Friday July 21, 2018 – New Hampshire
After talking over the last run during practice with Alan, Chase makes his way over to the 88 garage stall next door.
“How’s your car feel?” He asks, catching his teammate’s attention.
“Fighting tight through the ends,” Alex answers as he glances up at the speed charts. “Well, at least we’re all right together.” Chase had ended the session in 12th, with Alex sitting eighth.
“Look at Jimmie and explain that to me.” Alex glances up the sheet, seeing Jimmie sitting sixth.
“Cause he’s seven-time. Should I waltz over to Grandpa and ask him his secret?” Chase chuckles at the nickname that Alex and William had been using for Jimmie all season long.
“I was tight going into the corner, but Alan says if I take a bit of that set-up Jimmie has, I should be good for qualifying. I guess it’s try and see, right?” Alan nods his head.
“Greg says that he thinks a tweak in air pressure is all that I need to be right there. Guess we’ll see…” Chase then lets out a sigh as Alex looks down at the toolbox. “So what’s this envelope addressed to you anyway?” Chase instantly looks over, a little intrigued that the envelope was sitting there. However, seeing Alan’s clipboard with it, he figured it might have got stuck to it when the crew chief came over to speak with Greg.
“Paternity results from the courts for Alison.” Alex keeps his eyes on the envelope, glancing it over.
“Oh right, there’s a chance that she may be pregnant with your kid…” Chase slowly nods his head. “So you got the results that you’ve been waiting for and yet you haven’t opened them? If it was me, I would get this off of my conscious immediately and rip it by the seams.”
“I’d rather wait in case I need some time to process it.” Alex glances over a little confused.
“I thought there was no chance that she was pregna-”
“I’m beginning to wonder if it happened, and I just tried to block it out.” Alex lets out a sigh.
“Oh man…” Alex’s eyes immediately find their way back to the envelope. “I still say that you should just get it over with.” Alex begins to run his finger along the seam, though Chase places his hand on top.
“My envelope, my rules. Leave it alone, please.” Chase snatches the envelope as Alex just looks on, notably concerned based on his teammate’s reaction.
“Alright, alright, I’m sorry man. But can I give you a piece of advice? I wouldn’t leave that lying around the garage. Someone could easily pick it up, snatch the results away, do whatever they want. You also leave the door open for someone to switch the resu-”
“Alison is locked awa-”
“She could blackmail or pay someone, Chase. My advice would be to get someone to take that back to your hauler, and lock it up in a drawer with key until you’re ready to reveal the details. That’s just me, though…” Chase glances down at the envelope, before looking back at his teammate.
“Thanks for the advice.” Chase then heads off, envelope in hand, as Alex watches on.
“Yeah – 10th best,” Chase tells the reporter. “It’s been kind of the status quo I feel like lately. Just trying to get a little better. The consistency has certainly been better, I feel like, but not consistently where we want to be.”
He then walks back over to the pit wall, having a seat as he thinks over the qualifying run. It was better than they had practiced – speed-wise and feeling. However, it still wasn’t where they wanted to be as running there wasn’t winning races, and that was the ultimate goal. Alan’s work was paying off slowly, but they still needed a little more and he wasn’t settling until they got that.
After thinking it over, he heads back to the hauler, making his way to the lounge in the back. Alan and Josh were already there, going over notes on the laptop. He grabs a drink, sitting down beside them as he stares at the envelope on the table. Sarina slowly makes her way inside, sitting down beside, placing a hand on his leg.
“Look at those two smarties,” she starts, catching the attention of Josh and Alan. “They’ll figure it out..” Chase nods, knowing that they would; he wouldn’t want to work with anybody else. However, his mind was instead consumed by the package before him. “Is that what I think it is?”
“Paternity results delivered directly by a court official to the garage area,” he says as he picks up the envelope. “Everything that I’ve been questioning for months is right in here.” Sarina checks the seam, surprised to see it wasn’t broken.
“So what are you waiting for?” He then flips it over, taking a deep breath.
“I’ve been stuck on the fact that she’s not pregnant with my kid. What if this confirms her theory?” Sarina knew that was a possibility, but stuck to the belief that it wasn’t. Sure, she didn’t know what to believe initially due to how she found out the news and the fact that Chase wasn’t the most forthcoming. However, hearing what he had to say since, she was now ready to believe this was just another one of Alison’s games.
“Then we’ll deal with it accordingly, okay? We’ll look at the next steps to take and figure out where to go from here. No matter what, you’ve got myself, Alan, Josh, Jordan, your parents, Ryan, everybody. We can get through anything.” She then runs her finger along the edge. “I’d rather you open it and stop torturing yourself by letting her run your life.”
“I’m sorry. I just don’t know where to go with it sometimes….” She then rubs his shoulders.
