The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 80: Pocono Double

Saturday, June 2 – Pocono Raceway

Sarina glances through the garage, a bit of shock washing over her as she makes her way over to Lindsay.

“You’re actually here this weekend?” Sarina questions, catching Lindsay off-guard.

“Uh duh of course,” Lindsay answers as she places on her stomach. “Not that I’ve got to enjoy the Pocono weather at all because this little one has been a bit of a pain.” Sarina looks on concerned.

“Morning sickness?” Lindsay nods her head accepting, as she lets out a sigh.

“It’s more like all day sickness. I’ve had it all this week. I could’ve even think about food on Wednesday without throwing up. it’s getting easier, and I finally was able to get digest some toast so I thought I’d actually come out and support my man.” Lindsay then glances into the Cup garages. “I see you’re not getting much time with Chase.”

“I’m getting enough for what matters.” Lindsay just rolls her eyes as Sarina smiles. “Hey, he’s having fun doing double duty for a change and he isn’t doing too bad. He says the car feels good for the XFINITY race, and 11th in Cup practice isn’t bad considering…” Lindsay nods her head in agreement.

“I just realized I dumped all my baby news on you without a thought of consid-”

“No, it’s okay – trust me. I can handle it.” Lindsay then looks over surprised as it was a change considering the last reaction she had gotten. “I’ve come to grips with things. They may not be what I truly want, but I’ve come to grips with it. I can’t wait to be an aunt to your little boy or girl. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for myself and Chase. I also can’t wait until I prove everybody wrong and win that championship.”

“Still dealing with the doubters?” Sarina lets out a sigh, nodding her head.

“I only got the ride because I’m female. I’m only relevant because I’m dating Chase. I should’ve dumped for all the bullshit that I caused with my brother. Oh, and Alison is somehow my fault too.” Lindsay looks over surprised.

“Girl, what have both Chase and I told you about all that bullshit?” Sarina crosses her arms.

“To forget and ignore, but sometimes that’s too hard to do. Hence why I’m turning haters into motivators.” Lindsay smiles as she had heard that line before courtesy of Kyle.

“So Chase should just make you another shelf in the trophy room right?” Sarina just chuckles. “Speaking of Alison, when do you get those paternity test results?”

“Not until July as you have to be 10 weeks before they can get the DNA from the baby. If it was up to me, I’d just rip her apart and figure out what the hell sex that thing is. She’s so crazy that I’d be scared of a baby from it.” Lindsay was now really surprised. “What? I know I should have sympathy for an unborn life and everybody deserves a chance, but did you see everything that she’s done? Anything connected to that has to be crazy.”

“But what if Chase is the father?” Sarina glances over, slightly concerned, as her eyes glance down to the ground.

“I know if he turns out to be the father, he would want to do whatever it took for that baby and take full responsibility. I know him well enough to say that fully confident, no matter who the mother is.” Sarina then glances back up at Lindsay. “But is he the father? I don’t think so. The more that I talk with him about what happened, the more details that he tells me about what happened and he comes to grips with everything, the more I believe that she is playing this game to try and pull his life apart again. That’s who she is, Lindsay.”

“I’m surprised to see the change in perspective.” Sarina lets out a sigh as she glances back into the garage stall.

“Sometimes you have to trust your gut and believe every word out of your man’s mouth, even if you want to put a full shadow of doubt initially. I’m learning to trustworthy and be more open, each day a little more. Chase, you, Kyle and Samantha – I know I can trust each of you without a shadow of a doubt. So if he tells me he isn’t the father, I am going to damn well believe him.”

Chase leans back against the car as Sarina walks over handing him a bottle of water.

“Close….” She comments as he takes a sip, eyes focused on her.

“Close only counts in horseshoes and ha-” he starts.

“Hand grenades.” He nods his head as he drinks more of the water. “But considering the fact that you ran outside of the top-five all day and came back to finish second with strategy at the end, should you be complaining?” Chase shakes his head no. “I mean, to finish second to Kyle in the XFINITY Series is an achievement in itself with the way Gibbs has that program put together.”

“Of course you’d comment on their supreme equipment.” She then smiles as she leans back beside him.

“It was fun driving those cars, okay? If Joe called me tomorrow and said hey, you’re running this race next weekend, I’d have the helmet packed quicker than he could hang up.” Chase chuckles as he wraps an arm around her shoulders.

“You’ll get that opportunity, don’t worry.” He then gives her a quick kiss. “So you didn’t just watch me all day….”

“Are you kidding me? I’m the super supportive girlfriend who does anythi-”

“Fiancée, and I saw you talking with Lindsay.” She smiles at the reminder in change of the wording as she glances down pit road towards Lindsay and Ryan.

“I wanted to see how my girl is doing. It seems that pregnancy isn’t all sunshine and roses for her. She’s been dealing with some morning sickness that turned into all-day sickness.” Chase makes a face as he glances down their way. “Maybe not being able to get pregnant has its advantages…”

“Did I just really hear that from you?” Sarina lets out a sigh as she glances back at Chase.

“I’m coming to grips with reality, okay? Just like racing has taught me that I need to be calmer and realistic, I’m trying to do that with my entire life. While you’re handling what you’ve got, I’m becoming stronger myself. That includes realizing that maybe having a baby isn’t in the cards…” Chase pulls her even closer to him.

“We still have the second opinion. I know it’s taking longer than warranted, but when I mentioned to Rick that we were looking for someone to give us another opinion, he wanted to find the best expert that he could find so we knew the truth.” She nods her head, remembering the discussion. “I understand trying to do what you’re doing, but I also know how badly it broke your heart when you found out that you couldn’t carry a baby full term. I remember the tears and pain. You don’t just let that go by changing your ways, Sarina – same way I can’t just forget what happened.” He then takes a slow deep breath. “Before you make these life altering decisions, just promise me that you’ll consider what is to come.”

“I can promise you that, but I can also tell you that I’m prepared for whatever happens.” She then turns to face him, wrapping her arms around him. “We’ve been through so much. There were times that I thought I lost you from either my stupid mistakes, or Chris’ behavior, or Alison’s choices. They made me appreciate what I have so much more, and I’m ready to live in the moment. As long as we’re together, happy, and healthy, that’s what matters.” She then reaches up on her tippy toes and kisses his lips. “I love you, Clyde.”

“I’ll always love you, too.”

Sunday, June 3 – Pocono Raceway

Sitting comfortable on the pit box, the day had gone smoothly as Sarina couldn’t complain thus far. Alan had worked on the handling to get it pretty decent for Chase, and he had been able to run in the top-10 all day.

Though when the caution came out in the late stages, Alan made the decision to leave Chase out while several of the leaders, having him restart third. While the track position was nice, the older tires did him no favors as he fell back outside of the top-10.

“Of course,” Sarina says to herself trying to avoid the thought of cursing Alan out. She got trying a gamble and do something different and maybe snag a win and track position, but she knew they needed solid finishes from here on out as they were right on the border of playoff elimination. It was never too early to think about the post-season.

Thankfully, the caution came out with 18 laps to go, which Alan made the decision to bring him down pit road. Restarting outside of the top-20, Chase would drive the wheels off of it, making his way back up into the top-10 by the checkered flag.

“I don’t blame you for trying something,” Chase stated after the race as Alan lets out a long sigh.

“We could’ve possibly got a top-five if I would’ve given you tires when you needed them,” Alan comments as Sarina nods her head in agreement. Sure, it was a decent finish and she could leave with a smile on her face. However, that didn’t absorb Alan of his wrong decision.

“We’ll get them next week. Michigan has always treated us well, right?” Alan nods his head in agreement as he glances at Sarina.

“Have fun in Texas,” he states as Sarina simply just smiles back in return.

“I’ll see you on Sunday to keep your ass in line,” she offers as Chase just laughs.

“Why am I not surprised?” Alan then walks away as Chase glances over at her.

“Remind me next time to not allow him to make stupid decisions on the box.” Chase just rolls his eyes as he wraps an arm around her shoulders.

“But if his strategy would’ve worked out, as it did for a couple others, you would’ve called him your hero.” She then lets out a sigh as they head back through the garage together. “Just make sure to behave next weekend. I’m not there to keep you in line.”

“I’m Kyle’s angel now, remember?” Chase just rolls his eyes.

Thursday, June 7  – North Carolina

Chase smiles as he reads the latest text message from Sarina, glad that she was in a good mood. Then again, how could she complain after being second quickest in practice?

“Story?” Chase hears as Lydia looks over at him, holding a book in her hand.

“I did tell you that I would read you one before bed, right?” Lydia nods her head yes. He puts his phone aside, snagging the book out of her little hands as he gets her tucked in on the couch.

With their crazy hectic schedule, Jimmie had wanted to take Chandra out on a special date night of their own without any interruptions. That was fine except while Genieve was sleeping over at a friend’s, their babysitter was not available to watch Lydia. That’s when Chase stepped up, knowing that Lydia would absolutely love a night with him.

The pair had been having fun throughout the night, from playing games to baking cookies and building a fort with the cushions in the living room – all while Chase kept checking timing and scoring from Texas.

Though now that it was night time, it was her bed time and that meant one thing – time for a story. She had brought a selection of books from her collection, all ending up with Chase reading her Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham before bed.

As he turned to the fifth page, he looked over and a smile formed as she was already passed out. He set the book lightly down beside her, before turning the light off.

After spending time relaxing with some more text messages to Sarina and a bit of Netflix, it was certainly time for him to close his eyes and go to sleep. Not wanting to be far from her, he made the decision to sleep in the lazyboy while she was on the couch.

“On the bed, spread eagle….” He simply follows the orders as she places the phone just out of reach from his fingers, allowing the live video feed to play once again, as she strips out of her clothes. “I should almost just do what I really want tonight to make you suffer for that comment. Actually, I could simply just send the messa-”

“No, please. Leave Sarina alone. Take me. Do whatever you want. Just please leave her alone.” Alison smirks even wider as she climbs on the bed, laying on top of him.

“I could easily take these off….” She runs her finger tips along the waistline of his boxers. “But we’ll save that for another night…” Just like the previous night, she begins off the same way, her breathing picking up as she did so, matched by his doing the same with a tinge of fear and pain mixed in. But yet, she was getting her satisfaction in feeling him harden against her even through the fabric.

“The….ring….” He grabs her hand, bringing it to closer view of his eyes, seeing the familiar pink diamond. “You took Sarina’s ring…” Alison smirks as she looks into his eyes.

“She doesn’t need tha-”

“Take it off!” Now he really wished that Jordan and Alan heard them. “Take it off!”

“Shut up and kiss me like you mean it, and maybe you’ll get your wish….” He takes a deep breath, accepting the kiss that she had to offer, as well as the continued body movements. “Good boy….”

“Please….” She then moves her lips down his collarbone, sucking as hard as she can as a moan escapes her lips once again.

“I know you want me….”

Chase sits up instantly in the chair, covered in a cold sweat as he tries to catch his breath. He instantly glances over at the couch, seeing Lydia still sleeping.

“You’re okay,” he tells himself as he slowly gets up and makes his way into the kitchen. He pours himself a glass of milk, leaning against the counter, drinking it immediately. “It was just a dream. She can’t hurt you anymore. Just forget it, Chase.” He then takes a couple more deep breathes, feeling the tears roll down his cheeks.

“Chase?” He hears, catching him off-guard as he tries to wipe the tears off of his face immediately seeing four-year-old before him. “You okay?” He nods his head yes as he takes a deep breath.

“Yeah, I’m fine sweetheart,” he replies before kneeling down to her level. “You know those bad dreams that happen with monsters?” Lydia nods her head. “Well, I had one and it scared me – but I’m okay.”

