The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 103: Go Bowling at the Glen

“A lot of emotion. A lot of relief. It’s been a tough road. Makes a helluva story.” – Chase Elliott, August 5 2018

Sunday, August 5 – Watkins Glen International

“Happy birthday big guy!” Sarina says as she climbs up on the pit box, giving Alan a big pat on the back. “So are we old or ancient now?” