, respond fairly, and then let security handle it. Please…” Chris then looks away from her.

“You’re disappointed and he’s mad….” Sarina takes a deep breath, remembering what was discussed in his recovery and such.

“Not at all. He was just concerned and I’m just explaining. There’s nothing wrong here. Why don’t you go catch up with Bethany and we can discuss later, okay?” He shakes his head yes. “Have fun!” She then watches him head off before returning to the group.

She noticed Alan and Chase off to the side discussing things, knowing her brother was probably topic of conversation.

“I’m just telling you what happened,” Alan states as Chase lets out a sigh. He didn’t need this, especially when there were concerns already.

“I’m sure nothing was meant by it and I’m sure Sarina straightened it out,” Chase comments as he looks over towards Sarina. “It’s fine, Alan….” He then goes to walk away as Alan places a hand on his shoulder.

“Remember what we talked about. You said it yourself that things seemed off. Don’t forget that…” Chase shakes his head yes before walking over to Sarina.

“Everything okay?” She questions and he wraps his arms around her as he shakes his head yes. “You’re not lying, are you?” He lets out a sigh, eyes focused down pit road wondering where Chris was headed off to. He couldn’t help but worry at times.

“Alan just mentioned what happened and to address accordingly with you,” he starts. “I told him that it was handled by you taking him aside. You don’t have to worry…” He then looks into her eyes, kissing her lips. “We’re going to have a good night.”

“I hope you’re right about that.”

Short Track Lovin’ – Chapter 85: Saturday

Jared Erspamer walks into the garage, glancing around as he sees the guys going about their usual business. Letting out a sigh, maybe this wasn’t the best idea.

He wanted to come and see his guys. He wanted to spend time with them and support them. However, it just felt wrong being put in a position where he wasn’t supposed to be doing any work at all. He knew that feeling would only grow more following the first round of pit stops tomorrow night.

“What are you doing here?” Jared hears over his shoulder, causing him to jump out of his skin as he spins around and sees Alan standing there. “I thought you were told that you were supposed to take it easy this weekend without doing much. Do you know what that requires, Mr. Erspamer?” Jared shakes his head yes, remembering the instructions given by the doctor, Alan and Greg.

“Not doing any work whatsoever that would be required of me, sir,” Jared replies, going with a formal tone in voice. “I am not doing any work at all, sir. I just came to say hello and see how you were guys doing since I’m loose. I figured I’d come say hi, and then go relax somewhere through the XFINITY race, before coming back tomorrow night to watch. I’m just here for support.” Alan smiles, glad that Jared wasn’t going to be stubborn and push it, like he had seen some crew members do in the past.

“It’s nice to see you out and about, though. I’m glad you’re doing better. When Greg told me, I was pretty worried.” Jared looks on surprised as he hadn’t heard the caring tone out of Alan before. “What? I do actually care about you guys, even if I yell and bitch constantly.”

“Well, I can tell you that I’m doing pretty good considering. I just wish that I knew more about what happened so we could put an end to this. I mean, I have no idea where it came from – whether something I ate, drank, whatever.” Alan shook his head, understanding.

“The main thing is that you’re going to be okay and I’m sure they’re going to figure it out.” Alan then leads Jared to a chair, motioning for him to sit down as Jared lets out a sigh while listening. “Now, you’re going to behave and I don’t want any arguments, got it?” Jared shakes his head yes. “Good. Now, excuse me while I put these guys’ butts in gear.” Jared laughs as he watches Alan head off.

“So how does it feel to be a toddler?” Greg Morin comments as Jared laughs.

“Now I see why children argue when you put them in time out,” Jared replies as Greg gives him a glance over.

“If you run into any issues, get a hold of me right away. I don’t want you messing things up, got it?” Jared shakes his head yes.

“You know, seeing you stuck in the corner is fitting, considering,” Chad Avrit comments as he looks over from his spot underneath the car.

“Why do you say that?” Jared questions as Chad sits up.

“Didn’t Chase want to kick your ass when you called Sarina behind his back to get her to come around?” Jared lets out a sigh, knowing that was an interesting set of circumstances. He was surprised neither kicked his ass when it all came out.

