Friday, February 16 – Daytona International Speedway
Sarina glances over as she watches Chase get ready for another jam-packed action day at the track.
“You’re staring again….” He comments, despite having his back turned to her as she lets out a sigh.
“Am I wrong to worry about you?” She questions as he turns around to face her and nods his head. “I can’t help it, okay?” He lays on the bed alongside her.
“I know, and it’s okay because I understand. But believe me when I say that you have nothin-”
“How can you be so chill right now?” Chase lets out a sigh as he rolls over on his stomach, eyes locked on her.
“That’s just me. I don’t let myself get worked up or frustrated. But, you are right that this isn’t the ideal situation. I am worried. I am scared. I do wonder what could happen next. I will look over my shoulder more than I need to today.” He then closes his eyes, taking a deep breath. “It’s just so hard to openly say it, and discuss why, but it is there.”
“That’s why you understood it taking time for me, right?” He nods his head. “Well when you are ready to talk, you know I’m here, and I will do whatever you need me to do. Just promise me you’ll be careful today?”
“Absolutely. Besides, today is simple – small drafting session in the XFINITY session, and a teammate only group for the Cup session. You don’t have to worry about me.” He then places his hand on top of hers. “Just promise me the same in return tonight.”
“Trust me, I’m going to do my best to create that magic you know so well.” A grin forms on his face as he leans in, kissing her lips, before getting up and heading out for the first session of the day.
The day started off smoothly as the sessions went well back and forth between the two series, with confidence rising in both cars. As long as he made the right moves come race time, it was going to be a good weekend.
Sitting in the lounge for a small break as he was sitting out the second XFINITY session, he was caught off-guard by a message on his phone. He picks it up, opening it with intrigue.
“There’s no denying that Bethany brought Alison into the picture for her own reasons,” he began to read the text message from the investigator. “But Bethany declares now that she has nothing to do in connection to the latest round of events, and prison records show no visitation between herself and Alison. It’s clear without a doubt that Alison is acting upon her intentions alone in trying to do whatever she has in mind for you. Still no trace of the lawyer or her, though.”
“How can people across the country be searching for two individuals and not see a single trace?” Jordan asks, having listened to Chase reading the message. Chase shrugs his shoulders as he quickly types back a reply.
“Crazy how someone can just hide in plain sight if you ask me.” Jordan nods his head, accepting, as a thought comes to his mind.
“Make sure no matter who you are around, you double check who they are and have no look-a-like to her. You asked how she has access to everywhere, but answered your own question at the same time.” Chase knew that as he stares at his phone blankly. Maybe he could erase the new thoughts and just focus back to their task at hand.
“You don’t need to remind me, Jordan.” Jordan knew that, based on their discussions already, but a reminder never hurt.
“I got your back, man, as always.” Jordan stands up, gives him a quick pat on the back before leaving the hauler. Chase could only lean back and let out a sigh.
The rest of the day went smoother than the discussion, and before anybody could predict it, race time was upon them. Just like Sarina had been the night before, he was now sitting atop his usual spot on the Kyle Busch Motorsports pit box, ready to cheer her on.
The race started out according to plan, as she kept herself in line, not giving up the bottom at all, en route to a solid ninth-place finish for the first stage. So far, so good.
The pit crew did their job on pit road, getting her out third for the restart, which saw her take the lead quickly to start off the second stage. With a continuous lap tap on the pit box, Chase watched as she maneuvered the lines, blocking with style just like he had done the night before. However, she made one wrong move to switch, which saw her get shuffled out, ultimately falling back through the field.
“Stick with it,” Chase whispers to himself as he lets out an aggravated sigh. He knew the discouraging feeling it delivered, but he also believed in her ability to work her way back to the front. Ultimately, she wasn’t able to make up as much ground as she or he wanted, though, finishing that stage in 14th.
Restarting 11th following a pit stop for right-side tires, she looked set to begin to make up the lost ground. However, contact ensued up ahead. She was in the right spot to avoid the mess, too, when she got sandwiched between a pair of other trucks as they tried to avoid.
“Ah shit,” was all Chase could say afterwards, seeing the front fenders pushed in.
“Both fenders got it,” she reports over the radio.
“Bring it in and we’ll get to work,” Rudy tells her. “We can still get back in this.”
The crew did what they could, pulling the fenders as much as they could out and back into shape, before sending her back out. checking the monitor and seeing her back in 28th, Chase takes a simple deep breath as he tries to keep himself calm. There was lots of time and she could make it up, even despite being a bunch of nerves to come.
However, she didn’t get the chance as another truck spun ahead of two laps later, and she would miss him – but caught the outside wall instead.
“More damage!” She barked on the radio, growing frustrated. In her eyes, that was totally her fault as she had totally missed the spun truck initially.
Losing two laps to make those repairs, she would miss the big wreck, but ultimately pulled behind the wall shortly after the restart as the repairs weren’t enough with more issues continuing.
“Ugh,” was all she could say as she climbed out of the truck. Chase walks over, rubbing her back. “That was ridiculous!”
“Daytona is always crazy,” he offers as he wraps an arm around her. “You were doing a good job. Everything that happened was out of your contro-”
“I over-steered when I went around him. I got behind on my steering trying to avoid him and got myself in the wall. That was my fault, Chase, because I didn’t keep up on my steering. If I had’ve missed the wall, and that wreck, we would’ve been right in the thick of it. Instead, we’re out of the race 20 laps early and finishing God knows where.” She then climbs the rest of the way out of the truck as he lets out a sigh.
