The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 193: A Disney Engagement

Sunday, February 10 – Daytona International Speedway – 1 week, 1 day old

Alan pops into the hauler, seeing Chase laying on the couch. He felt a bit of relief in knowing that he hadn’t taken off yet, given the amount of rain that was falling.

“Please tell me that you’re being careful about your decisions,” Alan lets out, almost out of cue, which catches Chase off-guard.

“Excuse me?” Chase questions, and Alan takes a deep breath as he knew there was no way around it.

“I know you want to fly back and be with Sarina and Abigail, but be careful in your decisi-”

“Why do you think I am still laying here? Why do you think I have the radar loaded on my phone? Why do you think I have texted Sarina that I may be late, or come tomorrow instead?” Alan admittedly let out an immediate sigh of relief. “I told you that I was going to be careful, and I meant that. I thought you trusted me.”

“I do.” Alan then sits on the couch. “I just also worry about you. Can you blame me?” Chase shakes his head no as he glances back through his text messages.

“I also got a phone call that Carter Williams was spotted in the Florida area. The police are checking into the person who left the tip, and what they can figure out.” Alan had to admit made him feel even more nervous about the situation. However, it also explained his driver’s location.

“Is that why you’re here and not back at the motorcoach?” Chase shakes his head no as he holds his phone up.

“I didn’t want to get comfy there if I did end up flying out tonight, hence the radar. However, it looks ugly so I might as well give it up.” Chase then sits up, looking over at Alan. “How do you handle the time away from your family?”

“It gets easier with time, in trusting them and knowing that we make the most of the time we do spend together. My kids are also older, Chase, and that helps. I remember the first couple of months, and how after some races I just wanted to get home immediately to be with them.” Chase had to smile slightly as the words did offer some comfort given the situation. “I’m sure once she’s out of the hospital, it’ll be easier for both you and Sarina to handle together.”

“It’s only been a week – a whole week, and yet it seems like things are going too slowly at times. I know we’ve gotten to be closer, but nothing will replace the first chance to hold her, and knowing that everything for sure is okay.”

“I’m sure other people have told you this, but she’s going to be fine. Maybe babies are born a couple weeks early and they turn out fine. You’d be surprised with what modern medicine can accomplish.” Chase nods his head, having heard the re-assurances every direction he looked. However, it didn’t cure those small worries that he had in the meanwhile.

Monday, February 11 – Daytona International Speedway

Although the rain had stopped, Chase was still stuck in Daytona, Florida on Monday. Between constant threat of more weather, and worries about a breach of security at the airport with Carter in town, comfort in clearance to fly up to Georgia couldn’t be found.

He had thought about making the trip out to New Smyrna to watch the short track racing, however he had to admit that it was comfy staying in cuddling with Max on the couch. So rather than heading down the road to the track, he had loaded the races that night on

Although he tried to stay focused on the action before him, the conversation with Sarina was earning his attention. He was focused on the video feed of Abigail, seeing her little fingers wrapped up in Sarina’s hand. The pair were also conversing back and forth about updates from the doctor, the current plan moving forward if things continued according to plan, followed by how much they missed each other.

“So you’re for sure going to fly up here tomorrow?” Sarina questions and Chase nods his head.

“I have to,” he answers. “You’re due in Daytona on Wednesday for media day festivities, remember?” Sarina lets out a sigh. She knew that she could get out of those easily as everybody understood what was going on, however she wanted to stick by her words to Chase. She couldn’t expect him to drop everything and continue racing like normal if she didn’t do the same. However, that meant one more day away from her daughter.

“But you’re definitely coming up here to get me yoursel-”

“I promise you, Sarina, that I will make the trip tomorrow. I want to see Abigail for myself. It’s been three days now. I know we can’t do much, other than be near her and feel her fingers, but I miss it. I miss those little touches and being able to see her up close.” Sarina looks down at Abigail as the pair of them talk together.

“I think she misses seeing her daddy, too, if I’m being honest.” Chase wanted to believe in those words, but also knew that Sarina was projecting. Truthfully, he knew they were both missing each other just as much.

“Well you can tell her that Daddy loves her, and he can’t wait to see his girls tomorrow. I love you, Mrs. Elliott.” An immediate smile forms on Sarina’s face in hearing the name.

“I love you too, Mr. Elliott.” Chase then glances back up at the live stream from New Smyrna.

“And if it makes you feel better, Bubba Pollard is doing what he does best at New Smyrna. He set up the perfect late-race pass to snag the win by conserving his tires.”

“Are we honesty surprised, Chase? I told you that he’d be back to his familiar ways – even if that’s not his car.”

A couple text messages later, and both puppies were on their leeches as the drivers headed out through the infield at Daytona. They reached the playground area, letting them both off so they could run around and play together.

“So I apologize for bringing up the engagement on Sunday,” Chase starts, catching Ryan’s attention. “I didn’t realize you hadn’t told your sisters yet.”

“You do realize what they’re both like when it comes to those things, right?” Ryan questions, and Chase nods his head as he had known Emma and Erin long enough to realize that. He also saw it firsthand as he was there when Ryan told Erin about the pregnancy. “I just didn’t want them on my ass about every small detail and everything until I did it. I also don’t know if Emma has completely come around yet.”

“I thought she was fully on-board midway through Lindsay’s pregnancy…” Ryan lets out a sigh, remembering the conversation that ensued.

“There’s no doubt that she loves Evelyn, and she can’t wait to be an aunt. I also feel that she trusts Lindsay to a degree. I just don’t think she’s on-board for the next step.” Chase wasn’t in agreement, but he was willing to entertain the idea if it made Ryan open up about the engagement plans.

“Doesn’t she realize that’s what comes next, though?” Ryan simply shrugs his shoulders. “But okay, what is your plan by the way?”

“The only reason you asked Sturgis and I to come with you is because you wanted to get the details out of me, right?” Chase wasn’t about to admit that straight out quite yet.

“There’s discussions that Carter is in the area and I didn’t want to go out by myself. It was either call you, or call Jimmie. Don’t you feel special?” Ryan wasn’t buying the act.

“I originally was going to do it on Valentine’s Day, but that’s so typical as you’d just expect it then. I don’t want to do something that everybody else wou-”

“Are you just putting it off because of cold feet, or your sister now?” Ryan shakes his head no. wishing his best friend had some patience right now. Normally, it was the other way around.

“We’re going to Walt Disney World tomorrow. I thought about it doing it then. I actually called ahead, too.” Chase actually looks over surprised, as he didn’t think Ryan would be one to fully put a plan together. “She’s my princess, my Cinderella. We’re going to go to dinner at the castle, and then desert. Part of that desert is going to be a glass slipper, which I will be set to present to her as my Cinderella. However, there will be a ring within those straps on the slipper. Do I need to say anything else?”

“That actually sounds magical, beyond anything that I thought you were capable of. I’m impressed.” Ryan didn’t know whether to appreciate, or slap him for the comment. “So you’re going to text me as soon as you know her answer, right?”

“Trust me – you and Sarina will near the top of the list.” Chase gives him a glance. “Okay, you’re at the top of my list actually. Lindsay wouldn’t want it any other way considering how close she and Sarina are, and the fact we met because of you both.”

“I still remember how you both kept putting off there being a connection and the fact you were just simple friends. However, from the first night you spent together – which would be my birthday party actually, everybody could tell there was a connection.” Ryan smiles as he remembers the dancing together, followed by going out for desert.

“I almost couldn’t believe it was happening because it felt too perfect. They say you know you have found the right person when you feel it – and it just felt too good to be true.”  Chase had to nod his head in agreement, remembering his first couple of days spent with Sarina. “And you’re flying back to Georgia tomorrow, correct?”

“That’s the plan. I have to go to the airport tomorrow afternoon as I have a pretty cool fun flying opportunity with a plane that I’ve always wanted to fly. Then after that’s done, I am taking the flight up to Georgia.”

Tuesday, February 12 – Daytona Beach International Airport – 1 week, 2 days old

“Thank you once again for the opportunity,” Chase thanks his fellow pilot that went up with him in the air.

While obviously his best way of spending the day would’ve been with his girls, he had to admit that passing up this opportunity would’ve sucked. It was only for a couple hours through the afternoon, by the height and speed they were able to reach and fun had with a couple small maneuvers in the process were worth it.

“You have my number; you know how to reach me if you want to do something again,” was the reply that he got in response which easily brought a smile to his face.

“I am going to hold you to that, actually,” Chase tells him.

He then makes his way to the hanger, sending a text message to Sarina in the process that he’d be there in a couple of hours. He also asked her what she wanted for dinner, knowing delivering her something would enable him to get his time with Abigail the quickest.

He then flipped onto twitter quick, scrolling through a couple notifications, followed by some of the various tweets that had been sent out. He then stopped and paused, bringing up one of the group shots for a closer view.

He looks over the group shot, recognizing several faces, before closing it.

He then texts Ryan Blaney, “I thought you were doing a romantic surprise for Lindsay. How is that happening now?”

Ryan hears his phone go off while standing in line for Space Mountain, looking at the text message. He then replies, “Bubba saw us going, and suggested that we join him, Ricky, Daniel and Kenzie. It would’ve been a little suspicious if I said no.”

Chase could only shake his head – for a couple different reasons as he read the response.

He then sees another text message from Ryan pop up, stating, “I pulled him and Daniel aside after lunch. We’re clear for the dinner surprise, still. Actually, Bubba is going to take photos.”

Chase couldn’t argue with that as he knew how well Darrell’s photos turned out on a regular basis. He knew those would be some great shots of the proposal for Ryan and Lindsay to savor. However, that didn’t erase one snagging feeling.

He then sent, “So where was my invite? I feel lonely…”

Ryan was honestly surprised by the response as they moved up closer to the ride, debating what to send back in response. He then finally sent, “Guess Bubba thought you’d be in Georgia. I thought you were flying out now.”

Chase looks over at the plane, knowing his pre-flight checklist had gone smoothly as always. It was finally time to go see his girls. He then sends, “Going now. Text me Disney details later, please.”

Tuesday, February 12 –Northeast Georgia Medical Center

It wasn’t a long flight back to Georgia – one hour and 30 minutes in total, with dinner delivered in a timely fashion for Sarina. Upon arrival, he took to the immediate chance to spend time with Abigail. Hand through the little holes, letting his hand hold her tiny fingers, which he almost swore he grown in length since the last time he’d seen her three days ago.

“So Ryan planned all of this himself?” Sarina questions, as she looks through a series of photos on her phone.

As promised, Chase and Sarina were the first to find out that Ryan’s proposal had been successful, with Lindsay accepting to marry him – despite tears rolling down her cheeks the entire time. It was only a little while later before a series of photos had been forwarded to them from Darrell.

“In his words, she’s his princess so she deserved a Disney Cinderella treat,” he comments, bringing an immediate look of awe to Sarina’s face. “I thought I did a great job on our proposal, but I have to admit that he’s pretty romantic.”

“The glass slipper is nice, but I wouldn’t trade the roses and the cabin for it,” Sarina replies, leaning in for a quick kiss, as she continues to scroll through the photos. “The princess comment is almost fitting for her, though, as she is a ballerina dancer at heart so she’d totally be in love with that. It’s nice to see that he gets her at that level.”

