January 27, 2018 – Chilly Willy 150 – Tucson Speedway
“Are you feeling good?” Chase questions as Sarina glances up at him.
“For the millionth time today, Chase, I am fine and ready to go,” she answers. “If you want to drive, just damn well say it.” He chuckles, shaking his head no.
“I just want to make sure you’re good to go.” He leans in, giving her a kiss, before tightening the belts one last time and putting up the window net. “Do your thing.”
While he was thinking of retreating back to his usual spot in the middle of the corner, he instead climbed the pit box to join Ricky on top.
“One to go at the line,” Ricky tells her after a series of pace laps. “Focus, focus, focus. Remember – we got a long way to go here.”
“We can do this,” Sarina assures him.
“One lap to go at the line,” the spotter says and force of habit, Sarina gives the belts one more tug to make sure they’re tight. “Nevermind. Brandon Schilling stopped on the exit of turn two. Looks like he made contact with the wall.” Chase and Ricky then glance at each other confused.
“How do you hit the wall under pace laps?” Chase questions as Ricky shakes his head in disbelief.
“Strange things always happen at these late model events,” Ricky answers and Chase couldn’t help but agree, having tuned into highlights from Speedfest.
After Brandon’s car was towed off the track, the field was doubled back up and the green flag came out. It didn’t take long for business to pick up, as Sarina found herself in the midst of a three-way battle for fifth on Lap 4, but the caution flew for an incident further back in the pack.
“Patience, patience, patience,” Ricky reminded under the yellow flag. “This is a long race. We don’t need to be making a mistake in the early stages.” Ricky then looks over at Chase. “Besides, someone may wear his tapping foot out at this rate.” Chase immediately stops tapping his foot as Ricky just chuckles. “Are you nervous there?”
“Nah, I’m good,” Chase brushes it off as Ricky just rolls his eyes, focusing back on the race.
When the green flag came back out, it didn’t take long for action to pick right back up, enough for an ‘oh crap’ to escape Chase’s lips when she went four-wide for position. It didn’t take long for another caution, either, as a car went around in turn one on Lap 19.
“They’re racing like it’s the last 19 laps,” Chase comments as Ricky nods his head in agreement.
“Your races were the same way, bud,” Ricky says. “Why do you think I was glad when I could keep you up front in the top-three out of that mess?” Chase just shakes his head in disbelief as he gets comfortable, knowing they were in for a long night. It certainly was different than the calmness of how the Cup races began.
Sarina was initially get a good restart, set to continue charging forward in the top-10, but then it seemed like complete opposite. The car twitched sideways off of the corner, causing her to lose her momentum.
“Talk to me,” Ricky requests, as both he and Chase could tell something wasn’t right. It almost reminded Chase of a tire beginning to go down, or possible rear suspension issue with how quickly the car stepped out.
“Tire losing air possibly,” Sarina answers as she fights the handling, now back to 28th by Lap 23.
“Hold on to it. There’s going to be a fuel stop coming soon.” Everybody was told in the driver’s meeting there would be a chance to put fuel in between Lap 25 and 50, and that was all you were supposed to do at that time and you wouldn’t lose position. Chase knew that as soon as the yellow flag came out, it’d be the opportunity they needed – even if they had to restart from the tail. He just hoped that she could hold on to until then as the car looked evil, almost dead sideways off the corner that past lap.
“Caution!” The spotter lets out as the yellow flag is dropped from the flag stand as a result of fluid being dropped all the way down the backstretch. Chase and Ricky just glance at each other with a quick high-five, knowing it was the break they needed.
“Which tire is it?” Ricky requests as he focuses on the team, knowing the next task at hand.
“Left rear, I believe,” she reports and Ricky makes a motion to the pit crew below.
While the rest of the teams came in and simply put fuel in, the team went ahead and took the left rear tire off, replacing it with another. A quick glance over the tire and Ricky found a small hole, giving a nod to Chase, before reporting the finding to Sarina over the radio.
“Tires are not supposed to be chan-” An official begins as he walks over.
“Slow leak in the left rear,” Chase cuts him off, rolling the tire over. “We’ll take the penalty.”
Ricky and Chase then climb back on top of the pit box, set for the restart. Now back to last for the green flag, Chase could only take a deep breath and hope for the best. There was still over 100 laps to go. This wasn’t over just yet.
A couple pace laps in the books, and the field was back under green. The tire change was certainly the necessary fix as Sarina began to make up ground immediately, moving from the back of the field to run 13th as of Lap 31. She would fall back a couple spots, though, before the caution flew at Lap 45.
“Where am I?” She questions on the radio, immediately.
“16th,” Ricky answers, feeling pretty satisfied. If they could drive through half of the field in just 20 laps, then certainly another 100 was enough to get back to the front. “You’re doing a great job.”
“I’m trying to push to get up there, but not too hard. We need tires at the end of this thing.” Ricky smiles as he glances over at Chase with a bit of surprise. He could certainly see how much she had grown since their last time working together. it was obvious that both Marcus and Kyle had a hand in teaching patience.
