Sunday, November 11 – ISM Raceway
Chase climbs out of the NAPA Chevrolet, taking a deep breath before facing the swarm of media that had surrounded with questions.
“You had a fast car and got involved in that crash on the front stretch,” the reporter starts. “Was there any way to avoid it?” Chase knew the answer right away. They had gotten behind due to his mistake.
“Don’t speed before that and you don’t get caught back there in the back,” he answered. “It was completely my fault and when you make mistakes like that, you get put behind and that’s when you get wrecked. So, I had a pretty good NAPA Chevy, especially on the long runs. We could run with those guys. I couldn’t get going quite as good as I wanted to. But if you stay away from that penalty (speeding on pit road) you never know. I hate it, but we’ll try to get a win next week.”
“What do you take from this playoff experience?” The questions came just as easy as the answers in his mind. It was pretty obvious.
“You just have to make the most of opportunities. The whole year counts. Those guys, winning a lot of races throughout the season, is what kept them away from a pressure-filled situation. All the bonus points they built up pretty much got them to Homestead, and that that’s the way that step stone is meant to work. It pays to win. So, we’ll try to win more next year.”
He stands around answering some more questions, before the media members head off to talk to whoever they had to go see.
“Don’t beat yourself up,” Alan starts as he walks over. “We came a long way from where we were this summer, struggling with this car. We put together a heck of a season. It sucks it’s come to this conclusion, but we’re building and progressing, and I guarantee we’ll have something for them next year.” Chase nods his head, but that didn’t erase the pain and frustration.
“I just can’t believe that I sped there,” he offers. “Was I that much over?” Alan shakes his head no as Chase lets out a sigh. “We thought the first pit stall was fool proof, and boom – I make a mistake. It sucks.” Alan places a hand on his shoulder.
“I told you to not beat yourse-”
“I know, but it still keeps running through my mind. It’ll bother me for a bit and then I’ll move forward, focusing on next week, ready to not speed on pit road. It’s simple as that. Thank you for the hard work all season long, and you’re right – we’ve come a long way, but we got a long way to go.” Alan couldn’t help but nod his head in agreement.
“I can promise you that this company as a whole is going to be putting in a lot of work this winter.”
Sunday, November 11 – Charlotte, North Carolina
After a frustrating day like he had, there was no place like home – and he was glad to be there as he and Sarina entered later that night. Slipping their shoes off, he glances back, grabbing a quick kiss from her, before helping her with her coat.
“Are you okay?” She questions, having grown annoyed with the silence most of the way home.
“Yeah,” he answers before heading for the stairs. The shortness of his answer didn’t give her heart much relaxation.
“I made a mistake, that’s all there is to it. I sped on pit road and put that whole thing in moti-”
“You had worked your way back up fro-”
“But if we don’t have that penalty, we have the track position and maybe we’re further ahead – not running right where Kurt decides to cross the track. I know it’s a matter of circumstance, anything is possible, but I still made the mistake.” He then takes a deep breath as they reach the top of the stairs. “I’ll get over it. Probably by tomorrow morning, I’ll be ready to focus on Homestead. Focus on trying to win a race, and hoping you bring home that championship.”
“That’s the plan, right?” They then walk into the bedsroom, flicking on the light as they enter. “What the hell?”
“Did you touch Miles?” Sarina slowly shakes her head no as Chase walls over, picking up the Monster trophy off of the bed. “How did he get in….” His voice trails off as he sees a white piece of paper.
“I probably don’t even need to say anything, do I?” Chase unfolds the piece of paper, reading the note.
“Change the locks, change the codes, change the security system, but I can still find my way in to see you.” He then scrunches the piece of paper up, before placing the trophy on the dresser. “Stay here…” Sarina could only look on confused as he reached for the baseball bat that he had left lying by the bed.
“What are you doing?”
“Checking to see if she’s still her-”
“By yourself?” Chase then looks over at her as he stands in the doorway.
“I am not taking any chances as she may be somewhere, and you don’t need to take any chances in your condition.” She could only sit there helplessly as she watched him leave the bedsroom, entering the bathroom first, before going through each of the rooms in the house.
“Ugh….” She felt every nerve swirl as she heard him go down the stairs to the main level, counting the seconds, followed by the minutes in her head, that he had been gone for. She had mentally set a time in her head that if he hadn’t returned, she was going to go looking.
“House is clear!” She glances up from the bed to see him re-enter the bedsroom, setting the bat on the dresser only to pick up phone. “I’m calling security to see what’s on the cameras and such. I don’t think it wouldn’t hurt to get somebody to be on-guard, either.”
“If it makes it easier for you, then I’m fully on-board.” She then stands up, kissing his lips, before retreating back to the bed as she watched him on the phone.