“Like they say – you should only be with the person that understands you right down to your tippy toes.” He then looks down at Abigail. “And by the way, you have the cutest little toes in the neighborhood. Oh yes, you do…”

“I’m just glad that she said yes as I remember all of her original apprehensions of moving down to North Carolina and moving forward with him. I kept assuring her that it was for the best, as there were so many reasons to do it, and that she could stay involved in dancing at a different level.” Chase nods his head, in agreement, remembering the numerous conversations. “So when are they getting married?”

“Woah now, slow down….” She then chuckles as she sits back.

“I’m serious! I know how magical it felt to marry you so I can’t imagine what she’s going to feel in having that moment with Ryan, and having Evelyn there with them.” Chase admittedly couldn’t wait to see Ryan’s reaction, either.

“I don’t think it will happen as quickly as you’re thinking it’s going to. Ryan is still nervous about what Emma thinks.” The smile immediately wipes away from Sarina’s face. There was no hiding the mix of opinions that she shared about Ryan’s sisters on a couple different occasions – from Erin’s feelings for Chase, to Emma sticking her nose in everything.

“I thought we were over that when she accepted the pregnancy, and was ready to be the best aunt possible for Evelyn. Wasn’t it supposed to be great to see the Blaney cousins in Louie and Evelyn grow up together?” Chase nods, remembering that same discussion.

“I told Ryan about that, and he said that no doubt that was the truth. However, he doesn’t feel that she’s ready for the next step.”

“What else does she thinks comes next?” Chase lets out a sigh, remembering the same words he said to Ryan. “Anyways, it doesn’t matter. All that matters is that Ryan and Lindsay are happy together, and ready to raise Evelyn as a family. They’re going to do it when they’re ready, and it’s too bad if everybody isn’t on-board.”

“While I understand your perspective, I don’t see Ryan being as cut-dry as you’re being. His sisters mean the world to them and he’s going to want their approval and acceptance before the wedding.” Sarina takes a deep breath, glancing down as she lets the words sink in.

“I guess that’s something that I don’t understand, or have ever worried about with a lack of family.” Chase slowly lets go of Abigail, walking over to her, as he wraps both arms around her from behind.

“You may not have the traditional family, but you certainly have a family. You have me, Samantha, Kyle, my parents, Christopher, Morgan, Alan, Jordan…..I could go on for days, actually.” He then looks over at Abigail. “But most importantly, you have your daughter. You have Abigail, and you have me. We’re a family, and we’re never going to let you forget that. I love you, forever and always. I promised you that the day that I married you, and I am going to uphold that no matter what.”

“I love you, too, forever and always.” She then turns around in his arms, kissing his lips. “I could never ever forget that, or let you go. You both mean the world to me.”


The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 192: Advance Auto Parts Clash

Sunday, February 10 – Daytona International Speedway

Chase helps the crew guys push the car up the grid, before standing by the back it. He then smiles as he watches Jimmie Johnson come over to him out of the sea of teammates.

“So which one of us is going to be the pole sitter this year?” Jimmie questions as they look up at the scoreboard.

Hendrick Motorsports had swept the first round of Daytona 500 qualifying, with Alex first followed by William, Chase, and then Jimmie. While it wasn’t surprising given they had swept the past four poles for the Daytona 500, Chase was actually admittedly caught off-guard by the Hendrick Motorsports presence. It was much better than watching his teammates up in the top-five last year with him eighth.

“Well I’ve done it twice, so I am going to have to say me,” Chase answers, knowing it was the obvious answer but what else did Jimmie expect?

“Didn’t your Momma teach you how to share?” Jimmie asks, causing Chase to chuckle back in response.

“See, that’s why you haven’t won lately as you’ve been sharing too much.” Jimmie was actually taken back by the response, surprised it was now his own teammate picking on him for the lack of wins. “But really, I think the pole is mine. I have the experience of doing it, and I deserve it for Abigail.”

“Oh, so now you’re going to play on our sympathy for your baby to get your way?” Chase just gives him a wink as Jimmie shakes his head in disbelief. “See, the way I see it is that you should feel bad that I haven’t gotten any wins lately, and give me a gift.”

“Well if that was the case, shouldn’t the gift go to Bowman? He was the quickest of us four the first round, and he won the pole last year.” Jimmie shakes his head no. “Of course you’d go with Byron if we’re picking teammates as he has Chad.”

“We’ve seen Chad work his magic down here before.” A smirk forms on Chase’s face as Jimmie was making the game way too easy today.

“Right as I do recall something about rear windows.” Jimmie lets out a sigh, still shaking his head in disbelief at the span of events that season. He admittedly was surprised when the appeals board overturned the suspension for both Chad and Ron after that happened.

“Hey, that’s a better thing to be said that you got caught cheating for than a lousy piece of tape.” Chase glanced down right away, not even wanting to relieve that moment back in the summer. How could they get caught cheating with a simple piece of tape? “Seriously, though, how is Abigail?”

“She’s doing good. The doctors are happy with her progress, and feel that maybe by the end of the week we may have the chance to hold her. Could you imagine if Sarina and I won Daytona, and then got to go home and hold her? I don’t think you’d ever wipe the smile off of our faces.” Jimmie had to begin chuckling right away, but admittedly wouldn’t complain if that happened as he knew Chase and Sarina deserved every bit of happiness they desired.

“Don’t count your chickens before they hatch, but I am glad that she is getting to that point. Word of advice – don’t waste a single moment. They grow up quicker than you realize.” Chase knew that, hence savoring every single moment last night before flying back today for qualifying and the Clash.

“I can’t believe she’s a week old already. I don’t know what I’ll believe when we get into months, and years..” Jimmie smiles as it was happiness aura of the baby looked good on Chase.

The second round of qualifying would go just as smoothly, with Hendrick Motorsports sweeping the top-four once again. This time, it was William scoring the pole – as Jimmie predicted, ahead of Alex, Jimmie, and then Chase.

While he had hoped to be on the front row to eliminate the unpredictability of the Duels – and the chance of a wreck, he also couldn’t complain as this set him up to lead the second duel to green alongside Alex.

Now they just needed to repeat the same exact process that they did last year, both of them.

“Cool deal,” he admitted while speaking with the media afterwards. “Everybody knows qualifying down here is such a reflection upon the work over the off season and luckily, I know a lot of organizations don’t, but I feel like Hendrick Motorsports has always put a lot of effort into our speedway cars and why not? I mean, they all count and why not try for these things too. I know some people don’t like to, but we are trying to push in all areas and this is a good way to get started.”

Chase makes his way down pit road, knowing it was only a matter of time before the Clash was set to begin. Thankfully, another firesuit change session had gone smoothly as scheduled.

With Sarina back home in Georgia, Chase had already done the liberty of sharing pre-race text messages with her, just like they would do for the races they didn’t run at the same track. It was the same usual conversation they’d have on the grid if they were together, but unfortunately didn’t always give the same comfort as holding each other.

Though as he made his way to the No. 9 Mountain Dew Chevrolet, he couldn’t help but gush in seeing Ryan on pit road.

“Who knew you’d look like a natural holding a baby,” he comments as he walks up to him. “But that’s not your little girl.” Ryan smiles, nodding his head. He then glances over at Lindsay, who stood not far from him with Evelyn in her arms.

“I want to show Louie that I am going to be the best uncle ever,” Ryan replies, as Chase glances at the little face in total awe.

“I may be partial, but I have to say that Louie is the second cutest with Abigail at the top.” Ryan then gives him a look, knowing he had purposely laid it out that way in forgetting to include Evelyn.

“Could you imagine if Louie and Abigail got together?” Erin questions, earning an immediate shocked expression from Chase as Emma starts shaking her head no right away.

“Abigail isn’t allowed to date until she’s like 20, maybe 25 anyway,” Chase adds, which caused both Erin and Emma to burst out laughing. “What?”

“Ryan told is the same thing about Evelyn. We told him that Emma and me the same thing, and look what happened. Actually, Emma said that she’d never let him date ever, and well, next thing he’s a daddy.” Erin places a hand on Chase’s shoulder. “I’m sorry bud, but no matter what you do, your little girl is going to grow up and find a boy that loves her.”

“Maybe it’ll be Brexton,” Ryan comments as Chase lets out a sigh. It wasn’t the first time he had the comment with others referencing that due to Sarina’s friendship with Samantha. “Actually, I almost want Brexton to end up with Lydia. Could you see the look from Jimmie?”

“Speaking of Valentine’s Day….” Chase says quietly, earning a look immediately from Ryan. However, Chase had watched how loud he made the comment, not wanting to draw the attention of Lindsay as she chatted away with some of the crew guys.

“We don’t need to talk about it, Chase. I have it under control.” Emma and Erin then trade a glance, almost worried as to what was to come next in their lives.

“Is there something we should know, Ryan?” Emma questions, earning an immediate eye roll in response. Chase caught it, now understanding why Ryan hadn’t wanted the day mentioned.

“I want to go over some ideas with you afterwards that I had for Sarina and get your thoughts,” Chase tried to cover for what had happened, in hopes that Ryan would play around and the girls wouldn’t notice.

“Why would you go to him for love advice?” Chase glances over at Emma, glad that she was buying it.

“Because I have done it before with good results. Despite your attempts, he is a lover’s boy…” Chase then walks away, knowing that’d draw enough fun for Ryan and not wanting to put his foot in his mouth.

However, that didn’t mean he was dropping the topic as he’d be asking Ryan about it when they got some time.

Sunday, February 10 – Dawsonville, Georgia

“Is this real life?” Sarina hears, glancing over at Brittney a little confused. “Are we really watching this race together?” Sarina had to chuckle as she knew the reference right away, remembering where their first days spent together.

“Trust me – I was about to ask myself the same thing,” Sarina replies with a laugh.

“I mean, actually, I’m even surprised that I am watching.” Now it was Sarina’s turn to really look surprised. “Don’t get me wrong – I love my dad, and I love Chase, but racing isn’t my cup of tea so to speak. So I’d always only tune into the big races, or something significant like Chase’s championship night in XFINITY. Their love of flying wore off on me, but certainly not that.”

“Well, maybe we’ll make a fan out of you by the time Speedweeks is over….” Sarina then takes a deep breath, hoping her words played true as that was much better than the alternative.

“You’re nervous – but I get that because of the nature of restrictor plate racing at Daytona and Talladega. Cindy even says that she got a little more nervous at times.” Sarina slowly nods her head, surprised by the Cindy confession as she’d never saw that side of Cindy.

“I’m fine any other week, except for these two tracks. Then I am the worst bucket of nerves. I almost feel bad for Jordan when he has to watch me, so sorry in advance.” Brittney wraps an arm around her.

“It’s okay. We can handle this together.” Sarina could only chuckle in response, hoping that Chase didn’t kill her nerves completely.

“Ugh of course we’d get rain,” Sarina comments with a sigh as the caution flies for rain on the track just 10 laps into the event.

She was hoping that the race would go smoothly, and quickly, so she could get back to Abigail. It’d also mean that Chase would be home at a decent hour as he was supposed to fly home once done the event.

“So what happens now?” Brittney wonders as the cars begin to head down pit road on the TV screen before her.

“We wait,” Sarina replies as she glances over. “We wait, and we wait, and we wait. Once the rain stops, we’ll go racing. If it rains all day, we’ll race tonight. If it rains tonight, NASCAR still won’t call it early, making you sit your ass here and wait, and then run tomorrow.” Brittney chuckles at the response, as she loads the radar on her tablet.