“Hey, it worked as they’re happier than ever. I mean, look at those love birds…” Chad then glances over, seeing Chase walking to the garage stall with his arm wrapped around Sarina, stealing a small kiss.

“Don’t let your mind go there….” Jared then looks back at Chad with a surprised look. “I know what you’re thinking and no, he won’t be doing that. He’s a good boy, remember?”

“The ones with the best image on the outside seem to always have the dirtiest secrets, sometimes.” Chad just rolls his eyes as he stands up, grabbing his to-do list off the car.

“Nice to see you out and about,” Chase comments as he gives Jared a quick pat on the back, walking by to go see Alan ahead of practice, with one hand tightly holding Sarina’s.

“Nice to see you flirting with the competition,” Jared says as Chase looks back at him. “Better hope princess isn’t telling Kyle your secrets.”

“I would never dream of doing that,” Sarina replies, wrapping her arms around Chase. “If anything, I would share Kyle’s with him but Kyle keeps those locked with a key.”

Sarina stands back as she lets Chase and Alan have their usual pre-practice discussion, going over notes from the weekend so far, combined with what they wanted to accomplish over the next hour. She smiles as he walks back over, wrapping his arms around her.

“I say later we go out for a night of fun,” Chase comments, leaning in for a kiss.

“Really?” She questions and he shakes his head yes.

“We’ve been so busy that we haven’t any our time lately. I’ll take you to dinner, and then we can go do something.” She then smiles, easily accepting, as she knew anytime they spent together was always fun.

“I’m not going to get in trouble with Alan for busting your curfew?” He then laughs as he looks over at the crew chief, before turning his eyes back to her.

“I didn’t say we have to stay out late, but it’d be nice to do something…” She shakes her head, agreeing. She knew she hadn’t been the best girlfriend over the past couple months with her concern over her brother and racing schedule getting in the way.

“You have total decision on what we do. I’m just happy as long as I’m with you.” He smiles as he snags another kiss, before getting set for that practice.

*****************

 

As planned, the pair went out after practice. They went out to dinner, before going for a couple arcade games. They then ended their night by getting sundaes together and walking along Lake Norman.

“You know, there’s something I need to tell you….” Sarina starts, causing Chase to look over at her.

“Does it deal with the sundae?” He questions as she laughs and shakes her head no.

“But that does taste really good and oh my gosh they put so much syrup.” He then smiles as he reaches over, wiping a little off her cheek. “Am I that messy?” He laughs and shakes his head no.

“I’m sure I’ll get some all over when I get into the strawberries here.” She smiles as she returns back to eating hers as they sit on a bench looking out to the water. “So, you were going to say something….” She shakes her head yes as the smile fades.

“I want to apologize for being a shitty girlfrie-”

“I’m over what happened, Sarina. We talked that over alrea-”

“I’m not talking about that, but that just adds insult to injury.” He then looks on confused as she sets the sundae aside for a moment. “Since we’ve got back together, what have we truly done together? I’ve been so busy with my own racing schedule and my brother that I haven’t given you the proper attention you deserve. This is like only the third date that we’ve had in four months. Meanwhile, you’re doing a whole ton for me – whether regarding my brother, giving me the second chance, the late model deal which I’ve wrecked twice in a row. I feel terrible…” He then sets his sundae down, wrapping an arm around her and pulling her close so her head was lying on his shoulder.

“You don’t have to apologize one bit. I mean, I haven’t been the best boyfriend either. I’ve been so focused on doing well and working with the guys that I haven’t given you the honest time of the day. Sure, I’m there to support you when you’re racing on the weekend, but during the week we barely have the time at home. That’s not just for your fault. I could easily take a day or two and come home ear-”

“You don’t need to do that, Chase. I mean, I get why you spend the late nights going over stuff with Alan and the guys.” Chase shakes his head as he gives her a slight smile, while running his fingers through her hair.

