Friday, June 8 – Michigan International Speedway
“How close were we from making it to the next round?” Alan questions as he looks at the monitor, seeing they ended up qualifying 13th.
“Hundreths of a second,” Josh answers. “That little bobble that Chase talked to you about – cut half of that out and we’re in.” Alan shakes his head in disbelief as he glances over at his driver.
“We’re getting where we want to be…” Chase nods his head in agreement.
“I’m sorr-” Chase starts and Alan gives him a stern glance.
“Don’t give me that apology shit,” he cuts him off. “You were driving your ass off as hard as you could. It’s not your fault. I missed the set-up a little so I’m to blame just as much. We’ll get there.” Chase nods his head as Alan walks over, placing an arm around his shoulders. “You believe me?”
“Absolutely.” Alan smiles a little as they watch the final round of qualifying start.
“You’re quiet….” Chase lets out a sigh as he glances over his shoulder.
“Why can’t everybody just let it go? Everybody knows what happened, but yet they’re on my case about every single little feeling.” Alan glances over at him a little confused. “My parents keep asking about how I am doi-”
“They care abou-”
“You keep aski-”
“I care abou-”
“Jimmie pushed to find out more information after hearing that I had a small nightmare while watching Lydia.” Alan’s jaw now drops in shock. “I flashed back to the hotel room, woke up a little spooked. She caught me with tears rolling down my cheeks. I told her it was a bad dream and she offered to comfort me. She then told Jimmie, and Jimmie asked me about it.”
“What did you say?” Chase lets out a sigh as he looks back out to the track.
“I told him it was about Alison, which he understood because of everything and offered to be there if I need a friend.” Chase looks over at Alan. “He doesn’t know about everything she did. I can’t bring myself to say oh yeah, I had a nightmare because this chick sexually assaulted me.”
“Chase…..” Chase takes a deep breath.
“Everybody is going to find out, though. Whennver they finally set the date and we do the trial, I am going to have to say everything. Everybody is going to know what happened. Then what?” Alan knew it was a touchy subject as he thought over the best wording to say.
“They’ll understand everything that you’ve been dealing with. They’ll have sympathy for your reactions, behavior, everything that you’ve been saying. They’ll also know to give you space knowing it’s a touchy subject. Some people may even view you as a hero for being strong.” Alan then places a hand on his shoulder. “Nobody knows how everybody will react and what is going to happen. Honestly? That doesn’t matter, Chase. Those who know you will be there to support you. Those who want to do whatever else can kiss your ass because at the end of the day, all that matters is you.”
“I know, but it’s hard….” Alan nods his head sympathically.
“I know Sarina is racing next weekend in Iowa, but it’s your off-weekend. You’ve been through hell and back these past couple of months, balancing your schedule, racing, and Alison’s whole list of shit. Do yourself a favor and take a step back, take some time to catch your breath, and relax. Unplug from everything and try to have a bit of relaxation and fun. Can you promise me that?” Chase smiles, nodding his head yes. “And if you need anything while she’s in Texas, don’t hesitate to call me – no matter the time of night.”
“I’ll be fine. My little angel is coming back to stay tonight.” Alan then looks over puzzled. “Lydia loves spending time with me, and Jimmie says if it helps, he’s willing to let her spend the weekend at my coach.”
“Children can be a bless – shit, I didn’t mea-”
“Children can be a blessing in the happiness that they can bring and distraction. You can say it, Alan. We’ve talked about this. I’ve come to grips….” Alan nods his head, accepting.
“Just don’t keep distracting yourself that you don’t face your feelings.”
After a quick chat and snack, things were starting to get settled in for the night for Chase and Lydia. Knowing there was no way he was missing the truck race, he had convinced her that they curl up in the big bed in the motorcoach and watch it together.
“Sarina?” Lydia questions and Chase nods his head as they get comfy with a bucket of popcorn.
“Yeah, we’re going to watch Sarina race on the big TV,” Chase answers as she smiles. “Now, what number is Sarina?”
“Eighteen!” Chase looks over impressed as he didn’t expect her to know that.
“You’re pretty smart, huh?” Lydia just keeps smiling in return.
Starting third, she was strong through the first portion, running in the top-three through the first stage until a caution with 10 laps to go. Rudy pulled the strategy card, bringing her down pit road rather than keeping the position for stage points. Restarting about 14th, she crossed the line in 12th.
Chase had expected Rudy to leave her out and gain back the lost ground, but instead he made the decision to pit her once again.
“What the hell?” He questions out loud confused as Lydia glances over.
“Bad word Chasey!” She says as he immediately covers his mouth, repeating what he said back to himself.
“Sorry. Guess I’m just a little nervous tonight..” Lydia then grabs a handful of popcorn before cuddling into his side.