“The good news is that the shower doesn’t look like it’ll be long…” Sarina now looks over, actually intrigued. Maybe it was helpful having Brittney there to watch the race with her for more than general nerves. “Maybe 20 minutes maximum as it’s just a small one. However, the fear is what lies behind it. There is more rain to come, some in blotches, but then a big huge blob that is yellow in parts meaning it’ll be long and a lot.”

“So in other words, we may only be able to race until the halfway point?” Brittney slowly nods her head. “Great….” That only increased her nerves as she knew weather made things crazier as her eyes focus back on the TV. “Better hope Alan and Eddie are watching that so Chase makes the move before the rain hits.”

“Shall we call and warn them?” Sarina had to chuckle, though already knew that Tom probably had the radar loaded on the computer screen on the pit box. She then watches the camera focus to the No. 9 car, seeing Alan standing by with the wedge wrench. “I thought you weren’t supposed to make adjustments to the racecar under red.”

“You aren’t supposed to normally…” Brittney then points to the screen, as the crew members turn the wedge adjustment bar.

“That’s an adjustment from what I know. So what’s the penalty since this isn’t allowed?” Sarina had to chuckle as she looks over.

“You aren’t supposed to….normally…” Brittney then freezes, catching the repetition of words.

Sunday, February 10 – Daytona International Speedway

“Is he seriously doing what I think he’s doing?” Chase questions, as the crew members nod their heads.

“You said that the car was dragging a bit so he’s adjusting heights,” Tom Gray summarizes as Chase nods his head. He remembered stating those adjustments. He figured that they’d head down pit road when the event went back to caution – not make them right now under the red flag.

“NASCAR rules state that you’re not supposed to work on the car under the red flag.” Tom then smiles, having noticed the odd glances from others. Even some of their own team members had originally questioned things when Alan walked over with Josh.

“You are correct – for points races.” Chase then glances over, intrigued. “If you read the rule book closely, you will notice that you are allowed to work on the car under the red flag for a non-points event. The rule was changed a few years ago in relation more so to the All-Star race and not here. Obviously, that occurred following the 2001 All-Star event wher-”

“They allowed Jeff Gordon, and the others who wrecked to bring out their back-up cars due to the accident being for rain.” Chase then looks back towards pit road, where Alan stood by the car with the official. “Once again, he’s reading between the lines. I’m impressed.”

“Let’s just hope that everybody else feels as good about it as you do.” Chase chuckles, having noticed some of the odd glances as well.

Sunday, February 10 – Dawsonville, Georgia

As Brittney stated, it was a short while before they were back on track and the racing resumed. Not much movement in the field occurred, though, with the only real shuffling happening once the drivers pit road. Unfortunately, Chase was unable to make up as much ground as he hoped.

Also as predicted, there was more rain as another red flag was displayed.

“Woah, half about wrecked…” they hear over the radio transmission as Sarina had loaded the Raceday app to listen to Chase’s audio in the background.

“That caution took way too long to come out,” Brittney summarizes, seeing on television some of the windshields from the rain.

“Welcome to NASCAR and their desperation to get the rain in,” Sarina comments. “Even Jimmie was pissed about it. Someone tweeted that he said, ‘Who the fuck is on the switch up there? It’s fucking pouring!’”

“I don’t blame his panicking at all. Glad that Chase was able to hold onto that thing.”  Sarina looks over with a pure grin.

“Chase has talent, sweetheart…” Brittney couldn’t help but agree with Sarina’s assessment.

The race would get back going once again, and unfortunately did not go as the ladies would’ve hoped. Jimmie went to make a move on Paul Menard for the lead, making contact in the process that wrecked all of the cars in the race except three. Chase, unfortunately, was one of the drivers involved. The race was then called shortly thereafter for rain, with Chase scored sixth in the final rundown.

“I like Jimmie as he’s great personality wise and he can get the job done behind the wheel any day,” Sarina starts as she sends a text message to Chase. “But let me tell you something – that boy cannot restrictor plate race to save his damn life! He has no clue on judgment of space as he always is causing wrecks on these tracks.”

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 191: First Crash of 2019

Saturday, February 9 – Daytona International Speedway

Chase makes his way into the garage stall, high-fiving a couple crew guys as he walks by them. He makes his way over to where Alan is, leaning back against the pit box as he watches the crew chief go over the notes.

“So Sarina is going to run Daytona next weekend?” Alan questions, catching Chase by surprise.

“We have a practice in 10 minutes and that’s the first comment you have?” Chase offers back in response as Alan looks back at his notes.

“You already know how it works on the restrictor plate tracks, and you heard my lecture in the board room. Draft practice whatever you want for the Clash, but single and teammate runs only for the Daytona 500 practice. Why should I repeat myself? You’re a grown adult and should remember.” Chase could easily be satisfied by that, but he was still used to Alan going over everything briefly before they began as a simple reminder, and in case there was any changes made.

“You’re just using that as an excuse so you can ask the question.” Alan lets out a sigh, as he sets the clipboard down. It had been a decoy for trying to cover for his complete curiosity.

“I wasn’t surprised when you turned up down here, as I knew she wouldn’t let you get out of that and it’d be comforting with having her there with Abigail. Am I right?” Chase lets out a sigh, nodding his head. “And it also made sense that you were running her car since you tested with Dave Elenz – nice way around the rules.”

“I want to thank you for that, but at the same time not.” Alan could understand as he knew the test at Atlanta wasn’t just done by accident.

“But then the press release drops, and you’re in the No. 8 while she’s debuting her brand new Camaro in the No. 9 – which by the way, that car is stunning.” Chase nods his head as he had to agree. Flashy silver wasn’t always a good look, but the red and black seemed to accent it perfectly. “I was caught off-guard, as was practically everybody else. You’d think she’d want to take her time coming back with just having been through the pregnancy. You’d also think that she’d want to stay with Abigail as much as she could.”

“I was surprised when she told me that she was running too, okay? However, if you hear her reasons out, you understand. It’s the exact reason it makes sense for me to be here. We’re racers. This is what we do, Alan. You know better than anything that racing rises above anything else with her. To pull a racer away from what they love, watch someone else drive their car, it feels wrong, so you do whatever you can to be behind the wheel. Hence why she wants to run Daytona and I’m backing her all the way.” Alan then puts his hands up defensively.

“While I am asking you this question, don’t back me in a corner. I am only asking you out of curiosity, however I do support her if she is ready.” Chase had to smile as it was nice to have Alan back in his corner, again. “But what about Abigail?”

“Brittney said that she’d be around and keep an eye out for us, as well as the nurses and doctors. If something comes up, we’ll be notified and first flight back to North Carolina we’ll be taking. We’re also going to minimize the time that we are away, flying back and forth as much as possible.” Alan knew that was an understandable compromise. Sometimes it paid to be your own pilot.

“So you’re heading home tonight?” Chase nods his head.

“My original plan, and I am going to try to stick to it, is flying back each night. I am also going to fly Sarina back after the XFINITY race, too.” Alan felt a small tinge of fear in hearing the plan.

“What about weather? What about fatigue? I don’t want you pushing yourself too much because you want to make this work perfectly for Sarina.” Chase had looked at some of the radars and forecasts, knowing that rain was evident. He knew the high possibility of the plan falling apart.

“We’ll do what we can within the means possible. If the weather is bad, don’t worry – I won’t chance it. Secondly, Dad can fly if I’m tired.” Chase places a hand on Alan. “You focus on your job, I’ll focus on mine. That’s what makes us work, remember? I got this..”

“While that may have been the original groundwork of our friendship, the past couple of years have changed that. You could say that I worry about you a little more. Now, don’t you have a job to do?” Chase nods his head as he glances towards the Mountain Dew Chevrolet. He knew what he had to do, as promised to Sarina.

“Here’s to beginning the season on the right note…..”

Chase walks into the garage, glancing over the Mountain Dew Chevrolet. There was damage across the back end, with the left rear quarter panel bent too. He didn’t even to walk up the right side to know the fender was pushed in.

What happened?

He then lets out a sigh, continuing his walk up through the garage area as he runs the first, and lone 18 laps that he would get during the Clash practice session. Just like that, 18 laps into the year and he had a wrecked car.

How was that even possible?

“I don’t know what happened,” he says as he walks up to Alan with a face of confusion. “I knew the pack was coming. I tried to slot in the bottom, but that didn’t work. I was set to ride the middle until I could find a hole, or tag onto the back of a line. I was waiting for Eddie to tell me there was an opening, but there was nothing so I held my line. Next thing, it’s sideways and we’re in the wall.”

“Did you turn up in front of Ryan (Newman) at all?” Alan wonders, having watched the replay a couple times. Though the shake of the head from his driver brought forth intrigue. “Because if you watch the replay, it looks like you came up and the hole wasn’t ther-”

“Eddie hadn’t cleared me so therefore I didn’t go and make a move into a hole that wasn’t there, though.” Alan looks over at him, holding his hands out to emphasize what he saw on the replay.

“That’s what the replay showed, and I am wondering if maybe Ryan getting on your right rear pulled you up – sort of that aero push thing. Because by the replay, Chase, he was right there on your quarter. It’s not like he was trying to pack the air, but that may explain why we don’t know how it happened.” Chase was willing to accept the theory, as he took another look back at the car. He could tell by the crew members actions that they weren’t getting ready to fix the car, but rather be prepared to switch cars.

“So we’re rolling out the back-up?” Alan lets out a sigh, with a nod of the head. He didn’t want to make the decision to do that, having wanted to share that in case they needed it for the Daytona 500 after the Duels or practice. However, he knew by the survey of damage from Josh that repairs weren’t happening.

“We’ve got no other choice based on what Josh told me. While it looks cosmetic, I’m concerned about the back corner. I don’t know if there’s some stuff bent underneath, chassis may be shifted with how you slapped the wall, and you know that you can never get the fenders back straight to how they should be. So my decision was to go to the back-up, and then we’ll bring down a fourth car – whether take this back and properly fix, or another car – in case we need it after Thurs-”

“Please don’t say that…” Alan didn’t want to think about the possibility, however he knew the likelihood of a wreck at Daytona. He also knew no matter what they did, even leading, that sometimes you purely couldn’t escape the chaos.

“Ron said there’s not much work that needs to be done, so he’ll finalize that and get it through technical inspection with Josh. Then we’ll let the wrap guys do what they need to do to keep the marketing people from killing us.” Chase didn’t even want to think about everything that was involved.

“I just feel terrible. We’re only 18 laps into the season, and we’ve already wrecked a car..” Alan wanted to instantly erase the pain in that, however he felt that as well.

“It’s Daytona. What else can I say? It happens all the time down here, and congratulations, we got the short end of the stick this year.” Chase looks over at him.

“I am just going to pretend that we’re getting all of the bad luck out of the way early so we can do what we came down here to do.” Alan smiles, as he liked that positive spin – if possible, on the situation.

“We’ll start the Clash with no laps on the back-up car. Thankfully, it’s broken into two segments – 25 laps, and 50 laps. We’ll use the first 25 to learn the car and what we need to do so it’s tuned up ready for you, and then go get them in the final 50.” Chase could agree with the theory.

