Sunday October 15 – Talladega Superspeedway
Sarina let out a sigh as she relaxed on the couch, flipping through a random magazine. She didn’t even know why she was awake that early, or still in the motorcoach. However, that’s where she was while Chase was off doing a series of appearances for the sponsors.
She flipped through her latest book of choice – just because it was the next in the stack, glancing over the pages without paying much attention. Though as a page came across her view, she froze immediately. It was an advertisement about NASCAR Champion’s Week festivities coming up next month – no surprise, really. However, the date caught her off-guard.
“November 30? That don’t make sense,” she comments to herself as she grabs her phone. The Cup Series banquet was always on a Saturday and she was certain that date was December 2, having made a note already in her phone due to Snowball Derby qualifying. Double checking the date, she hadn’t gone wrong. “Maybe they made an error…..”
She then opens up Google, typing in “NASCAR Cup Series Banquet 2017” in hopes of finding some sort of results to match her theory. Instead, she was caught off-guard completely. The magazine was right, as one of the first initial searches detailed how NASCAR had changed the date from a Saturday to a Thursday to make the Vegas week shorter on teams.
A smile immediately came across her face – that meant she could go to the banquet, and then head down to Florida for the Snowball Derby weekend festivities. Maybe even Chase could join her down there, too.
The smile left right away, though, as panic set in. She hadn’t planned on the banquet. She hadn’t planned on having to get shoes, her hair done that week, ready – she hadn’t even thought about dresses. What was she going to wear?
Remembering Ryan’s advice, she immediately dialed Emma’s number, in hopes of some answers.
“Well, the good news is you have a whole month to figure that out,” Emma offered after hearing Sarina’s panic story. “We already finalized your truck series dress options down to five different styles – each white in nature, but slightly different. I’m sure we can figure out something for you to wear as you accompany Chase just as well. I mean, he’s not a fancy guy nor would he be too upset by any choice you make so we can make this work. Give me some details you’re thinking….”
“Well, I don’t mean to be typical but let’s keep matching sponsors and go with blue,” Sarina starts, knowing it’d match with NAPA perfectly. “But not as dark a blue as they have – something lighter. I also want to go with something long, flowing, almost like a princess but not quite there. Oh, and not form fitting either. Does this make sense?” Emma laughs as she makes some notes, also including a citation to tell Chase he needed a blue highlight on his tux if he wanted to follow that rule of matching.
“Hey, it gives me somewhere to start with – if anything. Shoulders or no shoulders?” Sarina thought it over. It was her night to look sexy though, right?
“Spaghetti strap, please. I don’t like strapless for fear of falling off – but I don’t want something too thick.”
“Got it. I will look into what I know from some designers, and shoot you some ideas later on this week. Just take a deep breath, and relax. We got this – even if both you and Chase can’t remember that they switched the date. Hey, don’t go telling him that you realized. Let it be a surprise for when he does figure it out.” Sarina smiles, knowing his reaction would probably be priceless.
“Deal. Thank you. I guess Ryan was right after all….” Emma laughs.
“My brother isn’t so bad….”
Sarina wished she was back in the comfort of the motorcoach, relaxing, not having a single care in the world; she’d even take banquet dress worrying over this.
Instead, she sat on top of the 24 pit box, fingers crossed, legs crossed, trying to cross her toes, just hoping for a calm day at Talladega. After the drama that track had delivered in April, she wasn’t looking for a repeat.
Everything started out smoothly as Chase kept himself up front after starting second, staying in the midst of the lead pack while avoiding taking any chances. However, that all changed when it was time for pit stops.
As cars began to peel off for their stops with the stage coming to an end, chaos ensued with contact, followed by cars going every which way. She held her breath as she watched Chase avoid the chaos, darting down pit road as it broke apart behind him.
The 24 team did their stop as scheduled – cleanly, might she add – before he headed out, set to rejoin the pack. It all seemed to be going perfectly…..
“We’re going to have to restart tail of the longest line here,” Alan tells them, after getting word from NASCAR. “They say we pitted after pit road was closed.” Sarina could only let out a sigh. Sure, they had pitted – but how could anybody tell that NASCAR just randomly decided to flick the light from green to red due to a wreck? This also meant that he’d be back in the middle of the eye of the storm. “They need to move that line and light back so you can see it better in turn three. There’s no way that you would know.”
“It crossed my mind,” Chase replies back over the radio. “I thought about trying to get out but it was too late when I saw them wrecking.” Taking a deep breath, it was better safe than sorry – even if it meant there’d be nervous times once they got back going.
“Okay, so come on down now and we’ll get the left side tires so we’ll be penalized for doing the best job that we can.” Sarina had to chuckle at Alan’s approach to handling the chaos at hand.