“I save you!” She then wraps her arms tightly around him, which he immediately accepts the hug without reservation.

“Thank you sweetheart. Say, why don’t we both get back to sleep?” She nods her head in agreement as he takes her hand, walking back to the living room together. He tucks her into the blanket on the couch, before climbing back in the lazy boy once again. “Good night Lydia.”

“Night Chase.” He was just about to sleep when he felt movement in the chair, immediately relaxing when he felt arms around his neck. “I cuddle. I save you. Love you.” He then gives her a kiss on the top of the head.

“I love you too, Lydia.”

Friday, June 8  – Michigan International Speedway

Jimmie walks into the garage stall, eyes locked on Chase.

“For someone who just timed in fifth quickest, you’re not looking super happy,” Jimmie comments as Chase glances over. He was actually surprised to see his teammate as normally they all just got together as team meeting time. “But maybe that’d do with last night.”

“Last night?” Chase questions, a little curious. He actually thought Lydia had a good time – at least that’s what she told him.

“Lydia told me that you woke up from a bad dream with scary monsters.” Chase lets out a sigh as he had to know that it’d get back to Jimmie eventually. “She told me that she comforted you.”

“Yeah, I appreciated that actually – and I promise that I didn’t say a lot or really anythi-”

“I’m not mad, or upset, or concerned about that. well, actually, I’m concerned about you if you’re having bad dreams like that. Are you sure everything is okay?” Chase knew he couldn’t keep the act up with everybody forever, especially those close as they found out details. Besides, everyone was going to know in a matter of days when the trial finally took place.

“I had a flashback to an incident with Alison.” Jimmie had pretty much figured that out already.

“I know she stalked you for months, drugged, tripped you with a banana, crashed a plane – she has a track record. So I get why that’d bug you even still to this day and it’d take time to get through it. I also know it can’t be easy being by yourself with Sarina there to support you. Am I right?” Chase nods his head yes. “If it’s easier for you, Lydia can stay with you tonight and tomorrow night until Sarina gets here. If you’re not willing to open up to me, that’s the least I can offer and do to help as a teammate and a friend.” Chase hated to not spill the details, and be open, but how could he admit that out loud once again?

“I appreciate that. Thank you because your daughter is amazing.” Jimmie smiles, having realized that already.

“She also says that you’re pretty cool to hang out with. You’d make a pretty cool dad probably.” Chase slowly nods his head in response, knowing that hit a core in two spots at once.

“We’ll have to see what happens….” Jimmie watches closely as Chase takes a deep breath. “Can I tell you something that you promise you won’t tell anyone?” Jimmie nods his head yes. “Sarina had a miscarriage in January, and she was told last month that she may not be able to carry a baby full-term. We’re getting a second opinion, but we may not be able to have kids of our ow-”

“What about a surrogate or adoption?” Chase knew the options were there, and knew that discussion was next with Sarina. But first things first, it was dealing with Alison and the initial news.

“We’ve talked a little, but no decisions have been made yet.” Jimmie nods his head, accepting.

“I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings in making the comme-”

“You didn’t. I’ve realized this already because this is something that we’ve been working our way through since January. I’ve accepted what is to come in the future for Sarina and I as parents. As she said to me, as long as we’re together, happy and healthy, that’s all that matters. But I can admit to you that sometimes, it stings a little..” Jimmie wraps an arm around him.

“I can’t fault you for that as I know it would for me and Chandra if we were in the same situation. But I’m proud also for how you’re handling it. For what it’s worth, you can always come to me to talk about it, and you can always babysit if you want. Lydia just adores you…” Chase smiles as that was very easy to tell.

“Even if she ends up dating Brexton because of it?” Jimmie looks on surprised. “Yeah, they had a good play at KBM when you asked me to watch her a couple weeks ago and I stopped by to see Sarina.”

“Oh boy, save me now….” Chase just chuckles as Jimmie walks away. “I’ll bring her by at 8, okay?” Chase nods his heads accepting.

“Yeah, thanks….” He then runs his hands over his face as he lets out a long sigh. “If only you knew, Jimmie….”

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The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 77: North Carolina Education Lottery 200

Friday May 18, 2018 – Charlotte Motor Speedway

Chase makes his way up onto the pit box, giving Rudy Fugle a quick nod before taking his usual seat. Taking a deep breath, it was going to be a fun night under the lights.

The race started off strong for Sarina as he was ran second until Lap 15, before passing Johnny Sauter for the lead. It looked as though a stage win was in sight, when the caution flew with nine laps to go. Rudy made the call to bring her down pit road, where they’d come off strong in the running order.

“Speeding,” Rudy tells her. “Coming onto pit road. Tail of the longest line.” Chase could only let out a sigh as he watches her fall back down the running order to 22nd.

“We got a strong truck and there’s still a lot of laps tonight,” Sarina comments over the radio, surprising Chase as he half-expected her to be frustrated.

Once the green flag was back out, she made some moves, working her way up to 14th by the time the stage was finished. She was also able to gain ground under caution, with four trucks pitting, bumping her up to 10th to start stage two.

Once again, she showed more speed, working her way up to seventh mid-way through the second stage. However, it appeared the handling of the No. 18 Toyota Tundra was a little off, as she’d fade back to 10th by the checkered flag. Once again, Rudy brought her down pit road, giving her four tires, sending her back out to restart fourth.

The speed was back after the restart as the progress continued, with her battling Brett Moffitt for second when the caution came out with 56 laps to go for another truck going around. As per the other cautions, Rudy had her back on pit road for tires, set to restart seventh. She didn’t gain much ground this time on the restart, but another caution with 48 laps to go and more trucks pitting bumped her up to fourth. She was able to get a good restart, moving up to second before the next yellow flag with 22 laps to go.

With Kyle Busch on her back bumper for the next restart, Chase knew it was bound to be good and felt hopeful about her chances at possibly going back-to-back. However, Kyle got going before she did, getting into the back of her truck, sending her sideways, but she managed to hang on. However, it’d drop her back to 10th in the process.

“Lovely….” was all Chase could say as another caution came out with 15 laps to go. He really didn’t want to be around to hear what she said post-race as he knew she’d probably be fuming right now about Kyle.

The final restart saw her struggle a little, but she managed to gain some ground, crossing the finish line in eighth. As per usual, Chase and Rudy both made their way off the pit box together and were set to go see her. Chase felt a little nervous as they made their way over, not sure what her reaction would be.

“Where is he?” She immediately questions, and they both knew that she was referring to Kyle.

“He is in the media center,” Chase states, having seen him walk off in his own frustrated mode with his PR rep.

“Great. I’ll go wait for him…” Sarina goes to head that direction, when Chase puts his arm out stopping her. “Excuse me?”

“Maybe you should hold off talking to Kyle…” She then looks over at him surprised.

“We’re seriously going to do this again, are we? I mean, I thought you would’ve figured it out last year when you tried to stop me from talking to Chri-”

“I let you both talk eventually, remember? I made you wait until you were both away from everybody else and then I didn’t stand in the way as you basically went off on him. That’s all I’m doing here. Besides, Kyle is a little frustrated himself right now.” She then chuckles with a slight eye roll.

“That’s great. Ask me if I care, Chase?” Chase lets out a sigh as Rudy crosses his arms.

“The pit crew let him down twice tonight,” he starts. “Two penalties for being over the wall too soon put him back twice. I know you don’t have sympathy nor probably give a damn right now, but that’s why he’s overly frustrated. That’s probably why maybe he went a little early and got into you there. Chase just wants to save you from doing something stupid.” She then glances back at Rudy.

“So I’m just supposed to be the good employee and let my boss control my life? That sounds great, Rudy.” She then walks away from the pair of them as Chase lets out a sigh, following her. “You aren’t going to stop me, Chase…”

“I’m not trying to stop you, remember?” Chase questions before reaching out and grabbing her arm firmly. “Just please let’s save this and do it back in the motorcoach lot, just like you did with Christopher.” She then stops, letting out a sigh as she glances back. It was almost getting to be too much energy fighting him, and as long as she saw Kyle, what else mattered?

“Fine…” She agrees as they then turn and head the other direction, the frustration still stemming on her.

“Besides, I do have a question for you…” She rolls her eyes right away. “You spun the tires, right? Before Kyle even touched you, you spun the tir-”

“What are you getting at, Elliott?” He didn’t appreciate the tone, but that wasn’t going to stop him from going forward here.

“If you don’t spin the tires, he doesn’t touch your bumper, right?” She just laughs.

“You sound like Rudy….”

“Maybe he was just trying to help you get going, and didn’t realize that your bumpers weren’t lined up. We’ve seen that before.” He then reaches out and places a hand on her shoulder. “Think about rationally….” She then stops, taking a deep breath.

“Okay, so maybe you’re right. Maybe I am wrong to be upset with him. That just leaves me to be upset with myself. Great…” He then glances down, knowing that the situation had just gotten worse – even if Kyle was off the hook.

“You made a mistake. It happens. Live and move on. Learn what you did wrong from that restart so you never do it again. But do not beat yourself up because you drove a great race tonight, and you came out of there with a top-10.” He then wraps his arm around her shoulder. “Besides, I can’t let you leave in the morning if you’re upset.”

“Part of me still doesn’t want to go. Part of me wants to be here wit-”

“I’ll be fine, Sarina. Go and learn what you can about that place. Maybe even bring home a trophy.” She then smiles, giving him a small kiss in return.

“That’s the plan, right?”

Saturday May 19, 2018 – Charlotte Motor Speedway

Chase climbs out of the car and makes his way over to his teammates, knowing that there’d be a good discussion forth coming. It was the first time practicing the new package fully, and he had to say that it was different and certainly interesting. For the record, the practice had gone solidly too, as he felt pretty good about the car and ended up 10th on the charts.

“I feel if you can get that run off the corner, then you can make something work,” Alex Bowman shares with the group as Jimmie nods his head in return.

“But can you make it work so you actually clear the guy?” Jimmie wonders. “I almost felt stuck there at times.”

“The runs don’t come without you focusing perfectly on that timing. Like, you need to be precise or else you’re screwed big time.”

The teammates continue talking, as Chase listens on, not really having anything to add at this point. If he was being honest, Sarina being away was actually starting to bother him as he wanted her to lean on there right now. instead, he was stuck trying to find some way to get updates from Canada as there was not really the best of coverage for what was happening.

“Earth to Chase!” Chase hears, snapping him out of his thoughts as he looks up at Jimmie. “Dude, are you okay?”

“Yeah,” Chase replies, almost instinctively as he grabs his phone, hopeful for an update. He was glad that Sarina had sent one, noting that they’d practiced in the heavy fog which was certainly a new learning experience, and qualifying had been cancelled, setting her up to start 13th tomorrow. She then noted that they’d run another practice later on that day.

“He’s just missing his girl,” William comments before walking away as Jimmie watches him closely.

“Is he right?” Jimmie wonders and Chase nods his head. “I thought you’d be used to this with all the separate schedule stuff that you guys deal with.”

“It doesn’t mean that it’s always easy, right?” Chase offers and Jimmie could understand that. However, he was still a little caught off-guard by Chase’s behavior.

“I know what you mean as some weekends, I wish Chandra would bring the kids when she doesn’t. But really, are you sure everything is okay? I mean, I made mention of a bit of a joke last week and you like clamped up immediately. Then your deal with Ricky – which I can’t totally get mad at you for, and now this? Remember I always said that I’m here if you nee-”

“I’m fine, Jimmie, really.” Chase could see the sympathy in Jimmie’s eyes as everybody knew that his behavior was probably somehow connected to the mess with Alison. However, the details weren’t there and Chase was determined to keep things that way. “I have some things on my mind, but I’m fine. I’ll work them out.”

