Short Track Lovin’ – Chapter 90: AAA 400 Drive for Autism

Christopher Bell leans back against a post, watching Chase and Sarina walk through the garage together. He could only let out a sigh as Todd Gilliland walked up to join him.

“You seem a little disheartened watching them,” Todd comments, catching a glance from Christopher. “If I didn’t know you had a girlfriend, I’d say you were crushing on her.” Christopher chuckles as he lets out a sigh.

“She’s not that bad looking bud, but you’re right – no crushing,” Christopher says. “I’m just thinking about what she said to me.”  Todd then glances over surprised.

“When she called you a jackass?” Christopher laughs and shakes his head no.

“We talked on Friday, actually. She asked me to get off her back and stop annoying her about Chase. I said I guess I could, but I had my reasons. I mean, you know – oh wait, you probably don’t know much about the fight they had after what happened at the Winter Meltdown, do you?” Todd shakes his head no. “Anyways, I have my doubts and concerns of their fight and what happened with her brother. I’m worried about her, you know? So she accepted that they were reasonable concerns in response, and told me her reasons as to why they weren’t bothering her. I accepted.”

“So that should mean this is all over and you staring is nothing, right?” Christopher glances at his teammate and shrugs his shoulders.

“It should, but I asked her why it meant a lot to her. Let’s just say that her response was interesting as to her background, and how she hasn’t had that person for stability or trust in her life – till she got the chance to run a late model down here, and till she met Chase. He’s only the second person, per her, to give her a true chance. It made me think…”

“You’re starting to realize that you were a jackass?” Christopher turns his head sharply as Todd smiles. “Hey, it’s okay to admit it. We’ve all done that before.”

“I guess…..”

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

Chase stood by the car on pit road, leaning against it as he lets out a sigh. If it was up to him, he’d just snap his fingers and it would be race time. Instead, he had to wait impatiently for opening ceremonies to commence.

“I’m surprised you don’t got a body guard or something hanging around,” He hears and glances over at his mom. He takes off his sunglasses, giving her a surprised glance.

“Why do you say that?” He questions, waiting for some reference to Sarina’s brother.

“Between Jared being poisoned, to that driver at Bristol, and then now Jake this weekend, I thought security would’ve been increased.” He couldn’t blame her as he had wondered the same after the events experienced. However, instead, they each go briefed on the happenings and that was all.

“We were just warned about the usual protocol of watch where you get stuff from, and make sure nobody is slipping something in your cup. That’s why this is being held close…” His mom walks over, giving him the once over as she glances at the bottle of Gatorade.

“Have they done any proper investigating?” Bill wonders. “Any leads?” Chase shrugs his shoulders, knowing the authorities were giving little details as possible.

“I know Jared went through a good questioning session with them as they wondered what he remembered and who was around him. Alan, Greg and a couple of the guys also got questioned as to how much he was around them and away from them, and also background checked due to possible reasoning – who knows why. I had a quick round of questions with them being my crew member, and Sarina spent a good round with them due to Jake.”

“Any update on Jake?” Sarina smiles as she walks over, wrapping an arm around Chase.

“I went and saw him yesterday actually,” she states. “He’s doing pretty good. They said that he is in the clear so he should be released soon and back to work. Didn’t Jared go back to work this week?” Chase shakes his head yes, pointing to him as he sat on the wall with the other guys.

“That’s good to hear.”

“Oh yes, because everybody needs Jared picking on them,” Chase comments as Jared perks up.

“Did you say something over there, Mr. Elliott?” Jared questions as Chase looks back.

“You’re hearing things…” Jared then stands up and walks over.

“I don’t think so….” He then wraps an arm around Sarina and leads her away. “Listen, that boy there, he’s trouble. You got to watch that one. I tell you he’s going to play games with you.” She then laughs as she looks back over at Chase.

“I don’t think I have anything to worry about man,” she comments as she sneaks out of his grasp and back over to Chase.

“Find your own girl; this sweetpea is all mine,” Chase says as he gives her a quick kiss.

“Sweetpea?” Bethany questions as she walks over. “That’s an interesting nickname that I’d never hear said in reference to Sarina.” Sarina then looks over at her cousin and brother.

“And that’s a nickname that you’ll never ever damn well repeat,” Sarina states as Bethany just smirks at her.

“Wait till the family reunion. Sarina Sweetpea Ott.” Sarina glances down at the comment, shaking her head.

“We’re having one of those?” Bethany shakes her head yes. “Lovely. Count me out.”

“Why is that?” Sarina looks over at her cousin.

“Because I told you damn well what I thought of the family. Wasn’t that made clear already? Been through enough shit to do that.”

“Easy,” Chase comments as he rubs her shoulders. “Bethany, why don’t you can the topic for now and we talk about it later, okay?” She then rolls her eyes as she glances at Chris.

“Want to go find our seat?” She question and he shakes his head yes. They then head off together as Chase lets out a sigh.

“Family ties that bad?” Bill questions as they walk away and Sarina shakes her head yes.

“I’d rather not talk about it, but yeah,” she answers as she glances into Chase’s eyes. He knew her reasons as he kept his arms tightly wrapped around her.

“Hence why I said that I couldn’t trust them,” Cindy says, earning a stern glance from both Bill and Chase. “Don’t give me that look. You boys know what I said.” Sarina remembered her thoughts when speaking with Bell as she takes a deep breath. If she was going to earn Cindy’s trust, that started now.

“Cindy, I know I have a questionable past and certainly I know that has caused issues – I apologize continually over and over for what happened. But I can assure you and promise you that I will never, ever hurt your son again or your family. I love you both and you’re both sweet as ever, and that’s not my intention here. I love Chase, I can’t wait for what’s to come in the future, and there’s really no words to describe what I feel. I just hope that over time you can give me the respect and maybe a little love that I’ve got for you.” Cindy crosses her arms, eyes focused on the young lady in her son’s arms.

“With all due respect Ms. Chelsy Dryer, I can’t just turn a leaf and pretend that nothing happ-”

“I understan-”

“So don’t expect me to just bend over and say everything is fine till I damn well see what you’re saying. Based on your questionable family history and given your brother’s past, I think I have a very reasonable concern as to why I’m not comfortable with Bethany or Chris hanging around Chase and everybody. I think there’s reasons for me to double check safety at times. You probably get that, don’t you? Perhaps if you would’ve taken the whole deal seriously from the start, ousted your brother, solved this problem and then kept distance, you could’ve got what you wanted.” Sarina felt taken back by the comments – even more surprised in the usage of her real name. However, it was understandable given Cindy’s feelings on the situation.

“I understand what you’re saying, fully. All I can do is say my peace and try and show you, and hopefully it comes over time. There’s nothing else to say. And as far as my brother, we went through that in what happened with the brain surgery and such.” Cindy rolls her eyes, remembering.

“Don’t need a reminder. Chase, good luck today sweetheart. I hope you have a good run and we’ll talk after.” Chase rolls his eyes, knowing the discussion will be again whether he should trust Sarina or not. A glance at his dad hopefully meant that he’d have a talk with her first.