“Going to a back-up, we’ll start at the back no matter what you draw.” Alan couldn’t help but smile a little more.

“No pressure tonight!” Chase had to chuckle at the comment, despite trying to be serious with what happened.

“We know everybody is going to sit and ride through those first 25 laps, and then through the first half of the last 50. That’s plenty of time for us to figure out what we need to do.” Alan nods his head in agreement.

“Now, we have another car to roll out and get right. Actually, the one that matters…” Chase glances down at his suit, shaking his head.

“…which means that I have to go change, or else the marketing people will be after my ass.” He then goes to head out of the garage area.

“I thought you loved having to change. But oh yes, that was because you had some help last year.” A couple laughs and whistles escape the crew members who overheard the comment, as Chase spins around, flipping the bird quickly at Alan. “Love you too, kid.”

Saturday, February 9 – Northeast Georgia Medical Center – 6 days old

“You were looking mighty fine today,” Sarina comments as she flips through the latest batch of images that were uploaded. While she enjoyed spending time with their daughter, the other part missed seeing him dressed up in his firesuit for the first time this season.

“Green or blue?” Chase questions without letting his eyes leave the sight before him.

Once he landed in Georgia, he stopped to grab them both dinner, before heading straight to the hospital to see Sarina and Abigail. After sharing dinner and light conversation about the day, they made their way up to the NICU so Chase could spend some time with Abigail. Since walking in there, his fingers hadn’t left her little hand as he stood there admiring her.

“They both look absolutely stunning on you for that matter,” she offers, causing him to roll his eyes. That was a typical comment. “However, can I admit that the green brings out your best assets?”

“My eyes?” He asks, as he finally takes his eyes off Abigail to look over at her.

“No – your ass.” She then gives him a light slap, as he looks back down at Abigail.

“Look at your mommy. She’s such a naughty girl. I am going to need your help to keep her in line.” Sarina could only roll her eyes, but yet smile at the same time.

“By the way, next time, make Alan change out of the green. You look like you don’t belong on the same team – almost like you ‘clash’ together.” While he wanted to hold it in, the comment brought  a chuckle out of him.

“How original…” She then lets out a sigh as she glances back at the photos.

“So be honest – how is the Daytona 500 car?” Chase couldn’t complain as he shrugged his shoulders. “I was listening to the radio, but there wasn’t much to be heard.”

“There was really no complaints. It felt fine when I was running by itself, and Alan said the speed looked good enough to challenge for the pole tomorrow. What else is there to say?” Sarina wished she could just glance over it like he was. However, Hendrick Motorsports’ past history of wrecking cars at Daytona, combined with the Clash incident, didn’t ease her concerns. It also didn’t help that she wouldn’t be there tomorrow, either.

“And do you think you’ll be comfortable in the draft without any problems like today?” Chase looks over, nodding his head. While it was hard to explain what happened, and he was having to listen to an odd ‘engineer’ theory behind it, the actual comfort in the car felt good before then. Therefore, he had the same confidence in the back-up despite no laps. “Just promise me be careful, please…”

“Always.” He then reaches over, clutching her hand, as he keeps his eyes on Abigail. “You keep an eye on her tomorrow. Don’t let her freak out. Daddy is going to be careful for you both.” He then takes his eyes off of Abigial, only to give Sarina a quick kiss, before looking back at her.

“I knew that she’d steal your heart immediately….” Chase smiles as he watches her little fingers stretch.

“I didn’t realize how much I missed simple moments like this with you both until I walked in here tonight, and I just wanted to freeze this moment. We did it, Sarina. We’re parents.” Sarina places a hand on his shoulder.

“Trust me, I can’t believe it sometimes. I have to pinch myself sometimes.”

Sunday, February 10 – Daytona International Speedway – 1 week old

With not much to do, since he didn’t have Sarina to keep him company, Chase found himself in the garage earlier than normal already dressed in his firesuit. At least he was prepared for qualifying, right?

After catching up with a couple different drivers – sharing off-season happenings and fulfilling their warrants on how Abigial was doing, he made his way to his garage stall. He wasn’t surprised to see the hustle of the pit crew with the final preparations on the Clash car.

Though as he glanced over the various crew members, he recognized a couple missing. He then glances across the garage area, checking the hauler, as it’d make sense if Alan and Josh were there. However, that received no answers.

He was about to ask Tom Gray, though then he recognized the familiar NAPA uniforms as they stood talking with a NASCAR official. He watched in intrigue, trying to figure out the method of the discussion. He was then glanced in confusion as Josh headed towards the track exit, while Alan made his way back to the garage stall.

“Where is Josh going?” He asks, once the crew chief gets back to the stall. Maybe Josh had forgotten something, or needed to go get something that they needed for the back-up.

“Ejected from the garage area by NASCAR,” Alan answers casually, causing Chase’s jaw to drop as his eyes continue to follow the crew chief. He knew that Alan and the crew were always trying to push the envelope and could only wonder what happened this time around.

“Why?” Alan finally stops, realizing that he owed Chase a viable explanation.

“We failed pre-qualifying technical inspection twice. Per the new rules, car chief is thrown out of the garage for the rest of the weekend and we lose 15 minutes of practice on Friday. To be honest, the infraction wasn’t serious anyway, as we were just outside the tolerances by a little. So rather than harp on it, we’ve got the car legal per their standards and we’re going to focus on the weekend. That practice time won’t be too missed here, and Tom will pick up the slack with Matt.” Chase instantly felt the moment of paranoid escape, as he couldn’t blame them for pushing the allowances in their first trip through. Might as well find what you can do and can’t do before the race, right? He also knew the explanation from Alan was valid, too, and it wouldn’t be something to affect them the rest of Speedweeks.

“You realize that you just gave Josh a reason to become a beach bum. Let’s hope he don’t get sun burnt.” Alan had to chuckle a little at the comical relief that Chase had offered, almost worried as to what he was going to say next given the initial third degree.

“If he gets burnt, that’s totally his fault – and I plan to slap the hell out of that. Meanwhile, we have a Daytona 500 pole to chase, again…”

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 188: A Team Meeting

Tuesday, February 5 – Northeast Georgia Medical Center

With having moved around yesterday and steadily eating, Sarina was released from the hospital with orders to take it easy for the next couple of days.

That didn’t mean that she wasn’t back there the next day, though, eyes once again locked on her little girl.

“Do you think she’s grown at all?” Sarina questions as Chase rubs her shoulder.

“It takes time to grow, you know,” he tells her and she nods her head. That didn’t make things easier, though.

“I just want to touch her, hold her, be with her. This distance is killing me.” He then gives her shoulder a little squeeze to offer some comfort.

“I know, but it’ll be over before you know it and then you’ll have all the time in the world with her. Let’s be thankful right now that everything is going fine.” Sarina couldn’t argue with that as she remembered the fears going through her mind on Sunday.

“I won’t ever stop thanking my lucky prayers, Chase.” She then takes a deep breath, thinking it over. “I still can’t believe how afraid I was. I had you, the doctors – everybody doing everything righ-”

“Woah easy now, I wouldn’t say it was going perfectly to plan. I was freaking out inside.” She then glances over at him.

“You didn’t let that show at all.” Chase had to give himself credit, remembering how hard it was hold that all together. However, it was all about doing what mattered for her and Abigail.

“I knew if I panicked, I would make you panic more – and that’s not what we needed. So I bit my tongue and pushed on.” She then glances down.

“The same way you kept the secret despite it tearing you apart…” He then lets out a sigh, just wanting that to disappear already.

“Are you still mad at me?” Sarina’s eyes don’t even leave the ground as she thinks it over. She wanted to be mad, everything inside of her told her to be mad. He broke her trust. Didn’t that give her a right to be angry? However, she also understood his concerns and worries, and it restricted her urge to yell at him in return.

“Part of me is upset, but part of me is understanding of your reasons.” She then finally lets her eyes look over at him. “That’s why I’m willing to just move on and forget. It won’t do us any use fighting about it. I’d rather focus on doing what’s best for our daughter, and making sure we stay safe.”

“I told you – nobody is touching you or Abigail.” She nods her head, remembering how sternly he had repeated those words since revealing the secret.

“Abigail is going to be fine, no matter what Chase. She has a pair of angels that are watching out for her always.” Chase smiles as he caught the reference immediately, as he wrapped an arm around Sarina’s shoulders. “The more I think about that, the more it gives me comfort. I sometimes believe that my father is holding our first baby. I daydream, wondering if it’s a girl or a boy, but either way I know the baby is safe because my father – and Casey for that matter, are there.”

“I like to think that it would’ve been a boy.” She then looks over, actually intrigued by his comment. However, she caught the reference right away, remembering his daydream of them having a boy and a girl one day.

“Do you have any idea what name you would have for a boy?” Chase shakes his head no as he looks over at Abigail.

“I never got the chance then to think about names, and I knew you were having a girl from the moment that you got pregnant so I stuck to that. I never could’ve thought of a name as beautiful as Abigail, though.” Sarina then leans her head against him.

“I actually looked up the meaning of her name the other night when I was bored – out of pure curiosity. It has Hebrew origins, and it means “father of joy” when translated. So it’s almost fitting because she has brought you pure joy from the moment that you knew I was pregnant.” Chase had to smile as it made perfectly sense.

“And don’t worry – she’s going to bring me joy for the rest of my life.” Sarina had to chuckle. “What?”

“I hope you’re right on those words, but I’m waiting for the day that she doesn’t want to listen to something you tell her, or when she wants to dat-”

“I thought we made this clear – she’s not dating until she’s at least 18, possibly 25.” Sarina then begins laughing even harder. “Oh, so you don’t believe me that’s going to happen?”

“She has a bit of me in her, remember. I wasn’t always the perfect squeaky clean girl and I bet those teenage years are going to be fun.” Chase then lets out a sigh, though he had to wonder what was to come at that point.

“Thankfully, we have a long time to wait until then. Let’s just hope that she doesn’t take after Blaney too much in spending time with Evelyn.” Sarina could only roll her eyes as the possibilities as the children grew older. “Speaking of Evelyn, her parents should be engaged by the end of the month.”

“Seriously?” Chase nods his head, remembering the text messages that he and Ryan sent back and forth last night. After he divulged in the latest update on Abigail, along with his feelings surrounding the secret now that he could reveal to everybody, Ryan had gone back in discussing Lindsay.

“Somehow Ryan is planning a special Valentine’s Day surprise for both him and Lindsay after the Du-”

“Is he seriously going to ask her?” Chase once again nods his head. “Has he picked out a ring yet?” Chase shook his head no, remembering the conversation.

“He asked me for my advice, and then said he was going to ask Erin and Emma for their thoughts before going shopping.” Sarina then glances down at her ring finger, seeing the engagement and wedding ring together.

“I have a feeling that you gave him some good advice as you picked out a beauty.” Chase smiles, as he glances over at her hand.

“I’m just glad that you liked it because for a minute, I thought I screwed up majorly.” She shakes her head no as he looks at the time. “Are you sure you’re going to be fine by yourself?”

“Once again, I made you already promise that you were going to go to Daytona. That’ll have me by myself for a couple of days. If I can handle a couple of days, I’m can certainly handle a couple of hours by myself. I’ll probably go down to the cafeteria, grab myself a bite to eat, and then come back and just chill here.” Sarina knew there was no way that she was going to be spending time at home if her daughter was here.