“Well, you know I’m here to talk if you need to.” Chase nods his head once again. “And for the record, I don’t know what all Alison did to you and Sarina, but don’t let that bother you. You’re strong, and nothing that she did or said matters.” Jimmie then walks away as Chase leans back against the pit box.

“If only you knew, Jimmie….” He then lets out a sigh, before grabbing his phone and Gatorade and heading off. It was only a matter of time before they’d be starting the night’s festivities, and Chase was thankful for that distraction.

After finishing the practice session seventh on the board, Sarina checked into her hotel room, getting comfortable on the bed as she opened the box.

“All-Star Race and Chicken Wings – perfect combination right?” She questions to herself as she glances over at the small stuffed animal sitting on the bed.

She smiles as she knew it’d be a good call to bring Hootie with her as it gave her some connection back to Chase. of course, if she was really looking for something, she just needed to glance at the ring on her finger.

Right from the drop of the green flag, she had to admit that she was proud of the package NASCAR had put together for all-star race in seeing the racing. It made her wish she was there, knowing that it was going to be a great show by the racing already.

“That’s it Alex!” She let out in watching Alex Bowman winning the first stage of the Monster Energy Open to qualify for the main event. Now Chase and William needed to do the same.

“So close….” She lets out after the completion of the second stage in watching Chase finish second to Daniel. She wanted to be happy for Daniel in being her Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, but she honestly wished more than anything that Chase would’ve won instead.

“Are you freaking kidding me?” She could only say after the third and final stage. He had led laps and looked like he was going to win it, until A.J. Allmendinger pulled the move out of nowhere with a jump from fourth to first in the last two laps to win instead.

Taking a deep breath, she wanted to believe in the fan vote. After all, it was clear that everybody liked her boyfriend just as much as her. However, she wondered just what would happen as she saw the campaigns put together by Darrell Wallace and Matt DiBenedetto.

The instant sigh of relief came in watching them announce Chase as the fan vote winner, including a fist pump in the air. It wasn’t how they necessarily wanted to get into the big show, but he was in the show and that’s all that mattered.

After washing up, and getting comfortable in her pajamas, she curls up on the bed with Hootie, ready to take in the all-star race that night.

Starting back in 21st, she was ready to watch him carefully make his way through the field.

“Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy…” was all that slipped out of her mouth as she watched him barely getting by Kurt Busch when he went for his spin, backing into the wall barely.

However, she couldn’t complain by the end of the stage as he had finished seventh. The happiness didn’t last, though, as it turned to anger and a bit of confusion in watching him miss his stall getting onto pit road, set to restart at the back of the field once again.

“He’s just keeping it interesting,” she tried to tell herself.

Through the back half of the event, it was all smiles as he put on a show, working his way forward, contending for spots, en route to a fifth-place finish. It wasn’t the million dollars, but it was great momentum heading into the Coke 600 next week.

Sunday May 20, 2018

Chase watches her walk over to the car, climbing in the passenger seat. It had been difficult to get updates on her Pinty’s Series event, but she had done well, running up front throughout the event, and finishing third. Not too shabby for a learning experience weekend.

“I missed you,” she tells him, leaning over the center console to kiss his lips.

“I missed you too,” he replies, deepening the kiss immediately as he grabs her hand with his own. “I couldn’t sleep last night without you. Nice job today, though.”

“The only reason I slept was because of Hootie….” He had to chuckle as he saw the owl sticking out of her sweater pocket. “But I was right. I should’ve stayed and took care of yo-”

“I’m fine. We have tonight to make up for that…” She then puts her seatbelt on right away, with a wink at him.

“The sooner we get home…..”

“….the sooner we can cuddle.” He then puts the car in gear, heading out of the airport parking lot, thankful that it was a short drive home.

Wednesday May 23, 2018

“This is the life,” Sarina comments as she hits on the edge of the boat, enjoying the sunshine.

“I’m not complaining,” Chase says as he keeps his eyes locked on her.

“Of course you wouldn’t.” She just glances back at him, giving him a wink, before looking back forward. “Can we spend every day on the lake?”

“Sure.” He then makes his way over, sitting down beside her. “As long as you promise to wear that every time.” She smiles as it was obvious the bikini fit every single curve perfectly.

“As long as you promise to leave your hair like that…” She then reaches over, playing with the ringlets once again. “So you have the Hooters Pageant this weekend….”

“Don’t worry. I promise you that you’re the only girl that I’m totally staring at in total awe of.” Her heart fluttered in response, but the assurance wasn’t needed.

“You don’t need to tell me, Clyde. I know that already….” She then leans in and lightly kisses his lips. “But that’s just a reminder of how much I know.”

“A reminder, huh? Maybe I need another one…” She then leans in for another kiss, as he wraps his arm around her, keeping her held tightly against him.

“Chase….” He then looks into her blue eyes, feeling lost in them immediately.

“Sarina….” He goes in for another kiss, as she places her hand against his bare chest.

“Are you sure you’re ready?” He knew why she was doing this, and almost felt annoyed immediately.

“Is that going to be your question every time I go to kiss you, or make love with you?” She knew she hit a nerve, but it was better this way than to have regrets later.

“I just don’t want you doing something that you don’t want to do…” He then keeps his eyes locked on hers, as their fingers intertwine together.

“There’s nobody else I would want to be with. There’s nobody else that I’d want to do this with. There’s nowhere else that I would want to be. I want this, with you, right now, full heartedly. Yes, she hurt me and yes, I still can’t bear the thought sometimes, but I know I want you fully right now.” She then brings herself right close, breathing lightly on his neck.

“Then what are you waiting for?” He feels every temptation grow immediately as he stands up, picking her up in his arms, carrying her back through the boat till they were underneath the cover, laying her back on the small couch.

“I love you…” He then brings himself down, running his lips across hers, moving his body against hers as their lips fight for control.

“Clyde…” She then reaches around, running her hands along the waistband of his swim trunks, hand slowly going in underneath.

“I’ve missed this so much…” He then reaches around, slowly undoing the top of her bikini.

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 76: “I could easily take this off, and enjoying it all….”

Friday, May 18 – Charlotte Motor Speedway

Chase glances at the radar. Everybody knew rain was in the area, but they hoped that it’d at least hold off for the morning so some practice would get completed. It’d suck going into tomorrow night with a whole new package and not a single lap on the car.

Sarina had gotten lucky through the morning as the truck series was able to get in both practice sessions. Despite being unhappy with the truck through the first session, she had ranked third on the chart. Rudy had been able to make it better during the second session, leaving her with a smile as they finished up ranked fourth.

Now it was Chase’s turn as he put his phone up, ready for the first Cup practice for the day. Although it appeared rain was all around them per the radar, it was right now dry at the track, and he was ready to take advantage of that.

A simple nod to both Jordan and Alan and he was climbing in the car, getting the belts all on and ready to go for the session. Jordan reaches in, giving everything a final check over before putting the window net up, with the cue to Alan to send him out.

Getting out there right as the session started, Chase was able to get a single lap in – though immediately cut it off and got down to the apron at the start of the second with the skies opening up.

He was back to the garage quickly, everything off and climbing out of the car as eyes fell back on the radar once again. Sure enough the green glob that he saw before was now right over top of them.

“Lovely,” was all he could say as he put his phone in his pocket, knowing that they’d be in a long wait.

“It’ll clear up and hopefully NASCAR will adjust the schedule in a smart matter,” Alan offers as Chase rolls his eyes. It was rare that the sanctioning body actually was able to work with them like that.

Knowing that they were getting nowhere and not wanting to linger around the garage area, he made his way back to the motorcoach, slipping inside as a smile found its way to his face immediately.

“You look pretty comfy,” he comments as he walks past Sarina, going straight for the fridge to grab a drink.

“I knew it was going rain so I thought why waste the walk to the garage area,” she offers as he lets out a sigh. “At least you got a lap in and know there’s nothing wrong with the car, I guess.” Chase nods his head, accepting.

“You’re just in a good mood because you were able to get both of your practices in, and have a good truck for tonight.” He then sits on the couch beside her. “Think you can beat the boss?”

“I beat him last week, right?” He smiles as it was certainly a great race to watch from the pit box. “I remember at the beginning of the year, I was questioning everything about working with Rudy and whether Kyle made the right decision. But I get it now, Chase. I get why Kyle does what he does. Rudy has been absolutely amazing. He has helped me improve my feedback, my driving, and is a great coach.”

“I’m actually surprised that he got you calmer on the radio, too.” Sarina chuckles as admittedly, she was surprised as well. “I just wish Kyle didn’t have a plan for you for this weekend…”

“Are you saying that you don’t want me to jet off to Canada?” He lets out a sigh. “Chase, you can admit it….”

“I understand, and I get why Kyle wants you go to run the Pinty’s Series race. It’s great experience for you ahead of the race there in the fall as you’re getting laps on the same track and it’s the first round of the playoffs. I know how well that worked for Christopher. But…” He then glances into her blue eyes. “The selfish part of me wishes you were here all weekend with me.”

“Trust me, anytime that I am away from you pulls at my heart because I hate being away from you and want to spend every second together. I want to be there for you, always. That’s why the schedule for the summer has me pulled at wits a little. But, like you’re saying, I understand the reasoning and that’s why I committed.” He then places his hand on top of hers.

“And I don’t want you to back out on that commitment, either. I’ll be fine. I have the guys, and you’ll have Lindsay with you. Besides, maybe you can bring home a trophy.” She then smiles as she leans in closer to him.

“As long as you promise to give it your all tomorrow night.” She then lightly kisses his lips. “And promise me to not cut this hair for as long as possible…” He then glances at her a little confused. “What? It’s adorable, honestly.”

“I have to admit that I’m starting to like it more this year than I did last year.” She got a little giggly, though instantly calmed down, feeling her breath hitch in her throat.

“Well please don’t let that opinion change anytime soon….” She then reaches over, placing a hand on his shoulder. “Besides, it can be fun to play with…” She then twirls a piece around her finger as she closes the gap between them once again, kissing his lips.

“Sarina…..” He deepens the kiss as they lay back on the couch together, lips locked together as she continues to play with his ringlets with her fingers.

“Like I said, these ringlets are everything….” She then pulls on the neck of his firesuit, making it loose, wrapping an arm around his neck as the fingers on her other hand continue to play.

“Your lips are everything…” He goes back in for another kiss, arms remaining firmly wrapped around her.

“You don’t understand what you do to me….” She then brings her fingers to the zipper on his firesuit. “I could easily take this off, and enjoy it all….” She then brings her hands back to his hair, playing once again. “But we’ll save that for another time….”

“Yeah….” It didn’t take his lack of words to see the change in his behavior immediately following the words escaping her mouth, as the fact that he was tensing up and his breathing was quickening said enough.

“Babes….” He then closes his eyes, trying to get himself to calm back down, as she slowly sits up. “Fuck me. I screwed up….” He then looks over at her immediately.

“No, no, you did nothing wrong….” He then sits back on the couch, calming down as he grabs the bottle of water off the table, taking a mouthful.

“No, I screwed up, Chase. I should’ve known to be more careful. I should’ve known to take it slower. I should’ve known to just leave it at making out and hair twirling until you were ready. I shou-”

“Stop, please.” He then reaches over, placing a hand on hers, squeezing it. “You didn’t do anything wrong. Even though I panicked a little, it’s not because of what you did and I wouldn’t want to change what you did. I loved every single minute of that kiss, and you can play hair twirling any day.”

