Short Track Lovin’ – Chapter 134: Her Trial and Those Nerves….

Wednesday, August 17 – Indianapolis, Indiana

Chase thins out the creases in his shirt once again, as he lets out a sigh. He wished he was in Bristol right now, but instead he had this to deal with.

“Thanks for coming,” he comments with a glance at his parents as they walk towards the court room doors.

“We’ve always got your back,” Cindy says as she follows him inside. “We would’ve been here whether you asked or not.” Chase smiles, knowing that was true. He just wished Sarina was there too, but she was in Bristol getting ready for practice.

“My phone is turned on silent. I told Sarina I’d text her updates, as long as she let me know how practice went. Hopefully, we’re out of here quickly…” He had already planned to fly to Bristol that night and be there for the truck race, no matter what. He wanted to be there to support his girl.

He heard from her the discussion with Kyle, followed by the extended meeting at Kyle Busch Motorsports on Monday. Everybody knew her short track pedigree and how she could master any track just like that – it was why she was so good behind the wheel of a late model. She also already had laps at Bristol with a late model and ran well. Now knowing the pressure to make the playoffs was picking up, it was now or never to win – and this was the best opportunity looking at the stretch of races.

He had comforted her as much as he could, assuring her that she had the ability to get the job done, but also to relax and just do her thing and it’d pan out right. He also texted Kyle that it may be a good idea to calm off a little as pressure wasn’t needed necessary right now with everything else going on.

Though now being in Indiana set for the first day of another trial spell, he wished with all of his might that he was in Bristol right now by her side, supporting her. Why couldn’t they done this a day before or a day later?

“There he is….” Chase hears, recognizing the voice – Eddie D’Hondt – as he enters the court room, instantly glancing over with a surprise as he sees the whole team sitting there.

“What are you guys doing here?” He questions as the team looks towards the boss. Alan was supposed to mention that they were going to be attending.

“She set up a bomb to blow all of our asses up,” Alan starts. “We’re in this as much as you, so we wanted to make sure and be here. We have to make sure she pays for what she did.” Chase admired the crew’s reasoning, but still felt bad for taking them away from focusing on things in the shop. He knew things were crazy right now at Hendrick with making sure he qualified for the playoffs, and were ready when they started.

“You guys are already working crazy hours, and now you’re putting in flight time and time away from your families, the team that you don’t need to be doing.”

“This is coming from the same guy that said we stick together no matter what and have each other’s back, right?” Jared Seate questions. “No matter what you say, Chase, we felt the need and right to be here. What if – Never mind, I don’t want to picture that happening. But still…” Chase lets out a sigh, knowing that Jared was right in his words – seeing the bit of fear the guys felt in the moment. It was another byproduct of the decision he made….

“Well, I appreciate you being here regardless, and don’t worry – she’s not getting away with this.” Chase then takes his seat, with his parents sitting on either side of him, as he quickly sends a good luck text to Sarina, knowing practice is about to start.

“All rise!” The clerk then states, causing Chase to focus his attention forward as he stands up. “The honorable Judge Mansions preceding!” The female judge walks in, taking her seat on the podium as Chase focuses his eyes on her. He wanted to read her, see whether she was someone that had sympathy or would lay down every ounce of the law in a second.

“You may be seated,” she states, as everyone in the room sits down. “Except for Ms. Alison Stevenson…” Alison remains standing, glancing over at Chase with a wink and smile, before looking back forward. Chase could only roll his eyes, and feel a bit of vomit rising at that thought. “We’re simply here to see how you plead to the charges, which seems to be a decent list. I am going to go through them and you will simply say guilty or not guilty, understood?”

“Yes ma’am,” Allison replies as Chase keeps his eyes locked forward, not wanting to take another glance at her.

“On the charge of attempted murder in a public place including over 100 people, how do you plead?” Everybody knew that charge surrounded the bomb that went off in the garage, as some of the crew guys still shivered at the thought. Jared couldn’t stop himself from asking the what if question, either.

“Guilty.” A series of gasps in surprise can be heard throughout the room in response to the charge as Chase glances back at the crew guys surprised. Perhaps this was going to be easier than expected….

“On the charge of poisoning Mr. Chase Elliott, how do you plead?” Chase sits back, closing his eyes as he wishes he could forget how sick he felt that afternoon, and continued to question why he let her play him and not do something sooner.

“Guilty.” Chase was once again surprised, but not willing to argue. It was nice to see everything going to plan.

“On the charge of kidnapping Mr. Elliott, how do you plead?” It was intriguing to hear those words used, given that Chase had voluntarily followed her helper to that location. However, he also did recall being held there against will with the door locked. There was also the fact the state attorney promised she was going to try and catch Allison on every charge possible.

“Not guilty – he came voluntarily.” Chase lets out a sigh, having expected an answer of that magnitude. However, he wasn’t going to worry about it. There was enough years with the other two charges combined.

“Your honor, my client has pled guilty to both charges due to being forced to follow orders from another female in this equation,” Allison’s lawyer speaks up, catching Chase’s attention as a smile forms. There was no question who that other party was, either.

“A plea deal was offered for the informatio-” The attorney starts, which Chase recalled the phone call conversation.

“My client should not serve any time for her wrongdoings simply due to how she was forced by another individual!” Laughter escaped people in the room in response to that, casing the judge to hit her hammer to quiet them down.

“Your honor, she caused Mr. Elliott to be hospitalized almost for a full week, knocked out for almost a whole day. She also caused fear among any person standing in the garage that weekend, which reached the 100s, but more specifically the entire team that works with Mr. Elliott. Just because someone was forced, she shouldn’t be allowed to escape every charge.” There were people who were almost set to cheer at the rebuttal, though stopped themselves as they saw the hammer being raised again.

“Any outbursts from here on out and you will be kicked out of my court room, possibly held in contempt of court,” Judge Mansions says, causing a frozen appearance to go over the room. “A trial will be held to determine whether a sentence should be levied against, and to what extent. We will begin with Allison Stevenson stating what she did, and why, before going from that point with whatever else is felt necessary. Jury or no jury? Media block or none?”

“We would like to keep the media out of this due to being a high profile case,” the attorney states, which Chase had his fingers crossed for. There was going to be enough for a mess caused by the Chris trial in Florida.

“Once again – special treatment for celebrity status?” The lawyer questions. “And we would like a jury, please.”

“The request for a media block has been denied as being high profile, the public does deserve re-assurance,” Judge Mansions says, as Chase lets out a sigh. It was going to be a media mess in the garage for a good bit. “Jury selection will be done, and then we will begin as stated. Has the individual responsible for the threats been arrested?”

“The paperwork is currently being processed as we speak,” the attorney reveals as Chase could only shakes his head. He knew that Bethany would be going into hiding with the thought of being captured – that or expediting whatever plan she had been cooking up in her meetings with Chris. Either way, he immediately found his fingers typing away on his phone quietly to Sarina with an update, including a fair stern warning.

“Thank you. Court adjourned!”

Everybody immediately files out of the court room as Chase glances at the time, figuring out in his head when they’d land in Bristol. Perhaps he’d actually get there in time for qualifying now.

“Surprised by her confession?” Bill questions, catching Chase’s attention as they walk out of the court room.

“Not one bit – Sarina and I figured there was a connection,” Chase answers, remembering their conversation. He also remembered another conversation with Sarina in the timing of the photo being sent, along with a comment traded. “She’s been dropping hints to Sarina for awhile now. It was how Sarina got her hands on the photo that weekend…”

“So she was going to use Allison to break you two up?” Chase nods his head, remembering the comment that Sarina mentioned from Bethany.

“On the first day of Chris’ trial when I wasn’t able to be there, Bethany mentioned something about how I may get bored or annoyed, and stray from her. That very same day was when I first encountered Allison at the Hooter’s Pageant.” Bill shakes his head in disbelief as they reach the car.

“At least Sarina was smart and listened to you and trusted you….” Chase nods his head as he climbs in the car. Though letting out a sigh, he couldn’t let it escape him that it took some convincing from a third party as she was almost set to run away.  “Did she do well in practice?” Chase glances at the results, knowing right away that his dad was trying to get his mind off of what happened.

“Fourth quickest. The boss was first with Bell third. They’ve got some quick trucks…..”

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

With both practices in the books, Sarina found herself leaning against the truck, awaiting for qualifying to begin. She kept glancing at her watch, checking the time, remembering the latest text from Chase – he was supposed to be on his way. She couldn’t help but glance towards the gates to see whether he was walking through them. She knew within five minutes of the session, the gates would close and he would be stuck on the outside until the session was over.

Crossing her fingers, she wanted to see her man before then.

She was trying not to be nervous, but she couldn’t help but remember the words chance to win, playoffs, short track queen, your wheel house that had been repeated by crew members, Marcus, Kyle, and the media entering the day. It was like everybody expected her to come in, run well, and battle Kyle for the win – just like her late model short track days.

Nobody understood the difference between the trucks and late models, it seemed. Nobody understood that she was a rookie still trying to learn. Nobody understood that pressure would drive her insane.

“Surprise!” She hears as a pair of arms wrap around her waist, instantly pulling her close. She immediately smiles as she recognized the voice and feeling right away. It was like every bit of anxiety she was feeling escaped immediately, too.

“Thank you….” She then spins around, facing him, wrapping her arms around him.

“Did you really need me that badly?” She nods her head as he keeps her held close.

“You wouldn’t believe the questions in the media center….” He then steps back, looking at her surprised. He could only connect those questions to everything going on with Chris and Allison. “Everybody just assumes that I’m going to be in contention to win because I know short tracks, and it’s Kyle Busch Motorsports equipment. Like, I didn’t need to hear that. I can do that enough myself!” Chase then pulls her back close, running his hands up and down her back.

“Take a deep breath, relax….” He then pauses, looking into her eyes. “What did we talk about this week? What have we talked about every time something like this comes up?” She closes her eyes, remembering their conversations.