Friday, November 16 – Homestead-Miami Speedway
Sarina stood on pit road, sipping on a bottle of water. She had already drank a couple bottles of Gatorade, combined with half a case of water and some grapefruit – per Chase’s direct orders yesterday. However, she knew a long day with constant non-stop action could possibly bring forth dehydration issues, and she wasn’t taking any chances. If her and baby were going to accomplish their dreams, they had to be in tip top shape.
“I thought you’d be keeping your feet up a little longer…” She hears, half-expecting that comment from Chase. Though, that certainly wasn’t his voice as she glances over her shoulder with a smile.
“If you want to be on top, you need to be ready for practice,” she explains. It was odd to see Dale coming to check on her, but she wasn’t about to chase him away. She knew she’d better get used to it with driving for him next year. She could also take advantage of the timing, too. “I came out here to make sure everything was ready to go, and get any last minute advice from Rudy.”
“Well, I just wanted to stop by and say good luck. I hope you have a great night and make some history.” She smiles, nodding her head.
“Thank you. I never set out to be the best girl, but rather to be the best driver and win races. That’s what I’m here to do tonight.” Dale could easily appreciate the determined attitude.
“Just make sure that you’re taking care of yourself.” She holds up the water bottle, taking a sip.
“13th bottle of water in the past two days satisfy the boss?” He looks on a little surprised, but gives her a nod of approval.
“Don’t let having to go pee at the halfway mark distract you.” She had to make a face at the thought. She had never gone to the bathroom in her firesuit in her career, and she certainly didn’t want to do it with her new one. This firesuit was set to only have two races on it, having got it last weekend, and she was ready to hang it up for keeps later.
“While you’re here, I have a question for you…” He then looks at a little puzzled. “Chase and I are in the middle of planning our wedding. We originally were going to get married in Colorado, but there’s been some issues with the venue so we can’t do that. We decided to change it to closer to home, and came up with the perfect spot – if you’re willing. Could we get married in your Whiskey Town?” Dale was taken back by the request, having expected something more traditional from Chase.
“Have you talked to Chas-”
“I thought of the idea last weekend, and we talked about it this week. He approves as he feels it’s perfect for what we’re envisioning. He didn’t ask you yet because I told him I’d handle it, being that you’re my boss.” He glances at the smile on her face, having a chuckle to himself.
“You thought the eyes and smile would charm me better than he would and I would say yes easily?” She then shrugs her shoulders. “No matter which one of you asked me, I would say yes. I think it’ll be beautiful for you both, and will make sure to have everything rea-”
“My wedding party gals and I can handle the decorating. We’ve got everything picked out, and Samantha has already talked to who we need to order everything from. We just need your permission for the property, and promise to have everything in order when we’re done.” He then warps an arm around her shoulders.
“It’d be my honor, seriously. I may have been a little skeptical when I first met you, and I may have been harsh on Chase for the first couple weeks.” She nods her head, remembering the first meeting at Hendrick Motorsports a couple years ago. “As I’ve gotten to know you, though, I can see why he fell in love with you. I’m happy to see the bond that you’ve both formed, and I’m glad to have you on-board as a driver next year.”
“Even if I’m missing the first couple races?” He had to smile as it may not be the best business position, but that didn’t matter to him.
“I told you originally – that child is going to change yours and Chase’s lives for the better. It’s worth it for the blessing that you’re going to get in return.” She could see the admiration that Dale had for Amy and Isla in hearing him talk about parenthood.
“I don’t think we need to wait until then. Chase and I are already fully on-board. We both can’t stop talking about it, he can’t stop rubbing my stomach, and I’ve already began planning the nursery.” He had an idea immediately as to the theme.
“Bulldogs or racing?” She laughs, shaking her head to both ideas.
“Jungle themed.” He looks on surprised, but was easily accepting.
“I’ll have to make sure to get you a couple stuffed animals then. I’ll see you later, but like I said – good luck tonight.” She watches Dale head off, smiling as she turned her attention back on the 18 truck.
Tonight was going to be fun, this pregnancy was going to be amazing, the wedding would be magical, and next year was already shaping up to be perfect.
She stands on pit road by the truck, thinking over the first practice session. She was pleased with the handling of the No. 18 Toyota Tundra as she had to admit that they were in the right ball park for where they needed to be. However, ranked 11th on the session behind fellow championship contenders wasn’t the biggest morale boost.
“I got something up our sleeve for the second session,” Rudy tells her, catching a glance as he gives her a wink.
“When you tell me that, it always ends with good results,” she replies. “I hope you’re telling the truth again.”