“I still feel terrib-”

“I’m not mad at you, so let it go – okay?” She nods her head, accepting. “Your words took me back to a night with Alison. We had flown to Nashville because of meeting with the investigators. We agreed to stay in a hotel that night due to the investigation, and the fact that I was racing at Bristol in a couple days anyway. I kept my deal with Alison, and told her what hotel room I was staying in. She showed up as planned….” Sarina glances into his eyes, squeezing his hand as she could tell his breathing was quickening once again.

“Chase, you don’t need to tell me. You don’t need to go back there….”

“She made me strip down to just my boxers and lay on the bed, spread eagle, before stripping out of her clothes, down to just her bra and panties.” Sarina felt her own breath hitch in hearing the stripping out of clothes line, instant reminders of the possible pregnancy that loomed over both of their heads with her mind flopping back and forth. There was nothing that could describe the relief in hearing about clothes left on, but there was also still that layer of wonder and panic. “She then laid on top of me, ready to kiss me, move against like she before…”

“Chase….” He closes his eyes as he could see the images clear as day in his mind.

“That’s when she ran her finger along my waistline and said, ‘I could easily take these off – but we’ll save that for another night.’ When you said the same thing, it just took me back there and I instantly felt what I felt with her – sick to my stomach beyond any shadow of a doubt, wishing I could be anywhere else.” She then wraps an arm around him, pulling him close as she could a couple stray tears rolling down his cheeks.

“I wish I could make that pain disappear for you, and I’m sorry for bringing it all back…” He glances up at her.

“I told you – it’s not your fault. Don’t be upset, okay? Like you said before, we’ll get there – in time and eventually. I just need to let it go. But how? I don’t know sometimes because there’s no words to describe how sick she made me feel, how much pain I was in, and how I just wanted to rip every part of it away…” The tears become to fall more as Sarina holds him close, letting him lay his head against her as she rubs his back with one hand, and goes back to twirling his hair with the fingers on her other hand.

“I don’t know how to fix it, I don’t know how to make it better – but I wish I could make it disappear in a second’s notice for you. But know that as you work your way through, I’ll always be here to hold you, help you, and be there for you…” She then kisses the top of his head. “I love you, Clyde….”

The pair then sat there in silence listening to the rain fall outside, as he slowly calmed down with the tears slowing down in feeling her against him. She continued to rub his back, not moving a single inch over the next couple hours – even when various text messages came through from their teams about qualifying being cancelled for each of their respective races.

“Are you sure you’re okay now?” Sarina double checks and Chase simply nods his head in response, before leaving the motorcoach.

After a quiet afternoon, he had gotten a text message from Alan to meet him in the garage area to talk about the latest details from NASCAR ahead of tomorrow’s event. He had thought about changing out of his firesuit, but running late, he left it on.

He made his way into the garage stall, finding the crew chief right away with Jimmie Johnson.

“What’s up?” He asks as he leans back against the pit box.

“So they’re still doing all-star qualifying, no pit road speed limit pit stop without any practice,” Alan answers as Chase glances over at Jimmie with a bit of a surprise.

“Isn’t it wonderful?” Jimmie questions sarcastically earning a smirk in return from Alan. “And yes, I get to be the first one out to do it. I mean, why not? I’m 7-time. I can do anything, right?”

“For once, maybe being in the Open is a good thing,” Chase comments as Alan chuckles a little.

“Then NASCAR said that they’re going to do a combined one hour practice tomorrow morning so you can get a feel for the package,” Alan adds, which added some relief to the driver. It was a little nerve-whacking heading into a race without any laps on the car in a new package.

“Now why couldn’t they run that practice tonight and qualify us tomorrow?” Jimmie wonders and Chase shrugs his shoulders.

“That’d be too easy for NASCAR,” Jimmie just chuckles.

“And on that note, I better go find Chad before he kicks my ass. By the way, Chase, make sure you do up your collar next time. You give away what you’ve been up to during the delay..” Chase’s hand runs up to the collar, having realized it was left undone by Sarina in their fun, as he watches Jimmie walk away.

“For someone who supposedly just did tha-”

“Alan, please….” Chase starts as he does it up quickly, earning a curious glance from the crew chief. “Out of everybody here, you know what happened – and there you go…” Alan wanted to smack himself immediately.

“I should’ve remembered that it was a sensitive subject, still,” Alan starts. “I’m sorry….” Chase lets out a sigh as he returns to his previous stance against the pit box.

“Just like I told Sarina, no apology is necessary – and I’m sorry I snapped last week, and again right now.” Alan then looks over sympathy laced in his eyes.

“Listen, I know how tore up you were about what happened. I was there, remember? I spent that morning in the bathroom, and the days following. You don’t need to apologize. I understand – hence why I said on Monday that I bit my tongue in return. With that said, is everything okay with you and Sarina?” Chase nods his head as he takes a deep breath.

“Everything was going perfectly – and then she said something and it took me right there immediately. We then talked about it, before just cuddling together…” He then runs his hands through his hair. “I just want to get to a time where there’s no reminders. I don’t want to feel sick and disgusted instantly. And I know it’s going to take time, and I know all this and that – but sometimes, can’t I just wish it would happen instantly?”

“There’s nothing wrong with wanting that. And really, you’re making progress because you and Sarina talked about it. That’s a start, right?” Chase nods his head.

“And before that, man, I can’t even describe this…” A smile comes across his cheeks as he thinks about their kisses together, earning an eye roll from Alan.

“I know there’s questions about her ability to get pregnant – but at least wear a glove just in case.” Chase then looks back over at Alan.

“Have you been hanging out with Kyle lately?” Alan just chuckles as they head out of the garage together, set to watch the all-star race qualifying session.

Chase stands back and lets Sarina get introduced to the crowd, before taking her hand as they head back to pit road, ready for the truck race that night.

“We need to go see Brex!” She lets out as they reach pit road, making the short turn to walk over to where Samantha and Kyle were with him, rather than going to her own truck. They immediately smiled as they walked over, seeing him having a piece of cake.

“Cake?” Brexton offers, grabbing a chunk of the small cake and holding it up to Sarina.

“I don’t want to be giving him the bath afterwards,” Sarina comments with a chuckle as she accepts the piece, eating it. “That’s actually really good.”

“Sarina!” Sarina wanted to pick him up as he wanted, but knew that’d result in getting cake all over her – not the best look before the race.

“Maybe later buddy.” She then kneels down before him. “I just wanted to come over here and say Happy Birthday. I can’t believe you’re three years old!”

“I can’t believe it either….” Samantha lets out as she tries to clean up some of the cake.

“Did you get my present?” Sarina questions and Brexton nods his head immediately. She had left a pedal car done to match her truck by the Busch motorhome earlier on that day. “We can have races against each other now at KBM!”

“Oh boy….” Kyle says as he rolls his eyes, earning a chuckle from Chase.

“’Hank you!” Brexton tells her, giving her a big hug in return.

“You’re welcome,” she replies, giving him a kiss on the cheek before standing up, as she glances over. She had luckily escaped getting cake all over her. Brexton then went to run off into the grass when Chase grabbed him, scooping him up in his arms, which sent Brexton into a fit of giggles.

“Not so fast,” Chase says as he turns him around in his arms. “I wanted to say Happy Birthday, as well! Oh, and I have a surprise for you later…” Kyle then looks over a little concerned. “I got you a bin to put all of your cars in neatly so you can take them all over – and it has a couple new cars in it. I figured daddy’s car needs a little more competition from me and my friends.”

“Now now, Jimmie Johnson cars are not allowed in the household,” Kyle teases as Chase just laughs.

“Sleepover again?” Brexton asks, catching everyone off-guard.

“Maybe another night bud, okay?” Chase offers and Brexton nods his head, accepting. Chase then sets him back down, letting him run off with a couple of his friends. “And maybe I should’ve included a Brad Keselowski car after all.”

“Well maybe I’ll just get you a Denny Hamlin diecast for your birthday, big boy,” Kyle replies, as they both laugh. “Good luck tonight. Stay out of trouble, and be smart. It’s easy to make a mistake here.”

“Gotcha boss,” Sarina replies. “Good luck tonight to you, too. See ya at the front of the field.” She then takes Chase’s hand as they walk off together over to her truck.

“I’m so glad that she has him…” Samantha smiles as she places a hand on Kyle’s shoulder.

“As much as it probably means to him to have her. I just wish that they could get the news they want about children…” Kyle glances over at Samantha. “I know what it feels like to not have that chance, feel that you can’t be a mother, you’re missing out. Of course, I can’t describe the overwhelming joy in being able to have Brexton.”

“We got our miracle. Maybe they’ll get theirs.”

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 71: “That can’t be true, Rudy….”

Thursday, May 3 – Dover International Speedway

Sarina walks through the garage area having finished the first of two practices for the day. The first session had gone decently, with her ranking sixth by the time it was said and done. Feeling comfortable with the truck, she couldn’t wait for the second round.

Stopping by the KBM hauler, she grabs herself a snack and bottle of water before heading back out, knowing that it would be starting sooner than later. That’s when she freezes though, noticing an envelope sitting on the ground by the hauler.

“Rudy?” She questions, catching the attention of the crew chief. He immediately looks down at the envelope, shrugging his shoulders.

“Maybe an admirer left you a note during the practice,” he offers, and she could only roll her eyes. That was less likely, but rather something else. She couldn’t help but admit it’d be odd if it was that, though, considering Alison was typically leaving the notes for Chase.

“Or it could be the wicked witch..” She then picks up the envelope, ripping it open immediately as Rudy stands there intrigued. She pulls out the slip of paper, revealing a note.

“Well?” Sarina reads the contents, her breath catching in her throat as the note falls from her fingers to the ground.

“That can’t be true, Rudy….” Rudy was now confused as he reaches down to pick up the piece of paper, reading it himself.

“I have a present for your darling boy that he will be seeing in nine months. Isn’t it lovely?” Rudy then looks back towards Sarina. “She’s pregna-”

“She has to be bluffing, Rudy. She can’t no way be pregnant. There is no way in hell that she can be having his baby when I can’t!” Rudy gives Sarina an intrigued glance. “I found out that I can’t carry a baby full term. Happy?”

“Sarina….” He walks over, wrapping an arm around her shoulders, and pulling her close immediately. It was a surprise considering he was normally all focused on business, but he could feel his heart breaking for her right now. “I’m sorry to hear that. You know there’s options, right?” She slightly nods her head. “And have you got a second opinion?”

“I thought about doing that, maybe I will. I don’t know…” She then glances back to the piece of paper in the crew chief’s hand. “Do you know what it feels like to have a dream ripped from your hands? Now take that feeling, combined with the fact that somebody else can give that person what you can’t? She’s tormented and ruined so many things, but yet she may be able to give Chase something I can’t…”

“You said there was no way it could be tru-”

“I don’t know that for sure, though. Chase hasn’t told me everything that happened when they were alone. What if? It would explain why he’s so tore up and told me that it’d change things moving forward.” Rudy holds her a little tighter as a couple tears slide down her cheeks. “What am I supposed to do?”

“You can’t keep this to yourself. It’ll just grow tension and obviously it’s got you upset. You need to talk to Chase. You need to tell him about the note, and you need to see what he says. Maybe it’ll put your mind at ease.” She nods her head, accepting.

“But he won’t even talk about what happened…”

“Maybe if he knows how upsetting this is for you, he will tell you something.” He holds her for a little while longer, opening the bottle of water as they stand there, getting her to drink some. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah, I’m fine. I’m ready to go for this afternoon.” She takes a deep breath, fixing her hair a little, before heading down the garage area and back out to pit road for the second practice. “Coming, Rudy?”

