Friday, May 10 – Somewhere over the United States
With the court session out of the way, Sarina was glad to be on a plane headed to Kansas so she could be with Chase. After that experience, even if limited in seeing Carter, there was nothing more comforting than being in his arms.
Although it was a short flight – 2 hours and 15 minutes, Sarina was still looking for ways to pass time. knowing that Chase had media availability following practice, she couldn’t help but glance at what he had to say out of curiosity.
“What are you chuckling about?” Christopher questions as he hears a couple chuckles from Sarina, catching his attention. Considering the seriousness of the day, he was honestly was surprised.
“Chase’s media availability,” she replies, which results in a confused glance in response. “He’s finally finding his honest tone with their constant questions, and I think the reporters are getting more than they would’ve thought.”
“Oh really?” She nods her head, re-loading the quote on her phone.
“They asked him about his thoughts on how NASCAR handles driver feedba-”
“Is that because of Kevin lashing out on his radio show on Tuesday?” She shrugs her shoulders, as she hadn’t honestly kept up with the news due to being busy enough herself with the court dates and Abigail.
“I think there is certainly a right way to maybe bring it up. Frankly, I’ve tried to voice my opinion at different times or in those meetings that we’re supposed to voice our opinions in. And at the end of the day, I’ve come to the realization, and maybe this will change as time goes, but I just don’t think that my opinion matters to the people who make the rules.” Christopher’s face instantly turned to shock as he took a closer glance to make sure that she was reading that correctly.
“That comes across more shocking especially with him being the most popular driver…” Sarina nods her head as she continues to read through the rest of the quotes. “But he is right. I mean, how many times have the drivers complained about the package and been ignored?”
“Is that way you stated a couple weeks ago that you weren’t about to change your role, and you enjoyed doing what you were doing with the Xfinity cars?” Christopher chuckles as he was surprised she remembered that so clearly.
“Listen, everybody would love to be in the Cup Series one day. But you have to admit – these cars are a ton of fun to drive everywhere.” She nods her head in agreement as she couldn’t complain about her current situation with JR Motorsports.
“Christopher, thank you for coming with me, from the trip to Arizona to the flight back. It means the world to me.” He smiles as he wraps an arm around her shoulders.
“Anything for my best friend.”
Friday, May 10 – Kansas Speedway
Chase climbs out of the car, glancing at the scoring pylon with a shrug. There was nothing to complain about being fifth quickest. It was better than they had practiced, gave them somewhere solid to start off tomorrow night, and the car was driving decent.
Of course, though, it wasn’t the pole that he would’ve preferred but you cannot always have that as warranted.
“It was okay, it was fine,” he tells the media following the session. “I thought everything was smooth and our car drove okay, which was fine. We’ll see what happens tomorrow.”
“Do you have confidence form last fall for tomorrow night?” One of the media members ask, referencing his win at Kansas Speedway last October. It was the common question that they seemed to develop when you had previously won somewhere.
“It’s so different. It’s hard to really carry that. And, that was a long time ago too. You’d like to think so, yeah, it doesn’t hurt for sure.”
He then goes through answering a couple more questions, before meeting up with Alan. With a strong qualifying effort, the debrief session was quick as there wasn’t much to discuss and go over for tomorrow – having done so already.
With everything done for the day, he made his way to the motorcoach lot, knocking on a familiar door that he had seen many times. A smile immediately formed on his face as the door opened to a young face.
“Hi Chase,” Lydia says with a smile to match his as she never hated seeing her buddy.
“Hey Lydia,” he replies, easily accepting the hug that she was offering. “Was Abigail a good girl?” Lydia nods her head right away. “That’s good.”
“Sarina is here, too.” Chase’s response turns to shock in the comment as he hadn’t expected her to be back from Arizona yet. He also thought she would’ve come out to pit road.
“Oh really?” Lydia nods her head, before leading Chase inside by the hand. “Sarina, he here.” Sarina looks over with a smile to match Chase’s.
“Hey babes,” she replies, before standing up off of the couch and walking over. She quickly gives Chase a kiss, followed by a little hug. “Nice job in qualifying.”
“How long have you been here?” Chase asks, still caught off-guard by her appearance.
“I got here as you finished qualifying. I figured that you’d be busy with media and Alan, so I came to see our princess.” Chase smile as he looks over at Abigail in her arms, earning a chuckle back in response. “Chandra told me that she was an angel.”
“Lydia told me that, too. I’m just glad that you’re here.” Sarina could easily see where Chase was going with the comment, but wanting to hold back with others around.
“It wasn’t easy, but I got through it. There were tears, and I felt like jumping up and running, but I saw through it all. Damien did us good.” Chase nods his head, having read her text message from earlier. “Alycia feels that the rest of the testimony is just going to solidify everything – but it’s not necessary as everything spells out nicely.”
“I want to be confident in what she’s saying, but I’m not going to say anything until I have the verdict in hand.” Sarina easily understood where he was coming from, as they’d been down this road plenty of times before.
Saturday, May 11 – Kansas Speedway
Although the day started off with smiles, that did not last long as Chase would fail pre-race technical inspection, resulting in having to start at the tail of the field.
“Again?” That’s all Sarina could say when Chase passed along the message to her from Alan.
“You know we’re pushing the envelopes and how close things are,” Chase replies, trying to reason what had happened. “Trust me, it doesn’t make me happy either – but there’s nothing we can do. We can handle it. We have a good car.”
His prediction was right on the money, as he was able to make his way to the front of the field quickly, showing speed through the first half of the event en route to winning the second stage.
The speed carried over into the final stage of the event, as he’d lead laps, trading the lead back and forth with Alex Bowman.