“I could call-”

“I’m going to be fine, and if I run into any problems, I have a phone and can make that phone call.” She then leans in and grabs a kiss. “Go, and do what you got to do. I’ll be here when you get back tonight. I love you.”

“I love you, always…” He then leans in to kiss her lips once again, before reluctantly heading down to the hall to the elevator.

Tuesday, February 5 – Hendrick Motorsports

Chase walks into the conference room, finding his familiar seat empty as he takes his seat. He had double checked the time, making sure that he actually got there when he was supposed to per the schedule. However, seeing the glances from those around him, you’d think he’d done something wrong.

“Did I miss something?” He asks, earning a couple head shakes. “Then why are you staring at me?”

“What are you doing here?!?” Alan and Josh ask together, almost in unison.

“Shouldn’t you be at the hospital with Sarina and the baby?” Tom adds, as Chase lets out a sigh. He wasn’t surprised by their reaction as he even questioned making the trip himself. However, he knew if he was going to be at Daytona that weekend, this meeting was necessary.

“Sarina was actually released yesterday,” he starts. “Abigail is doing fine so far without any issues. I can’t do anything right now except wait for her to get bigger. While it’d be the best case scenario to be there with her every minute of the day and watch her, life goes on and that includes this weekend. Sarina is insisting that I run Daytona, and I can’t argue with her.”

“Is there something that I am missing here?” Alan questions, earning a shrug of the shoulders. “Your daughter was just born 11 weeks early. Are you sure that you’re in the right frame of mind to be here?” Chase was actually surprised to hear the question from the crew chief.

“I thought we trusted each other, and just went about our own busi-”

“Just answer the ques-”

“If I wasn’t in the right frame of mind, I wouldn’t be here. I also wouldn’t be heading down to Daytona this weekend to go full throttle around that place with the goal of winning. Sure, life has thrown me a curveball – or two. However, I can handle it and I know that I am very well capable of getting the job done this weekend.” Alan then sits back in the chair, thinking it over. He wanted to let it go, but part of him wasn’t quite set on that yet.

“I just don’t want you doing something that you’re uncomfortable with. I know what you’re like in using distractions, and just shifting through as if nothing is going on.” He then finally looks down at the table at Chase. “I trust you, and I care about you. That’s why I am asking. I am just trying to look out for you.”

“I appreciate it, and maybe I was a little harsh with those words. But Alan, I am fine.” He then pulls his phone out of the pocket, remembering the app and how to load the feed. “Besides, if I catch any nerves at all, this image right here settles everything down…”

“Is that your daughter?” Josh questions, earning a simple nod from Chase. “She’s so tiny..”

“She’s adorable, though,” Tom adds, as Chase glances between the crew guys with a smile.

“You guys are my extended family, and we stick together no matter what,” he starts. “If I couldn’t give you everything that I had, I wouldn’t be here because that’s what you deserve. However, I know that once we’re down there this weekend and I am in the car, I am going to do whatever it takes to win for you guys. So, how about we focus on that and talk about what we need to?”

“That’s as good as a pep talk that we could have,” Alan comments, earning up the binder to the notes he wanted to go over. “Let’s talk about the clash first, briefly. Smaller field, same package as last year……”

Over the next couple of hours, the meeting went as it normally would with everybody sharing their thoughts. They talked about the strengths and weaknesses from last year’s restrictor plate races. They talked about what they’d worked on since then. They broke down their game plan for the three practices that they would get on Saturday. They talked about strategy for the Clash with the small field. Josh walked them through the game plan for Qualifying Day in what the team needed to do to make sure everything was in line to take a shot at the pole. Alan mentioned what the pit crew had been working on with Chris, and the things that they needed to look out for.

They also ventured down a couple other paths, including a debrief of what they could learn from the Las Vegas test from Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Meendering about the next package. It was all about putting a game plan together for the first race weekend of the year, and the beginning of the season. They knew each of them could get the job done. It was just about doing it right, and putting together the pieces for success.

With everything laid out on the table and discussed, the meeting was drawn to a close with everybody heading off in their respective directions. Josh headed down to the shop to check on final car prep, hauler loading, and the team, while Tom and Matt went to meet up with their fellow Hendrick Motorsports engineers.

“Alan?” Chase says as he watches the crew chief gather all of his notes back together following the meeting. “I’m sorry…”

“Excuse me?” Alan asks, actually caught off-guard by Chase’s words as he glanced up from the table.

“I’m sorry for snapping at you at the beginning of the meeting. You had every right to ask me what you did as it’s your responsibility as the crew chief to make sure everything is in line, including me.” Alan then lets out a sigh as he looks back down at the table, thinking the whole sequence of events over.

“No, I’m sorry for even questioning you actually.” He then looks back up at Chase. “I did it because I care, but I should’ve trusted your judgment having worked with you for this long. I should’ve known that if you weren’t ready, you would’ve called me.”

“I almost didn’t want to go to Daytona, though.” Alan watches him closely, seeing that Chase hadn’t even moved from his spot yet. “I almost wanted to just stay there and be with her. I was so worried that something would happen and I wouldn’t be there for her.” Chase thinks it over, wondering if he should change his mind after all. “But Sarina insisted that I go. She insisted that I go down there, and do what I can to win for her and Abigail. The more she talked about it, the more I knew that she was right. Abigail is in good hands with the doctors. They’re going to take care of her. I’ll get my chance to spend as much time with her as I can when she’s ready, and I can always watch this if I need to.”

“The only question I have is what if something does happ-”

“I’m only a phone call away. Sarina can call me, or the doctors, and I can fly back up to Georgia. But Alan, I don’t see that happening. We’ve said this was meant to be, and I feel that clearly. I know it’s going to work out for her. I just wish….” He then runs his hands through his short hair as Alan watches him. “As much as I want to move forward with her and think about the future, I can’t.”

“Because you’re nervous about her well-being?” Chase shakes his head no as he looks over at Alan.

“Carter. This is the guy that helped Alison manipulate and come up with every crazy plan and execute them to their full extent. This is the guy that took a purpose shot at me. This is the guy that supposedly messed with the truck.” He then takes a deep breath. “I was ready to leave everything in the rearview mirror about Alison. However, knowing that he’s out there somewhere, it brings every single nerve back to the forefront. What if? I had a flashback a week ago with Sarina. I find myself thinking about it more than I should.”

“That’s understandable…” Alan then sits back down, knowing that he couldn’t leave the discussion like this. “We’ve talked about this. Everything that you went through, it was huge, it was traumatic, and frankly, that doesn’t ever leave you. You’re going to carry that for the rest of your life. You will find ways to make it easier – as you have, but it’s going to stick with you. It’s understandable that knowing Carter is out there, it brings those feelings back to yo-”

“How am I supposed to protect Sarina and Abigail if I’m stuck like that, though?” Alan understood where Chase was coming from with those words. It was all about keeping them safe – he was the last piece of the puzzle, as always.

“I’d say that you’re doing a fine job of that, actually. With everything that happened before, you kept them safe. You did what you had to do for Sarina, and you did what you had to do for your parents as well. If that moment ever comes, Chase, you know what to do and will do it. But we’ve all learned from what happened. Higher security, better search measures – so I can promise you that you won’t go through that again.” Chase glances down at the table.

“I want to believe you, Alan….” Alan then wraps an arm around his shoulders.

“Believe me. Alison was a complete psychopath. Nobody can compare to the woman that she was. Carter doesn’t have it in him to do what she did, and therefore it won’t ever happen. They’re going to find him.”

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 183: Productions Days

Monday January 28 – Hendrick Motorsports – 29 weeks pregnant

As the day continued, Chase followed the requests given to him by the staff, from the poses needed by the car in the firesuit, to the video that they wanted to film. If he kept nailing it scene after scene, it’d be over and he’d be finally done this marathon day.

“But our relationship really has been pretty simple,” he hears once he is done the last scene. He recognized the voice without having to look up to see who was walking through the shop. He also knew the words sounded familiar. “As I’ve told a lot of people, I kind of let him do his thing and he lets me do mine, and we really just go about our business that way.” Chase then begins to chuckling, knowing why those words sounded familiar.

“It’s true, though,” he finally comments, stopping Alan in his place. “I let you do your job of taking care of the car and everything there, and you let me do my job behind the wheel.” Alan then gives him a glance. “Okay, so you look out for me maybe more than other crew chiefs at times with your concerns. But for the most part, you go about your business and let me handle things at my own pace.”

“This gets better, though…” Alan then looks back down at his phone, as Chase lets out a sigh. He knew where this was going right away. “Our friendship has grown, I think, over the past couple of years. We’re by no means best friends. I think he would tell you the same thing.” Alan then glances back up at Chase from his phone. “Really?”

“Well, I am right in some aspects. It’s not like we hang out away from the trac-”

“I took a bullet for you, I stood by your side despite everything, and I was there to stand up to the worst of it without a single fear unlike some people. I also held your hand through the worst par-”

“You don’t need to remin-”

“It seems I do because frankly, I valued our friendship more than these words imply.” Chase then lets out a sigh, while rolling his eyes at the same time. Were they really having this conversation right now?

“I value our friendship. I don’t think I need to tell you that. I’ve told you time and time again how much you mean to me, and how much I love working with you. I also told you how much this whole team means to me, and we’re family. Do you remember that?” Alan slowly nods his head, though points to his phone at the same time. “I didn’t mean to disvalue our friendship. I just meant that you’re not my bestie-hang out person. I don’t go traveling with you, I don’t spend late nights chit chatting about music or sports with you, and I don’t hang out with you away from the track. We’re just not chummy like you’d expect best friends to me. That’s all I meant by those words, Alan.”

“You’re not just covering your tracks here, are you?” Chase shakes his head no as he walks right up to the crew chief.

“Trust me. I can’t thank you enough for what you’ve done for me, and I will forever be grateful for that and our friendship more than I could even explain to anybody. You have a special spot in my life, Alan. If you didn’t, I wouldn’t have asked you to be part of the wedding party.” Alan smiles, as he places a hand on Chase’s shoulder.

“I’m glad, because I was beginning to worry for a minute.” Chase then glances down at the transcript as it read on the crew chief’s phone.

“How about we stop reading into each other’s comments for the media and focus on what we have together?” Alan was surprised by the comment. “I read your transcript, too. I appreciated the compliments, while applauding your patience about the Alison situation.”

“I just checked in as I wanted to see where your head was at considering we haven’t spoken much lately. I mean, when you’re talking to other crew chiefs and driving their cars before mine, it’s a little hurtful.” Chase had to chuckle a little at Alan’s comments.

“Aww poor Alan. If it makes you feel better, while I think Sarina will be successful with Dave as he’s smart, you’re much better to work with.” Alan nodded, easily accepting the compliment.

“I am glad that you got the chance behind the wheel, though, and it went smoothly. Let’s just hope that you don’t do anything stupid before the season, okay? Otherwise, I may take the crew guys up on the bubble wrap offer this time around.” Chase could only roll his eyes.

“Please tell me that they’re behaving….” Alan began chuckling in response.

“Are they ever behaved, Chase?”

Wednesday, January 30 – Charlotte Convention Center – 29 weeks pregnant

Chase stood there, once again going through the motions just like a couple days ago. It was another production day, this time for NASCAR, with a total of 20 different things to accomplish from 9a to 5p that day.