“She will win!” Chase smiles as he was certainly enjoying the vote of confidence.
Restarting from the seventh position, she didn’t make up much ground, only moving up to fifth and staying there until a caution with six laps to go in the stage – which puzzled Chase about the initial strategy even more. Of course once again, Rudy made the decision to bring her down pit road rather than get the stage points, setting her back to restart seventh and finish sixth in the second stage.
“There we go….” He lets out as Rudy left her out at the end of the second stage, allowing her to move up to the second position for the restart.
“She win?” Lydia asks, eyes half-opening back up as Chase glances down at her.
“It’s not over yet sweetheart. Listen, close your eyes and I promise I’ll tell you what happened in the morning.” He then wraps his arm back around her as she grabs her stuffed animal, cuddling it as she closes her eyes once again.
Restarting second, Sarina was unable to hold the track position, dropping back to fifth – which was still decent considering the older tires. The next caution flew at 60 laps to go, which was just outside of the fuel window.
“Of course….” He lets out as he watches them come down pit road, with her set to restart fifth for the restart.
He knew if he was at the track sitting on the pit box, this would be the time that he’d be trying to peak at the numbers being written down by the engineers for fuel mileage. Instead, he was stuck in a bed with his little buddy, fingers crossed, hoping that they could make it on gas.
Over the course of the run, his nerves were shot as it seemed every thought and pit road report had him knowing that they’d be outta gas in the final laps, and stuck with a poor finish. However, his nerves got a sigh of relief when the caution flew with 19 laps to go.
Rudy brought her down pit road, giving her four tires, setting her up to restart eighth. Unfortunately, it probably would’ve been better to stay out – like eventual race winner, or get two tires as making up ground never happened, but rather falling back to 10th.
“Come on Rudy….” He says getting discouraged with the lack of adjustments. It almost seemed a repeat of several other weeks this year where they ran great the first two stages, and then just fell off the final section.
The final yellow flag flew with seven laps to go, with Rudy bringing her back down pit road. Restarting from 12th, she was only able to make two spots, finishing 10th.
He grabbed his phone off of the nightstand, sending her a quick note of encouragement on the night and a I love you, I miss you message. He then put his phone up, getting comfortable with Lydia, letting his eyes drift close for a good night’s sleep.
Saturday, June 9 – Michigan International Speedway
After a crazy hectic Friday, it was nice to have a relaxing Saturday ahead of him, with just a single two hour practice to make sure they got the handling right on the car for Sunday.
As they had been doing, solid progress was seen throughout the session with Chase feeling comfortable and feeling it was something they could work with, despite only being 17th quickest on the speed chart.
Though once the meeting was done and his mind was left to wander, he couldn’t help but reflect back to Alan’s comments from the previous day about taking some time to himself. He knew the crew chief was right as certainly the weight on his shoulders felt like it was getting heavier with each passing day.
“Do I want to know?” He hears, snapping him out of his thoughts as Ryan walks into the garage. “You looked like you were deep in thought.”
“Nah, it was nothing,” Chase brushes it off immediately but Ryan knew better than that. However, he wasn’t there to push the issue – but rather offer the alternative.
“So Lindsay and I finally told Emma that she’s pregnant.” Chase glances over a little surprised. “It went just as lovely as you’d probably expect knowing Emma. While she’s ready to spoil the child and be the greatest aunt ever, she immediately pulled me aside to question Lindsay’s intentions and behavior.”
“I’m not surprised, Ryan….” Ryan just lets out a sigh as he leans back against the pit box beside him.
“I’m actually not either. I tried to explain how we casually met and we’re working at getting closer and then it just…well, it just happened. She told me that I should’ve been more careful, I should know how to wear gloves, and everything else in between. She’s still concerned, too, despite everything we’ve said, about Lindsay’s history and intentions due to Chris, Bethany and everything…” Chase lets out a sigh as he glances towards the ground.
“I’m sorry that you’re faced with that, man. I know what it feels like because I heard the same thing from my sister, too. Brit was ready to throw Sarina out the back door at dinner – if not have it secretly kidnapped on a mission.” Ryan chuckles a little, not surprised. “But hey, she grew to tolerate and like her over time. Give it some time…”
“I’m trying – but you know how much Emma’s approval means to me.” Chase nods his head, understanding. He knew how close Ryan was with both his sisters.
“So have you told Erin yet?” Ryan shakes his head no.