“Our relationship works because we understand each other. We’re both determined as ever racers who will do whatever it takes to succeed. We don’t accept failure easily and are always looking for ways to do better, whether we should fault ourselves or not. We’re perfectionoists at times. You get my late nights at the shop, just like I get the time spent with Marcus and Kyle reviewing video for you. I know things have been crazy over the past couple months, but it doesn’t change a single thing. I love you, and will still do anything for you.” He then lifts her head up off his shoulder, leaning in for a kiss.

“I love you, too. Thank you….” She then wraps her arms around him, pulling him close as she leans in for a continuation of the kiss. Perhaps Marcus was right and things were going to work out for her, finally. “Thank you….”

Short Track Lovin’ – Chapter 83: A Busy Thursday….

Thursday, May 26 – Coke 600 weekend

 

Chase walks into the garage area for practice, glancing over at Sarina with a small smile.

“I’m surprised you’re here,” he comments, causing her to look on surprised. “I mean, it’s just practice and qualifying.”

“I’m here to support my man; is there a problem with that?” She questions and he smiles as he looks at her with a smile of his own.

“Not one bit.” He then leans in and steals a kiss. “By the way, I really do appreciate it, more than I’m letting you know. I think it’s amazing.” She then smiles as she watches her brother Chris and cousin Brittney wander the pits.

“Besides, it was actually Brittney who convinced me that we should come. I told her that we could take the day and check out some other spots in Charlotte while you were busy, before I am busy tomorrow at fan day. She was like, ‘Oh, not at all. I want to go to the track. I want to check this out. I want to watch practice.’ I mean, I think I’m making a race fan out of her.” Chase chuckles, but couldn’t help but smile in response. He knew how much it meant to Sarina to have both her brother and cousin there.

“What about Chris?” Sarina wasn’t sure on how much he was enjoying it, even with some of his comments. She was still taking things day-by-day.

“I think he’s pretty pleased, so far. I mean, he’s still working on his own deal, too. They said it will take time to be completely healed from the brain surgery.” Chase shakes his head, remembering the discussion. He had his own fingers crossed that during that time, he could let go more of what he felt towards Chris for the sake of him and Sarina together. “You’re thinking….”

“How do you know?” She wraps an arm around him as they continue walking together.

“You got quiet after I mentioned things. What’s going on?” He lets out a sigh, not wanting to have the discussion, but knowing he couldn’t lie to her.

“I trust your brother. I trust what you said about the surgery and him changing his ways. But if I am going to be truthful, I still get a little nervous or worried when I’m around him. I can’t help but ignore what happened. I’m just hoping that goes away as we move forward because I want it to work out for us.” She takes a deep breath, remembering her discussion with Marcus a week ago. As he said, it was going to take some time but things would come around. This was a step in that direction.

“Chase, I understand your feelings. Nobody can convince you different. If the roles were reversed, I’d feel the same way because damn, I know we went through a lot with him. From me lying to your pain, I get it. You don’t have to just start liking him to make me happy. I will get it, either way. However, I say maybe one day we can all be friends and go to Carowinds together.” He then looks on surprised by the comment, but couldn’t deny that as perhaps it was possible down the road.

“I appreciate that…” He then walks into the garage stall, giving a couple guys a high-five as he walks up to the car. “Well, time to go to work…” He then puts his helmet on, slipping in as she gives his butt a quick slap.

“Do your thing!” She then walks away, leaving him with a surprised look on his face, along with some of the crew members.

“Did that just happened?”Jared questions as a couple of the guys giggle.

“Get to work,” Alan Gustfason says as he walks on by, stopping at the window to kneel in and talk to Chase.

The group was able to go through practice smoothly, posting solid times throughout which gave them confidence heading into the rest of the weekend. Their confidence continued to build even more with a solid qualifying effort that placed them third for Sunday’s race.

“I say everything we learned last week is paying off,” Alan comments as the pair head back to the trailer together. “Nice job laying down that lap.”

“You gave me a car capable of getting the job done,” Chase replies as he follows Alan’s lead.

“So I see that Sarina, her cousin and Chris are here….” Chase rolls his eyes, not believing for a third week that they were having this discussion. “Subject not on your radar?”

“We’ve discussed it enough, haven’t we?” Alan lets out a sigh as they reach the trailer.