“You don’t need to apologize, Chase. I get it. I really do, all of the feelings are understandable after everything. That’s why we’re all glad that you’re taking the steps necessary. The next step, though, is opening this.”
Chase knew that she was right as putting it off continually was getting them nowhere as he ran his finger along the edge of the envelope, finally breaking the seam that sealed it together. He opens the envelope, looking inside to see a white piece of paper.
“Who knew a simple white piece of paper could determine the rest of your life,” he offers as he slides the piece of paper out, blank side facing up. All it took now was flipping over the paper and he would have the results he wanted. However, he couldn’t bring himself to do it, just looking at it with a sigh.
“Can I look?” Josh interrupts as he reaches over, but Alan smacks his hand.
“This is for Chase to handle….” Alan tries to convince the car chief as Josh keeps his eyes focused on Chase.
“I’ve wanted to be Maury, though.”
“You’ve watched Maury?!?” Alan, Sarina, and Chase all say together at the same time.
“Hey now, there’s some good drama sometimes,” Josh tries to defend himself as a series of laughs break out.
“Oh what the heck?” Chase says as he tosses it over to the car chief. “I might as well let someone have some fun out of this.” Josh picks up the piece of paper, flipping it over to reveal the news they all wanted to see. Alan immediately smiles as he glances over the car chief’s shoulder.
“Alan, you would never make a good show assistant,” Sarina comments, catching the grin herself as she begins to smile a little.
“William Clyde Elliott, you are not the father of Ms. Alison Reynolds’ baby as your DNA does not match the sample given,” Josh reads out loud before handing the piece of paper back to Chase.
“Your instincts were right all along,” Alan offers as Sarina pulls him close.
Chase lets out a large sigh as he reads it for himself, feeling as though the weight had been lifted off his shoulders. It was only one step, but it was the beginning of moving further away from what happened with Alison and along with his own life.
“Well?” Sarina questions, noticing the silence from Chase as he glances over with a smile.
“It’s nice to have the proof,” he comments as he stares back at the sheet. “It’s nice to know that I was right all along. She just tried to play me, and she did a good job because I was beginning to fall for her tricks.” He then holds the sheet up in the air. “Now, I’m ready to move forward.” He goes to tear it in half, but Sarina grabs his hands. “What?”
“Keep it for those who want to say you’re full of shit…” He didn’t really care what others thought, but it wasn’t worth arguing over as he slipped it back in the envelope. He then took out his phone, texting all of those who had wondered close to him the results.
Saturday July 22, 2018 – New Hampshire
Chase walks over to his teammate, leaning his head in the window following the final run of the pair of practices that he would get before Sunday’s race.
“Alright, spill,” he starts, catching Jimmie’s attention as he was ready for some earth-shattering request. “What’s the secret to getting around this place?”
“Roll in, turn left, come off like a tiger,” Jimmie says, repeating the same advice that he had stated earlier in the weekend. Chase just lets out a sigh.
“There’s got to be more than that…” Jimmie then glances at the computer screen before him in the car, scrolling through to see Chase was 16th and 20th in the pair of sessions.
“Have you looked over throttle and brake trace to see if you’re braking at the right spots?” Chase nods his head, having gone over those screens following the first practice.
“To be honest, it felt decent through the session, except for being a little tight. But yet, here I am once again, still mid-pack.” Jimmie flips over to the throttle trace screens and sees how they compare.
“Once Alan tweaks it a little, I think you’ll be fine as you’re doing what I told you.” Chase wanted to believe that, but still wasn’t feeling totally convinced.
“Even if the handling was way out to left field through the middle of the run?” Jimmie glances over, nodding his head.
“You at least know what not to do then, right? Look, you guys are making progress and you’re figuring out the track. Given what I’m seeing, you should be just fine tomorrow. You always figure it out. Stop being so hard on yourself for once.” Chase lets out a sigh as he stands up.
“I can’t help it, man. I want to be running better..” He goes to walk away, when Jimmie grabs his hand to stop him.
“It’ll come. We’ve made considerable progress compared to where we began the season to where we are now. It’ll keep coming as these guys are too smart to not let it happen. You’ll get to running where you want to be so just relax, roll with it, and stay focused. Also, remember what we talked about before the season. Don’t get yourself burnt out too early.” Chase nods his head, running the advice through his head.
He then walks away, satisfied with the conversation even if it got him nowhere, ready to relax the rest of the night. He knew there was going to be a good XFINITY series race on-track, and there was nothing more relaxing than sitting up in the stands watching like the good ‘ol days. Hey, maybe he’d pick up something that he could use tomorrow.
He makes his way through the garage, surprised when he sees a familiar brunette before him.
“I thought you would’ve ran off the dirt track with Emma and your dad,” he offers as Erin just chuckles back in response.
