Monday, August 27 – Charlotte, North Carolina
Chase Elliott walks into the police station, wishing that this was out of the books and not part of the daily route already, and up to the desk.
“Can I help you, sir?” The secretary immediately questions as he clears his throat.
“I’m here to pick up a package,” he answers, remembering the message he had received a couple weeks ago. after much debate and discussion, he had decided to at least go pick it up. However, what he did next, that was still undecided.
“Ah yes, I did see something dropped off for you from Ferncliff from one of their patients.” Chase could only hope she remained a patient for a long time. “Can I have a piece of ID?”
“But I take it that you recognize me given your comme-”
“Protocol. I’m trying to not get fired today.” Chase couldn’t help but chuckle a little as he took his wallet out, handing over his driver’s license. He watched her jot down some information before handing him a piece of paper. “Signature, please.”
“Do you want a second one somewhere else for autograph purposes?” He couldn’t help but have some fun with this as she chuckles a little.
“Sorry to burst your bubble, Mr. Elliott, but I’m a Denny Hamlin fan.” His smile immediately fades as she hands him the package and driver license back. “Instructions in responding to the message or anything are included inside. Have a nice day.”
He was about to argue back in response on her favorite driver, but took a deep breath and left instead. He goes out to the truck, throwing the package on the passenger seat, before heading back out.
It wasn’t a long drive to get back to the house as he got out of the truck, snagging the package off of the seat. He ran his fingers over the edges with a sigh as he walked up to the door of the house, and headed inside.
He set the envelope on the table in the hallway before glancing into the front room, surprised when he saw Sarina curled up on the couch.
“Are you okay?” He questions and she shrugs her shoulders.
“My stomach is feeling a little better now,” she replies with a sigh. Shortly after he had left that morning to head over to Hendrick Motorsports, she found herself in the bathroom throwing up. it was why she had decided to call in to Kyle Busch Motorsports and take the day to relax, hoping it was just a bug going around or something she ate yesterday.
“Now now, are we just avoiding going into see Kyle today?” She shakes her head as she threatens to throw a pillow at him. “Being sick is actually a pretty good excuse, really. It’s even better when he won’t be in the next two days due to commitments either, so now you won’t see him to the weekend and you’re probably hoping he’ll be too busy or let it go.”
“I was fully ready to deal with whatever he had to send my way, thank you very much. That’s why I offered to do it over the phone, but he declined. However, Todd and I talked it out and agreed to at least play nice.” Chase was a little surprised the conversation went smoothly as he makes his way into the living room. “I don’t think I should’ve ate those pork chops after all last night. I should’ve gotten the Chicken Caesar like you did.”
“You can’t go wrong with chicken and salad, or Mexican for that matter.” She then shakes her head.
“Your farts at night would say otherwise.” He then goes to smack her as she just laughs. “Sorry, but you smell worse than rotten eggs some nights.”
“That’s coming from the girl that stunk up the bedsroom so bad one night that both our eyes were watering and we had to light the lavender candles to get rid of the smell.” She then lets out a sigh, as she remembered that night.
“Once in a blue moon is a lot better than your weekly stinks. By the way, what’s that envelope, anyway?” He then glances back towards the table in the hallway with a sigh.
“Allison’s note. I went and picked it up from the police station on my way home since it was on the wa-”
“What route did you take from Hendrick?” Chase smiles as he keeps his eyes locked on her. “Oh great….”
“I was over at GMS. Spencer hurt his shoulder so I’m actually going to be running both races this weekend.” She drops her jaw a little surprised, but totally understood given Chase’s friendship with Mike Beam.
“Have you opened the envelope?” Chase shakes his head no. “Are you going to?”
“I don’t know, yet. I may just throw it in the garbage or burn it.” Sarina smiles as she reaches for the matches on the coffee table.
“I offer to light the first match.” Chase was now surprised. “I’m sorry, but burning her ass out of our lives would be very satisfying after watching everything that you went through because of her. Do you realize that she tortured your ass for five mont-”
“I lived it, Sari-”
“And you realize that you dealt with repercussions – and still do at times, for the months since. Anything to erase her and the memory of her from our lives is beyond satisfying. By opening that envelope, you’re re-opening those wounds. Are you prepared for that?” Chase lets out a sigh as he looks down.
“Obviously I am not and you know that better than anyo-”
“So why did you go pick up the envelo-”
“Because I don’t want her to have the upper hand this time!” He then runs his hands through his hair as he takes a couple deep breathes. “She manipulated me into doing what she wanted on her terms by what she did. She manipulated me into her trap and feelings. She manipulated me into those moments together by kidnapping you. She played me perfectly, and I’m not getting play-”
“Clearly you’re not because her ass is locked away where it belongs, Chase. Besides, we’ve talked about this – it wasn’t your fault and you didn’t have a choice. Fuck, I even screwed up by believing her pregnancy story for a couple weeks. So I get what you’re thinking. However, you’re playing the game by accepting this move of a note to you. She probably wants you to read that note. She probably wants your sympathy. She knows you’re a sweet guy and perhaps you’ll bend over and let her go free-”
“There’s no way in hell that I am ever letting that happ-”
“I know that, you know that, and those close to you know that. However, she doesn’t know that and thinks that she can play on your sympathy card. Don’t give her the chance. Burn it, Chase.” Chase looks back towards the envelope, before looking over at Sarina.