“Do you see why I had no problem with her driving for Kyle?” Chase smiles, nodding his head, as he had seen the change too. Rather than always charging and being determined, she had taken a step back to make sure calculated moves were made, to therefore make sure to complete all the laps.
After a short clean-up, the green flag was back out – but not for long. As Sarina looked to make a move to continue gaining ground, a fellow competitor came down on her, causing her to spin and back it in the wall.
“Shit!” Ricky and Chase both let out together, knowing by the damage that they were done for the night.
“Son of a bitch!” She yells on the radio as she takes the steering wheel off, tossing it on the dashboard. She then climbed from the car, walking over to where the other car had come to rest. “Can’t you see when someone has a nose inside of you? Ridiculous! It’s Lap 46. There are still like 104 laps to go. You don’t need to be driving like an asshole this early!”
She then makes her way into the infield, heading directly to the trailer and inside.
“Welp, that sucks,” Ricky comments as he packs up everything on the pit box.
“We had a good car,” Chase adds as he follows Ricky. “She could’ve gotten back up to Preston easily.” Ricky nods his head in agreement as they reach the hauler. They go to enter, but Chase puts a hand on Ricky’s shoulder.
“I know what she’s like when she’s ma-”
“Just give her some space for a minute, please. Besides, I have a question for you.” Ricky turns around, facing him, as he crosses his arms. “You have an offer from a top-notch driver to work with them on a full-time basis at all the big events and such across the United States. Why haven’t you accepted that?”
“Because I wanted to work with you and Sarina. I told you that, Chase.” Chase nods his head, remembering the discussion.
“What if I told you that you had my blessing? What if I told you that it was fine to separate and you go do your own thing? This Late Model deal that we have was only going to happen, say three or four more times this year. Someone of your talent deserves to be working with a driver every single week, winning races. I can’t hold you back from an opportunity like that. They deserve the same chance that I got, Sarina got.” Ricky smiles a little as he thinks it over.
“I appreciate that, because to be honest, it was the hardest thing to walk awa-”
“Then why did you in the first place?” Ricky’s smile widens as he places a hand on Chase’s shoulder.
“My commitment, my friendship, my loyalty to you. The fact that you’ll always be the little rug rat to me, and I’ll always have a soft spot for you. Maybe I also didn’t want to let go of what we had, either.” Chase smiles, knowing it was pretty special, based on the success both he and Sarina had gotten to enjoy. “Are you absolutely certain about this?”
“Yeah, I am. You’ve earned this, Ricky, and I hope you win a ton of races this year – as long as you don’t beat Sarina too much when she runs a couple for Kyle.” Ricky chuckles as he thinks it over.
“I’ll try not to blow your doors off, how’s that?” Chase laughs. “Promise you’ll always come say hi, though?” Chase nods his head. “Alright, it’s settled.” They then watch the tow truck bring the car back in, setting it down before the hauler, as the pair look it over, before eyes glance at each other. “What are you going to do about that thing?”
“Sarina and I know our way around a racecar. I’m sure we can find something to do in our spare time now, and when it’s ready, we’ll figure out a way to bring it out.” Ricky shakes his head, almost wanting to take a seat in the shop to see the show.
“I don’t know if I could see either of you as a crew chief.” Chase raises his eyebrows, actually intrigued by the idea. It’d certainly be different calling the shots for Sarina.
“We could definitely not see Sarina in tha-”
“Hey now, you don’t give that girl enough credit. You got to remember that she worked on her own stuff for years, and she beat you sometimes.” Chase thinks back, knowing that Ricky was actually right.
They then watch as the trailer doors open and Sarina steps out, changed into a pair of jeans and a t-shirt.
“I’m okay before you ask,” she states, knowing that Chase was probably going to ask that next. “I’m just surprised neither of you came in to say something to me.”
“We got talking,” Chase offers and she nods her head, having seen them together outside the window the whole time.
“Well, I took some time, deep breathes, and realized that not everybody is a smart racecar driver. What else can I say about tonight? We had a good car, and we did everything that we could right. It wasn’t our fault that we had the tire leak, and it wasn’t our fault that he wrecked us. I’m happy with what we did, and ready to move forward.” Chase and Ricky both smile, as neither felt like entering a calm-down session with her.
“There is something we need to tell-” Ricky starts, knowing she had a right to know what he had discussed with Chase.
“I overheard the conversation and my feelings match Chase’s,” she cuts him off, to his surprise a little. “You should’ve taken that opportunity and ran with it. I wish you the best of luck, and I look forward to competing against you at times this year.”
“Promise you’ll take it easy on my driver?” Sarina smiles, knowing already who he was going to be working with anyway.
“Are you kidding me? I know crazy talented Chandler is!” Chase nods his head in agreement. “Besides, when have I ever taken it easy on someone?”
Sunday, January 28, 2018 – No Name, Colorado
Chase and Sarina walk over to where they were supposed to meet up with Dale, as he glances between the pair in a bit of surprise.