“Turn to the left a little,” the photographer instructs, which Chase easily does.

“I am going to be blind if they keep this up,” he says to himself as the flash goes off what seems like a dozen times once again.

After what seemed an eternity, including a review of the images by the photographer and his staff, Chase was let loose and done that step on the tour through the production studios.

“Thank you once again,” the photographer says, earning a simple nod from Chase.

“We’ve got the GIF section next in five minutes,” his PR rep Morgan Overstreet informs him, which is met with another nod.

“That should be fun,” he comments with an amused tone, knowing the actions that they had them do seemed so random at times. However, having seen some of the results the last couple of years, it made sense so he might as well have fun with it.

He then takes out his phone, noticing a couple new text messages. He instantly replies back to Sarina with a quick ‘I love you’ and the fact things were going smoothly so far, having seen her wishes for a good day. He then opens the next message, a bit of shock appearing on his face.

“How long is 204 months?” He questions, catching Morgan by surprise.

“17 I think,” she answers as he gives yet another nod in return. “Now, kick my ass if I’m intruding, but why would you ask such a random question?”

“You’re going to find out any way – actually, I’m surprised you haven’t yet.” His comment was met with even more confusion by her. “Sasha Krause and Steve Lane both pled guilty to robbery with a deadly weapon. They were sentenced today to 17 years in prison.”

“That explains this e-mail that I haven’t opened yet then…” She then glances back at her phone, opening the e-mail as she reads it over. “Okay. We’ll keep standard procedure in place should anybody question about it or anything.”

“Thank you.” Chase was used to the serious tone of response from her, knowing that she was focused on her job. Meanwhile, he was focused on the actual amount of time. They weren’t the pair that he was concerned about as he could’ve cared less about the time they got in prison. His worries still surrounded Carter.

“This mentions that they haven’t caught the third party yet, Carter Williams.” Chase lets out a sigh as he glances over at her.

“Sasha and Steve offered everything that they knew, but yet not a single thing panned out. They have a search warrant out for him cross-country so according to them, it’s only a matter of time.” Morgan had to roll her eyes at the comment.

“Meanwhile, that’s what they told us about Alison.” Chase glances down, nodding his head with a sigh. He didn’t need the reminder that Alison and Carter were connected along the lines. “Chase, I can assure you that history is not going to repeat itself as they’ve learned their lessons. However, if it makes you feel safer, I can arrange for security through Hendrick Motorsports for you.”

“I’d appreciate that, actually. Not for my sake – but for Sarina and the baby.” Morgan understood where his concern was, making a note to make the necessary phone calls later.

“I’ll connect with JR Motorsports and we’ll make it happen. I have to make up for my part-”

“Stop blaming yourself for that Hooters shoot and what happened at Richmond, okay? She fooled me and I should’ve known better than anyone. Live and learn….”

However, as they made their way down the hall towards the destination, they both knew it was easier said than done.

Wednesday, January 30 – JR Motorsports – 29 weeks pregnant

Once he was done the last thing for production day (team Chevy), he made the short trip up to JR Motorsports. The plan for the day was while he was doing his media blitz, Sarina was going to attend the necessary meetings at JR Motorsports, including reviewing data from the Atlanta test.

He was surprised when he got there that rather than meeting him at the door as she would in the past, he got a text to head up inside to the offices. While it’d been awhile since he’d be summoned to the conference room, he remembered where it was and was up there sooner than the group expected.

“Hey,” he says as he wraps his arms around Sarina’s shoulders, leaning over the chair to give her a kiss. “Did you have a good day?”

“Data from the test looks good, and I learned some things through the rest of the meetings so sure,” she comments with a smile on her face. “How about you?”

“NASCAR, Fox, NBC, and Chevrolet are happy so that’s what matters.” He then takes a seat in the chair beside her, knowing by the glances of the faces in the room that he’d been called up there for a reason. “Do I want to know why we’re here together?”

“We were getting ready to show this to Sarina, but figured that you deserved to see it as well,” Kelley starts, earning a questioning glance from both. “I’ve also made sure that Jesse and Morgan have been made aware of it, too.”

Kelley then reaches into the folder that sat on the center of the table, pulling out a couple pieces of paper. She then slid them over to Chase and Sarina, before taking a step back from the table.

“I thought we talked about this already….” Chase starts, knowing what it pertained it to already.

“Certainly I told Sarina that in that moment, I wasn’t going to worry about her comments as the reporter went over the line,” Kelley begins. “I also told her that I understood where she was coming from and there’d be no anger shed on the incident. However, that doesn’t mean that we can’t review, and learn moving forward. She actually spent some time with our PR department to learn strategies for future similar incidents.” Chase then looks over at Sarina  a little worried, not even caring about the content on the paper.

“Do I want to know?” Sarina nods her head as she takes a deep breath, one eye on Chase, one eye on Kelley.

“Honestly, like I said, it was a learning experience,” Sarina comments. “I learned ways to ward off the questions, shuffle them away, and also deter the interviewer from proceeding that path. There was also strategies worked in controlling my anger, which is a great review of my anger management classes that I took.” Chase wasn’t buying everything that she was saying, wondering if it was smart cover while Kelley stood before them.

“Seriously?” She nods her head, as he keeps his eyes locked on hers, trying to see through the possible bullshit. “I’m still not going to rea-”

“I think that you shou-” Kelley suggests as Chase fully turns back to her, placing the paper back on the table.

“The media is going to write whatever the media wants to write. They’ve done that since everything has began with Sarina, dating back to Chris. They did the same thing when Alison started going after me, through the process, and then through the whole trial experience. They continued to write stuff when she escaped, as well as when Sarina announced her pregnancy. I’ve seen it all, Kelley. I’ve become immune to the point that I don’t care.”

“I’m not surprised by the content either, though,” Sarina comments, catching both of their attention as she had began to read the article. “They state that there’s been questions about the relationship since the pair got together, validating that claim with everything that happened, as well as the kiss with Erin and Chase. They then state that a marriage between the pair came to a surprise of some as it was obviously doubts would be in the air surrounding Alison.” She then glances over at Chase. “It’s not a lie, though. I did doubt your claims about her pregnancy.”

“Don’t worry – I remember,” Chase quietly says, eyes focused back down on the table. He remembered walking into the hotel room at Dover, and the full fight that broke out between the pair of them with the secret that he had kept from her. He remembered watching her walking out of the door, followed by the immediate tears down his cheeks. Taking a deep breath, it was heavy reminder of why they had to make sure to trust each other no matter what – and he was breaking that with the Carter secret right now.

“Chase….” She then reaches over squeezing his hand, as he slowly glances up at her. “I still feel terrible for tha-”

“I know, and I don’t hold it against you. Like I told you then, and I will tell you again, I understood why you had your reservations with what was going on.” He then takes another deep breath, hoping she had the same understanding when the Carter news did find its way out. “What else does the article say?”

“It goes on to say that Sarina was offended by the reporter questioning her about the incident as part of her media availability, including calling out the reporter. It then quotes what I said about what happened…”

“So again, I’m not surprised by the content.” He then turns his eyes back to Kelley, glad they had a distraction from his own thoughts. “Why are we having this discussion, Kelley?”

“I just wanted you both to be aware of what’s out there, and why this balance that we strive for is important, please,” Kelley tells them. “That said, even though I may be stern and sound bitchy in this moment, you do realize that I care a lot about you, and I want to see you both succeed and have the best lives possible. Just please make my life a little easier.”

“Considering you’ve been willing to work with us on everything, absolutely,” Sarina offers in return as both her and Chase nod their heads accepting.

“Thank you, and I’m sorry if I came across wrongly here….” Kelley then picks up the folder, leaving the room.

“I’m sorry…” Chase wraps his arms around her shoulders, pulling her close to him.

“You don’t ever need to apologize to me,” Chase tells her, giving her another kiss. “Let’s just forget, learn from it, and move forward.”

He then takes a deep breath, finding himself right back at the thoughts of Carter. How could he move forward with that lurking?

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 177: Meeting with the Media

Tuesday, January 22 – Hendrick Motorsports

Alan Gustafson takes a deep breath, as he faces the media before him. Oh the fun of pre-season festivities.

“It’s not going to be the same thing it was in previous years,” he speaks of the new package. “We need to figure that out and then I am 100 percent confident if we give Chase a car that he wants he will win the race with it. He can adapt really well and there hasn’t been anything that he has not been able to overcome. He is still young enough to where he doesn’t have too many habits, so change isn’t going to be as difficult for him as it is maybe some of the other guys. You know you look at his level of talent he is in a pretty elite level, but most of the guys that he is around have been doing this for a while, so change might be a little bit more difficult for them.”

The next series of questions were almost routine, as expected with a new rules package and before the season. It was not until a specific question was asked that he took a careful pause.

“How has Chase grown on the race track?” A media member asks him, catching his attention. Taking a deep breath, he couldn’t begin to describe the growth that he’d seen and strength through the past couple of years and everything that happened. It’s why he was thankful this off-season had been going smoothly – except for the one incident – and Chase was getting the happiness he deserved with Sarina and her pregnancy.

“I think I’ve seen him go through…” Alan starts, though immediately stops himself. Did he really want to get into everything right then and there? Knowing that wasn’t his place to go right now, he tried to focus it back to the on-track perspective. “You know, his talent has always been really good. He has been really skilled from the start. I feel like from the first race we had him we felt like we could win. In all actuality, if’s and but’s we probably should have won some races before last season. But I’ve seen some of those things that I’ve seen change is he races people really well. He doesn’t take anything that really isn’t his real estate or force people in bad positions. I think he has been taken advantage of a few times because of that and I think that has frustrated him. I’ve seen that change in him. He certainly races some people that kind of consistently have not given him the same respect he has adjusted how he races them. I think that is a good thing and a good idea. Certainly, helps his performance. You can’t consistently come out on the bad end of deals or altercations or whatever. He has adjusted to that and I think that is something I certainly see from him. That process has given him a little bit of an edge. I think the people now he has raced the guys that run up front pretty much every week enough where they know what he is and what he’s about. I certainly think they know he is going to be there week in and week out, they better think twice if they are going to do something that might be a little bit questionable.”

“I know you’re focused on the upcoming season, but how was the wedding?” Alan immediately chuckles, knowing eventually the questions would take them there.

“It was beautiful. You could see the happiness on both his face and Sarina’s face – it was perfect. Their vows were adorable, and she looked great. Everything was amazing.” Obviously not quite as perfect as they’d envisioned with the reception, but the actual wedding followed those lines.

“Obviously we were made aware that following the wedding, an incident occurred involving Chase and Sarina, as well as Christopher and Morgan. Can you give us an update from your standpoint on how he is doing?” Alan had to smile as he knew they’d get to here eventually.

“He’s sore, but it’s healing accordingly and he should be ready for Daytona. I don’t have any doubts in my driver. We’re coming to Daytona to win, and he’ll be ready.” He didn’t mean to come across as strong with those words, but he knew that he needed to make a statement if they were questioning him at all.

“Alison’s arrest was certainly a relief, though. I’m sure there were a lot of emotions wrapped up in everything with her, from both your perspective and his.” And here comes them digging for the juicy content.