“I just worry about you. Is that wrong?” Chase shakes his head no as he heads inside first, followed by the crew chief. “Every time I see him, I picture what happened. I also know that you’re not quite comfortable either so that says something.”

“Maybe because I’m not sold on his whole goody-two shoes image.” Alan looks on surprised as he watches Chase grab some snacks out of the drawer, leaning back against it after.

“You’re not supposed to be snacking in the trailer. I thought you got yelled at that before.” Chase gives him a glance as Alan puts his hands up in defense. “Just saying. But continue….”

“You’ll let me snack if you want to hear me out.” Chase breaks into the bag of candies, stealing a couple out of it. “I keep remembering what they said. I keep remembering the conversation that we had together. I remember his apology. But, even with that, something just seems off with how he’s acting. I can’t place it, but I’m not ready to just forget and move on.”

“Truthfully, do I blame you? Not one single bit. Heck, I’d have security around me every time he’s around just because you never know.” Chase’s mind thinks back to California as he continues to think it over.

“There was the line that he used saying, they’ll say I’m crazy and try to fix me – but they can’t do that. Those words have just haunted my thoughts in regards to him, and I think of them every time I see him.” Chase then looks over at Alan. “What if things haven’t truly changed?”

“Like I said, security and be careful.” Alan grabs Chase’s phone off of the counter, sliding it into the young man’s pocket. “You can never to be too safe. Text me. Even if you just send me a single letter like C or X, that cues me that something is up and we can do something. I mean, look at what happened in Bristol….” Chase shakes his head yes, having heard from Ricky someone was poisoned.

“How do you sneak shit like that into a race track?” Alan looks around the trailer.

“It’s not like they do search and inspection, and they don’t check the liquids going through gates for fans. Anything is possible, especially in this day and age. Be careful, okay?” Chase shakes his head yes. Alan then grabs the bag of jube-jubes from him, placing it back in the drawer as Chase looks at him surprised. “And stop stealing snacks!”

“Why did Greg have to warn you about that?” He then smiles. “I know where to go….” He then heads out of the trailer as Alan just lets out a sigh.

He knew exactly where Chase was going, having heard the deal about being able to steal M&Ms from Kyle’s trailer, and it’d give him another chance to see Sarina. As the crew chief leans back against the door, he just hoped the words of advice sunk in more than they seemed to.

“Alan!!!” Alan hears yelled through the trailer, looking in the direction of the voice surprised.

“What’s up, Greg?” Alan questions, never having heard their pit crew coach yell for a good reason previously. Usually if Greg was yelling, it meant that someone wasn’t doing their job correctly or hurt themselves.

“Jared Erspamer won’t be available for Sunday night’s race, as of right now,” Greg tells him, causing a curious glance from the crew chief. Either it meant injury, or family emergency. He wasn’t too worried either way, though, as normally these things worked out and they had back-ups.

“Why is that?” He watches Greg twitch a little before speaking.

“Chad took him to the care center earlier because he was throwing up, feeling fai-”

“Poisoned?” Greg shakes his head yes as Alan lets out a sigh. He pulls out his phone, sending a text to Chase. They had just talked about this very scenario. “Is he going to be okay?”

“Chad says that he should be fine, according to the doctors. But he’s going to be weak and out of commission as he heals. I figured I’d come let you know.” Alan shakes his head, accepting.

“Thanks….”

“You seem caught off-guard by this news?” Alan looks over at Greg.

“Second race track incident in two weeks. Bristol short track nationals, they had someone Saturday night. Now we have someone here today on a Thursday. I was actually just talking to Chase about it…” Greg looks on surprised as the timing seemed odd.

“Why were you guys talking about it?” Alan lets out a sigh.

“Sarina’s brother Chris and Chase’s nerves about that situa…..Greg, her brother was at Bristol. Chase says he feels something is still off. You don’t think, do you?” Greg shakes his head no immediately.

“You’re fetching for straws here, Alan. You’re paranoid. Relax, take a breather, don’t go nuts….” Alan takes a couple deep breathes, but couldn’t help but double check his phone to make sure Chase got the message about what happened and to be careful.