“Thanks,” he replies. “I love you.” He lets go of Sarina, walking over to give his parents each a hug, before returning to her as they make their way down pit road.

“I’m sorry….” Sarina says quietly as he pulls her back close.

“You don’t have to a single thing to say sorry about. Everybody makes mistakes. Everybody has a questionable decisions of their past. It’s not your fault what your family did. I know you feel bad for your mistakes and yes they hurt, but it’s okay. I’ve forgiven you because of the effort that you’ve put forth to fix the situation and just by how much you love me.” He turns her around in his arms, looking into her eyes. “I love you….”

“But I started that deal with Betha-”

“You have every right to skip that family reunion and tell her that straight up. I was fine with that. I just got her to cool off for now because we don’t need to do that here.” Sarina then glances down.

“But your mother….” He then puts his hand under her chin, tilting her head back up so their eyes were locked together.

“Remember – I told you that it’d take time with my mom. She’s going to test and twist you every way that she can imagine. That’s because I’m her baby bear, and she’s going to do whatever she can to protect me – she’s always been that way. Don’t let what she says get to you and trust that over time, she’ll see why I love you so much and love you just the same. She did let you in her house, right?” Sarina chuckles and shakes her head yes. “I love you.”

“I love you, too.” She then gives him a kiss as they hear the cue for opening ceremonies.

Letting out a sigh as he grabs her hand firmly, he couldn’t wait for the race to start and leave this all in the rearview. There was some nagging part of him that agreed with his mom’s concerns over Chris. Bethany – that was an unsolvable interest.

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

Sarina walks up to him after the race, wrapping both arms around him as she reaches up and kisses his lips.

“I’m so damn proud of you!” She tells him. “You drove your butt off on that last restart to get up there and snag a top-five. That’s how you do it.” He then smiles as he spins her around his arms.

“It’s nice to break the curse, as we say,” he replies as he sets her back down. “And thank you.”

“You’re amazing. I can’t wait for your first win…”

“You’re going to get one, too.” He then takes her hand, giving the pit crew a quick wave before they head off together.

“What are we going to do about this week?” He lets out a sigh and shakes his head. Beyond Monday, the pair weren’t going to get a lot of time together. he was off to Chicago to test on Tuesday and Wednesday, followed her heading off to Texas on Thursday for practice. She was then racing in Texas on Friday while he was at Pocono for practice and qualifying. With her plans to stay in Texas on Saturday for the IndyCar race, that meant the pair wouldn’t see each other till Sunday – and that was only if she made the trip from Texas to Pocono for the Cup race.

“Promise me that you’ll text me and face time as much as you can?” She shakes her head yes.

“Of course. Promise me that you’ll kick ass?” He then laughs.

“As long as you do the same.” He then lets out a sigh as he looks towards her. “We better get used to this as we have a long summer ahead of us.” She shakes her head, knowing there were going to be plenty of weekends apart.

“As long as we both run well and remind each other of how much we love each other, I say we’ll be okay.” He smiles as he gives her a hand a squeeze.

“I hope you’re right…”

Short Track Lovin’ – Chapter 89: Bar Harbor 200

Friday at Dover International Speedway

Sarina walks through the garage area with Chase, giving him a quick kiss before letting him head off for practice. She then took a deep breath, continuing to make her way through the garage. She signed a couple autographs throughout her walk, before reaching the Kyle Busch Motorsports hauler.

“This needs to be done,” she calmly reminded herself as she took another calming deep breath. “This needs to be done….” She then walks up to the door, sliding it open and walking inside. She immediately comes face-to-face with her teammate, giving herself some more calming deep breathes. She wasn’t ever good at staying calm in these situations.

“You called?” Christopher Bell questions and she shakes her head yes.

“We need to talk about our issues,” she answers as he crosses his arms. Needless to say, she could tell that he had the same attitude as her normally.

“Our issues?”

“Well duh. Do you not recall what happened yesterday in the garage?” He rolls his eyes, shaking his head yes. His crew chief had already mentioned to him that it’d be best to clean up his actions.

“Let me guess – Marcus told you that we should work out our issues?” She shakes her head yes. “That figures as I got the same lecture. So, what’s it going to be?” She crosses her arms, knowing there was only one way through this.

“What is it going to take for you to damn well lay off Chase and I? It’s clearly obvious that you have a problem with us. You told me straight up at the shop that you didn’t trust him because of what happened. Well news flash, I trust him from one end of the earth to the other. If anybody should have a reason to not trust, it’s him for what I did. Now should that concern you? I don’t think not as it doesn’t concern me, hence why we’re together and better than ever. So, can you lay off please?” He lets out a sigh, wishing he could just say the words and do as she pleases. However, he couldn’t allow himself to do that.

“If you’d prefer that I lay off, I supposed I can keep my mouth shut for your sake. However, don’t think that I’m not going to keep my eye on you or him. I have some reasonable concerns that I’m sure plenty of others have as well based on what happened. I mean Sarina, how is it he can take you back so quick after you lied to him? How is it that you can handle things with him when he straight up admits that he’s nervous about your brother?” She lets out a sigh, having explained this already to Christopher.

“I’m not going through this again with you, Christopher. Can we just agree for you to shut your flap?”

“Can we just agree for you to consider my concer-”

“What is it going to take to get through your damn head?!?” A smile forms across his face as he keeps his eyes on her.

“Sarina Ott, the tough as nails female racer that nobody could crack and always held her own. Despite any challenge her way, she would never back down and stood guard to that person. Here was the girl that would never crack, shout – just give you straight up attitude back and let the talking happen on the track. But yet, here we are, and you can’t keep your damn cool and are shouting at me about your boy. Do you see what’s happening? You know my concerns are valid so therefore you have to push beyo-”

“Did I ever tell you that your concerns weren’t?” She then takes a deep breath, knowing that he was right though. It was amazing the things that love caused you to do. “I explained the trust deal. I explained why he was able to easily forgive me – hello the fear and everything. I explained why things are a mess with him and my brother – understandably as my brother basically tortured him for a good year. Like I said, their valid and I get why you can’t get it right away. The same way I get that Cindy has iss-”

“So his mom doesn’t like you, either? Oh man, that’s never going to fly knowing that boy as family means everything to him.” Sarina glances down, knowing that he was right in those words. She knew she’d have to work on Cindy over time if their future was going to be set, but she was fine with that. Like everything else, she understood the concerns.

“Like I was saying, everything is fair and valid. But, can you please give me the benefit of the doubt and shut up about it? I don’t need constant reminders. I don’t need you getting under his skin. I don’t need you always trying to shove it in my face. I get the damn mistakes made. Now give me the space to fix them, please!” Christopher leans back against the drawers, understanding where she was coming from as he keeps his eyes locked on hers.

“Why does this mean so much to you, Sarina? I want the truth…” She then glances back down as she looks away partially.

“My life has always been a mess. I’ve always been fighting against my own family and issues – just ask my brother about the deals that happened with our parents. My father was no perfect man and that caused tensions and resulted in what happened. I’ve always been on the run, trying to leave demons behind.” She then takes a deep breath as she looks up at Christopher. “When Chase gave me the chance to drive for him, it really set things down and gave me a chance for the life I wanted. It gave me a chance to have solid grounding, to stop worrying, and actually build towards what I wanted. Then when we started dating, he is the only second person in my life besides Tony Leons that I could truly trust and know that no matter what happened, things would be okay. I don’t want to lose that….”