“As much as I want Chase to win tonight, I’d really feel bad for Alex if he finished second again,” Sarina comments, referencing the back-to-back runner-ups for Alex entering the night. “He honestly deserves to break through for his first win. That said, go Chase go!”
“Don’t worry – we all agree with you,” Josh Kirk offers in response with a chuckle.
Unfortunately, as the race got into the later stages, the handling would begin to go away as Chase developed a loose condition. He would slip dead sideways, barely hanging onto the car, which caused him to lose a couple spots. He’d fight back with a couple late race passes, crossing the finish line with a fourth-place finish.
“How do you feel about today’s run?” The reporter asks Chase following the event. Sarina had to smile herself, as it was certainly much nicer to running consistently in the top-five on the intermediate tracks after struggling through the first couple.
“It was okay,” Chase replied which didn’t surprise Sarina. “It was nice running top-five. I hate to have been leading the laps that we did and not finish it off, but what do you do? It’s unfortunate.” Sarina lets out a sigh, hearing that regret that she was used to with Chase in situations like this. It was all about the end result – not the performance through the night. She knew as a racer herself it really stung to give up the track position late in the event. However, that didn’t mean that she felt bad right now.
“What are your thoughts on the package with the conclusion of the race?” Sarina admittedly was a fan as she had been intrigued by the racing throughout the night, especially during the late stages with the three-wide battles for positions. It was an edge of your seat event, and one you didn’t want to take your eyes off of in fear of missing something.
“I think this track suited with what they were after, as far as being able to draft and be close to each other.” Sarina had to agree, knowing the fresh pavement certainly made that easier to do than other places. “This is kind of the perfect storm for it. I don’t really think it’s realistic everywhere. It was exciting tonight, so that was a win for them.”
Sarina stands back, letting Chase finish up with a couple more interviews before heading over to where she was standing. She immediately wraps her arms around him, as he takes Abigail from her arms.
“You did a good tonight,” she replies. “These are the types of runs that give me confidence for the summer stretch.” Chase nods his head in agreement. “I know you hate giving it away at the end, but don’t lose sight of the speed that you had – and how far you’ve come since the beginning of this season.”
“When you put it that way, I guess I’m bitching over small things right now.” She chuckles nodding her head.
“It’s okay, though, because I understand the frustration….”
Wednesday, May 15 – Philadelphia
Chase stands back, watching as Sarina interacts with the couple of media members, answering their questions.
“I’m surprised to see you here,” Chase hears, catching his attention as he glances over his shoulder. He smiles, not surprised by the direction of the comment from Justin Allgaier.
“And how come?” He wonders, out of pure curiosity. It did seem odd a bit as the other drivers hadn’t brought their wives and girlfriends with them.
“I thought you would’ve been enjoying your day off, or spending quality time with your daughter. Instead, you’re in the middle of Philadelphia taking photos of Sarina, whom you always get to see anyway.” Chase chuckles as it did sound ridiculous when Justin put it so simply.
“With everything that’s happened recently, she wanted some extra support with her.” Justin nods his head, understanding as he had heard some brief details about what happened. “I also don’t mind staring at her, either, and it gives me some practice to make my photos that much better. She also wants to make sure that she’s not late for the Catwalk for a Cause tonight so I’m her ride.”
“So you’re all about pleasing the beauty….” Chase smiles, as he couldn’t hide that fact at all. “I can’t blame you as she’s certainly a special one. Can you somehow talk her into laying off on the jokes on me, though?”
“I’ll think about it, but someone needs to keep you in line…” Justin just rolls his eyes in response.
The group continues to tour around the city, with the drivers partaking in the scheduled fan autograph session, followed by a tour of the city atop a double decker bus. Their trip finished off with them reaching the mountain that Rocky famously climbed in his movie.
“Can we expect to see you go running up that?” Chase questions, as they watch Tyler, Justin and John Hunter Nemechek go running up the steps.
“Are you serious?” She asks, glancing over at him in shock. “Oh hell no.”
“Come on, it’d be a fun entertaining photo…” She shakes her head no. “I thought you’d be all for proving the boys wrong.” She then chuckles as she looks back towards the steps, seeing them halfway up.
“I don’t need to prove anything. Do you see how they took off already? That’s because they knew they needed a head start to beat me.” Chase looks over surprised, but had to laugh as he watched the group go running up the hill.
“Would you race me up the stairs?” She was actually surprised by the comment.
“Is that a challenge, Mr. Elliott? Are you prepared to lose?” He then sets aside his camera and stuff with her PR rep, before looking back towards her. “Oh now we’re getting serious.”
“You know that I don’t come to play games, right?” She nods her head, having been down this road before. “Winner gets to choose dinner tonight.”
Wednesday, May 15 – Catwalk for a Cause
“So even though I lost, I have to admit that dinner wasn’t too bad,” Chase comments, before pulling her close. “Although that’s easy when I have such a beauty to look at while I’m eating.”
“I’m glad that you like the outfit,” she replies, leaning in for a kiss. “I’m just glad that we could be here tonight for the kids.” Chase nods his head as he looks around, seeing the smiles on all of the faces.
“Sherry and Martin certainly have created something special here…” She then leans back against him in his arms, as he wraps them around her.
“It really puts things in perspective. We have a lot going on and we’ve been through so much. I mean, I don’t even need to say anything as we both know that. However, no matter what we’ve been through, it doesn’t compare to what these kids are going through. Imagine having your whole life ahead of you, and you find out that you’re dying of cancer. Imagine sitting through those treatments. It really makes me thankful, that even with everything we’ve been through, that we’re able to do what we can. I love you, Chase.” Chase holds her a little tighter, as he kisses the top of her head.
“I love you, too, forever and always. Now, let’s go make those kids happy….”