Short Track Lovin’ – Chapter 81: North Carolina Education Lottery 200

Chase smiles as he watches Sarina head through the garage with her cousin Bethany and brother Chris in toe.

It was nice having her back at the track with him every week. It gave him someone to pass time with, chat with, and she was understanding enough to give him the balance he needed. She knew the racing pressures and world, was like him in some ways about perfection and concentration. This was the perfect mix of ying and yang, knowing when to push and when to not.

“I’m surprised you’re so relaxed this weekend,” Alan comments as he walks over to join his young driver. Chase then gives him the crew chief an intrigued glance.

“Why wouldn’t I be?” He questions as Alan looks towards the direction that Sarina was walking.

“I’m just shocked that you’re so comfortable around him.” Chase lets out a sigh, knowing what Alan was referring to.

“Are we going to have the same discussion that we had in California?” Alan lets out a sigh and shakes his head no.

“It’s just that guy tormented you and Sarina for just over a year. He caused a plane crash that you were both in. He pushed you down a flight of stairs. You’re not going to stand there and tell me that there’s not a single feeling about that all that, are you?” Chase focuses his eyes forward, knowing that it would be a lie to say nothing remained.

“He had a tumor that was causing that. You heard what the doctor said. You heard what Sarina said. He’s totally different with the surgery complete now.” Alan knew of the medical science, and believed it from those he had talked to. It didn’t mean that they were going to avoid the topic.

“Look, that’s all great and lovely. Great for Chris. Great for Sarina. But what about you, Chase?” Chase then looks over at the crew chief.

“What do you want to say? Sure, I feel a tinge of fear when he steps near me. Sure, I’m reminded of the discussion we had before he pushed me. Sure, it’s not totally over with. But I’m trying because I know how much I love Sarina, how much we love each other, and what we have together.” Alan rolls his eyes at the thought, remembering the distrust they went through. He wasn’t on board yet, and couldn’t help but listen to Cindy’s warning of keeping an extra eye on Chase when she wasn’t around.

“I just don’t want you to cause yourself a bigger mess because you’re trying to put on a pretty face for her, okay?” Chase shakes his head, understanding.

“Everything is fine. Now, can we focus on practice?” Alan shakes his head yes as he looks through his notes.

*********************************
Sarina stood on pit road, leaning against the truck as she looked around smiling. She was hopeful for a strong night after running really well in practice, topping the charts in the second session.

“So is sissy going to win?” She hears her brother ask, and looks at him with a smile.

“The truck is good enough to win,” she answers. “Let’s just hope the driver can do the job.”

“You can do it. You’re really good.” She couldn’t help but smile. It was nice to see that everything that happened was left in the rearview mirror, and he was back to being her buddy little brother smiling. It was also nice to see him enjoy a glimpse into her world.

“Thank you.”

“The questions remain whether she can beat her boss, though,” Chase comments as he walks up, wrapping his arms around her, and kissing her lips. She leans back in his arms, smiling even more. It was great to see her brother and boyfriend finally able to stand within a couple feet of each other without something happening.

“So now you don’t believe that I can beat Kyle, even though you’re the one that hired me to drive your late model and kick his ass?” She questions as he laughs.

“Oh, I believe you can beat him. Just be smart out there, okay?” She shakes her head yes, letting out a sigh. She knew that she hadn’t had the cleanest record so far, perhaps wrecking more equipment than intended.

“Are you going to watch from the pit box?” Chase glances over at Chris, before focusing his eyes back on Sarina. Even though he was playing it cool, he couldn’t help but keep an extra eye on the guy.

“Of course.” She smiles as she looks over at Bethany and Chris.

“You guys better be up there, too….”

“Are you sure it okay?” Chris questions and Sarina shakes her head yes. “Chase?” Chase then looks over intrigued.

“It’s not my decisi-” He starts, wondering if perhaps he hadn’t been briefed on that being Kyle and Samantha’s call.

“I don’t want you uncomfortable.” Chase bit his tongue, about to spit out the full truth in how he wanted to ignore it, but kept an extra eye. However, a glance at Sarina said otherwise to play it cool. Besides, she knew of his little tendency so it wasn’t lying.