“Take a deep breath, relax, be calm, forget the outside world, focus on myself, and just do my thing because no matter what, it’ll play out how it is supposed to.” He nods his head as he pulls her back close, rubbing her back once again.

“Don’t let it eat at you. Your belief in yourself is all you need. Just focus on that, Marcus and everything will work out. You’ve had a great rookie season, showing improvement every week. Just keep doing that, and you’ll eventually get to where everybody thinks you should be. They keep forgetting that you’re just fresh out of late models, and it’s not just going to come to you. Not everybody is a William Byron.”  She then glances at him.

“….or a Chase Elliot-”

“Hey now, I made some costly mistakes when I first moved up, too, and tore up some equipment. I wasn’t no angel by any means.” She shrugs her shoulders, not too sure about that, as she remembered always hearing amazing things. “Look at Joey Logano, though. Look at Truex. Look at Keselowski. Heck, look at your car owner or even Bell. Those guys took time to come into their own. Bell had a bunch of horrendous moments last year, but came into his own as the year closed. Kyle got sent from one team to another due to how he was. It’ll come…”

“I hope you’re rig-”

“I know I’m right. Just believe, okay?” She nods her head as she lays it on his shoulder. “So, we were right about Allison….” She smiles immediately.

“I’m just glad that she had the courage to say something. But to not want any jail time at all?” She then stands straight up, staring at Chase in the eyes. “Are you sure she’s not actually insane?” Chase laughs.

“Hey now, I never said that she wasn’t, either. We saw what she did….” Sarina nods her head. “Regardless, it feels good that we’ve got them on all angles. See, things are starting to work out…”

“It’s a start, I guess…” He then rubs her shoulders once again.

“Believe in yourself – you’re going to have a great night, and the rest of stuff will fall into place. If it makes you feel better, think about the vacation coming up….” She smiles, remembering that discussion. She wasn’t absolutely certain about doing a vacation alongside Ryan, given the fear with what pranks may come, but she was ready to get away and have some fun for a couple weeks.

“What are you most excited for – Amsterdam, Germany, or the Belgium Grand Prix?” Chase thinks it over, remembering the planning that he and Ryan broke down earlier in the week together in places to hit up. It had already been an almost disaster trying to get passes to go to the Formula 1 event, but it paid off to have connections – thanks Jeff!

“Amsterdam looks like it’s going to be amazing with all the places that Ryan has figured out.” Sarina just shakes her head.

“You boys are just excited to try the different beers…” He then chuckles, shrugging his shoulders. He couldn’t deny it…

“It’s going to be a good time regardless, right?” She then rolls her eyes, already figuring she’d be babysitting them at one point. “What about you?”

“I actually can’t wait to go to the Belgium Grand Prix, to be honest. I’m always for exploring different forms of racing, and I’ve never been to a Formula 1 event. I’m ready to get up close and personal for a change.” Chase then thinks things over, pondering some thoughts…

“Maybe we can get the chance for you to sit in a car.” Her eyes open wide immediately and Chase makes a mental note to get a hold of Jeff or maybe Tony to see if he could pull that favor off, too. “I said maybe…strong maybe. I mean, I don’t know them. It’s going to take some convincing…”

“Have I told you today that you’re perfect and amazing?” He just rolls his eyes as she kisses his lips. “I got to go qualify. We’ll get back to these plans later, okay?” He nods his head as she heads off. He could only smile seeing the hop in her step, knowing their conversation had been perfect.

Now they just needed the bubbly attitude to carry them through the night….

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

Chase cautiously walks back to the garage area, seeing Sarina climb out of the truck, throwing her gloves back in frustrated. She then takes her helmet off, setting it down lightly – she never threw that no matter her anger due to how she cherished it – before letting out a sigh. She grabbed the bottle of water left on the truck by Marcus, downing the entire bottle, before chucking it across the pit area.

The race had started out well as she had started fourth, running up front right there with Kyle and Christopher. However, near the end of the second stage, she suffered a pit road penalty – crew member over the wall too soon – which set her back in the field. She pushed as hard as she could to make up the lost ground, ending up 15th.

Chase cautiously walks over, slowly wrapping his arms around her, as he lays her head on her shoulder. If it had been anybody except him, he knew she would’ve snapped around and chopped their head off. But being that it was him, she actually laid back into his arms a little.

“You did what you had to do,” he starts. “It’s not your fault that you got the penalty. It’s not your fault that you finished where you did. You did what you needed to do, and that’s all you can ask as a driver.” She sighs, knowing that he was right – no matter how angry she was.

“How could they not get that they jumped over the wall too soon?” She questions as Chase had to shrug his shoulders. He remembered instantly cursing on the pit box when he heard the call.

“They’re always trying to get that advantage of being as quick as possible. The one guy just timed it a little wrong…” She wanted to scream, possibly snap the head off of that crew member, but she knew that wouldn’t solve anything.

“I so badly wanted to do well. I so badly wanted to be up there in the top-five. I so badly wanted to win…”

“I know, and you did exactly what you needed to do. It sucks, but that’s racing and shit happens. These guys have done a great job all year. I bet that crew member feels worse than you do right now. You guys have a couple more races – you can make the playoffs. Just take a deep breath, and put your best foot forward as you can do this.” He then kisses her cheek.

“Thank you…” He nods his head as he lets her go, letting her walk up into the hauler to change as he lets out a sigh.

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Short Track Lovin’ – Chapter 128: Overton’s 150

Saturday, July 29

 

Sarina lays there, quietly, eyes locked on Chase as he lies beside her, sleeping away.

She had woken up a couple hours ago, grabbed some breakfast and a shower, before returning back to bed to lie beside him. She didn’t want to disturb him, knowing that he needed his sleep as the focus was put on him getting better.

Taking a deep breath, she couldn’t let everything that they’d been through escape her mind. Though despite everything, he put his full trust in her, promised to always love her, and would do anything for her. On top of that, he had convinced his parents to give her a second chance.

She couldn’t get it through her mind everything that he had done, for her. He stood up to everyone with her brother. He allowed Allison to inject the needle, instead of cheating. He always found the small time of day to reach out to her. Rather than be at home this weekend where he belonged after the week he’d been through, he was there with her instead.

Letting out a sigh, it was hard to believe this was happening before her. She never got this lucky in her life. It was always when one thing came together, she was waiting for the other shoe to drop. But yet, here she was, under contract with the top team in the truck garage and dating the sweetest guy ever. For the first time ever, it felt everything with happiness was just within reach.

“Can I help you?” His voice freezes her thoughts as she looks into his brown eyes.

“No, I’m good,” she replies as a smile forms on her lips.

“You’re just staring at me for no reason?” She nods her head. “How long have you been laying here like this?” She was almost afraid to offer her answer.

“An hour or so. You were sleeping, I didn’t want to disturb you, but I didn’t want to leave you.” She then reaches over, rubbing his shoulder. “Relax, it’s fin-”

“You were spaced out at first, though.” He then brushes her brown hair out of her face. “What’s on that mind of yours?”

“I am just thinking how lucky and spoiled I am to have an amazing guy like you in my life.” He then looks at her with surprise as he rolls over onto his back.

“I’m just an ordinary guy who happens to go fast for a living.” She then chuckles, causing him to look back her way. “What?”

“Ordinary guy? Have you been outside of your own little universe lately, Chase?” His eyes widen even more surprise.

“Listen, just because I may be a little fam-”

“That’s not what I’m talking about, Prince Charming.” He then freezes, caught off-guard by the comment. “I’m talking about how sweet you are. I’m talking about how caring you are. I’m talking about how you’d do anything for me. I’m talking about how we’ve been through everything, and yet you’re still here beside me 100% committed. I’m talking about how you stood up to Alison, for us. There are very few guys in the world that can equal that level of charm and sweetness, honey. I’m gonna say that you rank up there in the 5% range.” He then rolls his eyes.

“Listen, I’m nowhere near perfec-”

“I didn’t say you were, Chase. But you’re damn close to that – at least to me, and a lot closer than a lot of people.” He then rolls back on his side so he can look right into her green eyes.

“So you’ve been lying here for the past hour contemplating all that?” She nods her head. “Why?”

“I’ve never ever felt this right and perfect in a moment with someone. I’ve never felt this type of love before, or felt that I was wort-”

“Excuse me?” He then scoots closer to her, wrapping an arm around her as he pulls her close. “Don’t you ever dare say that you’re not worthy of being loved. Sure, you had a rough hand. Sure, you had things go off plan. If anything, it makes you worthy so you can feel what you’ve been missing all these years.” She then lets out a sigh.

“I’ve made a bunch of mistakes, thoug-”

“I’ve made mistakes, too. We all make mistakes every day. Do you want to know my response? Accept your mistakes, admit that you were wrong, and learn from it so you do not do it again. That’s why when you lied to me under those circumstances, I gave you the second chance with the understanding to not repeat that mistake. Sarina, you’re a beautiful young lady and there’s nobody that could tell me different in loving you.” He then leans in and kisses her lips, as she smiles back in response.

“How do you always know what to say?” He smiles as he takes her hand, placing it on his chest.

“I speak from the heart with every bit of honesty that I have. It’s okay to open up and be honest. It’s okay to be vulnerable, and it’s okay to express feelings.  It actually feels good.” She then smiles, nodding her head.

“I’ll make sure to give it a try then.” He then lets her go, sitting up in the bed as he glances at the clock.

“Don’t you have to qualify soon?” She then lets out a sigh, nodding her head. As much as she loved racing her truck, she wouldn’t mind lying around with Chase all day.

“Yep.” She then stands up, heading to the closet to grab her firesuit, as Chase gets up behind her. She then spins around, surprised.

“I am coming to watch you qualify, followed by seeing the guys before final practice. Then we can chill and wait till your race, which I am sitting on your pit box.” She was even more surprised by the assertion in his voice.

“Oh really? Are you sure you’re up to all that?” He nods his head as he pulls the drawer open, grabbing a pair of jeans. “Are you sure that your parents will let you do that?” He then glances over surprised.

“I’m an adult. I can do what I want…” She then rolls her eyes.