“What about your cousin Bethany and your brother?” She lets out a small chuckle.

“Things have never been smooth there, nor has there ever been any grounding. Let’s just say that what we’ve seen this year is the first time I’ve seen something I wanted out of them both.” Christopher felt himself breaking for her, understanding her perspective.

“I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and leave you be. I get it and understand why you want this so badly now. To be honest, even though I was ribbing the heck out of you and bugging you, I want you to be happy. I want things to work with you and Chase. I hope they do work out, and you both get the happiness you deserve.” She looks up with a smile on her face.

“Thanks Christopher. You won’t say anything about this conversation to anyone, will you?” He shakes his head no. “Good, or else I may actually kick your ass.” He then walks over to her, wrapping an arm around her.

“Everybody has a vulnerable side, and that’s okay. As long as you handle it right and trust the right people, it’s fine. I’ve got your back.”

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

Chase Elliott walks up the steps, taking his usual seat on the pit box as he was set to take in the truck race that afternoon. Silently crossing his fingers, he hoped that Sarina had the good run that she wanted.

He watched her through the first stage, seeing how loose the No. 18 Toyota Tundra was off the corners. However, like she had impressed him a couple years ago in the late model, she managed to keep it out of trouble and gain some track position, crossing the finish line for the first stage in fifth.

His eyes remained focused on her through the next stage, in hopes that she’d continue to make up ground. Restarting 16th, his nerves for her were edgy in knowing how quickly Miles could snatch you up with a single bite. However, she kept it clean, moving forward up to the eighth spot by Lap 74.

Ahead of her, a couple trucks got together, sending someone spinning. She slowed up to avoid after the call on the radio from her spotter, just to be hit from behind.

“Shit!” He heard her curse over the radio, feeling his heart drop. So much for the good run that she needed. “How bad is it?”

“It’s easily repairable,” the spotter announces over the radio, peaking Chase’s interest. “Left rear and bumper cover, crew chief.”

“10-4 bring it in,” Marcus instructs as he focuses his eyes on the pit crew. It was obvious what they needed to do.

The repairs came easily, with her returning to the track near the back and ready to make up the lost ground. Both Marcus and Chase crossed fingers in hoping the repairs were enough, watching her drive from 17th to 12th over the next 12 laps to complete the stage.

“Stay out!” Marcus instructs at the end of the stage, given that they only had 12 laps on their tires. “Going to gain some position here.”

“Whatever you say boss,” she replies, knowing that she could trust Marcus in seeing their work together already this year, and his past with Timothy Peters.

Restarting seventh, she made her way up through the traffic to the third spot, before having to under green for fuel on Lap 156. Now trapped a lap down, the field began to cycle through stops which was set to put her back on the lead lap. However that happened, the caution flew as Chase Briscoe’s wheel went rolling onto the track after coming loose.

“Crap!” Marcus lets out as he shakes his head. He knew that was pretty much the end of them getting the top-five finish they deserved. “Just try to do what you can here, and hope you get a caution for the lucky dog.”

She would put herself into position, running in the lucky dog spot after the restart. However, a caution failed to fall in the final 25 laps, trapping her a lap down and handing them a ninth place finish.

“Solid day everyone,” Marcus says over the radio. “Great effort all day. Great truck. Great driving. Sorry about the strategy.”

“It happens – you were just trying to make up what we lost,” Sarina says, not feeling a drop of disappointment. “Great job today guys!”

Climbing from the truck afterwards on pit road, a smile was firmly planted on her face the entire time. Normally, she had to admit in the past that she’d pissed about coming so close and falling short at the end. However, given how the past month had gone along with the fact that they still got a top-10, it was a great effort. It was the solid footing that they needed moving forward into the summer. It also didn’t help that she found Dover to be a very fun track, and couldn’t wait to race there again sometime.

“I’m proud of you,” Chase says as he gives her a hug, followed by a kiss. “You did a great job all day. Great driving, great maturity – you’re growing into quite the driver.”

“Why thank you Mr. Elliott,” she replies with a smile.

“I just may have to treat you out to dinner tonight as a present.” She then looks on surprised as they hadn’t gone out for dinner much since they started dating.

“Really?” He shakes his head yes. “I wouldn’t mind that one bit, actually. It’d be nice to get some alone time…”

“Just promise me you’ll both behave,” Marcus comments over her shoulder as she glances back, giving the crew chief a smack as he laughs. “I don’t want to find out my driver is preg-”

“Marcus!!” They both yell together as he laughs even harder while walking away.

Short Track Lovin’ – Chapter 88: “Good luck with that, jackass!”

Thursday, June 1

Sarina walks into the garage, placing her helmet and gloves on the dash of the truck. She then noticed her teammates and their crew chiefs standing around, concerned. She then grabs her phone out of her pocket, walking over to join them.

“What’s going on?” She questions her crew chief Marcus Richmond.

“Another crew member has been poisoned,” Marcus tells her, causing her jaw drop to immediately. “One of our guys, actually – Jake. He’s going to be okay, so you don’t have to worry. But it just caught us off-guard.” She shakes her head in obvious agreement.

“First Bristol, then one of Chase’s guys and now Jake,” Harrison Burton says as he finds himself puzzled by the events.

“When did this happen?” She wonders as she glances amongst the group.

“Earlier today while we were going through tech, he seemed a little off and sure enough, that was it,” Marcus explains. “He said he had some food and he had a couple drinks while we were working before then so who knows as that could’ve been the cause.”

“You guys cleaned out the cooler incase, right?” Todd Gilliland wonders as he looks over the bottle of Gatorade that he had grabbed and Marcus shakes his head yes.

“So you’re late getting here,” Christopher Bell comments, in reference to Sarina’s late arrival. “Where have you been? Hanging out with the boy?” Sarina just rolls her eyes, getting annoyed of Christopher’s comments.

“I’ve been here since early this morning, just doing some sponsor things and other commitments – you can ask Marcus,” she states in a stern tone. “And as far as your comments with regards to Chase, he’s not even here today. He has his own commitments, you know?”

“We don’t need to get defensive,” Marcus comments, noticing the change in Sarina’s behavior as she focuses her eyes on Christopher.

“I’m sorry. It’s just Christopher can’t seem to keep his nose out of his business lately. Ever since Chase and I had that fight, he’s been riding my ass about everything. I thought you had a girlfriend, Bell.” Todd and Harrison look between their teammates with their own look of shock as Marcus could only roll his eyes.

“So I’m in trouble for caring about your well-being now?” Christopher asks as she just laughs.

“Caring?” She repeats. “Dude, you’re always accusing his ass of something when you feel something is off. Like today with whether we were busy today. There was also the trouble in paradise comment at fan day. Oh, and the best was the catch me off-guard in shop for discussion. It’s one thing to care, it’s another thing to be an annoying little brat who just annoys me!” Marcus could only look on in shock as he hadn’t heard of anything going on, nor did he feel like being a babysitter today.