“This isn’t something that you tell someone over the phone, man, and she’s still away in Ireland. Speaking of which….” Chase wasn’t sure he wanted to go this direction. “Let’s just be honest and state this openly. You’ve had a crazy hectic past couple of months and an escape from reality would be welcoming. I also like to have my time to get away and recharge during these breaks. We talked about this last year when we were there that we wanted to go back and see more of Irela-”
“No, no – no way….” Ryan looks on surprised. “You and Lindsay can just pick up and run away but Sarina still has her schedu-”
“I talked to her about this already.” Chase looks over, jaw dropping immediately. “Lindsay doesn’t want to travel much due to being pregnant and sickness and all that jazz. We know Sarina can’t go because of her race in Iowa, but she agrees with me – you need some time to get away, forget about everything for a couple days, and have some fun. Lindsay is going to stay with her and go to Iowa, as long as you agree to come with me to Ireland.”
“Seriously?” Ryan nods his head. “So you put all these pieces together without consulting me first?”
“I figured I’d take all the hard work and planning out of the equation because this is supposed to be a little getaway for you. At the same time, I can meet up with Erin and tell her the great news.” Chase smiles a little.
“I wouldn’t mind seeing Erin’s reaction….” Ryan then smiles as he knew that meant he was warming up to the idea.
“We always do a vacation at this time. You got to say yes…” Chase glances over. “Well, you could say no – but everybody may kick your ass. Besides, you have to admit that I am right.”
“Alan mentioned the same thing to me yesterday – make sure to take time for yourself, even with Sarina’s schedule.”
“So is that a yes?” Chase had been looking forward to Ireland, and he had to admit that some time away was exactly what the doctor ordered. While having comfort from everyone was nice, the time away would probably do more good than he probably realized right now. He also knew that the girls would enjoy their own time to themselves with how hectic everything had been, and there was no fear with Alison locked up now.
“Let’s go have some fun!” Ryan lets out a small cheer, immediately pulling his phone out to send a text of approval to Erin, Sarina and Lindsay.
Sunday, June 10 – Michigan International Speedway
Chase scrolls through his twitter feed, letting out a sigh as he glances back up towards the sky. They may say it’s clearing, but the sky and drops of rain set to fall, combined with the radar said otherwise.
Why couldn’t NASCAR just admit it?
His eyes return back to his phone, as another sigh escaped his lips. Rain delays sucked, but they even sucked worse without Sarina there.
He was actually surprised that she hadn’t made it to the track yet. He knew she stayed in Texas to watch the IndyCar race last night and was flying out on Sunday morning – and he had gotten an update that she had landed, but that didn’t explain the fact that she hadn’t made it to the track yet.
“Where are you?” He asks himself, stopping every urge to send her a panic message and see where she was. While it felt like hours since the update, it’d only been two – and he knew traffic was a bitch on raceday.
“Where is who?” He hears, and a smile comes to his face immediately, as he glances up above his phone. “Hey babes…” She then leans down, placing a kiss on his lips.
“Hey…” She then sits down beside him on the pavement.
“So why are we camping out by the car?” He just shrugs his shoulders. “Was someone feeling a little lonely?”
“I missed you, okay?” He then looks over into her blue eyes. “And I know I am going to miss you this upcoming week…” He then kisses her lips.
“I am going to miss you, too, but I also agree with Ryan. You need to do something for yourself. If this is the right therapy and gives you that escape you need, then I can handle it. We can always text each other and facetime, right?” He nods his head in agreement.
“I almost said no because I knew I’d miss you so much….” She then smiles a little.
“I almost told Ryan that he was full of shit for asking you. But then I realized he was right, and I wouldn’t mind some girl time. The fact that Lindsay and I haven’t gotten to hang out at all for a couple of months now is a shock.”
“That’s because of me…” She then shrugs her shoulders.
“I’m not complaining, though. I wouldn’t take back all the time that I spent taking care of you, Chase. You needed that comfort, and I promised you I’d give you every bit of that because I can’t ever make up for what you did for me.”
“I appreciate it.” She then leans over to glance at his phone, and she does, the skies open up, soaking them both immediately. They both laugh, glancing back and forth, seeing as her retro Chase Elliott t-shirt and jeans were soaked right through to go with his firesuit. “I’m glad that I asked for two of these firesuits now…”
“Come on…” She then gets up, grabbing his hand as they run off for shelter by the team pit box. “I have to say that clings to you very nicely when it’s soaked…” She then wraps an arms around him, with her hands immediately finding their way down to his butt cheeks. “And you’re probably going to need some help changing out of it.”
“The same way that I believe these jeans won’t slide off so easily…” He then leans in, bringing his lips to hers, as he pushes back up against the pit box. “I missed you so much.”
“I missed you, too.” She accepts every inch of the kiss, not moving her hands one bit from his butt. “Clyde…”
“Trailer?” She nods her head without a single word as they trek through the rain, heading inside, with the lounge door closing immediately, with the lock flicked as he pinned her back against the wall.
“Like I said, you’re going to need help of that…” Her hands work their way to the zipper of his firesuit, as he runs his fingertips along the waistline of her jeans.