“It doesn’t bother me, Chris.” Chase could only say those words in knowing Marcus and the engineers would be up there, too. He wasn’t quite ready to be alone with him, yet.

*************

Sarina climbs from the truck, smile on her face. It wasn’t the victory or top-five she wanted, but she’d take a solid top-10 finish and move forward. They learnt a lot, and she found herself growing more comfortable with the mile and a halves. Hopefully that’d parlay into having success at Texas next month.

“Solid night,” Marcus says as he walks over, giving her a high five. “Great feedback. Way to stay in the game. Nice driving. That’s what we need to do on nights where we’re a tick off.”

“I have no complaints,” Sarina replies with a smile. “Thank you for a great job calling the race.” Marcus then pulls her into a hug.

“Kyle said we could make a driver out of you. I’m believing that more and more.” She smiles, hoping those words turned out to be true. It’d make every decision she made through the years worth it.

“I’ll keep working at it, that’s for sure…” Marcus knew that, having seen the determination so far.

“Oh, Bethany and your brother went for a walk to check things out and were going to stop by victory lane a quick second to see how that went with Kyle. Chase, meanwhile, said he’d meet you back at his trailer when you got done.” She shakes her head, leaning back against the truck. It figured they’d all get separated. She’d hope they would’ve stayed together, came over to see her, and then they could have a nice little desert trip before she headed off to Bristol. “What’s going on?”

“Is my life ever going to make normal sense?” Marcus then crosses his arms, confused. “Throughout everything, it hasn’t been like the normal life you’re used to. I had parents who were doing things that I couldn’t comprehend. My mother was left asking questions as to my father’s police activities, and then him hiding what he did illegally. My brother went and did his strange behaviors, sand then went after my boyfriend. Nothing in my life has made sense or norm-”

“Nothing?” She then stops, knowing that was a lie as there was a constant.

“Okay, so racing and being damn good and loving it has been. But that’s not the poin-”

“Your boyfriend?” She then laughs, remembering their first couple days together.

“Oh, Chase and I are far from the normal, Marcus. I mean, I put him through the ringer before I’d simply accept a date.” Marcus was surprised, but could see that with her determined style. “But seriously – my brother and Chase are just spending enough time together to keep me happy. But inside, I know the guilt eats at Chris for hurting Chase unintentionally with the tumor, and then Chase wanting to forgive him for it but not able to forget what happened. Will I get to a time where they can be around each other and not think of that?” Marcus thought it over, not sure what answer to give her.

“I don’t know, to be honest. That all depends on Chase and Chris. It depends on whether they can choose to move forward, or not. Given Chase’s nature, I say that he could over time once he believes and trusts in Chris. Look at how he got over you lying to him about your brother’s involvement and everything. Now your brother, I don’t know because I don’t know him.” Sarina runs her hands through her hair, turning around as she lays her head on the truck.

“That doesn’t help me!!” Marcus then turns to face her, rubbing her back.

“All you can do is be honest with them. Tell them your true feelings. Let them express how they feel about each other to you. Keep that honesty going, and maybe it’ll get better. Sarina, if you love Chase and your brother as much as you claim, this is all worth it. But if you find yourself questioning it, then mayb-”

“There’s no way in hell I’m questioning this, ever. Don’t ever think that.” He then takes a step back, accepting immediately.

“I’ll see you in the shop, Monday?” She shakes her head yes as she watches the crew chief walk away.

“Marcus – thank you!” He looks back with a slight smile before continuing to head off in the chosen direction.

Taking a deep breath, she knew she better go find everybody as she had to get out of there and make her way to Bristol. It was time to prove once again why she was one of the best at short track late model racing.

Short Track Lovin’ – Chapter 80: The City of Oz

Sarina lets out a sigh as she leans back against her truck, twirling her ankle, before taking a glance down pit road. She just wanted to put together a solid run to keep the momentum rolling after the last race.

“My little superstar ready to go?” Crew chief Marcus Richmond questions as he walks over. She shakes her head yes. “That’s good. I’m just glad that you’re here ready to go tonight.”