“Cindy is going to put up a fight…” He then pulls the jeans up, before walking over to her and stealing a kiss.

“Tough for her. I’ll be fine.” He then goes to find a shirt, as she focuses back on getting ready for the upcoming qualifying session.

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

Chase stood on pit road, satisfied with the session as he took a glance at the scoring pylon. A solid eighth-place starting spot was a good start as it was going to be a long race, with drama all the way around. As long as she played it cool, and Marcus was good with his adjustments, she’d be there at the end in contention to win.

After sharing a couple comments between them, he gave her a kiss and headed away. He knew that she had to talk for a bit about Marcus in regards to the session and their race strategy, so it was time to take advantage of the time that he had. There was a crew of guys who needed to see their driver for themselves as he made his way to the trailer.

He gives a wave to a couple other Hendrick Motorsports guys hanging around, before opening the door and heading inside.

“So we’re going with this set-up, followed by this one?” Josh questions as Alan nods his head. “Got it!”

“Does that mean we have lots of work to do between runs?” Jared Seate wonders as Chase crosses his arms, clearly not noticed by the guys with his entry.

“Oh Jared, you never want to do much work, huh?” Chase then joins in, catching a bunch of surprised glances.

“Chase!!” A couple of the crew guys let go, before tackling him with hugs.

“Easy guys….” Alan tries to calm them off with a laugh.

“You know that for you, I’ll always put in a full day’s work,” Jared then comments as Chase rolls his eyes.

“What am I? Chopped liver?” Justin Allgaier, who was filling in for Chase, questions as Chase laughs.

“Please tell me that you’re here to get rid of this little short ass.” Chase laughs once again as he glances between them. He knew the pair had a history together as Jared came over from JR Motorsports.

“Unfortunately, you’re stuck with him for the rest of the weekend,” Chase comments as Jared lets out a sigh. chase couldn’t help but agree with him as he wanted to be racing more than anything. But given how he was feeling earlier that morning and knowing that the feeling would probably come back, he knew he wasn’t ready for 400 miles tomorrow.

“You’re stuck with me, Jared!” Justin says as he pulls Jared close, causing a series of laughs through the trailer.

“So if you’re standing here, you can’t feeling that badly….” Jared Erspamer then joins in the conversation, catching Chase’s attention. “Of course, a little birdie told me that you’ve been here all weekend.”

“He’s kidding, right?” Jared Seate asks and Chase shakes his head no. “And you just came to see us now? How rude!”

“Did you watch Full House?” Alan questions as Jared smiles.

“Oh puhleeeeze, who didn’t watch that show?” Alan just rolls his eyes.

“For the record,  I didn’t even leave the motorcoach at all yesterday so you weren’t just left out for no reason,” Chase starts, catching their attention. “I didn’t want to stay home because I wanted to be here to support Sarina. That said, I did not feel up to moving at all yesterday. As it is, this tour here, followed by the truck race, will probably eat up whatever energy I have made up. But I knew I couldn’t go a whole weekend without seeing you guys.”

“He loves us!” Jared Seate lets out, now taking a turn wrapping his arms around Chase.

“I thought you already would’ve figured that out a long time ago….”

“To be honest, speaking on behalf of everybody here, there’s nothing that we could do to make up for what you did last weekend,” Alan starts as he focuses his eyes on Chase. “I mean that from the bottom of my heart and we all discussed that when Josh and I told everybody. You put your ass on the line for us. That’s more than we can say for a lot of people that we’ve worked together, and we thank you.” The rest of the crew guys nod their heads in agreement with the boss.

“Well, you guys are like family to me,” Chase replies. “I mean, we spend the whole year together on this traveling circus, getting close, getting to know each other and each other’s families. You guys sacrifice all this time in your lives so you can make us the best that we can be on Sundays – basically, to the point where most people just give me the credit. I’ve always said that I wouldn’t change a single thing about this team, and I meant that.”

“So we’re not going to get traded around ever and sent away when the playoffs start like some teams?” Jared Erspamer questions and Chase shakes his head.

“Never, ever,” he assures them. “For the record, we work as a team and we do everything together – come high or low water. If things go wrong, we all accept the blame, work to improve, and go forward. That’s how it’s always been, right?” The guys nod their head. “So for that reason, you better give it your 110% for Justin on Sunday, okay?”

“Yes boss!” The guys let out together as Chase makes his way to the front of the group, wrapping his arms around Alan and Josh.

“And to both of you, don’t ever change. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Thank you for help with my absolutely crazed plan and thanks for getting me the help when I needed it – twice, now. It really  means a lot to know how much you both care. And Alan, let’s not meet like that ever again.” Alan nods his head.

“I don’t want to repeat that, ever,” Alan assures him. “I love ya, buddy. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.”

“You’re coming back next week though, right?” Jared Seate questions, as Chase looks over at him.

“Are you really trying to get rid of me that badly?” Justin asks as Jared shrugs his shoulders.

“There was a reason I was glad to be leaving JRM for Hendrick….” Justin looks on shocked as the guys let out a bunch of cheers and laughs.

“If everything goes according to plan, I will be back next weekend at Watkins Glen,” he assures Jared, who lets out a big yes.

“Can you please convince Dale that he should work with us both so I can torture him?” Justin asks as Chase laughs.

“Unfortunately, I can’t do that. He was the one that convinced Sarina to call me, so I ow-”

“Save me this weekend?” Jared interrupts as Chase rolls his eyes.

“You’re on your own, this time buddy,” Chase tells him. “Cash in your favor another week. I’ll see ya boys later.”

Chase then heads out of the hauler, a smile firmly planted on his face. He couldn’t wait until he was back in the saddle next weekend.

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

Chase sits on the pit box, intently watching the action on track as he watches the laps count closer to the end of the event. Sarina had done a great job all day, running with the front runners, keeping herself in contention for a good finish, and possibly a win. Though taking a deep breath, he knew anything was possible on a late-race restart – good and bad.

“Oh shit!” He lets out as he watches the No. 18 truck go sliding up the track in turn one, hitting the outside wall. He watched them go into the corner with Chase Briscoe taking her and Kaz Grala three-wide. Briscoe then caught the corner of Kaz, which caused Kaz to hit her and send her up into the wall.

“I’m okay….” Sarina lets out immediately on the radio, using every ounce of energy to not start blasting both Briscoe and Grala over the radio.

“10-4,” Marcus replies. “You did an amazing job all day. Nothing you could do there. Just one of those deals. We’ll get them in a couple weeks.”

“Thanks for the amazing truck, boss.”

Short Track Lovin’ – Chapter 125: “Did you see that?”

Sunday, July 23 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway

“Did you see that?” Jared Erspamer asks as he glances back from the car. “Did you see what the stall looks like? We were just standing there….” The other crew members glance around confused, as they continue pushing.

“Where’s Josh?” Jordan Allen questions, noticing the car chief was missing.

“He went with Chase and Alan,” Chad Avrit informs them. “Chase didn’t look good….” Jordan then stops pushing as they reach the hauler, looking back at the guys.

“You know, something didn’t seem right pre-race, either. I mean, he was quieter than normal and a glance in his eyes seemed off, too. Plus, Josh stayed by the car when normally it’s just myself and Chase.”

“Are you saying that Josh and Alan knew something was up?” Jordan shrugs his shoulders.

“Regardless, it just all seems odd – especially after that.”

“We’re just supposed to load up, right?” Jared Seate questions and Jordan nods his head, remembering Josh’s words. “Okay….” Jordan then goes to head inside the hauler, when he stops and glances back.

“This is even more odd,” he summarizes, catching the crew’s attention. “Why aren’t the engineers looking over the notes?” Jared shrugs his shoulders. “Guess they will at the shop. Alright, not my responsibility…” He then continues into the trailer, set to go upstairs and open the door.

“Jordan?” Jordan then stops and turns around. “Text message from the boss…” Jordan then walks back to Jared, taking his phone as he opens the message. He then shakes his head in disbelief.

“Of course….” He then types a message quickly, before looking over the guys. “Load up quickly, please. We got somewhe-”

“Poisoned again?” Jared Erspamer questions, having that fear based on his own experience prior. Jordan just nods his head before going back into the hauler. “Ah shit…”

“Why do I have a feeling that was meant for us truly?” Jared Seate asks as he glances back at the garage once again, thanking his lucky stars.

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

The trip to the care center did not last long as they were immediately transferred to Methodist Hospital of Indiana. Alan and Josh could only feel their hearts pounding harder with worry.

Once at the hospital, the pair found themselves in a waiting room with six sets of eyes staring them down – Sarina and Chase’s parents. Alan takes a couple deep breath, and explained everything. He told them Chase’s original confession, followed by the plan, and followed by how things played out.

“I should’ve done something,” Sarina says quietly as she looks at the floor. “I knew something was off….”

“But you did nothing?” Cindy questions as she looks over. “Seriously, Sarina?”

“Cindy…” Bill warns as Cindy keeps her eyes focused on Sarina.

“I asked him if he was alright and he told me he was fine,” Sarina answers. “I asked him more than once, Cindy. It wasn’t like I just stood there and let this happen. I literally asked him last night, along with a couple times today. I thought maybe I was just off on radar, or something – I don’t know. Maybe I should’ve pus-”

“Oh now you think of that…” Cindy comments as she sits back in the seat.

“To be honest, I noticed something too,” Bill admits, causing Cindy to look his way. “And to be honest, I asked and he said he was a little sick. I suggested that he tells the guys, and have a stand-by driver. I just thought it was a stomach bug. I could’ve never predicted this.” Bill then looks straight at Cindy. “So before you chew up Sarina’s ass for no reason, think about that. Besides, that’s not what’s important right now…” Cindy then sits back in the chair, crossing her arms.

“I just can’t believe that we’re sitting in a hospital once again not even a month later and he’s fighting for everything that he’s got….” A stray tear falls down her face and she quickly wipes it away. “I just want my baby to be okay…” Bill wraps an arm around her, pulling her close.