“Ready to go….”

Sarina hears the door open to the hotel room, glancing towards the door and tries her best to put a smile on her face. However, there was no way that was happening considering the note that still remained on her lap.

“Hey,” Chase says as he enters, setting his bags down, flashing a smile at her. He was then surprised when she didn’t move, or flash one back in return.

“Hey,” she replies as he makes his way over, sitting down beside her. His eyes found their way to the paper, wondering what the contents were. Maybe it was just a note from post-practice.

“How did practice go?” That was something that she could smile about, even if the rest of her life was falling apart.

“Sixth in the first session, second in the final practice. Rudy has the truck handling really well. I feel good about my chances for tomorrow.” Chase couldn’t help but smile about that as he knew seeing the chemistry build between her and Rudy was progress.

“That’s great. I tried to get here as soon as I coul-”

“Chase, we need to seriously have a talk.” He freezes immediately, demeanor changing in seeing the change in hers. There were only few instances where she took this approach with him. “Alison left a note for me by my trailer during practi-”

“Please tell me you weren’t wandering about the garage alon-”

“I always had a crew member with me, but Chase, that’s beside the point. I want to focus on the note, please.” He knew the note had to be serious if she was this set and focused on it, considering she had always been telling him to not let Alison’s words bother him. “Read it….” He takes the piece of paper from her, reading the contents, letting out a sigh immediately.

“Oh man…” She could see by the look on his face that he wasn’t surprised, and that caught her off-guard as she thought he’d be shocked by Alison’s latest tactic – or truth, who knew.

“Well?” He then glances over at her. “What do you have to say in response?”

“There’s no way that she could be pregnant. Yes, she touched me all over. Yes, she…” His breath hitches as his mind immediately goes back to the images of the nights together. “She pushed herself against me, but never in the way that she could get pregnant, Sarina.”

“You don’t seem to surprised by the note…” Chase glances over, feeling guilt immediately as he remembered Alan’s advice, cursing himself.

“She left me a note at Talladega on pit roa-”

“And you didn’t tell me?!?” He takes a deep breath as he tries to keep himself calm.

“It was right before you told me that you couldn’t carry a baby full term. I didn’t want to put this in your mind when you were already upse-”

“Chase, are you saying that she’s telling the truth?” He shakes his head no, immediately. “Then why would you hide it from me? Why would you want to comfort me? If it’s not the damn truth, then hell, I’d be calling her damn ass out right away. But the fact that you hid it….”

“I swear that she isn’t pregnant with my kid, Sarina. I know what happened. I remember everything. I wish I could forget, but I remember. I deal with that pain every day. I see it over and over in my head like a movie. I would know if she went that far.” Sarina wanted to believe him and knew that they had an uncandid amount of trust considering everything, but she couldn’t help but feel a bit of doubt in her heart. “Please tell me that you believe me….”

“I don’t even know what to say. I want to believe you, Chase. I want to trust you. But I keep thinking what if?” He nods his head, accepting, as he reaches to touch her hand.

“That’s why I didn’t want to tell you until I proved for certain that she wasn’t pregnant.” She then glances over at him.

“But what if she is?” Chase just shakes his head no over and over once again.

“That’s not possi-”

“Anything is damn well possible! I mean, people have collected other people’s semen and made babies from that. What if she did that to you?” Chase shakes his head no once again.

“You have to believe me, please. I need you….” She looks into his brown eyes, seeing the heartbreak there.

“I wish I could just say what you want me to say, but I can’t…” She then slowly stands up and walks away, as his eyes follow her around the hotel room.

“Sarina?” She then goes into the bedsroom, wiping the tears that had formed on her face out of her eyes, before grabbing her bag from the floor and emerging. “Where are you going?”

“I can’t do this. I can’t look at you right now and think that maybe she, the worst person on this earth, is having your baby…” He then stands up and walks over to her.

“Sarina, please, listen to me. I can assure you that she’s not pregnant. This is what she wants. You’re giving her what she wants right now….” Sarina could feel that possibility, but she couldn’t bring herself to look into his eyes right now either.

“I just need some time, please….” She then leaves the hotel room, closing the door behind her and heading down the hall.

Feeling the emotions boiling over, he leans back against the wall, sliding down, tears falling, as he glances at his phone. He dials the only number that he could think to dial right now as he tries to convince himself that things were going to be okay.

It didn’t take long for the crew chief to get there, knocking on the door shortly after.

“Hey,” was all Alan could manage when Chase opened the door and let him into the room. “Have you heard from her?” Chase shakes his head no as he closes the door. “I texted her, by the way. I told her that she should believe you because of what you’ve told me so far. The fact that you detailed what happened and nothing adds up to what she’s saying. She appreciated my vote of confidence, but said that there was still a possibility because you could’ve left out a detai-”

“I told you everythin-” Chase starts and Alan puts his hands up.

“Hey, I believe you, okay?” Chase nods his head, accepting. “She told me that she’s with Kyle and Sam and she didn’t want to say anything else right now. Least she has someone, right? And you have me…” Chase then goes and sits back on the familiar couch.

“I just wish that she would’ve believed me, trusted me, or at least stayed here…” Alan walks over, sitting down beside his driver.

“You have to understand where she’s coming from. You both talked about becoming parents, and how much you would like to see that one day down the road. Then to find out that the dream you envisioned isn’t possible, but yet mostly every other woman in this world can do that, it crushes you. So obviously it explains her emotions being all over the place.” Chase nods his head, understanding. But it still didn’t make him feel right now.

“That’s why we need each other, Alan….” Alan could understand that, and wished it was that easy. He had also pleaded with Sarina along that point that they needed each other especially at this time with everything over the past month, but she wasn’t buying it. It was at that time he had cut off sending anymore texts for the night, not wanting to drive her too far away to not talk to him at all.

“But you have to understand where she’s coming from. She just learned that somebody else can give you something that she can’t. She can give you love, comfort, laughter, fun times – anything, except that. Now somebody else is set to give you that? I can see where she’s coming from, Chase. Besides, she knows in your heart that you’d do anything for a child, no matter who the mother is.” Chase wasn’t so certain about that, considering his own feelings at the time.

“I don’t know if I could look at the child and not think about Alison – if she was pregnant. But I don’t even want to discuss that because Alan, she is not pregnant.” Alan nods his head, accepting. He wasn’t about to argue it.

“I think if you give Sarina some time to process the news, think about what you’ve told her, and wait until calmer heads prevail for a future discussion, you guys will work it out.” Chase glances over at Alan.

“Are you sure about that? Isn’t this what Alison probably wanted?” Alan couldn’t argue against that, either.

“You guys will find your way back to each other. You always do. Just give her some space tonight, okay?” Chase lets out a sigh, nodding his head, accepting. “And if you want, I’ll stay here tonight so you’re not alone.”

“Will there ever come a day when I don’t feel like this about what happened? I can’t even mention her name without a flashback. I almost couldn’t say a word to Sarina because I was stuck in that moment, unable to breath, feeling that pain again…” Alan scoots a little closer, wrapping an arm around him.

“There will come a time, don’t you worry. It’s just going to take time to get there. You just need to face your emotions, fears one bit at a time. You’re making progress. While it may be slow and seem never ending, you’re making progress. You will find your way…”

“I accepted the deal. I told her to go forth with it. I knew what she was going to do. I knew the conseque-”

“You could’ve had known the feelings that would be associa-”

“But I accepted the deal, Alan. I brought this on mysel-”

“You were trapped, Chase. She caught you in a corner with your vulnerabilities against the wall. She knew that you would agree because she knows how much you love Sarina.” Chase glances down at the floor.

“I never should’ve agreed. I never should’ve said ye-”

“Look at me right now, Chase.” Chase looks back up at the crew chief. “It is not your fault. None of this is your fault. You’re not to blame for what Alison did to you. You’re not to blame for this whole mess right now. It is not your fault. She played you, and you’re a victim just like anybody else. Never blame yourself because it is not your fault.”

“I’m trying, but I just can’t help but think back to that night she offered the de-”

“A one-sided, shady, slap in the face deal that played to every weakness. It’s not your fault that she played you, Chase. It’s not your fault that it went on as long as it did.” Chase tried to let the crew chief’s words soak in as they sat there quietly for the rest of the night.

Alan only moved one single time when he heard his phone go off, seeing a text from Kyle. He assured him that Chase was okay and he was there with him, while sharing a bit of his side in the matter. He read the response from Kyle, smiling a little in knowing that he was there for Sarina as long as Samantha.

He knew if both sides worked together, the pair would find their way back together sooner than later.

Friday May 4, 2018 – Dover International Speedway

Even though they weren’t talking right now – despite the fact that he reached out to her by text in the morning to no response (Alan told him to give it a little bit more time), Chase couldn’t help but smile in seeing her top the first XFINITY Series practice.

Of course, his happiness was cut short in knowing the situation that they were currently stuck in not talking to each other, along with the fact that Cup practice was starting and his car was stuck in inspection. He makes his way up on top of the hauler, watching as the first couple cars head out.

“You still stuck in tech too?” Jimmie questions, catching his teammate’s attention and Chase simply nods his head back in return. “Damn….”

“Something about the splitter,” Chase comments, and Jimmie nods in agreement having heard Chad’s comments.

“NASCAR wants to crack down on them since teams are getting a little too carried away.” Chase could only roll his eyes in response. “I’m surprised you’re here, and not in the NASCAR hauler, or with police officers.” Now it was Chase’s turn to look over confused.

“What happened?” Jimmie glanced back surprised, thinking Chase would’ve learned before anyone else.

“Alison was arrested by a couple security guards after she was spotted by, I believe, a couple of Harvick’s crew guys.” Chase looked over, surprised. Why wasn’t he told? How were able to spot the person that seemed like a ghost? “She headed over down that way according to what I heard and she was wandering around like nothing. Someone thought they saw her, so they reported it. But yet they ended up finding her down at that end…”

“Really?” Chase then pulls out his phone, half-expecting to see a text. Sure enough, there was one confirming Jimmie’s news. He then forwarded it to Sarina, knowing it’d give her comfort despite not talking together. “Finally…”

“That has to make you feel good, huh?” Chase looks over, nodding his head in response.

“I can’t begin to describe how good that makes me feel actually…” Jimmie smiles a little as he glances towards the tech line. “It’s over, finally. I don’t need to worry about it anymore. I can finally focus on moving forward…”

“You know you always a friend in me, right?” Chase nods his head, accepting, before watching Jimmie head down the steps.

“Finally….” He runs his hands through his hair, letting out a sigh, feeling an instant sense of relief come over him, even combined with a couple of tears in letting it go.

Alan was right. He was making progress as he could talk about what happened to the crew chief. But there was still a long way to go. Maybe that’d come easier now…

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 35: Advance Auto Parts Clash

Sunday, February 11 – Daytona International Speedway

Chase walks down pit road, set to kick off the day. Knowing the Hendrick Motorsports cars were good in qualifying, he was confident that today would go well. But really, it didn’t matter as starting position was one of those no guarantee on the plate track, and the Duel was really where it all happened to be set.

“After watching the ARCA race in a bucket full of nerves last night, I have to wonder how you are today,” he hears Jimmie and can only roll his eyes. After Todd had forwarded the video and message to Kyle, it seemed that Kyle had passed it along to some others – including Chase’s own teammates.

“I’m fine now that it is done and over with,” Chase states as Jimmie just chuckles.

“There’s still the truck race next Friday.” Chase slowly nods his head as he knew the nerves would probably be back then.