“When have I lied to you, my princess?” She thinks back through the time they spent together, spending no examples.
“Well, you kind of lied when you said you’d never warm up to Chase and I being together. Remember how upset you were the first couple weeks?” Rudy nods his head, having fond memories of then. He was about to yell at Kyle for partnering them together – that, or pack an extra bottle of Tylenol and ask for a raise for having to deal with her.
“You were also late those first couple of weeks, as well.” She hated the reminder, but it was a fact of life. She remember how Kyle turned the tables immediately on one of those.
“I still want to kill Kyle for having those comments about sex.” Rudy laughs, remembering how red Sarina’s face went then.
“He wasn’t wrong, though.” He then gives her a small pat with a laugh before heading off.
She then lets out a sigh, walking back over the wall. She makes her way through the garage area, knowing a trip to the bathroom before the second session would be welcoming. Maybe there was something to what Dale was saying earlier, after all.
As she walks to the closest bathroom, she signed autographs for the fans along the way, even stopping to take a couple photos. However, she couldn’t help but glance to her right in hearing a group of girls together. Appearing to be around the same age of her, their conversation stemmed to speaking about Sarina’s appearance, including one of them saying that she was fatter.
“Maybe it’s due to Chase’s southern cooking,” the one girl chalked it up too.
Sarina walks into the bathroom, slipping off the firesuit and going pee as she needed to. She couldn’t help but while she sat there rub her breasts, having been sore the past couple of days. It wasn’t no surprise to her that Wednesday involved shopping for a couple new bras, either.
“Is it that obvious?” She asks herself, as she glances down at her stomach, rubbing it. “Are you growing in there, sweetheart?”
After wiping, she does the firesuit back up before glancing at the mirror to give herself a look over. One more week, and it didn’t matter what anyone said. It’d be finally time to reveal to the world that she was pregnant and had been since August.
Taking a deep breath, she knew to be prepared for positive and negative reactions in response – but that didn’t matter. All that mattered was Chase, this baby, and the love between the three of them.
Sarina sat in the care center after finishing the second practice, glancing over at Chase with a smile. She couldn’t complain as whatever Rudy had planned for the second practice had worked out very well, timing in second quickest. With a break before Chase’s Cup practice and now getting to see her baby while hearing the heartbeat, there was nothing to complain about.
“So being 18 weeks pregnant, we have some important things to discuss,” Dr. Grayson tells the pair after the initial examination. “I want you to have a regular ultrasound schedule set in place moving forward for the rest of your pregnancy. Given your risk factor, I would like to see you have one every two weeks.” Sarina and Chase both nod their heads, accepting. They knew a trip to Charlotte could easily be accomplished as needed.
“Do you think we’re going to run into any problems?” Sarina wonders, knowing the possibility that laid ahead as the baby grew more.
“So far, your uterus and the baby are getting along nicely. Everything checks out as to where it’s supposed to be. However, I do understand why you were told those reasons at the beginning from doctors with the shape that you are. I want to always give my patients the best hope possible, and believe me, I want to see this work out for you both. However, I am still highly concerned depending what happens in the growth moving forward. I wouldn’t downplay the risk yet.” Sarina takes a deep breath, nodding her head. She couldn’t let the fear show, or the tears show in being afraid of the worst happening after everything she’d been through so far.
“Okay, I understand. We’ll keep watching for warning signs and follow your orders.”
“With these ultrasounds, you’re going to continue to see the baby grow more and learn more about this baby. Obviously, one of the things that is going to come up is gender. As early as the 20 week mark, we can sometimes tell a couple the gender of their baby. Have you guys discussed if you would like to know ahead of time or not?” They both shake their head no.
“I already know it’s a girl anyway,” Chase comments, earning an eye roll from Sarina.
“He’s been saying that for the past four weeks,” she informs Dr. Grayson as she just smiles back in return.
“Sometimes intuition is right, and sometimes it’s not. I wouldn’t advise buying any clothes based on that feeling, though, as I’ve seen many parents be wrong. I’ll let you guys think about the gender situation, then, and you can let me know if you’re wanting to learn ahead of time.” Chase already knew that he’d once again leave that up to Sarina, once again not focused on the minor details. Besides, despite the warnings, he believed in his own intuition. “The last time you guys saw me, we discussed doing the MSAFP test to screen for birth defects and more. Are we moving forward with that?”
“We’d like to be prepared as much as possible,” Sarina reveals, remembering the conversation they had earlier in the week. “So absolutely, I would like to get the test done.”
“Okay then….” Dr. Grayson stands up, opening the cabinet. “So the results will take a week to two to get. I just need to get some blood from you.” Sarina squirms a little in seeing the needle pulled from the cupboard.