“He will be, Cindy. No matter what…”

“Do you want anything?” Josh asks as he looks at Sarina and she shakes her head no.

“I just can’t believe this….” She comments with a sigh. “We knew shit was still possible with her and Bethany running around, but yet we let it happen. I should’ve went with him to qualifying.”

“It’s not your fault,” Alan assures her as he pats her shoulder. “To be honest, I screwed up, too, probably worse than any of you. I could see the symptoms right before me. I even suggested that we just throw the race totally and get him help. I should’ve done that. I should’ve never let him go through with this plan – no matter how clever Josh was in thinking it.”

“He’s right,” Josh adds. “I mean, there’s two hours there that we let it eat at him and make it worse. As they say, time is the most important in these situations – and we fucked up. We should’ve convinced him to tell the authorities, or to go about it another way.”

“Are the guys okay?” Bill wonders, having heard about the bomb going off.

“Everybody accounted for and safe. I had them moving away from there pushing the car to the trailer.” Josh then glances at the latest text from Jordan. “They’re curious already, by the way.”

“As expected,” Alan summarizes. “We’ll have to explain it to them and why we kept it a secret, even though it sounds so stupid now.” Alan then runs his hands through his thin hair, letting out a sigh. “I’m sorry Bill, Cindy, Sarina….”

“You did what you thought was right and what he’d allow you within the window he gave you,” Bill comments as he looks over at the crew chief. “Stop beating yourself up. It’s not going to help. Just focus on him. Focus on making sure he gets better.” Alan nods his head, knowing he wasn’t taking any more chances.

The group then glances up as they watch door open and see a female walk through, followed by calling over to them. She then takes a seat in the chair before the group, which could only add to the concerns that they were having. Alan knew that if the doctor was taking this careful measure entering, she’d have a lot to say and it wouldn’t be pretty.

“My name is Demetra Manning,” she states as she looks at each of the individuals. “I’m the toxicology expert for the hospital, and in charge of poison control. I can tell you everything that you need to know, and answer any questions that you may hav-”

“Just tell me how my son is!” Cindy snaps, just wanting an update as soon as possible.

“I understand that you guys have been in a situation like this before and actually, just a couple weeks ago.” Cindy rolls her eyes as she hated to hear the doctor spending time wasting energy on stuff they didn’t need to know this second. “I got a hold of Dr. Hanken in Daytona as we were looking over initial test results to discuss everything. We both confirmed that he was poisoned with the same substance, with it acting as a stronger stream due to the consistency, the fact that it was injected versus digested, and length of time in the body.”

“We should’ve said something….” Alan comments, feeling a bunch of regret in hearing how serious things had potentially come. It was a regret that he didn’t know if he could ever overcome, either.

“How much more serious?” Bill questions, feeling a tinge of worry himself now. Normally, it was Cindy’s job to panic and worry while he stayed calm – but that wasn’t happening.

“We’re not absolutely certain that he’ll fully recover, yet, or how long it will take him to wake up,” the doctor reveals, which pulled at every heart string for both Cindy and Sarina. “We immediat-”

“What do you mean by ‘wake up’?” Cindy interrupts. “Last time, they gave him a sedative to keep him asleep as his body fought it and he began to heal. Are you referring to that, or….” Dr. Manning takes a deep breath.

“Recall that he passed out on the way to the care center with Mr. Gustafson and Mr. Kirk. Well, he hasn’t woken up since then – and that’s what I am referring to. It may take him a couple hours, or it could be a couple of days. It just depends how the poison affected him.”

“But he will wake up, right?” Dr. Manning felt confident in nodding her head.

“As I started to say, we immediately started him on the antidotes and anti-epileptic medicine. He’s also on a ventilator like previously, too.” Cindy knew that shouldn’t affect her too much as she’d been here before, but she couldn’t help but cringe at those words. “We’ll wait to see when he wakes up and see where he is. If he’s really agitated, we’ll give him a sedative. If he’s not too bad, we’ll look towards the next steps – removing the ventilator, and checking everything over. Either way, it’s going to take a bit of time….”

“Can we go see him, though?” The doctor nods her head.

“I’d actually encourage that, as being surrounded by family and friends will help. Don’t be afraid to talk to him or amongst yourselves, either.”

The group then followed the doctor through the doors, down a short hall, before turning into a room. After a couple deep breaths trying to clear their nerves, Cindy and Sarina led the group into the room. They each took a seat in the first two chairs by the bed, putting their differences aside for the time being. Bill then sat back on the window sill, while Alan and Josh leaned against the wall.

One way or another – none of them were leaving the room until they knew he was okay.

“Kasey won…” Josh breaks the silence in the room that had fallen over a good 20 minutes.

“Really?” Alan asks as he looks over surprised and Josh just nods his head.

“Truex and Kyle wrecked racing for the lead and Kasey managed to get his ass to the front.” Alan shakes his head in disbelief.

“That’s great for Kasey, though. I know how frustrated he’s been.” Josh nods his head once again.

“We keep doing what we’re doing, and Dale manages to snag a win, we may actually get all four cars in the playoffs after all.” Alan could only hope that as he knew how much the guys would like that in the shop. After all, he had seen the frustration with how they’d all run lately.

“How can you think of playoffs at a time like this?” Sarina questions, catching the crew members off-guard.

“Casual conversation and hope for the future – just like the doctor recommended,” Alan summarizes.

“All I can think about is how much pain he’s in and how hard he is fighting…” Alan walks a couple steps forward, rubbing her shoulders.

“Listen, that’s certainly on my mind – bigger than Kasey’s win or anything Josh and I are talking about. Chase’s well-being is the most important thing that I can think of, so you don’t need to question that. We’re just trying to lightly pass the time so we can get to that point he is okay. Besides, you know he’ll be asking what happened and wanting to be in those playoffs.” Sarina sighs, nodding her head. It still didn’t feel right to talk about it all, though.

“Oh shit!” Josh lets out as he grabs his phone off the window sill, causing the entire room to glance over surprised.

“What?” Alan questions as he walks back over to the car chief. “Encumbered finish?”

“Don’t mention those dreadful words – but this is worse. Kasey is feeling crampy, almost dehydrated…but remember before the race in the driver’s mee-”

“Text Kenny right away!” Bill’s eyes then open in surprise as he hears the panic in Alan’s voice. “Kasey sipped from Chase’s water bottle because he was so thirsty. Chase tried to shrug him off from doing it, but couldn’t convince before he did.” Bill rolls his eyes.

“Of course…” He says as he glances over at Chase, feeling his heart break in seeing all the tubes and how he just laid there motionless.

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

Kasey makes his way down the hall, stopping as he reaches the door and glances in. Alan immediately notices him, excusing himself from the room as he goes out to the hall. It had been four hours since the aforementioned text had been sent.

“Nothing from him?” Kasey questions and Alan shakes his head no.

“Not a single movement,” Alan answers as he leans back against the wall, crossing his arms. “Dr. Manning says that could be a good thing, as his body is conserving energy to fight off everything. But she also warned that not waking up in the first 24 hours could be a sign of brain damage or something serious.” Kasey shakes his head in disbelief.

“Well then he better wake up….”

“How are you, though?” Kasey could only shrug his shoulders. It’d be a whirlwind from victory lane to kissing the bricks, to the infield care center and to the hospital.

“I didn’t get a lot in my system, thankfully. Dr. Manning gave me the same antidote that Chase is taking, and it’s starting to work. I’m about 80% right now, and she says I should be back to myself in the next couple of days.” Alan could only let out a sigh of relief.

“That’s good.” Alan then glances back towards the room, before looking at Kasey. “I’m glad you’re not in the same shoes as him. I mean, he shouldn’t be there, either. If he would’ve said something sooner, then he could be like you. If I would’ve convinced him to say something sooner, or I would’ve just done it myself, then we wouldn’t be here this serious. I can’t believe I didn’t say something. I can’t believe I didn’t go against everything. Why did I just sit there this morning and let him convince me about this absurd plan of Josh’s?” Kasey shrugs his shoulders, having not been there to see everything.

“You can’t beat yourself up over it, Alan. We all make mistakes. Heck, I’ve made some myself. It doesn’t help. You just got to focus on getting him bet-”

“Every time I look at him lying there, though, it’s a reminder. It’s a reminder that time is precious and I was an idiot for not remembering that. I mean, what kind of crew chief am I if let my driver get into this positio-”

“Alan, it’s not your faul-”

“But it is, Kahne! We’ve been here before! Damn it!” Kasey could hear the anger laced in Alan’s voice, knowing it wasn’t directed at him, but rather the situation. “I should’ve done something…” A couple tears fall as Kasey immediately reaches out, pulling Alan into a hug, rubbing his back. “I should’ve….”

“He’s going to be okay, Alan. It’s going to be okay…”

Short Track Lovin’ – Chapter 116: Kentucky

Saturday, July 8

Chase rolls over, glancing over at Sarina with a smile, as he notices the blank stare on her face glancing up at the ceiling.

With it being a night racing and focused on keeping himself as strong as he could, he had chosen to nap throughout the afternoon prior to the warranted appearances, driver’s meeting, and race. Sarina, being the supportive girlfriend she was, agreed to not leave his side. She would either play on her phone, or read a book, or nap as well.

Though waking up this time around, Chase could only think about the blank stare.

“Talk to me….” He finally comments, catching her attention as she looks over.

“I didn’t realize you were awak-” She starts as he brushes the hair out of her face.

“Talk to me…” She then lets out a sigh.

“Chase…” He shakes his head immediately.

“You’ve got something on your min-”

“You have a race tonight and so much other stuff to focu-”

“Right now, my focus is on you. You were thinking about something, so talk to me, please.” She lets out a sigh as she knew she wasn’t getting out of this.