Hey, least they’d have four new tires compared to some only having two.
Despite her nerves shot up a couple places, Chase was able to hold his ground quite well, and work his way back towards the front of the field into the top-10, getting up to six as the stage was set to come to a close. Another round of stops began, though, and the same chaos ensued, this time involving Jimmie Johnson and Jamie McMurray. Taking a sigh of relief, she was just glad they had avoided trouble so far.
“If we get in a position where we have to pit under green, don’t put yourself in harm’s way,” Alan advises. “Just take another lap.” Sarina couldn’t help but agree as it was about surviving, scoring as many points as possible, and getting to the next round today.
The third and final stage started, and as he had all day, Chase was right in the mix of the battle for the lead. Though with each move he made, it just seemed to not come together. As the caution flew for debris with the laps counting down, she hoped the reset would present the perfect opportunity.
“We will get this,” Eddie D’Hondt encouraged. “We just haven’t found the right dance partner.” She couldn’t help but agree, but saw potential in those starting around him.
Her breath caught in her throat as they went back green, knowing the action was about to pick up with the race nearing its conclusion. She found herself in a mix of nerves, with some cheers even escaping her lips, as everything began to came together. The search for a dance partner came out to be complete, in the form of Ryan Blaney, as the pair went back and forth for the lead with the Penske teammates. It was also a calming sensation seeing that No. 24 Chevrolet lead laps, as he was ahead of both wrecks that took place behind them removing multiple cars.
Taking a deep breath under the latest caution, she knew the intensity was set to ramp up and it was now or never. She just hoped Chase made the right moves.
She watched the shuffle on the restart, seeing Chase just behind the leaders. Down the backstretch with 12 to go, her eyes focused on the television monitor before her. Her breath then hitched in her throat as she watched Joey Logano and Daniel Suarez battle side-by-side for the lead, with Chase diving from the top lane behind them to the bottom to go by them both entering the third turn, before sliding back up to the top to hold the momentum.
“Holy shit!” She let out in disbelief, placing her hand on her chest. “That was damn sexy! Hot damn! But damn, Chase, don’t be doing that to me….”
She hoped that he could just simply stay ahead of them, no more challenges for the lead, just a smooth sailing from here to the end.
That wasn’t meant to be, though, as she watched Joey get a run, followed by Chase getting shuffled back to fourth with eight laps to go. Taking a deep breath, she partially just wanted the race to be over so nerves could return to normal, but she also felt herself on the edge, fingers crossed, knowing what could happen today – finally.
“Come on Chase!” She lets out, hoping it all came together.
With six laps to go down the back and entering turn three, the opportunity to make a move came up. A hole opened up between Kyle Larson and Daniel as they battled for the lead, and Chase had the momentum. He immediately shot for the gap, though before anybody could realize – that hole closed, contact happened. Sarina immediately wanted to throw up, panic, cry, scream as she watched the No. 24 Chevrolet shoot from the bottom of the track to the top, making contact with the outside turn three wall.
“Oh shit!” She lets out as she feels arms wrap around her from behind, glancing over her shoulder to see they belonged to Jordan Allen, who was rubbing her shoulders. “Oh gosh….”
“Breathe, relax….” Jordan encourages as he continues to rub her shoulders. “You heard the radio transmission…” She nods her head, having heard him say the words that he was ‘okay.’
“I can’t believe this…” She tried to take a couple deep breathes, and relax, but the sudden angle of impact, the speed, and seeing the crumpled up car, she was beyond disbelief.
“He’s okay…” Jordan then slowly stands up, holding out a hand for her to grab hold. She grabs it, slowly standing herself. “I’ll walk you back so you can see him….” She simply nods her head, following Jordan’s lead, going through the motions without questions.
She carefully climbs down the ladder from the pit box, glancing at one of the team’s televisions screens in the process. She watches him slowly get out from where the car stopped in turn four, slowly walking down the banking. She takes a couple more deep breaths, saying a couple silent prayers of thanks, before following Jordan’s lead quietly.
The entire walk to the infield care center was quiet as she didn’t know what to say; she almost felt numb in that moment. The wait for the ambulance to come back, followed by them checking him over felt like it was going on forever – even if it was just a span of perhaps 15 to 20 minutes.
After feeling like an eternity had passed, she watches the doors open and he walks out, instantly walking over to her, wrapping his arms around her shoulders.
“I’m okay,” he simply tells her, knowing how freaked out she could get about wrecks from the last Talladega experience. “I’m okay…” She looks up into his brown eyes, feeling every emotion run through her, as she wraps her arms around him to hold him close.
“Are you sure?” She questions as he lays her head on her shoulder.