“Why wouldn’t I be?” She questions as he points to her foot. She then lets out a sigh. “It’s just a sprain, pretty much almost healed. Gonna be like Chase and go crazy over it?” Marcus then looks at her with a glance of surprise.

“So he’s on your case that much this week?” She shakes her head yes as he lets out a whistle. “What?”

“That boy has it hard for you, probably more than you realize…” She just rolls her eyes. “Actually, maybe you have it just as much. I’m guessing you freaked a little after he flew at Talladega?”

“Wheels left the ground – doesn’t that warrant a freak out?” He shrugs his shoulders. “Besides, I was going to kill Hootie.” Marcus then looks back confused.

“Hootie?” She shakes her head yes. “Who the hell is Hootie?”

“A stuffed animal that Hooters gave him. I figure it’s the curse of our bad luck.” Marcus glances over as he sees Chase heading their way.

“You didn’t bring the owl with you this weekend, did you?” She shakes her head no. “Just checking….”

“Superstitious?” He then puts his hands up in the air.

“I’m not taking any chances based on how we started this year.” She lets out a sigh as he walks away, knowing it hadn’t been the prettiest start. They told her that sometimes rookie have a rough learning curve and things don’t go their way, but that didn’t mean she was pleased about it.

**********

Chase climbs up onto the pit box, taking his usual seat in the second row, catching a couple concerning glances. It had been hard to convince some of the crew guys to allow him to sit up there with fears that he’d steal notes or something for GMS Racing or Hendrick Motorsports to use. However, Kyle worked at it, explaining the reasoning was simply to just support Sarina and Chase would never do that. It didn’t mean that he didn’t get the cold shoulder at times, though.

His eyes focus immediately to the No. 18 Switch Toyota Tundra on track, hopeful for a great night of racing. Ultimately, the night didn’t start out as planned with contact between Sarina and Ben Rhodes on Lap 2 after going three-wide.

“There was no room for him!” Sarina yells on the radio, referring to Rhodes.

“10-4 truck looks fine,” her spotter tells her. “Just focus on the task at hand.”

She didn’t argue with her team, knowing that she had a job to do. She also didn’t argue when Marcus made the choice to pit with 10 laps to go in the stage, knowing they weren’t close to getting points and they’d gain valuable track position when everybody else pitted.

The strategy call looked to have worked as she restart fourth, though everything fell apart with 26 laps to go in the second stage when she headed down pit road with a flat tire.

“The carcass rolled back out on the track,” her spotter radios.

“Take your time team, do it right; we’re going to be fine,” Marucs tells him team as Chase sits back, watching. He could only shake his head as it didn’t seemed like Sarina could never catch a break.

She went back on track, though was unable to make up any ground as she continued to fall further back in the running order, laps down to the leaders.

“Something is wrong with the clutch. I’m pretty sure it’s gone,” She radios, not liking how it felt at all.

“Bring it to the garage,” Marcus says as Chase lets out a sigh. He could only think about the disappointment for both Sarina and the team in yet another day gone bad.

He walked back to the garage area, standing back as the crew looked over the truck and she climbed out. He let her debrief with the guys, not wanting to interrupt them as he knew what was like about her racing and knew he wouldn’t want to be interrupted himself. They were both the type that once in their zone, don’t mess it up.

Eventually she makes her way over to where he was standing leaning against the pillar, texting someone. He immediately puts his phone in his pocket, pulling her close and wrapping his arma around her.

“You were doing a great job,” he tells her. “None of that was your fault as you were doing great out there. It’s just one of those shitty luck deals. You were fast, and you’ll get them next week at Charlotte. You’re going to have a great year. I believe in you…” He then kisses her forehead as he keeps her held close to him. He knew how hard she could be on herself – having done the same thing himself through the years. He also knew how she let frustration eat at her sometimes. He didn’t know the magic touch to make it go away, but knew comforting words helped ease the sting.

“As much as I want to scream and throw a tantrum, you’re right,” she replies as she looks up into his eyes. “But I learned a lot tonight. I learned more about racing in traffic. I learned about restarts. I’m starting to understand these intermediate tracks more. We’re making progress.”