“I still can’t believe what my brother did. I’ve known him my whole life. I remember the sweet little boy he was as we were growing up. I remember the fun times we had together, like the family vacation to Disney World. I remember the jokes, the Christmases, and how wonderful he was. He was like a sparkling bud, if you will. Then I look back at the past couple of months, and see how he could just go and poison people with no regard for their life, their friends and family, or their future. Where’d that by go that I once knew?” Chase knew these feelings were eventually coming for Sarina, as he recalled her reactions from hearing the news, to the arrest, to the finding of evidence. He was just glad that she was opening up to him, again.

“I don’t know, Sarina. They say sometimes people change because of what happens in their life, or just because that’s who they are. He obviously did. Why, though? I don’t know.” Sarina knew exactly why as her eyes remained locked on the ceiling.

“He got caught up with the wrong crowd. He wasn’t a popular kid at school, but destined for that. He wanted to be ‘wanted’ and ‘popular.’ He didn’t get that with the good people – I don’t know why not. But yet here was this other group that offered him everything he wanted, as long as he followed certain rules and orders. He was strong, so making him the hunchman and go-getter was perfect. People would hand over their orders because they knew he could kick their ass. He also got joy from the time he tried it because it gave him that feeling he was missing.” Chase laid there listening intently, intrigued by what she was saying. It was interesting to hear the reasoning behind it all.

“So when you guys realized whose these people were, did you try and get him out?” Sarina nods her head.

“My parents did everything that they could in their power. They grounded him – which just made him rebel more. They tried to show him and convince him, but nothing got through to him. It also didn’t help that he was mad that my father wasn’t always there. His work kept him constantly busy, always going from call to call, worrying about some investigation. it was like he was lacking the attention at home. It didn’t bother me because heck, I had a go-kart and other stuff to focus on.” Chase chuckles, knowing how that could be.

“See, my parents were busy with my father’s racing, but I never felt left out. They took me to all the races, included me in everything, and there was never a question of whether they loved me. Heck, I think my mom babied me too much at times.” She chuckles, knowing that Cindy was still like that in some ways.

“I can’t fault my parents – they did what they could. I think it was just the fact that he dealt the wrong life for his doing, and couldn’t handle it – so this was his escape. That’s why at first we thought it was mental related, caused by all this chaos because it’s still so hard to say he’s the same boy as that little brother I know.” Chase nods his head, understanding.

“You’ve told me what they did, and you told me what happened that night. I know what happened now hurts even more, too. But realize this – it’s not your fault, and like you said, all of you did what you could. All you can do is remember the good times that you had as a family, know your father is always watching over you, and perhaps pray that one day when your brother is released, he’ll finally clue in.” She smiles a little as she looks over at him.

“Do you honestly think that’s possible down the road?” Chase nods his head.

“There’s always talk of people having a change for the better, so I’m not going to totally give up hope. I just feel that, for now, this is the best move for him so he can maybe learn.” Sarina knew that jail didn’t sound like a rightful spot, but she also knew Chase was right. “You should also know that no matter what you believe, I’ll always be by your side. I love you, and I’ll never leave you. You’re never alone…” He then leans over and kisses her lips.

“How did I get spoiled with you?” He shrugs his shoulders. “But thank you, thank you….” She then grabs onto his hand, holding it tightly. “There’s moments where I feel more lost than ever right now with everything. But knowing that I have you, Kyle, Samantha, my team, my truck, and damn well you again, it makes me believe. It makes me want to keep fighting that fight for what I have.”

“So you’re never, ever going to run away again?” She shakes her head no. “I like the sounds of that.”

“That doesn’t mean you get off easy for running away from me this coming week…” Chase lets out a sigh as he flops back on his back, knowing what was coming up. He had thought about canceling the appearance, or at least seeing if he could, with everything that happened and the fact that he was supposed to be focused on getting himself back to 100%. However, he knew how much these events meant to the sponsors and knew he could handle it – so he was set to go through it. Here’s to having fun judging a beauty pageant all week for Hooters.

“Trust me, I wish I could be spending the week with you in North Carolina and being at the shop with the guys.” She then looks at him surprised.

“And not look at beautiful girls dressed in bikinis, trying to impress you, so they can be Ms. Hooters for a year?” Chase shakes his head no.

“Not one of them will ever compare to the beauty that lies before me right now, inside and out.” He then leans in and kisses her lips once again.

“You’re just sucking up to me…” He then chuckles.

“The smile on your face says that you’re okay with it.” She then smiles even wider.

“Promise to call me every night?” He nods his head.

“I can tell you about the prettiest girls I have seen…” She then rolls her eyes. “Oh, and I can tell you about the pick-up lines that they’ll be trying to use.”

“That may not be a good idea. I may come to Las Vegas and lay down an ass kicking.” Chase chuckles.

“I wouldn’t mind that, actually.”

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

Chase climbs out of the car, leaning back against it as he lets out a long sigh.

“Are you okay?” Alan questions as he hands him a bottle of Gatorade. Chase immediately loosens the cap, taking a big swig as he nods his head. “Are you sure?” Chase just nods his head, again.

It had been a long night with ups-and-downs throughout the race. However, he had run up front all race long and eventually crossed the finish line in third. He knew if he could’ve gotten one or two better restarts, it may have been a different story. However, that didn’t matter to him at that point. He was ready to take the top-five and run away with how he was feeling. Who knew driving a racecar for 400 miles could be so physically draining.

“I got Greg, incase….” Jared Seate comments as Greg Morin walks over, giving Chase a quick glance over.

“Are you sure you’re okay?” Greg asks and Chase once again nods his head. “Not cramping up at all? No overwhelming thirst?” Chase shakes his head no.

“Just a little tired and maybe slightly dehydrated,” Chase comments as he lets out a yawn. “They told me it was possible with everything. But I’m fine. I’ll just make sure to drink a little more tonight, get some extra sleep, and I’ll be good by morning. I’m feeling better than I thought I would.” Greg nods his head, as he keeps his eyes focused on the young man.

“If by any chance you start cramping up or the drinks aren’t cutting it, please go get checked out and get some fluids in you, okay?” Chase nods his head, having been to the infield care center before. “Nice job tonight, by the way.”

“Thank you…” Chase then watches as Greg walks away, before glancing over at Sarina.

“Do you really have to go to Las Vegas tonight?” She questions and he nods his head. “Ugh….”

“Relax,” he assures her as he pulls her close. “The week will be over before you know it, and then you can join me for a relaxing weekend at New Hampshire.”

Short Track Lovin’ – Chapter 99: Saturday @ Sonoma

Saturday, June 24

 

Sarina walks into the garage area, adjusting her lanyard as she lets out a yawn. With no sleep through the previous night, needless to say she was ready for a long nap somewhere.

After a busy day at the track yesterday, she flew home to North Carolina with the team. Right upon landing, she walked into the house and switched out her firesuit and a couple other items for some jeans and t-shirts, re-zipping the bag. She let herself grab a quick shower – she was sweaty and sticky and hated it – before heading out to meet up with Amy.

The girls then boarded the plane, making the flight out to California for Saturday morning. She thought of sleeping on the flight, but that didn’t happen as her fear of planes caused her to keep watch thorough the entire experience.

The pair landed in California, adjusting the three hour time difference, with plans set in motion. Amy invited Sarina to join her and some other ladies on a wine tasting tour, but she proudly declined. For her, she’d rather spend a day at the track than sitting around drinking fancy wine.

Now armed with a Mountain Dew Kickstart (perks of boyfriend sponsored by them), she had made her way to the track and was set to find the person of the hour.

She walked into the garage area, smiling as she noticed a familiar No. 21 Ford. Setting a smile on her face, she walks over, wrapping her arms around the driver by the back of the car.

“Hey Ryan,” she says with a smile as he jumps out of his skin, spinning around to face her.

“Hey!” He lets out as he glances around the garage. “Do you realize what Chase would say if he saw us together like that?” She shrugs her shoulders with a smile.

“Oh Blaney, oh Blaney, I guess Chase didn’t fill you in the details for tonight, now did he? We’re going to have our own little lifesaber battle. Hope you’re up for it, Jedi.” His jaw drops in shock as he takes another glance around, hoping nobody was hearing. “What’s wrong? Scared someone will hear of your dirty plans for tonight?”

“Are you sure that you’re the same girl that I met that day at Hickory? Wait – are you the same girl that I saw just a couple weeks ago? Are you sure you’re not some twin or something? And what have you done to Chase? I mean, this is….No, that can’t be happening.” She laughs as she notices the look on his face.

“Ah boy, this is going to be a fun weekend. I can’t believe that you actually fell for it. Nice seeing you, and good luck.” She then puts her sunglasses back on and walks away as he stands there, shaking his head in total shock, before walking back to his team.

She continues making her way down the stretch of garages, destination already in sight as she couldn’t wait to see her actual man of the hour. If there was anybody that keep her awake it was him.

“Sarina!” She hears and stops in her tracks, rolling her eyes immediately as she spins around. She wanted to avoid him, but it would rude to ignore the boss.

“Hey Kyle,” she says in the politest way that she could muster.

“I’m surprised that you’re here – well, sort of. I mean, I get wanting to be with Chase, but really after last night?” She shakes her head yes, wishing that she could just get the conversation over with.

“We have to take advantage of what time we can get together with our schedule, right?” Kyle couldn’t argue that.

“I just wanted to say great job last night. You handled yourself very well, and took what the truck was willing to give you. I was impressed by what I saw. We’ll talk on Tuesday about restarts so you’ll be better for Kentucky, okay?” She shakes her head yes, knowing that she was probably going to get enough advice from Chase already. However, it didn’t hurt to also listen to the restart master.

“I appreciate the tips and advice whenever you get a chance. Thanks for the compliments, and good luck today.”

“Thank you.” He then glances at her hand and shakes his head. “Really? I thought you would’ve been carrying around a NOS instead.” She then lets out a sigh, knowing the balance of everybody having their own sponsor commitments.

“Let’s just say easy access with flying out with Amy is my reason. Don’t worry – I still love you and your great drinks. See you later.” He then returns back to his stall, which was the only cue that she needed to keep walking as she had originally planned.