“Well I’m sorry for offending you with my way of caring, Ms. Princess. I’ll be sure to keep my paws away from your little crown. Hope I kick your ass this weekend.” Christopher then turns and heads towards his garage stall as she just rolls her eyes.

“Good luck with that, jackass.”  She then turns and heads over to her truck, taking a glance inside to make sure things were how she wanted.

“Good luck with them,” Harrison says as he gives Marcus a quick pat on the back. “We’ll see you later…”

“Yeah, thanks,” Marcus replies as he watches Harrison and Todd head off together. He could only let out a sigh, knowing that it was going to be interesting with Sarina and Christopher at odds. The boss’ reaction would be priceless at this time.

“Ready for practice, Marcus?” Sarina questions as she turns to face her crew chief. He immediately heads over to her direction, working at putting what happened aside.

“You know, you and Christopher need to work out whatever is going on. We can’t be having that crap.” She then rolls her eyes as she turns away from him. This was why she hated having teammates sometimes.

“So I’m just supposed to let go what he said, Marcus? Yeah, that sounds right. Until he learns his boundaries, he can kiss my ass. Now, we have a practice to focus on, right?” He lets out a sigh, shaking his head yes.

He knew he could argue more with her, but knew that wouldn’t get him anywhere, given how stubborn she was per Kyle and Chase. That was something that would be left up for her to either deal with, or Kyle since he knew how to handle behavior like that.

The practice ended up going better than they could’ve originally imagined as she topped both practice sessions on the afternoon. She also felt comfortable with the truck’s handling, feeling that she’d be good over the course of a long run through the entire stage lengths.

Wrapping up the day and putting her helmet back away, she couldn’t help but smile at the prospects for Friday.

Once she was done for the day, she headed into the motorcoach lot and walked to where Chase’s motorcoach was parked. She brought up the password in her phone, while pulling the key out of her small purse. She punched the password in, before unlocking the door and heading inside.

She walks in, tossing her purse on the small table as she goes to the fridge and pulls herself out a drink. She then walks over, flopping back on the couch as she looks at her phone. She could only count the hours till he landed in Dover, Delaware and would join her there.

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

Chase unlocks the door and heads inside, slipping his shoes off. A smile immediately forms on his face as he sees her sprawled out on the couch, sleeping. He walks by quietly, setting dinner on the small island table. He heads back to the couch, kneeling down to her level. He then lightly kisses her lips as he runs a hand through her hair. As if on call immediately, she sits up, sending him flying backwards as he falls back on his ass.

“Ouch!” He lets out immediately as she sits up, reaching for the first thing she could – the remote.

“Get up and walk any closer and I’ll throw this at your face!” She yells as he sits up slowly, putting his hands in the air. “Oh….” She then sets down the remote as he laughs.

“Who did you think I was?” He questions as she shrugs her shoulders.

“Are you okay?” He stands up, brushing off his jeans, shaking his head yes.

“My ass is a little sore, but I’ll be fine. It’s nice to see you, too.” She just smiles as she reaches out for his hand, pulling him back close to her.

“Now that I know it’s you, I wouldn’t mind that kiss again.” He smiles as he kisses her lips once again, before picking her up in his arms. “Woah….”

“I brought you dinner.” He then carries her over to the table, sitting her down on the bench on one side, before taking his place on the other side.

“Thank you. Maybe I’ll give your butt there a little rub after to make it feel better.” He laughs as he opens the bag.

“That’s certainly one way to get a greeting from your girlfriend….” She chuckles herself as she takes her dinner from him.

The pair focused on their food. She talked a little bit about how practice went. She also told him about Jake being poisoned earlier in the day, and how he was going to be okay. He talked about the sponsor appearance he had to go to. He also mentioned the crew lunch with the guys. It was more or less small talk for dinner, till they got near the end of their meals.

“So I pissed off Christopher today,” Sarina reveals quietly, catching Chase’s attention.

“Bell?” He asks and she shakes her head yes. He rolls his eyes, remembering their last conversation about him. He had been a little pushy from what Chase could recall. “What happened?”

“Well, I showed up later to the garage than he, Harrison and Todd did because I had that appearance with Toyota and the interview to film for that local TV station. So he made the comment of my late arrival, asking where I’d been and whether I was hanging out with you, basically implying it was your fault that I was late.” Chase could only shake his head as he heard that.

“Of course…..”

“So I told him that I’d been there since the morning, doing commitments and told him to talk to Marcus if he didn’t believe me. Then I added that you weren’t even here today, and that ‘you have your own commitments’.” Chase shakes his head, accepting. It seemed reasonable so far. He had to admire her tactic of response.

“That’s fair…”

“So then Marcus goes that I don’t need to be so defensive towards Christopher as obviously, he has no idea about what happened previously so he didn’t get the true meaning behind the tone of his voice. That’s when I said that I was sorry, but Christopher can’t keep his nose out of my business. I told Marcus and basically everybody there that since we had our little fight, Christopher’s been on my ass about our relationship and then told Bell that I thought he had his own girlfriend.” Chase couldn’t help but laugh, even if perhaps she had taken her response a little too far.

“Well, they say if someone is bugging you that you should make them aware. You were just telling him how he was bugging you since things happened. What’s wrong with that?” Sarina rolls her eyes, remembering the comments from Marcus and Christopher afterwards.

“Well then he said, ‘So I’m in trouble for caring?’. I basically flipped on him, saying that it wasn’t fair that he was always accusing of you shit from one end to the other and that there’s a difference between caring and what he was doing. I basically told him that he was an annoying little brat who just annoys me.” Chase’s jaw drops in shock, but he couldn’t help but cheer inside. He knew how annoyed he had made her.

“Please tell me that Marcus backed you up….” She then laughs.

“Marcus didn’t say a bloody word, or bother to take anybody’s side. He’s rather more concerned about team morale, but more on that later.” Chase was ready to eat the rest of his dinner, but couldn’t with what was on tap to be said.

“There’s more?” She shakes her head yes. “Oh boy…..”

“Well after my comment, he apologized for offending the ‘princess’ and that he’d keep his paws away from my crown. Then he said he hoped to kick my ass this weekend. That’s when I told him, ‘Good luck with that, jackass.’” Chase laughs as he couldn’t believe what he had missed earlier that day.

“Can’t blame you…..”

“Well then after he left, Marcus suggested that Christopher and I talk about whatever we got going on and work that out as we can’t have that crap going on. That’s when I turned to Marcus and basically said, ‘So I’m just supposed to let go what happened?’ He didn’t say anymore as we focused towards practice, but I could tell that he was a little ticked.” She then looks down at the table, before looking back up across at Chase. “Did I do anything wrong?”

“You stood up for yourself. Christopher is just going to keep being an ass if you don’t say anything. If he gets it through his brain that you’re annoyed, he’ll let it go maybe. That’s all you were doing. Did you take the wrong approach? Perhaps as some of the comments weren’t needed, but he also didn’t need to make the princess comment. Anybody that knows you knows better than that as you’re no perfect princess.” She shakes her head, accepting. It felt better that Chase had her back, even if she knew a possible lecture from Kyle was coming in the future.

“Thanks. I appreciate the support.” He then reaches across the table, grabbing her hand and holding it.

“I’ve always got your back, just like I know you have mine. Oh, and if Kyle says something, just explain what is going on. He’ll understand and perhaps say something to Christopher, too.”

“Kyle understanding? Do you realize how many people would laugh if they heard you say that after this past weekend?” He shakes his head yes.

“Dale is bringing him a snickers on Friday.” She then laughs with a shake of her head.

Short Track Lovin’ – Chapter 84: Fan Day!

 

Friday, May 27 – Coke 600 Weekend

 

Sarina goes through the halls of Kyle Busch Motorsports, smiling as she sees the crowd of people through the next set of doors. It was going to be a busy day.

“All those people here to see you?” Chris asks as he follows his sister through the halls. She looks back and shakes her head yes.

“Well, not entirely as Christopher, Harrison, Todd and Samantha are also signing autographs too,” she answers. “But I’d think that I’ve gained some fans of my own.”

“I don’t get why people wouldn’t be your fan as you’re awesome,” her cousin Bethany comments as she goes through the final set of doors. She then takes her seat at the table between Todd and Christopher, looking at the hero cards. “Is it insane the feeling of seeing your face on those cards?” Sarina laughs and shakes her head no.

“It’s surreal sometimes when I’m signing them…” She then sits back, set for the doors to open shortly as she glances over at Todd. “I’m surprised your little video star isn’t here.”

“We thought about it, but it’d probably be too long of a day as he gets anxious and excited easily,” Todd comments, referring to the dog that they used for their announcement. “I’m surprised how late you were getting here.”

“Let’s just say it’s been a bit of a long morning getting ready,” she replies, causing a curious glance from Christopher Bell.

“Trouble in paradise, again?” He questions and she rolls her eyes immediately. She wished she could smack him sometimes.

“Chase and I are perfectly fine for your information, Bell. It’s just my hair wouldn’t co-operate and then one of his crew guys was poisoned yesterday. Thankfully he’ll be alright.”

“I heard about that actually,” Harrison comments as he glances over at the group. “Crazy though as first Bristol, now Charlotte. You’d think NASCAR and security would be watching things more closely.”

“That’s what I said to Chase,” Sarina comments. “But as Alan pointed out to him, they can’t very well sometimes tell as it may look like one thing and be something else, right? We just got to be careful.”

“No drinks from strangers, no weird foods – all those things that my mother goes on about anyway.” He then glances over to where his mom was standing off on the side with some others. “I just hope she didn’t hear me.”

“It’s okay to be mommy’s little boy still, Harrison,” Todd teases as Harrison just rolls his eyes.

“Chase is and everybody thinks that’s adorable,” Christopher adds, earning a glance from Sarina. “What?”

“I’ll bite my tongue for now, again,” she replies as the line starts moving, marking the official start of the autograph session.

Off to the side, Bethany and Chris watch Sarina sign autograph after each other, taking a few photos with some of the fans.

“Where’d you go yesterday, by the way?” Bethany questions, causing Chris to look at her curiously.

“What do you mean?” He asks as she rolls her eyes.

“We got separated. Where’d you go?” He thinks back to yesterday in the pits and smiles.

“I went and checked out the fan fair. You should head over there when we’re at the track tomorrow. There’s a lot of fun activities to do.” She looks at him surprised as he keeps the same glance back at her. “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you that I was heading over that way. I figured you were concentrated on watching Chase practice.”

“I actually had my eyes on someone else….” She then smiles, thinking back to the young man that she had noticed talking with Chase the week prior.

“You got a crush on someone….” The smile immediately escapes her lips as she looks over. “Yeah, I know that look.”

“Don’t say anything to them though, okay? I mean, that’s Chase’s best friend.” Chris shakes his head, agreeing.

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

Chase gets done his set of autographs for the day, followed by a quick Q&A and thanking the fans for their support. He then heads off through the door into the halls of Hendrick Motorsports, loosening the collar on his shirt.

“You’re like your father in so many ways…” He hears, spinning around surprised by the voice. He hadn’t expected his parents to be there.

“What are you doing here?” He questions his mother as he gives her a hug.

“Can’t I come check on my boy, or are you too much of a superstar now?” He then laughs as he continues walking through the shop to the back door. “So, how are you?”

“I’m doing alright. How are you?”

“I’m good.” He then opens the back door, heading out behind the shop to where he had parked. “How’s Jared?” Chase stops, knowing that was the next spot to visit before heading home. He promised Jared that he’d come and say hi.

“From what I’ve been told by Alan and Greg, he’s going to be fine. They just have him take it easy for now due to how sick he was feeling. I think they even mentioned releasing him on Saturday, but no work this weekend.” Cindy smiles as it was nice to hear that he would be okay.

“Promise me that you’ll be careful? This whole deal has me worried.” Chase stops and turns back to face his mom.

“I’m always careful, mom. You don’t have to worry, okay?” She then lets out a sigh, knowing that was impossible.

“Between this incident and Sarina’s brother – which I still don’t get how you handle that, it’s hard to just let go.” He shook his head, understanding.

“If it makes you feel better, I haven’t let my guard down with regards to Chris. I tolerate enough to keep Sarina happy, but it’s not like I totally trust him nor probably will ever. I know what happened, and can’t say that I’m fully comfortable.” Cindy shakes her head, accepting that. It gave her comfort knowing he had the same worries that she had.

“And what about Sarina?” Chase lets out a sigh, knowing the topic would come up.

“I love her. We’re great together. I can’t see myself with anyone else sometimes. Trusting her – we’re working on building that back up. We’re as honest as we can with each other, and that helps with each passing day.” Cindy could only wonder whether there was complete honesty in reality.

“You need to stop growing up so quickly. But I trust your judgment and as long as you’re careful, I’ll believe you.”

“Always careful. I’ll see you later…” He then gives her another hug, followed by a quick kiss, before heading out to make the short trip to the hospital to check on Jared.

As he drove over, he listened the tunes and found himself thinking everything over. He couldn’t get his worries expressed to Alan or their conversation out of his mind. He couldn’t get the recent events with two poisonings out of the blue and ignore that. Everything felt like it was falling in place for him and Sarina, and truly back to where they wanted to be together, but around them was a like a storm brewing. He just hoped that they could survive this round together.

Short Track Lovin’ – Chapter 72: Friday @ Martinsville

“Ugh, why today?” Sarina lets out as they pull into the parking lot. “Like, seriously?”

“It’s mother nature – she can be a pain in the butt sometimes,” Chase comments as he looks out the windows to see the rain continuing to fall. “Maybe it’ll stop and we’ll get some practice today.”

“Okay, Mr. Optimistic.” They both climb out of the car, beginning to make the walk to the track and into the infield. “Yay to a day of sitting around and doing nothing.”

“What’s got your attitude in a bunch? I mean, it’s just a bit of rain. Tomorrow is supposed to be clear. I’ve never heard you this cranky, Chelsy.”  Sarina then stops right in her tracks, looking over at Chase.

“What did I say about using my real name, Elliott?” He then lets out a sigh as he wraps his an arm around her.

“You told me that I could use it in private, if I wanted to have some fun. Trust me – I won’t tell everybody the truth or anything.  I just figured it’d snap you out of your attitude.” She then rolls her eyes as she continues walking, snagging the umbrella in the process. “Really?”

“I told you what I thought of that, Chase….” He then lets out a sigh as he catches her up to her, standing in front of her.

“Okay, so I was wrong. I’m sorry.  I won’t use it, again. Just promise you’ll lighten up about the weather?” She then looks around, twirling around before placing a smile on her face.

“It’s liquid sunshine and the flowers will grow because of it so who cares I don’t get to practice and know this place in my first trip here, right? Besides, I can go try a hot dog while I wait.” Chase smiled as he reaches over, roughing up her hair as she gives him a smack.

“Ouch! Okay, that’s it!” He then grabs her, picking her up on his shoulder as he tickles her. She then starts giggling, struggling out of her grasp. He finally puts her down, smiling himself more. “That’s better.”

“You know you’re truly one of a kind, right?” He then snatches the umbrella as he skips away from her in the rain – before turning back to face her.

“That’s what they say, and that’s why the girls just love me so much.” She then rolls her eyes as she hurries to catch up with him. They then make their way into the infield, trading a quick kiss before heading their separate ways.

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

Sarina just shook her head and laughed as she looked through her twitter timeline. It was quite the day if you were following Hooters and Chase.

Knowing she had a break between now and the next truck practice, she made her way down through the stalls to where Chase was standing by the GMS guys. She waited till he was done discussing, before catching his attention.

“Ms. Oh I need to learn the track seems to be doing quite well,” he comments with a glance up at the scoreboard. She couldn’t help but smile herself in being third on the chart, while he was eighth.

“Kyle is good for advice, as well as Christopher,” she replies, recalling their discussions before the weekend. While she wasn’t keen on Christopher away from the track right now – virtue of the shop discussion, she had to admit that he was a great teammate with his advice.

“Any driver can take advice, but it takes another to put it into practice. Heck, I’ve been listening to Jimmie and Jeff and I still struggle with this damn place.”  She then gives him a smile as she pats his shoulder.

“You’ll figure it out – you always do.” She then pulls her phone out of her pocket, bringing up the twitter posts she had been just looking at. “I’m surprised you didn’t tell me about your new job for Hooters.”

“Oh dang, I was going to tell you the other night but we got talking about other things. Don’t worry, it’s on a part-time basis so I can focus on racing and spending time with you.” She rolls her eyes, seeing right through the April Fools joke they’d set up.

“Oh really?” She then flips to another tweet. “So that means I can see you wearing this uniform soon?” He glanced away, hiding his own chuckle and wishing that part hadn’t been released partially based on the reaction. “Well?”

“I’ll be sure to show it off as soon as I get my hands on. They haven’t done them up, yet. They just got done taking fittings.” She shakes her head, understanding, though wanting to punch him at the same time for keeping the joke up.

“I can’t wait to see it.” He then wraps an arm around her as he was cracking in giving in on it.

“I’m sure you would. By the way, I’ll have to deliver some chicken wings sometime to you with it. Oh, better yet, you could be my assistant. The girls get to wear the traditional outfit.” She then grins as she locks eyes with him.

“Are you sure you’re okay with everybody seeing that?”  He thinks it over, before pulling her closer to him.

“Who said I was going to let the assistant go out and help me? Maybe I just wanted to see you wearing that for myself.” He then kisses her lips as she smiles in return.

“My name is not Danica Patrick, Mr. Elliott. You know, I actually win races.” Chase wanted to bite his tongue, but he couldn’t help but laugh in response a little.

“That’s mean….good, but mean.” She just shrugs her shoulders in response as she smiles.

“Sorry, but I had to say it. I’ve already had two sponsors approach me solely based on the fact that they’d only sponsor if I’d agree to do an ad dressed rather scandalous. I told Kyle there was no way in hell I was doing that.” He then looks on surprised – partially. He knew of her attitude, but was surprised she’d been that straight with Kyle. “Thankfully, he agreed. The only stipulation is if Samantha is short a model one day and I’m around, she has permission to steal me.”

“There’s certainly some dresses that I know would look very nice on you.” She then gives him a puzzled look. “Although, we could start with some of the other outfits that I’ve heard she has first.”

“Nice run teammate,” they hear as Christopher walks by, giving Sarina a quick pat on the shoulder. “They canceled the rest of the day so I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Sounds good,” she replies, feeling her frustration return from earlier as she wanted some more time on-track before tomorrow. “By the way, you looked good yourself. Hopefully we can pull off a 1-2 finish for the boss.”

“What about me?” Chase glances between the pair as Sarina shrugs her shoulders.

“You could finish third.” Sarina then looks back towards Christopher, noticing his silence towards Chase. “Bye  Christopher.”

“Bye Sarina,” he says before walking away as she looks back to Chase.

“That boy was quieter than normal,” Chase starts as Sarina bites her tongue. She didn’t want to discuss what was said the other night. “What’s up with that?”

“No clue,” she answers, already hating herself for the small lie. She had promised him honesty and here she was just a month later with a lie to his face. How was that fair?

“You answered that a little quickly….” She just shrugs her shoulders, wishing he’d drop the topic.

“Well, that’s what I knew. What else do I say?” Chase wanted to push the issue, seeing the lie there, but bit his tongue. It wasn’t worth it, for now. However, it certainly didn’t sit well with him.

“Fair enough. I got to go – media center for starting second.”

“I’ll wait by your hauler?” he shakes his head accepting, before running off. She then grabs her umbrella, re-opening it as she works her way back through the garage area.

“You promise me that you’re both “totally honest” now, but yet you lie to his face about me,” she hears and glances over her shoulder to see Christopher standing there.

“Can it Christopher,” she tells him response as she walks a little faster, wishing he’d disappear. That only causes him to quicken his step to keep up.

“There’s got to be a reason why you didn’t say anything, though. Are you worried about his reac-”

“Just like I told you before – we love each other and nothing is going to change that.” She then stops and turns to face him. “So can your bullshit and take it elsewhere. Besides, it wasn’t the time or place to discuss something that could get him riled up. That’s something we can discuss after the weekend when we have to divulge through it so I can make sure he doesn’t kick your damn ass. Although, let’s face it, he’s not too nice for that. So let me say something to you – can it or I’ll kick your ass.” He then looks on surprised.

“Ms. Ott, are you threatening me?” She then smiles.

“Mr. Bell, are you annoying me?”

“I told you my reasons. I’m only on your case because I care about you.” She knew that, but it didn’t buy sympathy.

“And I told my reasons for you to can this discussion, totally. So how about you listen if you care so damn much?” She then walks away without another word as he lets out a sigh, heading the other direction.

As she sat by the trailer, phone in hand texting Bethany, she felt herself in a bundle of knots.

It was just a little lie, but yet she felt terrible and wanted to take it back immediately. She also wondered whether or not the future she envisioned would truly happen, or she would be back picking up the pieces – as always. If she couldn’t face Chase on a simple topic like an annoying teammate, how would they handle everything else?

Short Track Lovin’ – Chapter 71: “I just care about you”

Sabrina makes her way through the shop, trading smiles with a couple employees, and perhaps some hugs. She then makes her way over to the truck for the weekend, leaning on the tailgate.

“Well well, it’s nice to see your pretty face,” her crew chief Marcus Richmond says as he turns around to face her. “I was wondering whether you got lost in California.”

“You know I’ve been busy Marcus,” she comments as he simply gives her a nod. Normally, he’d hate having a young driver run off without giving the crew chief much of the discussion warranted. However, he understood the unique circumstances with her.

“How is your brother, anyway?” She smiles as she was liking the answer she could give now.

“He’s doing a lot better, actually. Everything is coming together how the doctors want, and he’s on-track to be fully released by month’s end. We actually had him out at Auto Club this past weekend, and he’s got plans already set to join us for Charlotte.” Marcus smiled as he was glad to hear the news. It’d also mean that she’d be around more come May and beyond – good for learning.

“I’m glad to hear. Now, everything is ready to go accordingly with the truck. You do remember what we talked about on the phone, right?” Sabrina shakes her head yes, remembering the twice a week discussion they’d have while she was at her apartment in California. “So the reason I dragged you down here a couple days early is you’re wanted at the track tomorrow for a media appearance, but also wanted to make sure the truck is how you wanted inside prior to getting to the track.”

“That sounds fair.” She then stands up, and glances in the window with a look around. She had planned on staying with Chris till Thursday morning, but ended up flying out on Wednesday with the landing in Charlotte early Wednesday evening so she could stop by KBM. She figured she’d spend the night with Chase, before heading out to Martinsville.

“The guys followed specs from what we figured pre-season, but you know how precise measurements can go sometimes. Besides, as you get more used to driving these, you may want to adjust the mirrors.” She shakes her head, understandingly, before climbing into the truck.

“It feels pretty good, actually.” She then snaps the steering wheel around, pretending to drive for a bit before taking a glance around. “I just want to adjust this mirror slightly, and then making the shifter come up like half an inch for easier grabbing.” Marcus walks over, couple wrenches in hand as he passes them to her.

“Like I said, you drivers get picky and want slight adjustments always.” She then looks over at him.

“Am I too needy?” He shakes his head no.

“A comfortable driver will always do better than one that’s uncomfortable, Sabrina. Never forget that. I’ll see you later.” He then walks away, heading to the offices as she takes a deep breath, before going to work on what she wanted changed.

Once she was done the changes, she climbs from the truck and puts the wrenches back. She then leans back on the tool box, eyes scanning over her No. 18 Toyota Tundra as she couldn’t help but smile.

“You’re one lucky girl Sabrina,” she tells herself. “You’ve got the boy of your short track dreams, everything has worked out with Chris, and you’re accomplishing your dreams. What more could you want?”

She then pulls her phone from her pocket, taking a quick selfie with the truck before sending out on the various social channels. She then forwards it to her brother with the caption, “Spending time with my other baby. Miss you.” She then puts her phone back in her pocket.

She then makes her way down the shop, checking out the other trucks that were getting prepared for future races. She saw the truck she had at Atlanta, all the sheet metal pulled off as the crew had worked to fix any damage underneath from her quick spin. Her eyes also glanced through the rest of the trucks, as she shook her head in amazement.

“I didn’t expect to see you here,” She hears and glances out of her daze to see Christopher Bell standing before her.

“Marcus wanted me to make sure everything was comfortable before the weekend and I have to be at Martinsville tomorrow,” she tells him. He hadn’t bothered to even think about the schedule that she had. “I figured I’d fly in tonight and follow what Marcus wanted, before checking in with Chase and heading out.”

“How are things with you and Chase, anyway?” A smile immediately formed on her face as she thought about him.

“It’s great, Christopher. It’s actually amazing. It’s almost like nothing happened. We’re pretty much back to where we were.” Christopher shakes his head, understanding. He wasn’t quite sure if she was telling the truth, though.

“Are you absolutely certain about that? I mean, you have to think there’s some hesitation on Chase’s part.” She then crosses her arms, not feeling all too hot about being accused in regards to her relationship.

“Why are you so concerned anyway?” He then lets out a sigh as he shoves his hands in his pocket.

“I remember what you were like at Kern County. I remember the heartbreak that was on your face as you looked down from your stall at where he was with Ricky. I remember hearing about the heartbreak, pain, frustration, anger – everything about your little fight. Considering that, and the fact that it was your brother who hurt him, that’d cause issues in my world.” She then lets out a sigh as there was no doubt there had been some rough weeks. Who could forget the fight that her and Chase had? However, that was fair – she had lied to him and deserved that.

“Listen, I know there was a lot that happened there in the span of like three days. But Christopher, he had a reason – I lied to him about something that dealt with his safety. I lied to him for months on that and it wasn’t fair. He had a reason. Looking back, I understand that reason and give him the benefit of the doubt – the same way he gives me the benefit of the doubt, knowing that I did it out of fear once he thought about it calmly.” Perhaps his nerves were over nothing in regards to her relationship. Maybe being the extra caring friend wasn’t needed here.

“So just like that, he trusts you and everything is back to lovey dovey?” She then lets out a sigh, remembering the conversation last night. “That’s what I thought.”

“Okay, so there’s some unease in regards to certain things. There’s a bit of him that probably is thinking about that. We had that conversation last night, actually. He reminded me to keep the promise of being honest with him and everything would be fine. I then told him how much I felt bad for what happened, and the mistake that I made and how I wouldn’t repeat it. The conversation then continued without a hitch. Is there an underlying concern? Yeah, he worries about it a little and I worry that he may not see I’m telling the tru-”

“What’s a relationship if you both can’t totally trust each other throu-”

“We love each other, we can’t stand to be apart, and we’d do anything for each other. In both our eyes, we have a reason for what we have together. Sure, there are issues – but we’re working on them one at a time. As scenarios come up where that question may lie, I’m certain that together we’ll work it out and things will continue to be fine.” She then rolls her eyes as she looks away from him. “I don’t know why I’m having to explain my relatio-”

“It’s because you care about him, and you’re willing to do whatever it takes to prove that. You’re fighting for what you love.” She then looks back at him. “And I appreciate the fire and desire that you’re showing, Sabrina. That’s part of what makes love work – being able to fight to make it work together.” Christopher then takes a deep breath as he thinks over his thoughts. “I may have been wrong questi-”

“Ya think?” He then takes another deep breath, realizing he was facing the angry side of Sabrina, which he heard from short track peeps to avoid.

“But Sabrina, I was only asking you how things were and pushing the issue because I care about you. I just care about you, as a friend, and want to see the best for you. I don’t want to see you get hurt. I don’t want to be picking up the pieces of a heartbroken teammate in a couple months.” She felt her guard relax a little, understanding where Christopher was coming with his comments. However, it didn’t mean she was pleased with the discussion.

“I appreciate your concern, but I can promise you – things are fine, and you won’t be picking up the pieces or anything later on. I’ll see you this weekend.” She then heads out of the shop without saying another word as he stands there, letting out a sigh.