“Not tonight, okay” She rolls her eyes as she sets the matches back down. “Just give me a bit of time…” She slowly nods her head yes, but immediately regretted the decision.
“I guess in the nick of sharing everything, I might as well come clean with your ass. I have a meeting at JR Motorsports tomorrow.” Chase was now caught offguard.
“I thought everything was great with you, Kyle, and Sa-”
“They love me, and I love driving for them. It’s a great match and like I’ve told you, I wouldn’t change it ever. However, I want to go for that next step in my career – XFINITY Series. I feel I’m ready based on my talent and what I was able to do earlier this year.” Chase knew she was right in those assumptions as she had actually surprised him with those limited races.
“I’ve never doubted your talent. So are you saying that Joe Gibbs does?” Sarina shakes her head no.
“I’ve been told that I’m talented, I’m great, everything is the perfect marriage. However, there’s no room for me at JGR. Christopher won’t get to Cup when he wants because of this situa-”
“I could always make Denny retire for him.” She then chuckles in response.
“I’m sure everybody would be fine with that, too. But you also have to consider Logan, Hailie Deegan, Todd Gilliland, Harrison Burton – there’s so much young talent in Toyota. They also have more backing from the manufacture than I do.” Chase could see that based on the sponsorship placement, and hype that had been happening. “I need to align myself better for the future….”
“Chevrolet will have room at Hendrick Motorsports when Jimmie retires, although that isn’t happening anytime soon if you ask me. However, I’m sure tides will shift over at Richard Childress Racing and Ganassi.” He then looks over at her. “So you’re going to JR Motorsports tomorrow for a meeting about running XFINITY next year full-time?” She nods her head.
“They’ve set the bar in the series so the equipme-”
“I won a championship with them, Sarina, so you don’t need to tell me. I think Dale and Kelley have a great team, and it’d be perfect – interesting but perfect.” Sarina was now a little confused. “Do you remember when we first started dating? Dale was so critical when you stopped by that day with me. He kept harping about the possible wrong reasons, and pushed so hard when we were in Colorado about our relationship. He still sometimes even pushes me about it, questioning about Erin just a couple weeks ago. And now he’s going to be your boss?”
“I can handle whatever he has to come my way for the sake of seeing your sexy ass every night alongside me and to win races. Besides, Kelley and Amy should keep him in line.” Chase then chuckled as he shook his head.
“No matter what those girls say, Dale will still do as he does. But hey, I don’t want to deter you from doing this because it’s a great opportunity, and I hope you land the ride.” He then lightly kisses her cheek.
Friday, August 31 – Darlington Raceway
“Were you at least comfortable?” Chad Norris asks Chase following the first XFINITY Series practice, which he had ended up ranked 11th.
“If I’m being honest, no,” Chase answers as Chad lets out a sigh. “It’s sliding too much in the center of the corner to the point I barely kept it off the wall. Can we try to get away from that before tomorrow?” Chad nods his head yes.
“I’ll go over everything as I think I have a couple ideas for the second practice.”
Chase smiles as he grabs a cold bottle of water, before making his way down to the Cup Series garage, ready for the first session. Sarina walks right alongside, wearing one of the throwback t-shirts that NAPA had released for the weekend with the car on it.
“I know that paint scheme means a lot to you, but I fall in love more every time I see it,” Sarina comments as they reach the Cup stall. “I mean, that yellow just pops perfectly off the blue.”
“I think it turned out better than expected,” Chase replies as he heads inside the stall. “I just hope everybody else likes it.”
“Trust me, they’re going to adore it just as much as I do when they see it on track and especially under those lights. I can’t wait for Sunday night.” She then places a hand on his shoulder. “Are you sure you’re okay?”
“Absolutely.” He then glances back at her. “I’m fine, trust me. Yes, it has meaning, but I’m not caught up in those emotions. I’m glad for the reasons that we’re doing this, and I’m ready to win this weekend. I hope you’re ready to celebrate.”
“You don’t need to ask that question, silly.” She then kisses his lips, before standing back as he heads off, set to get ready for the first Cup practice session.
“Okay, so that’s not too bad…” Alan comments as Chase walks over following the first practice session. Chase glances up at the chart, seeing their 18th.
“It could’ve been a lot bet-” Chase starts as Alan crosses his arms.