“I wouldn’t lie to you. I’m fine. It took my breath away for a minute, but I’m fine…” He then lets go, which she follows suit slowly. She watches as he goes over and answers some questions for the reporters, before swiftly returning back to her arms. “Ready to go back to the motorcoach?”
“Absolutely. It’s time for me to take care of you…” He then rolls his eyes as they begin the walk together.
“I told you, I’m fin-”
“You’re going to be sore as hell tomorrow after how hard you hit, whether you want to admit that to me or not. You also did an incredible, beyond admirable job, dealing with my issues this weekend. It’s time that I repay you. For once, let me take care of you…” He nods his head, accepting, knowing he wasn’t going to win this fight.
Once back in the motorcoach, she got him a bottle of water, helped him change out of his firesuit, made him a nice snack, followed by a full back massage.
“I’m spoiled….” He lets out as she continues to work the muscles.
“You deserve it,” she tells him, kissing his cheek. He then glances up at her with a smile.
“You absolutely deserve to be repaid for your hard work and dedication, and I just want to love you that much more…” He then lets out a sigh as he lays his head back down. “But that soreness is creeping in…”
“Then let me do all the pleasuring…” She then rolls him over so he’s on his back, facing her directly, as he looks on intrigued. “Besides, I owe you…”
“You don’t owe me a single thing. I would do what I did for you 10 times over, sweetheart.” She smiles, kissing his lips lightly.
“That doesn’t mean that I can reward your hard work in taking care of me, and your hard work in coming oh so close today…” She then reaches for the edges of his boxers, slipping them down. “Now, relax…”
“How can I relax when I know….where….you’re….going?” She then laughs as she rubs his shoulders once again, brushing her body against his. “Sarina….”
“Yes, Chase?” He then takes her hand, placing it over his crotch, knowing her plan already.
“Stop being a damn tease and deliver on your promise. Help make the pain of Talladega disappear, please…” She then smiles, kissing his lips as she rubs him lightly.
“Your wish is my command, sweet dear…”
Monday, October 16
Sarina makes her way to the back door of the 5/24 shop, knocking on the door.
With concerns still stemming from how he was feeling, she had taken the liberty of dropping him off at the shop while on the way to Kyle Busch Motorsports herself. Now that she was done everything for the day, she had come back to grab him – but also make a stop of her own.
She watches the door open slowly, flashing a million dollar smile immediately.
“No matter what you say or do, you cannot sneak in through the shop,” Chad Avrit tells her as she just laughs.
“I can’t even seduce you to do that?” She questions, causing an intrigued glance to form on his face.
“You’d never….” She laughs and shakes he head.
“You’re right, but I may seduce your driver.” Chad knew that quite the possibility as he crossed his arms.
“Chase is still upstairs doing whatever Chase does….” She figured that as she knew that she was early.
“Is Jordan around?” Chad glances behind him, seeing Jordan working on the interior section of their car for Martinsville in a couple weeks. “Can he come see me, please?”
“I’ll go ask…” Chad then closes the door, leaving Sarina to stand there and wait by herself.
She knew she wasn’t taking the smoothest approach in doing this, but she had to say something after Sunday. Lost in the chaos, she never spoke to Jordan after he led her back to the care center.
“Hey Sarina,” Jordan comments as he opens the door, closing it behind him as he steps outside.
“Hey,” she replies. “I didn’t get you in trouble, did I?” Jordan shakes his head.
“I hadn’t taken my break yet…” She then takes a deep breath, debating the best way to say this.
“I just wanted to stop by and say thank you. I mean it – thank you so much. Thank you for holding me, thank you for your words, thank you for comforting me, thank you for leading me there, and thank you. I was totally lost in the moment and didn’t say a single word….” Jordan looks at her with eyes of sympathy. He understood where she was coming from.
“I knew you were scared and worried; I could see it by your reaction when he hit the wall. Hey, it’s understandable, though. You love and care about him. I knew the best thing in that moment was to offer support for you.”
“But you went above and beyon-”
“Any of the guys would’ve done the same on this team. We’re family, and we’re there for each other. Alan was there on the radio for Chase with Eddie, and I was just the first one to step in for you. Josh mentioned to me that he was about to grab you and take you, but realized that I had you already. You don’t need to thank me. I’m glad as much as you are that he is okay.” Sarina nods her head, having said a couple more thank you prayers since.
“You do a great job at making sure the interior of that car is done right and he’s kept safe. It shows. Thank you…” He smiles as he pulls her into a hug.
“It’s part of the job, and I love him just as much as anybody. But you’re welcome.”
They then separate, talking for a bit longer, before she lets him go so he doesn’t get in trouble for too long of a break.