Taking a couple more sips of her drink and depositing the can in the garbage, she walks through the stall, passing crew members left and right. They each wave and go to say something, but she motions for them to be quiet as she makes her way to the front of the car. She stands back for a second, letting Chase and Alan talk about whatever was on their minds ahead of qualifying later on that day. As they finish up their discussion, she makes her move.

She walks up behind Chase, wrapping both arms around him, and pulling him close as she plants a kiss on his cheek. A smile immediately forms on his face as he spins around to face her, placing one in return on her lips.

“Gosh I missed you,” he says as he keeps her held close. “I love you, and thank you for coming.”

“Any reason to torment Blaney is a good reason for me,” she replies as he laughs.

“I feel bad for him already.” She laughs as she remembers the bag she had previously placed in the hotel room before heading over.

“Just wait till we get back to the hotel later on tonight.” He rolls his eyes, knowing that she was going to be up to no good.

“Suddenly, I feel better about this weekend,” Jared Seate comments from his vantage point, getting a curious glance from the pair. “Chase is always in a better chipper mood now that his girl is here. I say we’re going to have a great weekend and put yesterday behind us.”

“Awww was Chasey not smiling yesterday?” Sarina questions as she slips his sunglasses up, looking into his eyes.

“Would you be smiling if you wrecked your racecar?” He asks and she shakes her head no.

“Well, as the boys have said, you’re going to put yesterday behind you starting today. You’re going to do great. You know how to turn left and right. You proved that in Canada. You also proved that you can’t see a slower truck in front of you, too, or judge the closing gap well enough and hit it.” He then rolls his eyes, still in disbelief that some people bugged him about how he got his first win.

“I’ve said it time and time again – he cut me off, plain and simple. Do I need to show you my mom’s evidence?” Sarina just smiles in response, having seen the pictures and agreeing with what happened.

“Awww is mommy protecting her baby?” He then rolls his eyes.

“You can pick on me all you want. I’m just glad that you decided to come.” She glances around the garage, before returning her eyes back to him.

“You cut into my beach and sun-tanning, but I guess I made the right decision.” He then smiles as he rubs her shoulders.

“Think about it this way – now you get racecars and a California suntan. Just promise me you put sunscreen on.” She then rolls her eyes, remembering the summer they were racing the same tracks in late models and she got a real bad burn one week and how he kept walking over, flicking it.

“Oh, so now you care about my skin? If you must know, I did put some on this morning and brought the bottle to put more on this afternoon, if I need it.” He smiles as it was always good to see her taking care of herself.

“Aren’t they just adorable?” Chad Avrit questions as he looks over Jared’s shoulder. “I’m wondering if we should start planning the wedding now….” Jared laughs as Chase just rolls his eyes.

“Bachelor party at Jr.’s Whiskey River?” Jared asks and Chad shakes his head yes. “Of course, we don’t want to scare off our sweet innocent boy, so no strippers allowed. Unless Sarina has turned him….” Chase just rolls his eyes once again, all the meanwhile keeping his eyes focused on Sarina. The boys could say what they wanted as he didn’t care – he got his girl to join him this weekend.

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

The rest of the day played out decently. Chase had a decent run in qualifying for a solid starting spot, and the pair enjoyed the K&N Pro Series West show from the top of the hill, thrilled by the close finish between Kevin Harvick and Will Rodgers.

Following their fun day, Chase texted Ryan to tell him that he was taking Sarina out to dinner before returning back to the hotel that night, and to sadly inform him that he wasn’t invited. Ryan accepted, though, having already agreed to go out with his team.

Once the pair were done dinner, they retreated back to the hotel room, making it back before Ryan.

“Want to see how high we can make him jump?” Sarina questions as Chase rolls his eyes. He knew he was in for a troublesome night.

“What do you have in mind?” He asks, knowing that he couldn’t miss out on pranking Ryan.

“A bag of tricks…” She then pulls out a smaller bag from her duffle bag, sifting through it. She then pulls out two items, showing both of them to Chase. “Which would work better?”

“Is that what I think it is?” She laughs and shakes her head yes.

“And I know how to make it look the part, perfectly. Let’s just say that pranks on the road while racing were always fun.” He then rolls his eyes as he flops back in their bed.

“Go for it….” She then lets out a cheer of ‘yay,’ setting everything in motion. “Really? We have to go with all this?” She then jumps in the bed beside him, looking into his eyes.

“Just go with it, okay? Oh, and make sure the blanket is all the way up so he doesn’t know.” Chase rolls his eyes as he pulls off his shirt, flicking it off across the room. “And you could also do that….”

The pair laid there quietly, watching a couple different TV shows and using the time to get in some quality time. They then heard the lock on the door engage to unlock, causing the pair to look at each other. Chase reached over, switching the light off as he pulls her close in his arms. He began to giggle a little, with Sarina putting a hand over his mouth.

“Shut up!” She says quietly as they hear the door open.

“Chase? Sarina?” Ryan questions, noticing the darkness of the room with the TV turned off. “Well, guess someone was tired….” He then flicks the light on as he kicks his shoes off. His eyebrows then fuse together confused as he notices a trail of clothes. “Okay, we joked about this, but that was supposed to be all jokes. I mean, come on. Really, Chase?”

Sarina keeps her hand over Chase’s mouth to muffle his want to chuckle as Ryan walks across the room, shaking his head at the scattered clothes across the floor.

“Lace bra – I wouldn’t have pictured that,” he comments as Sarina resists the urge to wonder on the assumption.

Out of the corners of their eyes hidden by the blanket, they watch as Ryan sits on the edge of his bed, slipping off both his pants and t-shirt so he was down to just his boxers.

“Stop looking!” Chase whispers quietly into Sarina’s ears as he makes a motion to cover her eyes, but making it appear as if he was just moving in his sleep.

“Jealous?” She whispers back in response, keeping herself cuddled close to him.

They hear Ryan stand up and walk around the bed, grabbing the remote off the table as he turns to the bed. He pulls back the comforter, set to climb into the bed.

“What the hell?!? Ewwwwwww!” He yells out as he jumps, causing both Sarina and Chase to break out laughing. “Ewwww. Okay, that’s like wet. It’s milky white. That’s used…recently….in my bed. Ewwww.” The pair then break out laughing even more as Ryan spins around. “Really? I mean, okay fine you’re human so you did it before I got back. But really? In my bed? Why not in your own?”

“Who’s to say we didn’t? Let’s just say someone was horny tonight,” Sarina says, as she pulls one out from under the covers, set in the same form as the previous, flicking it at Ryan – which it hits him in the chest.

“Ewww ewww ewww! Oh my gosh! Ewww! There’s not enough showers that I could take to get rid of that. Ewww!” The pair laugh even harder as Ryan keeps his eyes locked on them. “And you think this is funny?” Sarina and Chase shake their heads yes as they sit up in the bed.

“I was wondering if you’d take me up on my earlier offer next…” Ryan’s jaw drops as Chase looks at her confused. “Oh Chase, I forgot to tell you what I was planning….”

“I don’t think I want to know,” Chase comments as he pulls out his phone. He watches the video, cracking up laughing. “All I know is that Bubba is going to kill himself laughing when he sees this.”

“You recorded my reaction?” Ryan asks and Chase shakes his head yes. “Why?”

“Because you’ve just been punk’d!” The pair let out together as Chase sends the video to Darrell.

“I’m confused….” Chase kicks off the blanket, revealing that he’s still in his boxers, with Sarina wearing her PJ shorts and one of his t-shirts.

“We got back about an hour ago,” Chase starts. “We’ve actually just been chilling here, watching TV, enjoying America’s Funniest Home Videos actually. Sarina wanted to see how high you could jump so she planted the evidence – the clothes, the used condom. By the way, that wasn’t used at all. That’s just a nice look-a-like prank liquid sprayed on it.” Ryan then looks around the room, before looking back at them.

“So this was all just a prank?” He asks and Chase shakes his head yes. “You’re mean!”

“I couldn’t let you off with nothing after last night’s comments,” Sarina comments as Ryan just shakes his head.

“Payback is a bitch, sweetheart. Remember that.” She shakes her head knowing that, as she pulls Chase back close to her.

“Yeah, but just remember that I have my knight in shining armor to protect me, always.” He then rolls his eyes as he goes back over to his bed, flopping in it. “You have to admit – I got you good.”

“Well played, actually. I give you credit…” She then lets out a yawn as she cuddles back up against Chase, laying her head on his chest.

“Tired?” Chase questions and Sarina shakes her head yes. “Close your eyes. I’ve got you, and I promise Ryan will stay over on his side of the room. I love you.” He then kisses her forehead, rubbing her back as she closes her eyes, finally glad to be able and snag some sleep after the past 48 hours.

Short Track Lovin’ – Chapter 93: A Watch Party

Everybody meets up in the hotel room, taking various spots on the pair of couches and floor with snacks and drinks spread out. It was going to be an entertaining night….

“Calling it now – Johnny Sauter for the win!” Alan proclaims, causing a couple surprised glances.

“You’re seriously saying that in front of Sarina’s boy?” Eddie D’Hondt questions as Alan shrugs his shoulders.

“I’m going to win….”

“In your dreams,” Chase says, having a good feeling about that night.

“I’m taking Bell,” Eddie comments, causing Chase to roll his eyes. “We all know who Chase is taking.”

“BKR trucks deserve a win – Briscoe or Cindric, I don’t give a damn which one,” Jared Seate comments.

“How are you guys betting against Crafton on an intermediate track?” Chad Avrit wonders, noting down everyone’s picks on a piece of paper.

“Well you guys are unfair in taking all the good picks, but I’ll snag Rhodes,” Jared Erspamer says.

“Guess that leaves me Nemechek,” Nick O’Dell figures as he glances through the driver’s list. “Can we come up with a better picking order next time?”

“Long as I get Sarina each time, I don’t care,” Chase says as the boys just roll their eyes.

All the eyes focused on the screen, watching Sarina lead the first several laps ahead of the field to Chase’s joy. Though as they got into the run, there was no stopping Johnny Sauter as he made the pass, taking the lead with a smile forming for Alan.