“I was beginning to think you weren’t coming,” he comments, as the pair glance at each other, before turning back to him.
“It was a bit of a late night at the Chilly Willy,” Chase offers and Dale nods his head, having been following the updates.
“I heard about that, and hated to see that. I was cheering you on for the greatest comeback ever.” Sarina smiles, as she had already envisioned the headlines after the initial charge halfway up through.
“We had the car,” Sarina comments. “We just failed to teach our competitors how to drive.” Dale chuckles, knowing how that felt at times.
“I see that you’re ready to go,” Dale starts as he notices the skis and poles in Chase’s hands, before his eyes go to Sarina. “Where are yours? I thought you were excited.” Sarina smiles, as she remembered the initial discussions on Friday.
“Trust me – I was all set to hit the slopes with you guys. But, I hate to admit it, I’m a little sore today. So while you guys have some fun, I’m going to go get a nice relaxing massage, manicure, pedicure, and then go soak in the hot tub for awhile.” Dale admittedly was surprised by some of the items on her list, given what he knew about her, but couldn’t argue with her reasoning.
“Well make sure to take it easy, and hope you’re feeling better.”
“Text me if you need me,” Chase adds, giving her a kiss on the cheek.
“Be careful and have fun,” she replies back, giving him a kiss on the lips before walking away. the entire time, Chase’s eyes didn’t leave her as Dale just crossed his arms.
“You know, we can postpone this if you want to go spend tim-” Dale starts.
“Nah, I’m good,” Chase immediately cuts him off as he looks back over at his friend. “Let’s go have some fun.” The pair then make their way out of the lodge, heading towards the lifts to go up the hill.
“It’s okay to admit that you’re deeply in love, can’t take your eyes off of her, want to spend every minute with her, ador-”
“I get it, Dale.” He then glances over as they wait for their lift. “Yeah, I am in love and I would do anything for her. She absolutely is amazing and perfect, and I can’t stop those feelings. I’m not afraid to admit it, okay?” Dale nods his head, accepting, as they get on the lift.
“But you haven’t asked her the important question yet, have you?” Chase lets out a sigh, shaking his head no.
“What does it matter, anyway? As long as two people are happy together in love, isn’t that all that matters? I’m happy, she’s happy – there doesn’t need to anything else said.” Dale keeps his eyes locked on Chase, intrigued by the comments. He always thought Chase would be up for asking the question. Given that he and Sarina had hit two years together, everything they’d been through, and the adoring love – where was the next step? Just like he bugged Martin each time he saw him, Dale wasn’t afraid to bug Chase now. But, he was also able to sympathize if any apprehension, due to his own experience.
“You’re right, as no matter what you choose, as long as you’re both okay with it, then it’s fine. I just don’t want her to begin to wonder whether you’re going to ask or not, and whether you’re committed to her.” Chase was surprised by the comments, given everything that happened, almost letting out a chuckle. “What?”
“I can assure you that there is no way she questions my commitment to her. I have showed that time and time again I am always going to be there by her side. No matter what happened, Dale, I was always committed to her and willing to do what it took for her and I together. Even when I kicked her out, I was longing and ready to work at building that road back together, again. I’ve told her time and time again how much I love her and car-”
“Relax, it’s okay. I understand. You don’t need to be offended.” Chase glances over at Dale, intrigued by the comment.
“It just bothers me that people question that – whether you, Ricky, Ryan, Jimmie – because I haven’t asked her to marry me. What happened to good old fashioned belief in people?” Dale lets out a sigh as he glances around the hill.
“We’ve seen your relationship go through a yo-yo experience. We’re just looking out for you, Chase.” Chase wanted to argue back in response, but he couldn’t. It was the same way that he was always looking out for Sarina.
“Because of everything we’ve gone through and the fact that we’re still together, I don’t question it anymore. I actually think it helped us both because it made us realize how much we love each other, and need each other. We’ve talked about our future together. We’ve talked about being parents one day down the road. I know that she’s in it with me, and that’s what matters to me.” Dale smiles, glad to hear about the commitment, and even discussions of a future together. But it almost left him caught off guard a little bit more.
“Then what’s stopping you from asking her?” Chase glances down at the hills, taking a deep breath. It wasn’t just a simple answer in return as his mind had a series of questions to ask. “You don’t have to tell me, but make sure you think about it for awhile. Sure, people can live together and be in love forever without marriage. But, to be married together, to say your vows and express that before a room full of people, it gives a whole new meaning that I can’t even describe. I was worried, and I was scared because of my parents, and how love wasn’t the easiest at times. Part of me wondered if I should ask Amy, scared to mess it up. But now that we’ve been married for a year, I don’t regret it.” They then hop off the lift together having reached the top of the hill as Dale looks over at Chase. “Are you ready to go down?”
“Yeah.” Chase fixes his goggles and gloves, as he takes a deep breath, clearing his mind. But he knew later on, he would probably be brought back right to this discussion, with a flurry of thoughts and theories to think about.