“I love my guys, but I needed to catch-up with everyone,” Erin comments as she places a hand on his shoulder. “It’s nice to hear that you got the news you wanted. See, I told you to trust your instincts. Now that’s something that you don’t need to worry about with her moving forward.” Chase slowly nods his head, accepting.
“I was almost dreading meetings about what would happen if I was the fath-”
“Don’t even let those thoughts enter your mind, Chase. Don’t give her the power to control your thoughts. Focus on yourself, your future, and what you have ahead. Focus on finding the answers you need to move forward. You deserve every bit of happiness that you can get, so focus on that.” He then glances into her eyes.
“Thanks, and I’m trying…” She then smiles back in response.
“I know you are, but I also know how you try and mask everything awa-”
“I do not do tha-”
“Who put off going to therapy? Who pretended that things weren’t as messy before with Sarina when they were a disaster?” The grin then fades from his face. “Look, I’m not ready to let go how much she hurt you the-”
“It wasn’t her fau-”
“Her brother was behind it, and certainly deserves the blame. However, she still made decisions of her own that were questionable at best. I saw the pain they caused you. I held you one of those nights that you cried. I’m not about to forget tha-”
“I thought you said you were willing to accept Sarina and I being together, though.” Erin takes a careful deep breath, knowing that she was going along thin waters. However, she knew their friendship could withstand that.
“If you’re happy, then I’m willing to accept as I certainly see the potential in her to be amazing. I also see the happiness when you’re together. However, I will be the first person there to pick up the pieces, and make sure it’s the last time if something happens again. Like I told you, I have your back.” Chase places a hand on her shoulder.
“I know you do, and I appreciate that. However, you need to lay off a little, please. When I say that Sarina has changed, I mean it.” Erin glances over across the garage, seeing Sarina playing with Brexton, before looking back to Chase.
“As I’m spending time here with you, I’m seeing that. As I see more of it, then certainly I’m willing to back right off and forget. But it’s going to take time…” Chase wanted to argue back once again, but bit his tongue. He realized it was the same speech his mother had, and he knew how that turned out.
“Okay, I understand. Just please don’t get too much up in her face about it.” Erin smiles a little.
“You saw how we were at Eldora together, right? That should tell you enough. I’ll see you later.” Erin then heads off as Chase takes a deep breath, letting everything process through as he walks through the garage, catching up with Sarina and Brexton.
Sunday July 23, 2018 – New Hampshire
Following a lengthy rain delay, the race got started and there was speed in the No. 9 NAPA Chevrolet right away as Chase began to make his way forward, finishing the first stage in the runner-up spot.
He would get a good restart to start the second stage, keeping himself second right behind Martin Truex Jr.
“Easy there boy….” Sarina says quietly as he slid up across Kyle Busch’s nose. She knew that wasn’t something that Kyle would take lightly too, and was probably already complaining about on his radio.
As the stage got into the second half, Chase began to catch up to Martin Truex Jr. as they got into lap traffic
“Holy hello fuck!” Sarina lets out as he goes four-wide, splitting the two lap cars with Martin to take the lead with 19 laps to go. “Easy boy, easy – but holy fuck that was stunning!” Josh could only chuckle as he glanced over his shoulder back at her, patting her leg.
Chase would lead the rest of the way, scoring the stage victory. Unfortunately, the pit stop sequence didn’t totally go in their favor as they lost a spot.
Restarting from the second spot, Chase ran solidly there, clicking off laps as he kept himself in position.
“I got a bit of a vibration,” Chase reports over the radio with 100 laps to go, sending the team into a bit of a fury. “Are my brakes hot?”
“I can’t tell man,” Alan replies as Josh stands up immediately. “Sending someone to check in the corner.”
Josh climbs down off the steps as Sarina turns the key on the golf kart.
“Hold on boy,” she tells him as she immediately puts it in drive, making their way quickly through the infield and down to the corner. Josh takes a close look at the NAPA Chevrolet goes through the corner, shaking his head no, before climbing back on the golf cart. He was barely on, grabbing the bar as she took off back up to their pit.
“I can see why you’re a driver,” he comments as she just chuckles. He makes his way back on the box, shaking his head no to Alan.
“No color,” Alan reports back to Chase over the radio.
Whether due to brakes or something else, the other concern was surrounding handling and that affected them as he slipped back to fourth. The final pit stop was then a little slow, causing him to lose two more spots to sixth. He would make one of them back up, crossing the line in fifth.
“Considering where we started the weekend, I’ll take it,” Sarina comments as she gives Alan and Josh a high-five. “It’s progress. Keep that coming and you’ll find your win.”
“I like your vote of confidence,” Alan replies with a smile, before looking at Josh. “Maybe we should’ve made an adjustment the last run there….”
“He said he was comfortable so I went with your theory, but the track was changing, too,” Josh offers as Alan glances at his notes. “Progress, man, progress…”