As the guys focused on various parts of the event, Chase focused on Sarina and how she was running, watching her fade back a couple spots. He watched as she dropped back to eighth by the end of the stage, knowing some adjustments were needed for the long haul.

“You’re not growing nervous, are you?” Jared questions, eyes focused on Chase. “There’s still quite a bit to go….”

“I’m confident in Marcus and know that they’ll get her working better,” he comments, knowing that Marcus was always good in adjusting for Timothy Peters through the years and had grown a good reputation with Sarina so far. He just hoped that paid off tonight.

“I told you that I’d win!” Alan comments, as he steals the chip bowl from Chad, earning a stern look from him.

“That’s just a stage – doesn’t mean shit,” Chad says as Alan looks on, intrigued.

“Do you realize how much that one playoff point could come into play come November?” Chad knew that Alan was right, but wasn’t set to give in.

“It doesn’t matter who is leading now, but who gets the white and black flag at the end of the race, and I told you who’d that be.”

“It’s not going to be Crafton tonight,” Chase comments. “Notice how much he is struggling on the get go of a run? He loses too much time.” Chad rolls his eyes, but he knew that Chase was right in his comments.

“Junior Joiner can make just as good as an adjustment as Marcus so don’t be counting your chickens yet,” Chad states. “Besides, I think he’s running better than your girl, and that’s how the night is going to go…”

“Those are fighting words,” Nick O’Dell comments, holding up a pillow as he peeks from around it, causing laughs.

“I don’t want any food fights tonight, okay?” Alan declares. “I don’t want to tell Rick that I had to void the security deposit due to needing them to clean the room since I had a bunch of rowdy kids as crew members get into a food fight, again.” The boys laugh, remembering the last time they got together to watch something – hockey – and the result being food flying across the room as they debated penalties.

“I still say that call against Crosby was unfair,” Chad states as Nick rolls his eyes.

“Will you let it go already?” Nick questions. “Your team is in the finals. Shouldn’t that be a big enough reason to forget?” Chad shakes his head no as Nick lets out a sigh. “Ridiculous. I hope Nashville kicks his ass.”

“And I hope you choke on your chips.” Nick looks on shocked as Alan just rolls his eyes.

“Boys, they’re going back green,” he says. “Let’s just focus on the race, please…..”

Everybody quiets down as the race goes back green for the second stage. Just like the first stage, everything went smoothly without any major incidents. While Sauter led throughout, it’d be Christopher Bell snagging the stage victory with Sarina finishing eighth as she ran just outside the top-10 throughout.

“Come on Marcus,” Chase comments, fingers crossed that Marcus actually adjusted the truck enough this time.

“Any comment, crew chief?” Eddie asks as he looks over at Alan, in reference to Christopher beating Johnny.

“That’s not the final checkered on the night so like they said, no counting chickens yet,” Alan says. “She seems like she’s loose. If he would go up on the trackbar or adjust the air pressures, she’ll probably be fine.” Chase knew that Alan was probably right, hoping Marcus got the idea based on what they were seeing.

“Isn’t it tricky though with the turns configured a little differently?” Jared Seate questions and Alan shakes his head yes.

“But we got it trickier with Pocono having three different corners. By the way, Chase, I want you to jot down after what you felt each corner and scale it so I can think it over tonight.” Chase shakes his head accepting as he takes the piece of paper from the crew chief.

“Chasey got homework….”

“Jared is still a little brat,” Chase comments, causing some laughs amongst the group.

Everybody turned serious as the race went back to green, with Christopher leading as Chase Briscoe moved into the second spot, looking for every way he could around the No. 4. All eyes were focused on the battle for the lead – well, except for a pair, who were watching for some progress out of the No. 18.

With about 65 laps still on the board, though, a grasp of shock escaped Chase as he watched the No. 18 make an abrupt turn off the track on to pit road.

“Not again,” he comments out loud, referencing the fact that it seemed each week, trouble found them. He watched as she made the pit stop, before returning back to the track.

“Loose wheel,” Chad Avrit reads off of twitter as Chase looks over in surprise.

“Seriously?” Chad shakes his head yes. “Of course because what else would it be? I mean, it’s not like anything can just go normal for a night. Oh no, that’s been her season with one thing after another. If she could just knock out some solid quiet nights, then maybe she could be like Mr. Bell and winning and leading. But oh no, we got to find issue after issue after issue.”

“She was also speeding so she has to come back down.” Chase then rolls his eyes, ready to head out then and there.

“You’re kidding?” Chad shakes his head no. “Why oh why, Sarina? You should know better. She got busted for that some place else. You’d think she’d remem-”

“She thought she had a serious problem and turned quickly. It’s understandable if she speeds a little.” Chase rolls his eyes.

“You’ve done it, too,” Alan reminds him as Chase lets out a sigh, knowing that Alan was right. However, it didn’t make this any easier watching as he watched her slip two laps down, sitting back in 19th.

Chase was set to give up entirely on the night when the caution flew about 20 laps later for Stewart Frisen hitting the wall. He immediately put faith in that they’d take the wave around to at least get one lap back.

“She won’t make it on fuel if she does that,” Alan concedes, watching her head down pit road. “Remember she pitted about 10 laps shy. If we get no more cautions, she’s screwed worse than already.”

“Besides, there’s still vibration complaints per twitter,” Chad adds.

“Of course there is,” Chase says as he rolls his eyes. “They should be putting on a wheel spacer as they probably fucked the studs.” The comment catches a couple of the crew members off guard as they look back at their driver. “It’s true…”

The race goes back to green, with the caution flying once again sooner as Myatt Snider gets into the turn two wall and spins. Chase could only let out a sigh, wondering what Kyle was thinking between the issues for both Sarina and Myatt now.

“The way this is going, Bell is going to get taken out by Briscoe,” Chase comments, barely even wanting to pay attention.

“Hey!” Eddie and Jared Seate both let out at the same time as Chase rolls his eyes.

“Nothing would surprise me anymore.”

“Wheel spacer is on now,” Chad comments, having read the latest tweet from KBM.

“Now?” Chase questions. “So they didn’t do that before? Geez, what are they? A bunch of rookies? I bet Kyle is fuming in his motorcoach right now.”

They watch the race go back to green, eyes focused on the battle up front between the leaders, along with seeing Justin Haley get loose, sliding up to Nemechek with Nemechek getting in the wall heavily for the caution.

“There goes my bloody pick, thanks to Haley,” Nick O’Dell comments. “I told you being stuck with Nemechek was shit.”

“He should’ve had ran down as close to Haley’s door then,” Chase replies as Nick could just roll his eyes in annoyance. “On a brighter note, thanks to your buddy for getting me my girl a lap back.”

“Feeling a little better there?” Jared Seate questions as Chase perks up a little.

“Just need one more caution and with the way these guys drive, that shouldn’t be hard.”

“Can I have a new pick, please?” Nick questions and the boys shake their heads no. “So first I get last pick and get stuck with crap-head, and then now I don’t even get a second shot?”

“Cheater cheater pumpkin eater,” Chad teases as Nick flips the bird.

“Boys….” Alan warns as he glances up from his notes at them.

“Just because your guy is still in it, you can’t be an ass for us,” Nick says as Alan just rolls his eyes.

“Remind me that this is the last time that we do this.” Jared then pouts, having ideas for next weekend already.

“But I wanted to have a get together for Gateway,” he states as Alan rolls his eyes, again.

“Do it somewhere else, but not with me involved, please. Oh, and Sauter is going to win because jackass 1 and jackass two are going to wreck each other like Chase said originally. They’re driving each other too hard to keep it clean.” Eddie and Jared then both laugh as they watch the field get ready to go back green.

The green flag flies with eyes set on the battle for first between Bell and Briscoe. The battle didn’t last long, though, with the caution flying once again for smoke pouring out the back of Grant Enfinger. It brought a smile to Chase’s face, though, as he knew that meant Sarina was back on the lead lap with 14 laps to go.

“I’ve never seen someone smile at someone blowing up,” Alan comments with a glance over towards Chase.

“You obviously haven’t seen those who hate Kyle Busch when he has a bad day,” Chase says. “But everything’s great now that Sarina is back on the lead lap.”

“Should we remind you of when you were throwing in the towel?” Jared Seate questions and Chase rolls his eyes.

“I never give up on my girl.” The boys then chuckle as they think back to his words.

“You almost left….”

“You figured it was all over with no hope in the kitty,” Chad adds as Chase lets out a sigh. Perhaps he did over-react, but you couldn’t blame him. He was passionate about how well she was going to do that night.

“Well maybe I’ll get a top-10 after all,” he comments, eyes focused as the restart was set to take place.

Over the final stretch of laps – and two more cautions, eyes never left the screen as they watched Sarina battle back, crossing the finish line in seventh for another solid top-10. Meanwhile, among the controversy of the last lap caution (Timothy Peters flipped), it was Bell snagging the win ahead of Briscoe by a nose.

Down in Texas, Sarina climbed from the truck with a smile on her face. It certainly wasn’t the win or top-five she had envisioned after setting the quickest time, but she wasn’t going to complain. If you would’ve told her that she would’ve had a top-10 after going two laps down, she would’ve said you were nuts. However, with high fives for all the guys and a hug for Marcus, she knew they’d put in a good nights work with a well-deserved finish.

“Sorry about that loose wheel there,” Marcus apologizes once she’s done media interviews. “I got to get these guys in line as we can’t be having that.”

“It happens as we all make mistakes,” she comments. “I’ve made my fair share this year. One mistake by the guys is going to happen. As long as we can come back stronger, that’s what matters. We’ll go get them at Gateway.” Marcus couldn’t help but smile with her positivity, knowing that she could be hard on herself from Chase.

“I’m confident about Gateway and Iowa. We have a good short track program at KBM, and I know you have ran well there previously. It’s just about putting it all together.”

“We’re going to make magic happen…..” Marcus could only smile, liking the sounds of that.