“I feel better about that, simply due to no endless restart rule with one to go and much better talented drivers.”

“I can’t believe you, a racecar driver, would get nervous…” Chase looks at him surprised, as he holds his hands up a certain distance apart.

“Dude, she was like this close to being in that second last wreck!” Jimmie had tuned into the race out of curiosity, and knew exactly what Chase was talking about.

“Just to drive through it and get penalized for holding back on the rest-”

“That was a shitty call!” Jimmie couldn’t quite immediately agree with his teammate.

“She wasn’t up to the field, though, and it proved to be an advantage because it helped her escape that mess.” Chase lets out a sigh as he wasn’t about to get into an argument. How could he argue about something that she wasn’t even upset about herself? “With that in mind, do I have your permission to plan a bachelor party yet?”

“We’re not engaged, Jimmie.” Jimmie looks at him a little confused. “What?”

“I literally told Dale that you’d probably be engaged by Speedweeks. So, are you waiting until Valentine’s Da-”

“No.” Chase then takes a deep breath, remembering what he told the crew guys. “Look, it’s not happening anytime soon so can you just please drop it? We’ve talked about it and know how each other stan-”

“One of you is afraid, and it’s probably her.” Chase lets out a sigh. “Hey, it’s fine. I understand based on her history as to why she’s afraid. But, she talked about that with you clearly and you both know where each other stands. So when the time is right, like you said, it will happen. I just can’t help but bug you.”

“Keep it up and I’ll get William to buy you a Grandpa package.” Jimmie gives him a ‘are you serious’ look as Chase just laughs, walking away.

Ultimately, the session went solidly as he would end up 12th in round one, followed by moving up to 10th in the second. It’d set him up to start fifth in the second Duel on Thursday evening. However, he couldn’t admit but feel a little off in watching the other three qualify first, third, and fifth – setting them up to start all together in the first Duel.

“I swear I didn’t do some trick or miss some trick they were doing,” Alan confesses following the session. “I mean, to be fair, all the cars were built pretty equal.” He then glances back at his notes. “Did you say that it drove well in practice?”

“It felt good by itself, and it felt real comfortable despite being in the middle of that one draft,” Chase comments as Alan shakes his head a little confused.

“I got nothing – unless the adjustment we made to get you a little more comfortable actually slowed you down.” Chase shrugs his shoulders, not even sure as he looks over the starting line-up for his Duel. “You’ve got Kyle, Denny and Erik all starting together up front. You know that’s going to be a Toyota trai-”

“Grab the back of it and use it to stay in position until the end?” Alan nods his head as that wasn’t a bad plan. “William and Alex said that the runs you get in the draft with the new package feel greater than what they’ve seen or are used to. So no matter what, if we have a good handling car, we can get those runs and we can make the moves. We’ll be fine…”

“I hope you’re right because I’m baffled right now.” He then glances at his watch. “Let’s get ready for the Clash, and try to win that. We’ll learn what we can, see what happens, make some notes, and hopefully Thursday goes well.”

Chase retreats into the trailer, opening the cupboard as he lets out a sigh. It would’ve been easier to qualify, hang out, go to intros and run the Clash without any interruptions, but that wasn’t possible. Sponsor obligations required yet another firesuit change.

As he reaches in to grab the green firesuit, a hand reaches out from the cupboard touching his shoulder.

“I knew you’d be by,” he hears, immediately calming his fast paced breathing as he could recognize that voice anywhere.

“You scared the crap out of me!” He lets out as he pulls on the hand, yanking her out of the closet as she just lets out a laugh.

“But you know that it will be worth your while…” She then pushes back on the couch, straddling herself on top as she pulls down the zipper on the NAPA firesuit. “Besides, I had to come see you before I head up to watch the race with the girls.” She knew it’d be odd missing the pit box, but she could handle it for 60 laps. She just hoped the day went smoothly.

“I don’t have much time…” She then looks into his brown eyes as she pulls the firesuit off of his shoulders.

“I didn’t say that it’d take long, now did I?” The sight of her tongue licking her own lips before him immediately turned him to mush, as he pulled her close, kissing her lips as she worked at getting the rest of the firesuit off. “Actually, this would be a great new tradition….”

“I’m not complaining….”

Sarina catches up with the girls, taking her seat alongside them as Natalie looks over.

“We were beginning to wonder if you were coming,” Natalie comments as Sarina just shrugs her shoulders, smile not even fading one bit from her face.

“It took longer than I thought,” she offers as the other girls immediately chuckle with glances towards each other.

“Did you go give Chasey a good luck quickie?” Danica breaks out, causing Sarina to look over immediately shocked – but her red cheeks gave her away. “Oh my gosh….”

“Is it that obvious?” The other girls nod their head yes in return as she lets out a sigh. “Please don’t say anything….”

“As long as you promise that I get your ride if you get pregnant,” Natalie offers as both Leilani and Danica chuckle. Sarina lets out a sigh as it immediately brought up January memories, but she couldn’t let the others see as she just faked a chuckle herself.

“That’s not happening,” she tells them. “I have a championship to win this year.”

“Damn straight!”

Their eyes immediately focused back to the action on-track as the race was about to get started. Sarina was set at keeping her nerves about her, and it worked for the very beginning even with the shuffling going on;. However, as soon as Kyle Larson broke right sideways on Lap 8 – almost spinning except for an awesome save, she couldn’t deny that her nerves had picked up big time.

“Oh man….” She lets out as Chase takes the lead on Lap 10, barely sliding up ahead of Denny. The lead was supposed to make you calmer, but seeing it was Denny behind her and the way this pack was going back and forth, that was impossible.

“He’s doing good!” Natalie lets out as she glances over at Sarina. “That’s if you survive….”

“I’ll be fine….” Sarina closes her eyes, silently wishing the race would take longer than advertised – even being as short as it was.

The first 25 laps would ultimately fly by, and Chase managed to do a good job as he stayed up in the top-three throughout. Now set to restart in second, it was just about putting together a great second half.

He started out real well, keeping himself in the mix with Brad, Denny, and others – until a move to shuffle over didn’t go accordingly, causing him to break dead sideways. He’d hold on to it, though, dropping back a couple spots.

“Chasey, don’t do that to your girl…” Leilani offers as she reaches over to rub Sarina’s back, seeing the glance that the move had gotten right away.

“This package is going to make for a great 500 – but hot damn, I can’t handle this!” Sarina lets out as she tries to take some deep breathes.

“He’s good at what he does. He’ll get back up there….”

As predicted, he was able to do so, working his way back up to second before the caution flew with 42 laps to go for an incident further back. Counting her ducklings and nails, she knew the nerves were probably just beginning now.

He was once again strong on the restart, battling for position – but not without many friends. He and Denny tried to make the bottom work together, but once Denny went up high with pretty much the rest of the field, it caused him to slide back to 15th with 26 laps to go.

“Tight on landing in the corners!” She overheard on the radio, having taken her headset up to the grandstands with her.

“Oh man….” She lets out as she knew this would only increase the nerves in watching him drive back up through there.

“He just needs to take some driving lessons from you last night,” Natalie comments as Sarina lets out a shy smile.

However, it just seemed to break back worse as being the last one on the pack and trying to keep up was becoming a task and a half.

“Don’t lose the pack. We’ve lost Newman now,” spotter Eddie D’Hondt says with 19 to go. “We’re cutting off our nose to spite our face, running back here.” Sarina knew by those words that basically, running back there as laps continued to tick down was going to play against them, and likely those dreams of winning were shattered. She also knew that it was the right words to use as the field seemed afraid to make any moves.

“This is a non-points event!” She lets out, causing the other girls to look over caught off-guard. “Somebody, anybody, make a damn move! This is win or bust – so damn well try and win it. Where’s the guts Denny, Austin, Kyle, anybody? This race is falling on its face. Yay, we started off so good – but look at this shit!”

“The moves will come….” Natalie tries to assure her as Leilani rubs her shoulders. “Look at last night.”

Other drivers would try to make moves of their own, but the lines failed to form – causing those drivers to drop back. It worked out in Chase’s advantage as he was able to move up to ninth with 10 laps to go.

Thinking a move would come soon was a blank thought as it never did as the field remained single-file all the way until the last lap. By then, a move to the front was too late as there was no way to make this work now. of course, it’d only get worse as contact between Larson and Johnson triggered everybody going sideways, which sent Chase for a ride through the backstretch grass.

“Of course we ended up with a wrecked car!” Sarina lets out as she shakes her head in disbelief. “That was the most embarrassing race ev-”

“Even more than last night?” Leilani questions and Sarina nods her head.

“Everybody last night at least tried to pass each other, make moves, make something happen, and put on a show. This? Seeing them run single-file for 25 laps is worse than watching paint dry. If this is going to be how Speedweeks goes, I will kill somebody. They better not do this on Sunday.”

“It’s the Daytona 500 – drivers aren’t just going to ride with five to go with that on the line,” Natalie comments as the others nod in agreement.

“I can assure you that I won’t be riding,” Danica adds. “I will say that this gives me a lot to think about. Handling, making runs, making friends, and position will be key.”

“In other words, your man and Ms. Danica here better win their Duels on Thurs-”

“How can we both win the same Duel?”

“Oh my, it looks like we’re going to have some fun.” Natalie then glances between Danica and Sarina. “Can you please make your boyfriend promise to work with her so we know at least somebody will do something?” Danica and Sarina both immediately chuckle.

“I’m sure if we’re both in a good spot, we’ll work together as we have before.” Sarina nods her head in agreement. She knew making promises of that nature wasn’t something for her to do. Chase and Kyle had always reminded her that you couldn’t make those pre-race promises as you never know where you’ll be positioning wise and trying to get in position may cost you more than good.

“Are you going to New Smyrna tonight?” Danica and Leilani both shake their heads no as Natalie’s eyes rest on Sarina. “Well, I know you’re going obviously….”

“I got to go support Todd and Harrison, right?” Sarina offers, knowing both of her KBM teammates were running the event. It was also a benefit to go after Todd had supported her ARCA race yesterday, too.

“As long as you and Chase promise to behave,” Natalie comments as Sarina rolls her eyes. “I can’t believe you did that before the race. I can’t even look at you the same now…”

“Sweetheart, you’re just jealous,” Leilani adds as Danica laughs. “It’s okay to admit it. I’m sure Sarina has already heard that from plenty of other girls…”

“I could always try and hook you up with Todd,” Sarina suggests as Natalie rolls her eyes.

“Yeah, you’re jealous…” Natalie then glances back at Leilani, set to punch her. “Hey now!”

“Alright, alright, it’s true,” Natalie finally confesses. “But hey, I can’t do anything about it. I mean, I would smack myself silly if I pissed off my girl and her boo because of that. Besides, they’re like the perfect combination for each other.” Danica couldn’t help but nod her head in agreement. “So when is the engagement party?”

“Not you too,” Sarina lets out as they continue walking out of the grandstands together. “I’ve already got my guys, his guys, Jimmie, and Da-”

“Because it’s meant to be! Is he afraid to pop the question?” Sarina rolls her eyes.

“Nah – he probably just can’t plan the most romantic way to do it,” Leilani offers as Sarina sighs.

“Actually, we’ve talked about it and we’ve both agreed to wait due to my fears because of my past,” Sarina tells them. “I’m afraid of the thought because of what I saw happen to my parents, and he understands that. So if you girls could please just lay off a little, that’d be nice.” The girls nod their heads in acceptance. “Now, excuse me while I go see him…”

“Behave!” Natalie shouts as Sarina walks off, another eye roll easily coming to her.