“Would you expect otherwise, though? To be honest, I really don’t want to talk about her, or what happened. That’s for Chase and Sarina to speak to you about as it happened to them, not me. I’m just focused on doing my job in giving him the best cars that I can so he can do his job.” There was also being focused on looking out for him and offering advice when necessary, but he didn’t need to go there today.

“You crossed Alison’s path a couple time-”

“I won’t deny that, but like I said, I’m not going to talk about it. It’s up to Chase and Sarina as to whether they want all of that to be discussed.” Taking a deep breath, he knew that Chase had some media availability coming up and felt it’d be fair to send a warning his way given what he was experience that day. However, he knew his driver – his driver would be on the ball already. “Now, can we get back to talking about the upcoming season?”

Tuesday, January 22 – Charlotte, North Carolina – 28 weeks pregnant

Chase sat on the couch, reading through the media quotes. With a bit of boredom on his heels at that moment, he decided to give a read through of what Alan, along with the other crew chiefs and his teammates had to say.

He wasn’t surprised by Alan’s vote of confidence in him, having heard it one-on-one several times. It brought a smile to his face, in knowing that he’d proved his ability to get the job done on track. He just hoped that Alan was right and he’d adapt to the new package as quickly as the crew chief said he would as he agreed – they didn’t need to start 2019 like they did last year. Letting out a sigh and shake of the head, it was a frustrating stretch he’d rather forget. Who wrecks two cars in three weeks?

“Thanks Denny Hamlin for that,” he comments to himself in reading the crew chief’s comments in how he’s changed on track as a driver. Although he also had to thank Ricky Turner for always instituting the rule that you race everybody how you want to raced, and the same way that they race you. He was glad that it was finally making waves and hopefully there wouldn’t be issues with drivers trying stuff like Denny had. Or Ricky Stenhouse Jr., or McDowell for that matter. He actually chuckled as he remembered the comments he had about McDowell at the time, too.

Letting out a sigh, he wasn’t surprised to see the discussion turn the direction and focus on what happened earlier that month, or with Alison. The media would obviously be wanting to know everything that they could, trying to get the most juicy story possible. He applauded Alan’s patience and approach to their questions, noting a ‘thank you’ text message should be delivered his way.

As much as relief surrounded Alison’s arrest, there was still nerves about the thought of Carter Williams running around the province freely. He also had to admit that there was no way he’d be comfortable talking about her publically, and what happened. While he was slowly facing it, and it was becoming easier to deal with, there’d probably never be a day that he’d reach that point.

If he was being the honest, the simple mention of her name gave him a shiver up his spine as the various events together flashed through his mind.

“I should’ve thought about sending something or spiking something to cause this instance,” he hears, freezing immediately as his blood felt like it went cold. “I guess I didn’t need to inflict something.”

“Why don’t you go back to where you came from?” He then goes to leave the bathroom, though is stopped when a hand lands on his shoulder, giving him a rough pull back. He immediately falls back towards the stall that he was in, feeling a sharp pain, as he takes a deep breath. “Please…”

“I can make this easy or rough on you, Elliott…” He then goes to move, knowing he couldn’t stay there no matter how much pain he felt. He had to get up; he had to do something. He slowly goes to get up, reaching out to grab her leg, though feels another shove back against the wall. “I guess you want to take the hard route.”

“How about you just leave me alone?” He was about to move for a second time, though cold metal against his forehead said otherwise. He then glances up, expecting to see the face that had filled his nightmares, but was instead met with a mask and blond hair. Blond hair?

“You’re going to do as I ask, and that’s all I have to tell you….” He then feels his body go completely stiff as the cold metal goes from his forehead, down his cheek, brushing against his neck before landing on his chest. “I wouldn’t want to put a bullet here, would I?”

“What do you want?” She then closes the gap between them, reaching out to tug on his jeans, sending a shiver through his skin. “No…please no…” He felt every tremble and fear coming to him as he shook his head.

“Drop them.” Swallowing the lump in his throat, trying to take another soothing deep breath, he does as requested. ”As beautiful as I remember, Elliott…”

“Please…” She then pushes her body against his. “Please…”

“Oh please do this? Of course with pleasure as always, sweetheart.” She then pushes her body against his, letting the motions easily follow, as her hands find their way to the familiar location, brushing his cock lightly.

“She can’t hurt you anymore,” he tells himself as he opens his eyes, taking a series of deep breathes. “She can’t hurt you anymore. It’s over. She’s locked up and can’t touch you anymore. You got through it….” He then takes a couple more deep breathes, slowly letting himself calm down. “Just forget it.”

“Forget what?” He hears, glancing over as Sarina walks into the room, taking a seat beside him. She had been upstairs getting changed after spending the day at JR Motorsports doing commercial shoots for NASCAR.

“Alison….” She then glances over at him confused. “I was reading through Alan’s quotes today, and there was a mention of Alison. I flashbacked to one of the instances together – Talladega. I just reminding myself that was history, she can’t hurt me anymore, and it was over.”

“Just because she’s locked up, it doesn’t mean that it’s over.” He then looks over afraid that she had heard about Carter Williams’ connection. Perhaps trusting Christopher was a bad move. “You’re right that it means she can’t hurt you anymore, and nothing new can happen. However, it’s not over just like a snap of fingers. There’s still the emotions that are tied into it that you need to work your way through, just like the emotions that I had about my parents’ death and my brother.” He then lets out a sigh of relief.

“I know…” He then reaches over and clutches her hand, actually feeling comfort in having her by his side right now. It meant he wasn’t alone to be stuck in his own thoughts. “But knowing she’s locked up is comforting because it means that she can’t hurt me again, or you, or the baby, or Ryan, or my parents for that matter. That makes it easier to face everything that happened because there’s no worry on top of it happening again.” Except that did partially remain now with Carter being free.

“I get it, really I do. I just don’t want you to sweep it under the ru-”

“I’m not, Sarina. I’m taking my time to slowly work through it all. It’s getting easier, but you’re right – it won’t happen overnight. Don’t worry.” He then leans over, kissing her lips lightly. She takes a deep breath, feeling comfort in her words, but still nervous – hence the conversation with Christopher yesterday.

“It feels weird sitting here on the couch not getting ready to race anywhere…” He chuckled as he had to admit, they had gotten pretty good at the habit of doing late model races in the off-season.

“Can I admit that I won’t miss the trip to California?” Sarina had to laugh, catching his reference immediately. Who would want to return to a track that they’d fallen down the grandstands two years in a row? “Heck, even Kyle isn’t going back there this year.”

“CRA Speedfest this weekend is going to be pretty good. Harrison vs. Bubba Pollard vs. Kyle vs. Chandler Smith, among a whole host of others.” Sarina nodded her head in agreement.

“So does Bubba start off the year by continuing to win the big events, and take the victory?” Chase had to admit that was a good choice, however, his heart was taking him in a new direction.

“I think Chandler is going to edge him out, and continue surprising the world. I’m actually surprised that you didn’t pick your ex-boss.” Sarina had thought about picking Kyle, knowing how strong the KBM late model program was. However, she knew that’d be too easy.

“Kyle will be tough to beat, but I have to go with Bubba…” He knew that he might as well reveal his plans for the weekend.

“Well I hope you’re ready to watch him win in person, because I had plans in going.” She then looks over surprised. “What? Do you really think I am going to skip watching that? We always do at least one Late Model race together before the season, and I don’t think your pregnancy should change that. Besides, I know that you want to go as badly as I do.”

“I almost was going to ask you if we could leave for Georgia early so we could go.” Chase smiles, having expected that. “So we’ll go to Speedfest, and stay in Georgia until the test?”

“Might as well. It’d be the easiest schedule, and that way we can go see my parents since Cindy has been bugging.” Sarina smiles, not surprised as she knew there was no erasing the connection Chase and his mom had together.

“I hate dragging you to the XFINITY Series rookie test when I can’t even do it, but I want to be there so I can oversee Dave Elenz and the team working together. I want to see what I can learn about his style, how to communicate good adjustments, and see what happens on-track to learn from it.” Chase nods his head, knowing those were all good reasons.

“You also may like the driver behind the wheel of your ride, too.” Sarina was set to brush it off, before she paused and gave him the most surprised look. “Dave asked me if I could come test for you, and I accepted.”

“How did he convince NASCAR to allow that to happen?” Chase hadn’t even bothered to ask. “Besides, are you sure that’s a good idea?”

“Oh, are you referring to my shoulder?” Sarina slowly nods her head, remembering Dr. Grayson’s words about four to six weeks of recovery time. It’d only been two weeks now. “I called her actually. She said that I could do it, as long as I promised to be careful and to keep shoulder movements to a very minimum. She said it’d actually be good to see where things stood after what happened.”

“Are you sure, though?” Chase reaches back over to clutch her hand once again.

“I never would’ve agreed to it if I wasn’t sure. Relax, I’ll be fine.” He then leans over, and lightly kisses her lips in an effort to comfort her.

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 165: Wedding Day

Sunday, January 6 – Mooresville, North Carolina – 26 weeks pregnant

Chase takes a glance in the mirror, fixing his suit one more time as he takes a deep breath. All of the waiting since proposing to her was finally over as today was finally the day. He was about to marry the girl that had captured his heart three years ago without a chance of letting go.

“Starting to feel the wedding day nerves?” Darrell asks as he walks over and Chase shakes his head no.

“I honestly can’t wait to marry her,” he offers. “It’s almost like can we just do it already?” Darrell chuckles as he rubs Chase’s shoulders.

“You just want to get this over with because you’re nervou-”

“I told you that I was fin-”

“Dude, every groom gets nervous. Will you relax and just admit it?” Chase lets out a sigh, knowing that Darrell was right.

“What if she runs away? What if I get one of those famous your bride has run away scenarios? What if I’m left standing at the altar by myself?” Darrell didn’t want to share the same worry as his friend, but he absolutely understood those nerves coming to him right now. After all, Sarina was afraid of commitment for the long time, from even beginning to the relationship to discussing the mere thought of marriage. However, now they were supposed to get married with a child on the way?

“She adores you so much that I don’t think she could ever dream of doing that to you,” Ryan interjects as he walks over. “She would do anything for you, and wants to be with you every second of the day. I bet she’s just as set to get it over with and walk down that aisle then you are.” He then looks over at Darrell. “Dude, really?”

“I came over to check on our groom and make sure everything was fine,” Darrell confesses. “I didn’t mean to start this…” Ryan just lets out a sigh.

“Well, I can promise that there’s nothing to worry about. I can assure you from the ladies that everything is going smoothly.” Chase then smirks as he looks over at Ryan. “And no, I am not sneaking you a photo of her dress or anything. Good try.”

“Don’t you know how much bad luck that is?” Chase lets out a sigh as he looks back in the mirror. Alan then walks over, placing both of his hands on Chase’s shoulders.

“Think about this as the next chapter of your life,” he starts. “Everything that happened before is over with. Alison is caught, locked away forever. That chapter of your life is over and in the past. There’s no worries for you to wonder about moving forward. You can finally put that where it belongs, and live your life as you wis-”

“There are some feelings that still remain, Alan,” Chase confesses and Alan nods his head, accepting.

“I know, and those will linger for months as you work through getting past what happened. Like I’ve told you before, you’re one of the strongest people that I know and you’ve been through more than I’d wish on my worst enemy. It’s going to take time, Chase. However, this is your new beginning. Today once you both stand together, and share your vo-”

“That’s if I remember them…” Alan felt a bit of worrisome in hearing those nerves as he continued to rub Chase’s shoulders.