He just hoped that she was right with her observations.

Short Track Lovin’ – Chapter 65: She’s Back

She walks down pit road, smiling as she waves to a couple different people throughout the garage area before reaching her stall.

The conversation with Chase earlier in the week seemed to set a lot of thoughts and things in motion, as she made the decision to come back racing sooner than expected. A simple phone call to Kyle and he was easily to put everything in place for her to be behind the wheel of the No. 18 Toyota Tundra for the rest of the season, as originally scheduled. The phone call had resulted in a slight grumble from Erik who had been told he’d get to run instead, but he was easily accepting as he was glad to see her get a shot.

“Are you sure you’re ready to come back this weekend?” Kyle asks as he walks over to her. She looks up at him and quickly shakes her head yes. “So everything is squared away with your brother?”

“My cousins have no issue with sitting with him during the weekend while I’m out racing,” she starts. “Then once he’s better, he’s expressed interest in coming out so I easily accepted.” Kyle smiles as he was glad to see everything work out, though admitted a tinge of worry on the second thought. There had been a lot of things that had happened through the past several months.

“And how’s things with Chase?” The question only caused her smile to increase in size.

“Let’s just say that we talked everything over – Chris included – and are back together. It feels just as wonderful as it was before, and just as close. I know there may be a couple hiccups of trust at times, but I trust in what we have.” Kyle smiled back in return as he had hoped the pair would find their way back to each other.

“Well, I’ll leave you to get ready for practice then. If you need any advice or anything, don’t hesitate to come over and ask.” She easily accepts as she watches him walk away.

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

She then leans back against the wall, waiting for her name to be called. Thus far, the weekend had gone amazing. She practiced well in each of the three sessions, and managed to qualify 10th for the race that afternoon. After watching how crazy the XFINITY race with the different grooves, and the strong performance by her boss, she was excited to get going that day.

“Nervous?” She hears as she glances over to see Christopher. She just shakes her head no as she glances out towards the track.

“I feel good about things going into today,” she comments as he simply smiles in return.

“That’s a good feeling, and you’ve looked great all weekend. Just remember to not get ahead of yourself, and watch when you’re making moves. You don’t want to be too aggressive early.” She then looks over, remembering how Christopher’s race went last year.

“Talking from experience?” Christopher shakes his head yes. He just wanted to forget about how last year went already. “I’ll keep that in mind. Thanks.”

“Anytime. I want to see you do well.” She smiles back, hoping for the same thing. It wasn’t every day you got to the opportunity to drive for a team like Kyle Busch Motorsports.

“So, did I do a good job in the booth?” She hears as an arm wraps around her shoulders. She looks towards the face, smiling as she leans in for a quick kiss.

“I’d say that you did a good job,” she tells Chase. She had to admit that she was impressed with how flawlessly he took to the job of being an XFINITY Race Analyst. “I’d give you an A+ if I was your teacher.”

“Adam made it easy, thankfully,” he replies as he glances over at Christopher with a quick nod. “I just wanted to stop by and see you, and say good luck if we don’t get to see each other before the race starts. Have fun, be safe, and take in every bit of this moment. You’ve earned it and I’m proud of you.”

“Thank you, and I hope you have just as much as an amazing day as I am about to have. Enjoy and have fun in front of the hometown crowd, superstar.” Their conversation is then cut short as Sarina is called out for driver introductions as the 10th place qualifier, with Chase following directly behind her as he qualified ninth. The pair then get into the same truck together before heading out for the lap around the track. “So much for worrying about not being able to see eac-”

“Sssh, take in the moment. Enjoy it. Look out to the crowd, see all the people, and enjoy the cheers.” She then glances out, before looking back at him.

“I’m guessing those are all for you superstar.” Chase knew that was probably the case in being home, however he seen a few that he knew for sure had to be for her.

“I wouldn’t say they’re all mine as have a look at that sign and t-shirt the little girl is wearing there. You’re inspiring a whole generation, Sarina.” She then glances towards the girl that Chase is pointing at, immediately smiling even more as she gives a wave directly in that direction, before looking back at Chase.

“That’s just an amazing feeling.” He smiles as he continues to wave to the crowd, while putting one hand on her shoulder.

“Enjoy it, sweetheart. You’re about to become a superstar.”

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

Following the race, she climbs out of the truck and lets out a sigh. It wasn’t the day that she envisioned, but at least she had come home with a solid finish.

While she had hoped to start off the race in a solid manner, she found herself sideways in the middle of three-wide, sliding down the banking of the track. She was able to get away without a lot of damage, though, restarting at the back of the pack easily for the restart. She then worked her way back towards the field, piece by piece, eventually crossing the line in 14th.

She glanced towards the scoring pylon, smiling at the fact that Christopher had won the race. From what she’d seen, he had a pretty fast truck all day.

She then notices Chase in fifth and couldn’t help but smile at that result as well, as she had seen him slowing with a tire issue during the first stage. She also remembered the point just after one of the restarts where the pair got to run side-by-side for position for a couple laps, with him eventually passing her with the quicker truck. She had to admit even getting beaten it was neat to have that quick moment during her series debut, and couldn’t wait till they raced again later on once she got to knows the trucks better.

She felt her heart gutted in seeing Kyle back in 26th as she knew that he had a fast truck as well, but saw the tire issue that he had on a late-race restart causing him to get up in the wall. Thankfully, she got down in the middle lane in time to not make contact as she went by.

“Solid debut,” she hears as Kyle walks over.

“Thanks,” she replies as she was pleased, but the small bit of rejection laced her voice. “I can’t believe I made that mistake on Lap 1. I mean, really?” He had heard from the team about the mistake that she had, but couldn’t be upset as he knew those would come with a rookie.

“You’re learning, Sarina. There’s going to be mistakes along the way. That right there was a lesson in positioning the truck, and what three-wide moves don’t work. As you make more moves, you’ll see what works and what doesn’t. However, what matters is you were able to keep your head down, and focus on making a comeback, and were able to post a strong 14th place finish. For your very first truck series start, and on an intermediate track at that, you’ve impressed a lot of people including me.” She smiles as it felt nice to hear that compliment from Kyle, despite everything. Perhaps this racing thing was going to work out.

“Thanks. I appreciate that.”

“Now, you’ve got a month before the next race so I say you take this time and spend it wisely. Spend time with Chase, spend time with your brother, and relax. But also watch some videos from past Martinsville races, speak with the shop guys, and give me a shout for some advice. Knowing your short track background, I say you should do well there.” She hoped that he was right, as she had experience at Martinsville virtue of running some late races there and doing pretty well with a couple top-fives.

“Let’s hope it plays out, and again, thank you for the opportunity, the advice, and for everything that you’ve done. I mean, you’ve gone beyond what I ever expected, especially with what happ-”

“Sarina, you don’t need to go on with the thanks. It’s all part of looking out for my drivers and doing what I can so they have the best tools at their disposable to do well. If all this pays off in the form of success on track, than it’s good for you, good for me, and good for the whole company.”

“I’ll remember that.”