“I know you’re frustrated. I would be as well. But hey, that’s Daytona. it’s a bitch. You will get them next week at Atlanta.” She glances back at him.
“Seriously?” He nods his head.
“You finished out the year strong on the mile and a halves. Now having Rudy setting up the truck, I don’t see any reason to doubt what’s possible. Just chalk this up to crazy Speedweeks and focus forward.” She accepts, giving him a quick kiss.
“Let me go see Rudy and the guys, and then we’ll head back.” He accepts as he watches her walk off.
Her time with the crew guys didn’t take long as they were back in the motorcoach shortly thereafter, with her changed out of her firesuit as they cuddled up together in the bed.
“Roll on your side,” she instructs and he does so, letting out small grunt in the process. “Sore?” He nods his head as he hated to admit it, but the ribs were more sore than he thought they’d be after today. She runs her fingers down lightly, rubbing as lightly as possible, as he relaxes a little.
“Look at this,” he starts. “You have the rough night, but here you are taking care of me.” She smiles as she kisses his cheek.
“That’s because I love you, and I want to help you, and I want to be there for you. It makes me feel better doing this for you.” She then takes a deep breath as she keeps herself cuddled up as close as possible. “I know everything you’re dealing with isn’t easy, from the pain to Alison looming over your head. I know it’s driving you crazy at times. I know it’s tough to talk about. But I want to be here for you throughout all of this, no matter what. Is that fair?” He nods his head, accepting.
“I appreciate it, too, more than you know. I’m glad that you’re not pushing me to tell you everything, to pour my heart out, to be perfec-”
“Because nobody is perfect, Chase, and I know what it’s like to be in your shoes, scared and unable to talk about it. Like I said to you before, it’s time for me to repay you back for that patience and understanding that you gave me. Now, close your eyes. You have a busy day tomorrow….”
They both just hoped it ended with them standing in their favorite spot once again.
Saturday, February 17 – Daytona International Speedway
Chase heads out for XFINITY Series qualifying, walking out to pit road as he meets up with the guys. He was then surprised when he saw Amy walking over to him.
“I’m surprised you haven’t said hi yet,” he replies as she walks over, giving her a hug.
“I’ve been a little busy, okay?” She offers and he nods his head.
“You look good, though. Is she being nice to her mommy now?” She chuckles, but nods back in response.
“Besides the odd crazy craving for ice cream or something sweet, it’s going smoothly.” He smiles as it was nice to see both Amy and Dale happy. “Dale sent me over, by the way. He wanted to make sure that you’re still good to run today after what happened.” Chase was slightly caught off-guard by the offer, but also understood the reasoning.
“You can tell him I’m fine. I’m a little sore, but it’s not bad. I can handle it. I’m ready to get him another win.” She smiles back in response, as she wasn’t going to bet against him right now.
“I am still surprised by those moves you pulled off during that Duel…” Chase chuckles as he had caught himself a little off-guard in watching back the replay of the final laps.
“Let me guess – if I would’ve told you that I wasn’t sure about this, he would’ve drove instead?” Amy glances away a little. “Ah, okay, I get it. Retirement totally hasn’t set in for him yet…” She then looks right back at him.
“Actually, it’s the complete opposite. He’s fallen right into being comfortable knowing that he isn’t behind the wheel this weekend, having fun with the other stuff that he’s been doing. I admit being a little concerned in coming down to Daytona, knowing that he wasn’t driving, and it feeling weird, but he hasn’t said anything yet. Instead, he’s caught himself up with what he’s doing for NBC and being that team owner.” Chase looks down pit road, seeing Dale and Kelley talking about something together.
“I feel bad for Kelley. He’s probably chewing her ear off with questions now.”
“Chase!” He then chuckles as Amy rolls her eyes. “But really, let us know if it gets to be too much, and know that we’ve got your back too – well, I’ve got your back as much as I ca-”
“You just focus on keeping that little girl healthy, okay? I can’t wait to meet her.”
“Chase!” One of the crew members calls and Chase gives him a quick wave.
“That’s my call to get to work,” he states, giving her another hug before walking over to the car.
Saturday, February 17 – California
“I thought you said you were going to be getting Chris free?” Shelley questions over the phone as she leans back against the counter in her kitchen.
“Patience, young grasshopper,” was the response that she received, causing her to roll her eyes.
“I’m sorry, but all it seems that you’re doing right now is torturing the heck out of Chase, and seeing how that affects Chelsy. It seems to have no connection or bearing in my mind in how you would be getting Chris out and away from being mistreated unfairly.”
“Can’t you just let a plan come together?” Shelley almost chuckled to herself.
“The only reason I agreed to not say anything is for Chris’ benefit because clearly Chelsy can’t seem to care about her brother or family. I suggest you make something happen or your plan is getting revealed.”
“You wouldn’t have the guts to do that.” Shelley was now actually chuckling.
“Watch me, bitch.” She then hangs up the phone, glancing over at the television.
She didn’t know why she had put on the Cup practice or why she was bothering with NASCAR, but it was the only thing she could do in trying to figure out what the heck Alison was up to.