“You’ll remember them when the time is right, or you’ll come up with something right then and there that’s more beautiful. You love her, Chase, and all it takes in that moment is expressing what she means to you.” Chase knew that, but it didn’t take away from wanting to make sure they were perfect and the time spent writing them. “My point is you’re set to begin the next chapter of your life – you, Sarina, and the baby on the way together. Use that as motivation to make this even better, to make up for the wrongs of the past, and to move forward from what has happened. You deserve it, and I know you’ll make the most of it.”

“Thank you, Alan.” Chase then turns around, offering the crew chief a hug. “You’re more than just a crew chief; you’re my best friend, and I can’t thank you enough.”

“I’m just glad to be here and be a part of your special day.”

So many years have gone by
Always strong, tried not to cry
Never felt like I needed any man
To comfort me in life

“Sarina, it’s time to get started…” Lindsay says as she heads to the door, the last of the ladies. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah,” Sarina replies as she glances over with a smile. “I’ll be right out….”

As the door shuts behind Lindsay, Sarina takes a deep breath as she takes one final glance in the mirror. Was this really happening? It didn’t seem like it was even possible.

As she looked at the lady that she had become, she could only shake her head.

She remembered what she envisioned herself being when she got to this age as a little girl. She also remembered how that vision changed as she entered her teenage years.

Then everything happened, and her life was forever changed. In the span of three years, both of her parents were gone and her brother had become someone she didn’t recognize. She was also forced to leave behind every family member, friend that she knew.

She remembered the strength that she thought she possessed through those years. She remembered how quickly she hardened herself, knowing she needed every ounce if she was going to succeed and make the most of the second chance. Besides, it was easier to do that – then face the emotions and let the tears roll down her cheeks.

At that moment as she made the initial move down to North Carolina, her primary focus was on herself. She was going to make it in life, and do what she needed to do survive – without a focus on anyone else. How would she trust someone else with everything that happened?

But I’m all made up today
A veil upon my face

Adjusting the veil that she wore atop her head, she had to laugh when she looked back at that approach. Seeing what she had learned in the past four years, she wished she had done everything different then.

Who knew a simple Georgia Peach would change everything in her life? She remembered the fear of trusting him, and how she kept saying no to his advances despite feeling every bit of attraction to him. She remembered the initial conversations, and the sleepover that changed everything, where she confessed everything.

From there on, she was thankful beyond anything for what he had done for her, as he slowly pulled back the pieces. She learned that it was okay to shed those emotions and be vulnerable, while being strong at the same time. She was finally able to address that pain – and she thanked him every day despite how much it hurt. It was amazing how much therapy it was to release all those feelings after everything that happened.

Seeing how much he cared for, and how much she cared for him return, there was no turning back. Then seeing how much he was willing to endure for her, and help her through, she knew that she couldn’t ever lose the connection they shared together.

They certainly made mistakes along the way, but she was thankful they were both patient and forgiving. She could officially say as she glanced at her reflection in the mirror that it was beyond worth it.

But no father stands beside me
To give this bride away

Feeling confidence in her step, she makes her way out of the room and gets in the car for the short ride from Dale’s house to the western down.

“I was wondering if you got cold feet or something,” Morgan half-jokes as Sarina shakes her head no.

“I could never do that to Chase,” she confesses with a smile.

Once down at the western town, the ladies got out of the car, joining up with their partners for the walk down the aisle.

As she watches Brexton and Lydia begin the parade down the aisle as ring-barrier and flower girl, it begins to hit her that she will have to make the long walk down alone. Taking a deep breath, she had expected it to come easy – though she couldn’t help but feel a couple butterflies. Taking another deep breath, though, she knew it’d be worth it once she reached the other end.

She smiles in seeing Kyle and Sam walk down the aisle next, thankful all the help they had offered through the past couple of years. As strong as she and Chase were together, she wondered if they would’ve been able to get through last year in January with the miscarriage if it wasn’t for Samantha. Knowing what they had gone through recently, she now felt the need to repay them with whatever they needed. It also served as a good reminder to make sure to take it easy today despite everything going on.

The next pair to walk down were Darrell and Emma, which caused her to chuckle via the jokes shared in an attempt of Darrell to ruffle Cale Conley a little bit. Thankfully, though, he had behaved on this important day.

Morgan and Alan were the last of the pair of bridesmaids and grooms to make their way down the aisle. Considering it was their first meeting together, everything went smoothly.

Lindsay glances back at Sarina, sharing a quick nod and smile. She then turns to face the aisle, making her way down as the maid-of-honor. Sarina couldn’t believe how easily the pair had been able to reconnect, or how much their friendship grew with each passing day. If she was going to have only limited family moving forward, she was glad that Lindsay was the chosen one.

Taking a deep breath in knowing everyone else had taken the walk down with the music beginning to play, she knew that it was her turn to make her way down.

Well, I’m standing in the chapel
Wearing my white dress
I have waited for this moment
With tears of happiness
Here I leave behind my past
By taking the chance
I’ve finally found the right man

Thoughts racing fast through my mind
As I’m gazing down the aisle
That my future will mend the memories
Torn between father and child

My emotions overload
‘Cause there is no hand to hold
There’s no shoulder here to lean on
I’m walking all on my own

“Are you ready?” Ryan whispers and Chase nods his head as he looks up the aisle, ready for her to make her grand entrance.

Seeing her enter the chapel with her first step into the aisle, everyone’s eyes turned around to face her. However, none of that mattered as her eyes were focused on a pair of brown ones at the other end of the aisle.

Chase’s jaw dropped immediately upon seeing her, admiring how snugly the dress fit her and showed off her ever-growing baby bump. His eyes followed from the train of the dress, all the way up to the eyes that stared right into his.

“I…I don’t….I don’t know what to say,” he fought to find the words in commenting how she looked.

“She looks amazing,” Ryan filled them in as Chase just nodded his head in return, standing there speechless.

The silence remained as she made her way to the altar, their eyes still locked together, as he reached out and took her hand.

“You look beyond stunning…” He comments as she smiles back in return.

“You look very handsome,” she replies, sneaking in a quick kiss.

“Hey now, I didn’t say you could kiss the bride yet,” the wedding officiator states, earning a couple chuckles through the room.

“She’s so beautiful that I couldn’t resist accepting her offer,” Chase comments, eyes back locked on her as all that mattered to him was saying the key words today and walking out of the chapel married to this stunning woman.

Here I go

Now I’m standing at four corners
To have and to hold
Now, my love, you stand beside me
To walk…

“Dear friends and family, we are gathered here today to witness and celebrate the union of Ms. Sarina Lynn Ott Dryer and William Clyde Elliott in marriage,” the wedding officiator states.

The usage of their full names was a discussion point for a couple of days between them, but they decided to go with it to be official. It also brought forth a second discussion in regards to Sarina’s name choice, which Chase left up to her. She decided to use the name that she had been using since changing her identity over, but yet add the Dryer part. While she wasn’t proud of her entire’s family past, she did admire parts of it, including her father, and felt it was right to be honorable. Perhaps those words stated by Lindsay in relation to their child to come were beginning to soak in.

“In the years they have been together, their love and understanding of each other has grown and matured, and now they have decided to live their lives together as husband and wife,” he continues, before taking a glance at the pair before him. “May you always need one another, not to fill an emptiness, but to help each other know your fullness. May you want one another, but not out of lack. May you embrace one another, but not encircle one another. May you succeed in all important ways with each other, and not fail in the little graces. May you have happiness, and may you find it in making one another happy. May you have love, and may you find it in loving one another.”

Sarina and Chase simply nod in response to the words, without taking their eyes off of each other. There was only one thing that mattered to them both about today.

“Your love brings me to a simple question,” the officiator continues. “Do you, Sarina Lynn Ott Dryer, take William Clyde Elliott, to be your lawfully wedded husband, promising to love and cherish, through joy and sorrow, sickness and health, and whatever challenges you may face, for as long you both shall live?”

“I do,” she answers with certainty laced in her voice. There was no need for those nerves that she had ever felt before.

“Do you, William Clyde Elliott, take Sarina Lynn Ott Dryer, to be your lawfully wedded husband, promising to love and cherish, through joy and sorrow, sickness and health, and whatever challenges you may face, for as long you both shall live?”

“I do,” Chase replies as a smile forms on his face. The months of waiting that never seemed like they would end had finally concluded.

“Do we have the wedding rings?” The officiator asks as Sarina and Chase both finally turn away from each other to face Brexton. The little boy reaches into his pockets, taking out a pair of rings, handing one to each of them.

“Sarina is still my princess,” Brexton states matter of factly as he hands the ring to Chase.

“Don’t worry – I can share buddy,” Chase replies, giving him a hug, before letting him go.

“The couple have chosen to write their own vows today,” the officiator reveals. “Ladies first…” Sarina lifts her hand, spinning the ring inside of it before reaching out to slide it on his face.

“As I slide this ring on your finger, I vow to always love you,” she starts, trying to hold back the tears that threatened to fall. “I vow to always cherish you, take care of you, and be there for you. I vow to always listen to you, and help you with every emotion that you feel. Chase, you opened a door that I wasn’t willing to open to anyone. You pried harder than I could’ve imagined – but yet so gently that I didn’t realize, making me face my greatest fears and helping me through the roughest patch of my life. So therefore, I vow to be there for you no matter what in the same way in return – and that includes moving past the latest chapter in our lives. I vow to do whatever you need me to do for you to be there for you, and to love thee completely. I vow to be your partner in life, till death do us part.” She then slides the ring up his finger, as he simply smiles in return.

“Now were those really so hard to write?” He asks, breaking the ice a little as she chuckles remembering the paper balls they had both thrown out in the process. He then takes a deep breath, holding up the ring in which he had gotten for her. It was a simple diamond band, with a slight opening so it’d fit snugly around the pink diamond engagement ring. “As I slide this ring on your finger, I vow to always love you. I vow to be there for you every single day. I vow to be understanding in our rough moments, even if you threaten to run awa-”

“There’s no way I am doing that again. I’ve learned my lesson.” He smiles, as he wipes a piece of hair out of her eyes.

“I’m glad, but just in case, I vow to be there for you. I vow to hold you, cuddle you, listen to you, and be your rock when you need someone to vent to. I vow to always be there for you to give you advice, and guidance when you need it. I vow to bring out the best in you as you’re more beautiful and talented than anyone probably imagined. I vow to take care of you, and keep you safe. I vow to make sure that we don’t endure the same pain that we’ve gone through again. I vow to make you feel safe, and secure in my arms like you’ve never felt before. I vow  to be yours forever and always. I will cherish what we have no matter as I vow to be yours, and yours alone, till death do us part.” He then slides the ring up her finger, as she wipes away the couple of tears that slid down her cheeks.

“By the power vested in me by the States of North Carolina, I now pronounce you husband and wife,” the wedding officiator officially proclaims. “Mr. Elliott, you may now actually kiss your bride for real.”

“Thank you…” He then pulls her close, as the pair share a big kiss to the chime of whistles from the crowd in the church.

“Ladies and Gentleman, family and friends, I present to you for the first time, Mr. and Mrs. Chase and Sarina Elliott.”

“I like the sounds of that,” Sarina comments, before diving in for a second kiss.