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 22: Media Day

“A lot of people don’t understand – my frustration is the worst when I know I could have done something different to change the result.” Chase Elliott

January 23, 2018 – Charlotte Motor Speedway

Chase and Sarina walk through the main doors, glancing around, before their eyes land on each other.

“Are you ready?” He questions as she takes a deep breath, nodding her head.

“Absolutely as it means we’re one step closer to Daytona,” she answers, causing a smile to form on his face. “Are you ready?”

“I guess so.” He leans in, kissing her lips lightly. “Good luck. Have fun, and try not to bite any heads off.” She then chuckles as she glances over at the journalists assembled, already typing notes on the day.

“Tell the vultures to behave and I will have no reason to, right?” He nods his head. “Don’t get annoyed of the same question over and over, either.”

“When are you going to win a race? Why haven’t you won yet?” She then rolls her eyes.

“Everybody expects you to win the championship this year. Do you think you can do that? What’s it like being partnered with Rudy? What is it like driving for Kyle?”

“Can we just do their job for them?” She chuckles, shaking her head.

“I think driving is much more fun than that…” He smiles back in agreement as the pair slowly separate, heading their own ways to start off what promised to be the longest day ever.

As the day’s activities began, Sarina found herself glancing over in Chase’s direction, even giving her lips a small lick as she watched him do different poses for FOX Sports, followed by NBC Sports. There was certainly nothing wrong about him being dressed in a mostly white firesuit this year – even if she still wasn’t sold on the design.

She couldn’t stare much longer, though, as it was her turn to sit down and answer the assortment of questions. There was no surprises to start off, as she talked about what she learned from last year, followed by the obvious crew chief swap question.

“It’s kind of bittersweet,” she admits as she takes a deep breath. “I’m very thankful to have had the chance to work with Marcus. He’s a great guy, and certainly knows how to do his job well. I’m also thankful to call him a close friend, as he helped me in ways last year that don’t even relate to racing on a personal note. I’m glad that we’re going to be able to continue that friendship, too.”

She smiles as she thinks back to a couple days ago in the shop, when Marcus reminded her that she could still come to him if she ever needed to. It shouldn’t surprise her, because that’s how everybody seemed to be. For once, friendships were really true and meant to be, and bonds could be formed. For once, she was able to put her trust in others – not only Marcus and Chase, but the likes of Kyle and Christopher, too.

Taking a deep breath, she knew she couldn’t dwell on that fact all day, or else they’d never get anywhere else with these questions and she’d be stuck sitting there. Besides, it wasn’t like she wanted to get emotional here, either.

“That said, I am looking forward to working with Rudy this year,” she continues. “Rudy is very talented, and he knows how to get the job done. I mean, you don’t lead Erik and Christopher to the success they had by accident. I can’t wait to begin working with him, building our chemistry together, and learning from him. I know that I still have to improve as a driver, and I look forward to seeing what happens.”

She wasn’t surprised that a reporter brought up her late model schedule, which immediately saw excitement come out in speaking about the plans to head to Kern County. With $30,000 on the line, bragging rights, and a chance for redemption, it was time to shine. But first, the focus was on tomorrow as she would get to be back behind the wheel, testing a truck at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Certainly it wasn’t anything like racing in competition, and it wouldn’t replace disappointment in missing out on Speedfest, but it was something.

The discussion then wavered to the victory at Martinsville, what that meant, and perhaps bringing some relief. Admittedly, she knew that she had been trying too hard the first half of the schedule, so focused on succeeding, wanting to impress, not wanting to fail at this opportunity. But now having the win under her belt, comfort was easy to find now and something she wanted to stick with heading into the new campaign.

Another glance over at Chase, and she hoped he found that same comfort with a win early in the year, too. Whether he would openly admit it or not to her, it was certainly eating him that he hadn’t been able to win a Cup race. She couldn’t blame him, though, being the perfectionist that he was, and the fact that he was driving for Hendrick Motorsports. But with a smile, she knew that he would get the job done sooner than later. It was only a matter of time, right?

Her interest was caught back on the reporters when one of them mentioned the youth seminar held for the young drivers to give them tips on how to build their brands. She had attended, as required, and was actually surprised by some of the points discussed. However, she wasn’t about to change who she was simply to fit some window.

“Were there any tips given on how to handle those poor days?” One of the reporters questions, catching her attention. It was like almost too good of a timing with the question based on the past couple of weeks, and the fact her first anger management appointment was tomorrow. But taking a deep breath, no assumptions were made of them having any knowledge. Besides, they had seen her outbursts last year at times.

“There were a couple,” she began. “I just have to remember to take a deep breath, relax, calm down, and realize that every weekend isn’t going to be your day. If it’s meant to be, it’ll work out right. if it’s not, then all you can do is take what you learned and move forward. I mean, what else am I supposed to do? But certainly, getting a better handle on those is one of those things that I talked about learning to do better moving forward.”

Finished off with her questions for the day, she thanks the media for their time before stepping away as she moves forward to the next stage of the day – radio interviews for Sirius XM. As she made her way over, she glances at Chase, who simply throws a simple smile her way.

“Easy as ever?” He questions as they walk by each other.

“They actually didn’t go too far in their questions for once,” she answers, causing a glance of surprise from him. “Hey, it’s pre-season. Everybody is full excitement right now. I bet by the time we get to Daytona, it won’t be this smooth sailing.” He nods his head with a chuckle in response. “By the way, you look very hot today.”

“While I miss the white, I have to say that the new black firesuit brings out every single curve – including that very stunning bum.” Her cheeks go a shade of red as she purposely gives a waddle as she walks away from him.

“If I didn’t know you better, I would seriously start to agree with the crew guys that something is up and strange with you,” Morgan comments, catching Chase’s attention.

“We’re just trying to have some fun today,” Chase replies as he takes a deep breath, set for his round of question and answer.

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

Sarina gets done her final round of photos for the day, releasing her from the grasp that was media day. She immediately sets sights on finding Chase, knowing that he had been done before she was with how the schedules laid out.

“He’s up on the spotter’s stand actually,” Jimmie Johnson tells her after she had gone around asking a couple different people already.

“Really?” She questions and he nods his head in agreement. “That’s strange…” Jimmie crosses his arms as he takes a deep breath.

“He needed some space to think.” She then looked over puzzled. “You may want to read his quotes first before you go see him.” She was a little confused, but simply nodded her head in response.

She didn’t take the advice because to her, it didn’t matter what he said on paper to a bunch of reporters. She knew him well, and knew where he stood. But hearing that it hadn’t gone smoothly was not the news she was wanting to hear.

After hiking up the stairs, waving to some of the staff on the way up, she makes her way onto the roof, slowly walking over. She didn’t know whether to say something, or to just wait until he was ready, or to simply walk away and give him his space. But now having hiked up there, she couldn’t go down the stairs without doing anything as she slowly made her way over to the edge. Standing a good distance down the row from him, she looks over the track, before glancing over at him, trying to study every motion.

“You didn’t need to come up here,” he starts, catching her attention.

“I care about you, Chase,” she offers. “I had to make sure you were okay.” He glances over at her, nodding his head, understanding, before glancing back over the track.

“I’m fine. I just needed some space.” She could sympathize, having been in those situations herself as she moves a little closer.

“It’s easier to take time to yourself and think, rather than face those emotions and drop them onto somebody else. By speaking about how you’re feeling, it makes them more real than you want to realize. I guess I hid them away for all those years because I didn’t want it to be real. It was almost like I wanted to pretend to be okay, while knowing if that came out, I wasn’t okay about everything that happened.” He takes a deep breath, having seen that in every discussion they had about how she was feeling and her past. He had seen more sides of her break apart and just fall down.

“They talked about Casey, and they talked about the fact that I’m back in the No. 9 – someone even called it a marketing stunt, beli-”

“Do they not understand their NASCAR, or more importantly, the value of family history? I know for both you and Rick it’s nothing like that.” A small smile forms on his face. Like he had expected, the true fans would understand – including Sarina. He just needed to dodge the first initial set of bullets from everybody else.

“None of that bothered me, to be honest. I mean, I love talking about Casey and everything that I missed, and the No. 9 is just home to me.” He then lets out a sigh as he glances over at her. “But you know what bothered me? Winning. The fact that I have not won a race yet. It seemed to be harped over and over and over – like nobody wanted to let it go.” She then walks over, rubbing his shoulders, as she takes a deep breath.

“You’re going to get that win this year….” He looks over at her, nodding his head in agreement.

“I have to. I can’t keep doing what I’m doing.” She then looks at him confused.

“In case you have forgotten Mr. Elliott, you’re one helluva racecar driver. I would not choose anyone over you – and I’m not just saying that because I’m with you. You’re the most talented guy that I know. Look back at last year. You almost put yourself in the Championship 4. You led laps, finished well, and put yourself in position to win. Not many people can say that so do not stand here and question anything differently about you, yourself, and your talent.” He closes his eyes, letting those words sink in, fighting against every other feeling that he had.

“I know I can do it, and trust me, I believe in myself when I strap in the car and get ready to go. But I just keep thinking about what if? What if I had done one thing differently? What if I had been able to figure out how to hold off Matt at Phoenix, or Kyle at Dover? What if I could’ve played my cards differently with Denn-”

“He lifted your tires off the grou-”

“I let him get ther-”

“Stop discrediting yourself! You were doing the best you could with how the car was handling, and it’s not your fault that he drove like an asshole.” Chase then glances over, surprised. “What? I’m not going to mince words with him, ever.”

“Why am I not surprised?” She just chuckles back in response with a wink. “You know I’m my worst critic. My frustration is the worst when I know I could’ve done something different to change things. While I say that you need to work on your anger skills, I can stand here and say that I’m not perfe-”

“Did I just hear that, for real?” Another surprised glance emerged from Chase. “What? You’re a perfectionist. So to hear you admit that you’re not perfect is a little strange, actually.” He rolls his eyes as he lets out a sigh. “I’m sorry….”

“Like I was saying, I need to work on not being so critical and seeing those positives – like the close calls, the talent, the success we did have, everything you’ve mentioned, and everything that Alan says we need to build upon. But that’s not easy. There’s days where it eats me because I haven’t done the job that I need to do to this point.” She nods her head, accepting, glad to hear him admit it, as she rubs his shoulders.

“I know you’ve maybe fallen short on your goals, and I know you should’ve won a couple races by now. But Chase, it’s not all bad. Not everybody can say that they can drive and be competitive at this level. Not everybody can say that they can race side-by-side with the likes of Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth, Kyle Larson – and be right even with them. Some drivers would dream to have a season that you had.” He nods his head, knowing that fact, as he tried to use that as motivation to eat the frustration.

“I’ve been trying to simply just put last year in the rearview mirror. My focus has been solely on take what you learned, and put all your energy into being as prepared as you can so you can do the job you need to do come Daytona and beyond. I was doing a good job at that, too. but hearing the comments, it just flew it back in my face today.” She almost wanted to remind him of the past couple weeks, with everybody reminding her over and over about how they wanted to take care of her.

“It’s not easy to simply pick up those pieces, and make the changes in your life. Look at me. It took you months, baring even some frustration and pain along the way in watching me run, to get through to me. it took me months to finally just bear every emotion that I was feeling. It’s still hard at times for me to say everything out loud and handle. It’s not just flick a switch and noting to worry about, Chase. You’ll learn that balance that you need over time. Certainly, you’re doing better than I was as I don’t see any holes in any walls.” He then chuckles as he glances back at her.