“That’s my girl right there. That’s what I want to hear.” They then head out of the garage area together, knowing they both needed their sleep. Chase had a race tomorrow, while she was off to Bristol to do some testing ahead of the Short Track Nationals. “I hate that you’re testing tomorrow….”

“I hate being away from you, but it’s part of the game. We’re not going to win if we don’t test.” He knew that she was right, based on where the program was the last time the late model was out.

“I’m just glad that you agreed to drive for me again instead of Kyle.” She then laughs, remembering the discussion had about that.

“Oh see, I didn’t say yes because of you. I said yes because of Ricky. I miss our fun times.” He then looks at her a little surprised.

“Oh, so you don’t care that you’re driving for your boyfriend and going to make him proud when you run well?” She felt her nerves flip flop, knowing it was going to be a tough field down there.

“Don’t count your chickens before they hatch….” He knew where the comment was coming from – confidence wasn’t as high as warranted with everything going on lately.

“Don’t get down on yourself. You’re a great driver. You damn well earned this shot.” She looks over, shaking her head yes in agreement.

There was not a weekend that went by that she didn’t think back to the days of working on cars by herself, racing underfunded equipment as she tried to get her name out there. She also thought about the journey life took her in moving by herself to North Carolina, escaping what was at home, and the ups-and-downs that brought with moving forward. Perhaps it was the pressure from that pushing her to succeed and pissing her off more when things didn’t go their way.

*************************

Sarina walks into the trailer, flopping on the couch as she places the bucket of popcorn between them. After solid laps all day at Bristol, her and Ricky had sat down ready to watch the happenings of Kansas.

The race started off strongly for Chase as he ran up front in the early stages, looking like he could contend for the victory. However, a trip down pit road and the world dropped out from underneath them.

“Come on here, come on here,” Alan Gustafson calls over the radio after the second caution of the race. “Right sides.”

“Watch that 95 here – he’s coming in late,” Eddie D’Hondt says over the radio as the pit crew conducts the pit stop. Once the tires are changed, jack goes down, Chase pulls out of the stall throttle down, hitting Michael McDowell and spinning McDowell around.

“Damn it! Back it up here…” Sarina could only echo the frustration of the crew chief, knowing the amount of damage that probably did to Chase’s front end.

“Well there goes our night,” Chase says over the radio. “Fucking awesome!” Sarina then reaches for the remote, switching the race off as she stands up and walks towards the exit.

“That’s it?” Ricky questions as she looks back at him. “They could make it back up….” Sarina then laughs, shaking her head no.

“There’s enough damage there that he’ll be riding around all night,” she replies. “Like he said – night over because Alan can’t damn well do his job properly and clear him leaving the stall!” Ricky’s jaw drops in shock of the anger let out by Sarina.

“Alan knows what he’s doin-”

“Explain why the hell that happened?!?” Ricky takes a deep breath, thinking his efforts would probably be worth nothing based on the anger.

“Alan doesn’t clear him leaving; that’s not what they do. Eddie watches, gives warning, but it’s Chase’s doi-”

“How is Chase supposed to clear his damn self when he probably didn’t see the 95 due to the headrest and visibility in those cars? Are you just trying to make excuses, Ricky?” Ricky shakes his head no as he lets out a sigh. He knew it was worthless.

“I’m just stating how things work. Obviously they’ll probably be changes moving forward. Now, where are you off to?” She then crosses her arms.

“What are you? A cop?” He knew he should’ve probably just shut his mouth right from the start.

“I’m curious, okay?” She then let out a sigh, knowing perhaps she shouldn’t be dishing her anger out at Ricky. She’d just have to kick Alan’s ass next time she saw him.

“I’m going for a walk to cool my head, and then probably going to come back and re-watch the practice videos. I want to see what I’ve been doing wrong. I then may also re-watch the videos of Charlotte that Kyle sent me. Is that okay, officer?” Ricky knew some cooling off time would be very warranted.

“Yeah….” She then smiles, grabbing her phone and leaving.

Ricky sits back on the couch, flipping the race back on, now hoping Jimmie could pull off a win after that disaster.