“A lot of people did qualifying trim runs. We’re going to do that next session. I wanted to focus on race runs and get the car comfortable.” Chase lets out a sigh as that wasn’t even where he wanted it to be quite yet. “Go ahead…”
“It’s loose, but not as loose as a normal loose.” Alan looks on a little confused. “It’s like when I get on the gas middle of the corner, it smacks the splitter and then gets loose, so I have to back out a bit and then get back into it.”
“So perhaps if I change the front travel, we’ll fix that condition. The only thing that I’m worried about is being tight.” Chase could see that given adjusting front end geometry, but that didn’t bother him right now.
“I want a secure feeling with the car, Alan. Give me that secure feeling by fixing the travel and then worry about the handling.” Alan nods his head accepting.
“Entry and center good?” Chase wasn’t quite set on that, but didn’t want to complain as it wasn’t the worse issue. “So we’ll do two qualifying trim runs, and then a race trim run to make sure the change is what you need.”
“Whatever you think is going to work….” Chase takes out his phone, glancing through a couple messages. He was surprised to see that Sarina wasn’t in the garage area, and even more caught off-guard with her back at the motorcoach.
“Do we need to talk again?” Chase glances up and shakes his head no.
“Everything is fine – well, that’s not quite the truth. Sarina hasn’t been feeling the best this week.” Alan shakes his head as it seemed they couldn’t catch a break no matter what.
“Wasn’t she not feeling good a couple weeks ago?” Chase nods his head yes, remembering. “I hope she’s not coming down with something again.”
“She says it feels nothing like that, just an odd icky feeling. I told her it could be because of what she ate.” Alan looks on a little surprised.
“You ate the same thin-”
“But she’s tailoring herself more to what I’ve tried to show her in my diet plan. We’re trying to find a compromise together so it’s easier on weekends but within what I know works for me. However, I think her compromising isn’t working for her.” Alan was now a little confused.
“How would chicken and salads burst that bubble?” Chase looks on shocked.
“I don’t just eat chicken and salads.”
“Oh, that’s right. I forgot about the stink bomb Mexican food.” Chase now wanted to smack Alan as Alan just chuckles. “Maybe it’s too big of an adjustment for her body, I don’t know. Maybe it’s close to her time of the month.”
“That’d be pain from cramps instead of icky.” Alan lets out a sigh as he shakes his head no.
“Sometimes you get one before the other. Don’t ask me; it’s just how woman work. I’ve seen it and deal with it. When that happens in my household, I simply do my best to support and not judge.” Alan places a hand on Chase’s shoulder. “Relax, she’ll be fine. If she says it’s nothing to worry about, then it’s nothing. She can take care of herself, Chase.”
“Is it wrong for me to worry?” Alan shakes his head no.
“That’s because you care…..”
“You look tired,” Sarina comments as she enters the garage stall following the second Cup practice, seeing Chase sitting there with a bottle of water.
“I’m glad to see you’re feeling better,” Chase replies as he takes a sip of the water.
“I take it you’re happier, too. Eighth in XFINITY practice, second in Cup practice has to make you feel better about your chances.” Chase nods his head in agreement. “Seriously, though, are you okay?”
“I didn’t realize how hot it was going to be, or how many laps I was going to be doing today. it just wiped me out a little bit more than normal.” Sarina then thinks back to the previous week.
“Bananas and grape fruit this past week were eaten, right?” Chase nods his head. “It’s not like you to be dehydrated – well, except Chicago, but that was due to lack of sleep more so.” She then pauses as she kneels before him. “The note from Alis-”
“I’ve been sleeping as normal without any issues or thoughts to her stupid note.” Chase was getting tired of hearing Sarina bring it up at every time that she could. “Listen, I’ll be fine. I’ll drink lots tonight, snack as I need to, and make sure to have a good lunch tomorrow.”
“I’ll also make sure to take care of you…” She then rubs his shoulders, leaning over his back as she kisses his cheek. “A nice massage will probably help those muscles feel better and you sleep.”
“I can never turn down a massage.” He then turns around to face her, their eyes finding each others. “Although, considering we have all night to ourselves…” He then runs his fingers along the edge of her jeans, as her hand lands on top of his.
“Rest, relaxation, quietness is needed so you’re ready for tomorrow. But good try.” She then gives him a kiss before turning and walking away.
“You can’t resist me all night…” She then looks back with a grin on her face.
“Are you sure about that, Mr. Elliott?” He then catches back up with her, swooping her off her feet into his arms.
“I know how to get you to do whatever I want.” He then kisses her lips, slowly setting her back down on the ground. His left arm wraps around the back of her holding her close, as his right hand finds its way to the edge of her jeans, running his finger along lightly. “Admit it….”
“Clyde…” She then pushes him back against the garage stall wall, reaching for the zipper on the firesuit, as his hand comes up off her jeans to hers.
“Not here. What if someone walks in?” He then leans her through the garage stall and into the No. 9 hauler, with the door barely shut closed before their hands were back on each other again.