“Could you imagine the photos and articles if I would’ve punched a wall downstairs?” She shakes her head, not even wanting to imagine. It was already craziness as everybody looked to him to be the new face of the sport it seemed. “Starting to feel that frustration, I came up here so I could just get everything in order. I need a clear mind, clear focus. It’s time to win. I need to focus solely on that because I oughta know how to do that and I just need to make it happen. That’s the bottom line. I can’t sit and dwell about it – I just need to do it.”

“And trust me, you are going to win a race. I believe it in my heart, my soul, but also everywhere else possible because of what we’ve seen the past two years. You’re talented, and you know how to wheel a racecar. We’re going to be celebrating a win together in victory lane this season – probably more than one.” He smiles, nodding his head in agreement and hopefulness. “But if for some reason you do-”

“Please don’t say tha-”

“It’s possible, so bear with me now, please.” He rolls his eyes as he glances away. “If for some reason you don’t, it’s not due to lack of talent. You’ve proven already in late models, trucks, XFINITY – heck, you’re an XFINITY Champion for pete sates.  I just want you to know it doesn’t change a single thing about how I view you. I’ll always view you as an amazing, stellar, spectacular racecar driver, with the best heart hidden underneath that quiet exterior. You’ll always be my number one.” He smiles as he looks back at her.

“Thank you, I appreciate that.” They then lightly share a kiss. “So now you feel flirting will solve all problems, huh?”

“It’s working because you’re smiling.” He then turns around to face her, wrapping both arms around her waist.

“Maybe it’s because of this stellar view that I am looking at right now…” She smiles back in return.

“The sunset is beautiful tonight.” He looks at her intrigued, before locking his brown eyes onto her blue ones.

“What sunset?” She then rolls her eyes as she leans in for another kiss. “Thank you.”

“You don’t need to thank me. I’m here for you, always and forever.”

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 4: “Are you ready?”

December 28, 2017 – No Name, Colorado

“Chase, are you ready yet?” Sarina asks, as she zips up her coat. Chase walks over, chuckling to himself as he gives her a glance over.

“Excited to get out there or something?” He wonders and she chuckles to herself. It was strange considering just days ago, she was so nervous about simply going down the hill once.

“I want to continue learning, and getting better. I want to see my man do his thing. As much as I am afraid to admit it, you’re bringing me out of hibernation and making me enjoy winter some more.” She then glances over as he finishes getting ready. “That said, it doesn’t replace the joy of hitting the high banks of Daytona – which is in about 49 days.”

“Are you seriously counting down until the first race of the year?” She nods her head, showing him her phone.

“It’s natural instinct, I guess.” She then takes a deep breath as they head outside. “I mean, for me, racing was all that mattered in my life for several years there. When I moved out to California, that was my focus because it was something I could do that put a smile on my face and not think about what happened. When I moved down to North Carolina a couple years later, it began my ultimate focus because here I am in Race City USA with everything right at my disposal. I was so focused on making something happen.” Chase crosses his arms as he watches her closely.

“You said it was all that mattered….” She nods her head, with a smile.

“I’ve learned so much over the past two years, and I have you to thank. You opened my eyes up to so many things. It was good to take step back at times and focus on something else so it didn’t consume me or eat me alive, like taking a trip and seeing the world, or spending time blowing off steam. And while I could sit and pout that I cannot go 200 mph for 49 days, I can now instead enjoy some great company, learning something new, challenging myself, and maybe also reconnecting with someone.” He smiles as they head out to the hills together.

“So you’re still on-board with me looking into where Shelley is?” She nods her head, accepting. While she knew there were certain family lines to not touch, Shelley was within the borders of acceptance. “I’ll make sure to get a hold of Tom after the new year and get to work on that. When we do find her, do you want Lindsay to be there?”

“Absolutely. I mean, right now, whether she will admit it or not, Lindsay is in that limbo mode that I was in – lost without any family, looking for a direction, and using something else as a distraction. For me, it was racing, while for her it is dance. But if she find some people to lean on a little, maybe even someone to spend her life with, she’ll be okay.” Sarina then glances at Chase with a bit of a grin. “Do you think we could set-up a double date when Lindsay comes to visit?” Chase knew where she was going immediately, and shook his head. He was not going to get in the middle of playing cupid.

“Do you really think Ryan will agree to that?” Sarina shrugs her shoulders, seeing no issue with the plan.

“He’s your best friend, Chase. He trusts you.” Chase knew that, but he also knew how love had been treating Ryan at times.

“You also forget that you coaxed him into agreeing to a blind date, just for it to be a robot.” Sarina breaks out laughing, remembering the prank clear as day.

“Admit it. It was a great prank and you’re just jealous that you didn’t pull it yourself.” Chase just rolls his eyes. “But come on, it wouldn’t hurt to ask. They were hanging out at your birthday party…”

“We don’t need to remind Ryan of that, either. For the record, I can’t believe he let Kyle and Ricky go through with their idea.” Sarina chuckles, remembering the images that Ryan sent her from the roof.

“You had fun though, right?” Chase nods his head, remembering his words to his best friends that he wanted a repeat celebration of fun next year, too. “Just think about it…” Chase didn’t even hear her words as his eyes were focused forward on someone, glancing awkwardly as he was sure they were familiar. “Chase?”

“Does that look like someone you know?” Sarina follows his gaze and her jaw drops immediately, picking up on the resemblance right away. “So I’m not seeing things, right?”

“Dale?” Chase immediately wanted to scream, every fear that they were wrong and nothing adding up, filling him as soon as the name escaped Sarina’s lips. However, as soon as he turned around, those fears were eased as certainly enough he was right on his suspicions. “You were right….”

“What are you doing here?” Dale glances back towards the hill as he was waiting for Jimmie and Genieve to make their way down.

“Another chapter of Blame JJ is written,” Dale offers as Chase just smiles. “First cycling, and now skiing. We were talking at the Christmas party about what to do in the off-season. I wanted to take Amy somewhere nice for our anniversary, but different. We’ve been in Florida busy working on the house for the show, and I didn’t want to do worldwide travel with her pregnant. So Jimmie suggested this with some reasons and well, we’re here.” Chase admittedly was caught off-guard, but was glad to see his friend out having some fun.

“So where’s Amy?” He then wondered, not seeing her anywhere in sight, which was a good thing. She didn’t need to be skiing or snowboarding while pregnant anyway.

“She’s back at the cabin with Chandra and Lydia, having a girl’s day.” Chase smiles, knowing how much fun those days could be based on the stories from Sarina. “Meanwhile, I’m learning how to ski.”

“Oh boy. So how many times have you fallen today?” Dale immediately chuckles.

“A couple…” Dale then glances over towards Sarina. “And I heard you’re learning how to snowboard?”

“Second day out on the board today,” she offers. “My first attempt was yesterday and while I fell numerous times, I picked up a lot and was able to go down some hills with ease enough to impress my teacher.” Dale then looks back over at Chase, before focusing his eyes back to Sarina.

“It’s nice to see you out having some fun,” Dale comments and Sarina nods her head in agreement. “I don’t know if Jimmie asked yet, but he was wanting to get together later for dinner – all of us at his cabin. Are you up for that?”

“Absolutely,” Sarina and Chase answer together. Chase knew anytime together was always full of fun, and Sarina wasn’t about to take away that opportunity, despite not knowing Dale and Amy that well yet. If Chase was willing to fully embrace her world with Christopher and Kyle, then she was ready to offer that back in return.

“Great!”

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

After a full day of snowboarding with Sarina continuing to get better with each trip down the hills, the pair met up with Jimmie’s family, Dale and Amy back at Jimmie’s cabin, ready for a fun evening together. Despite some apprehension, Sarina immediately fell right into place with the group as stories were traded about their off-season adventures to date with dinner going as smooth as warranted.

With both Jimmie’s girls down for the count for the night, the girls retreated to the kitchen to bake some cookies to enjoy with hot chocolate while sharing some shopping adventure and motherly stories. This left the guys to all gather around together, set for their own conversation.

Originally, things started out with comments ahead of the new season, and what needed to be done at HMS so they could be stronger for the year to come. But that conversation at the beginning was just a front for where Jimmie and Dale both wanted to go with it.

“So, when are you going to ask Sarina to marry you?” Dale spit out randomly midway through the conversation, causing Chase to choke on his drink as he looked up at him.

“Excuse me?” He questions as Dale keeps his eyes focused on the young man.

“You heard me, Clyde. When are you going to ask her to marry you?” Chase didn’t quite have an answer as he glanced back at the glass. How did he get himself stuck in this conversation?

“I don’t know….”

“Oh come on,” Jimmie starts as he glances over at the pair on the couch. “It’s easy to tell no matter who you ask how much you both love and adore each other. You guys have proven that you can survive anything together as long as you have each other. You guys have also overcome a lot of obstacles that would’ve torn anybody else apart. It’s easy to see how much you love her, from all the time that you spend with her, to how you talk about her, and that necklace that she has been wearing since Christmas.”

“And although she’s quiet, we can see how much she trusts you with how she just opens up around you,” Dale adds. “It’s quite easy to see that everything is there between you guys – except that one question.” Chase lets out a sigh as he glances between them. He appreciated the compliments from them on the relationship as he was proud of their progress, too. But, he wasn’t quite at the same spot that they were about that question.

“Martin and Sherry have been together how long now? 13 years, right?” Chase questions, diverting the discussion. “Do you see them engaged or set to walk down the aisle?” Dale was slightly confused by the response as he kept his eyes focused on Chase.

“What are you trying to get at? You’re never going to get married?” Chase shakes his head no, as he hadn’t written off the idea entirely. Actually, he could see himself doing that one day down the road – but maybe not at this present time.

“I haven’t even thought about it. We’ve been so caught up with everything going on with her brother, then Bethany, and then Allison; I haven’t had time to even begin considering what I see in our future together. When do we want to get married? When do we want to get engaged? Do we want kids?” He takes a deep breath, knowing the children question was loaded with everything going on in their lives. If she was to get pregnant, that involve taking a step away from racing – but was she ready to do that? “Right now, we’re just enjoying the time that we’ve gotten to spend together without being driven insane by everything going on in our lives. We’re embracing our emotions for each other, talking things out, building that trust more, and making sure we’ve truly put that in the rearview. Maybe at that point, I’ll think about your question…”

“But you do want to get married at some point, right?” Chase rolls his eyes, but nods his head in response. “And I’m going to bet that Ryan will be your best man, too.”

“Considering how your birthday party went, it may be best to get us to plan the bachelor party,” Jimmie advises, earning a laugh from Dale as he had heard about the prank by the boys at the end of the party.

“Aren’t you getting a little ahead of yourself?” Chase wonders and Jimmie shrugs his shoulders.

“I just want to be prepared, that’s all.” Jimmie then relaxes back, and a glance between him and Dale and they knew a topic change was in order. They had certainly pushed the question far enough with Chase for the time being. “So, what are your plans for New Years?”

“Sarina was – well, actually, we were both invited to Kyle’s New Years/Anniversary party, so we’re going.” A pout then immediately forms on the faces of his teammates. “I’m sorry guys. I know with both of you being here, it’d be a great New Year’s spent together. But, she wants to go badly with how close they are – and frankly, Kyle knows how to put on a party.”

“Whatever you do, please don’t let him plan the bachelor party…” Chase just rolls his eyes once again as Dale gives Jimmie a glance. “What? I’m covering my basis.”

“Sorry I’m missing your annivers-”

“It’s fine, we’re not doing anything big anyway,” Dale cuts him off. “We’re just going to enjoy each other’s company, and watch the fireworks together while envisioning what our future holds with our little girl on the way. I’m sure you’ll have a ton of fun. Just don’t get into too much trouble, alright?”

“I’ll try,” Chase comments in response.