Short Track Lovin’ – Chapter 92: “There’s something about you, and blue….”

Friday, June 9

Chase walked into the garage, smiling as he saw the crew guys all hanging around ready for a busy day of practice and qualifying. With the speed they’d shown lately, and a good run last week, it was time to keep the momentum rolling.

“Ready to go, superstar?” Jared Seate questions and Chase shakes his head yes. “Not missing the girl at all?”

“I’m confident that she’ll do well this weekend,” Chase answers, having followed the live updates from Kyle Busch Motorsports all-day Thursday on practice. While she wasn’t at the top of the time sheet, the fact that she felt comfortable and knew they’d be good in race trim was a good feeling. Now if they just borrowed a bit of Bell’s qualifying set-up, perhaps it’d be a stellar night for her.

“And let me guess – she’ll be here tomorrow?” Chase shakes his head no, remembering her plans.

“She’s going to stay back to watch the Stadium Super Trucks and the IndyCars. She’ll be here on Sunday, though.”

“I thought she’d be traveling back to be with you as soon as possible.” Chase laughs and shakes his head no, though partially wishing that a bit himself. He had to admit he missed her sometimes on weekends like this. Though, it was part of the schedule and he knew the summer brought that a lot with how the trucks did a lot of stand-alone events.

“We have our own lives, and our own desires. We both want to make this work. I respect hers just as much as she respects mine, so therefore we give each other space.” Jared crosses his arms as he couldn’t help but admire that.

“Then why is it your mother still has a problem with her? I mean, we’re four months removed and you guys have only grown more closer together. I mean, it’s the talk of the garage…well, besides Bubba getting a chance to drive for Petty. But still, it baffles me.” Chase knew the answer without saying much as he sat down beside the crew member.

“She still doesn’t trust her and fully grasp what happened there. She gets the reasons why she did it, and yes, she has a heart and understands. But I’m her baby and as she described to me, she’s supposed to protect me no matter what. It’s an underlying worry that she has still till she’s fully proven otherwise. It’ll take time, but it will happen. Besides, she admitted that she’s starting to grow on her….” Jared smiles, remembering that small detail amongst everything.

“I heard that comment at Dover, too – till she mentioned Sarina’s brother. It seems with her brother in the picture, it may not ever come though.” Chase knew that was a good possibility, having pondered that a bunch of times himself. It wasn’t like it was something he could brush aside either, recalling a couple recent conversations with Alan.

“I don’t blame her, honestly. I mean, look at what happened between us, right? I’ve told Alan straight out, too, that I don’t fully trust him either.” Jared watched Chase curiously, as he thought over his next question.

“Alan mentioned a worry about the poison deal being connected to him. Are you worried about that?” Chase wanted to straight out say no, however he couldn’t do that. He heard about Chris’ brief ‘fan zone’ disappearance, and seemed odd on the timing of the incidents. “I see some hesitation….”

“Let’s just say that I know what he said to me that day, and it has stuck ever since. Now, we have a job to do, right?” Jared shakes his head yes as he watches Chase stand up. “Let’s focus and do what we got to do.”

“Yes boss.” Jared then brushes his legs off, before heading the other direction as Chase lets out a sigh. Glancing at the car, he knew it was time to focus on the day at hand.

The team was able to put together a solid practice, with Chase ‘alright’ about the car after the session full of race trim runs. As they got ready to switch over for qualifying trim, he could only hope that it went accordingly to plan.

With some time to kill between the session, he made his way back to the trailer, snagging some lunch before relaxing in the lounge part of the hauler. Just as he was set to bite into his sub, his phone rang and an immediate smile formed on his face.

“Hey princess,” he says as he hit answers on the FaceTime request, instantly earning an eye roll from her.

“Oh, so you think that you can try that line on me since it worked so well for Christopher?” She questions as he laughs.

“But you’re my princess as I’d do anything to make you feel good.” She couldn’t help but giggle in response.

“Okay, that earns you a point Mr. Elliott. The only thing is I don’t know how I feel about you in orange yet. There’s something about you and blue…” He just rolls his eyes.

“Well, white definitely works for you, sweetie, as it shows off every curve – just don’t let people stare at that butt of yours.” She takes another round of chuckling.

“You’ll just have to win me over with that lovely orange….” He looks on intrigued. However, he couldn’t deny that he was loving the chat as it was nice to get in some quality flirting.

“Maybe when you’re here on Sunday I can do that. Better yet, you can show up a day early and make my weekend that much sweeter.” She then sighs. It was a big toss-up for her. One of the reasons she loved the trucks racing at Texas was the fact IndyCar and SST ran the same weekend. She loved watching both, and it was nice to get a chance to see them live for a change. However, she understood the pain of being separated for a couple days.

“You know I’m just a ring-a-ling a way if you’re that desperate for company, Chase. But anyways, I thought you could take care of yourself.” Chase chuckles.

“Oh I’m not worried about myself, dear. I know I can handle cooking and all that day. It’s you that I worry about.” She had to laugh, knowing that her cooking was questionable at times. There were also times that she forgot to eat totally when she got busy.

“Does it make you happy that I’m eating while talking to you right now?” He shakes his head yes. “Good. So see, I can take care of myself.”

“Just make sure you have a good safe, fun, clean night. I want to see what a cowboy hat looks like on that sweet head of yours.” She smiles, wishing for the same result.

“I’m going to try, buddy. Alright – I better go as Marcus wants to chit chat soon. Talk later?” He shakes his head yes. “Love you.”

“Love you, more. Bye Sarina.” He then hangs up as he kicks his feet up, eating the rest of his sub as he watched XFINITY practice. That phone call was exactly what he needed.

The relaxation lasted for a good hour before a knock at the door, and he knew it was time for qualifying. Making his way out of the trailer, he grabs one of the markers off the counter and heads out. Taking his time along the way, he signs some autographs for the fans as he heads out to pit road.

He makes his way out to pit road and the walk down to his stall for the session, set to lay down the best lap that he could imagine.

“I was wondering where you were,” he hears a male voice as he reaches there, surprised to see his parents. They had told him they were coming, but weren’t sure if they’d get there for Friday or not.

“I was taking my time, but knew I’d be here with time to spare,” he answers as he fixes his shoes.

“Any updates from Texas?” He shakes his head no, knowing the truck series qualifying session was scheduled around the same time that he was supposed to go out for his session.

“She’s supposed to text me when she’s done, just as I am supposed to do for her.” Bill shakes his head, understanding. It was the same agreement that they had in place when she was racing a late model for him.

“Her brother and that supposed cousin with her?” Cindy asks and Chase shakes his head yes, only imagining what his mom would say next.

“Well, Bethany actually isn’t with them since Sarina told her off this week after the family comment stunt,” he starts. “Bethany stopped by and made some other comment about that reunion. Sarina told her to fly a kite because she wasn’t doing family drama anymore.” Cindy rolls her eyes.

“But yet she still hangs around with her brother?” Chase lets out a sigh, having a feeling that was coming.

“We’ve talked about this, and that’s all I’m going to say. I’ve told you what she’s said about her brother. I’ve also told you that I’m being cautious and careful. Now, can we drop it, please?” Cindy shakes her head, knowing there were bigger fish to fry. Besides, as long as he aware, that was all that mattered.  “It is nice to see you both, though.” Chase then walks away, heading over to Alan as Cindy watches on.

“You need to relax a little,” Bill comments as he rubs her shoulders.

“But I’m Mama Bear and it’s my job to prote-” Cindy starts.

“But your cub is growing up, and learning to handle things for himself. Besides, you both are just going around in circles. You see how much he loves her. Respect that, embrace that. Give her a chance.” She then looks back at Bill.

“You’re just worried that he’s going to be mad at me and not talk to me, aren’t you? You don’t want to lose that…” Bill just pulls her back close. “Don’t worry – I won’t let it come to that. But I will not back down when it comes to protecting him.”

The debates of the afternoon were all put aside through the next couple of hours with the focus being on qualifying. Still fighting a loose condition, Chase was unable to lay down the lap he wanted and barely missed out on making it to the second round, qualifying 25th.

“I should’ve went further on that adjustment,” Alan comments after the session is over. “I’m sorry.” Chase shrugs his shoulders.

“There’s a lot of ways to get to the front, strategy or passing,” Chase says. “We’ll work on the car a little tomorrow and be fine for Sunday. Don’t worry.” Alan smiles, liking the confidence from his driver.

“I believe you’re right as we know what we need to do now.” Chase shakes his head yes as he grabs his phone off the pit cart. “Any update?” He shakes his head no as he lets out a sigh.

“Pole!!!!” Jared Seate lets out, causing everyone to look over confused.

“Um, none of our cars on the pole,” Alan states the obvious as Jared laughs, shaking his head.

“Truck Series live timing and scoring – I have it loaded on my phone from NASCAR’s website. Someone is going to love-a-dub his update from his girl.” Chase then looks over at Jared with a face of amazement.

“Seriously?” He questions and Jared shakes his head yes, walking over as he shows Chase the scoring monitor.

“Read it and weep, baby. Sarina Ott just got her first career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series pole at Texas Motor Speedway. How does that feel?” Chase immediately smiles as he lets out a small woohoo.

“That’s awesome!” He then grabs his phone, texting her immediately to say congratulations, knowing she’d get it once done with all the photos and such.

“So, where are you watching this truck race tonight?” Chase looks over at Jared, intrigued. “We were stealing Alan’s suite at the hotel tonight because he’s got the 70 inch screen in there. That’d allow you to see her full screen…”

“Do you really want a panicking boyfriend ruining our viewing experience?” Chad Avrit questions as Chase laughs.

“Me? Panicking?” He asks and Chad shakes his head yes.

“I saw you at Talladega. You’re nervous watching her.” Chase chuckles, though knew that the crew guys were right.

“Regardless, I think it’d be fun if you join us…” Jared continues as Chase thinks it over, figuring company was perhaps a good idea since Ryan and Darrell had ditched him.

“Fine, just so I can drive Chad crazy,” he comments.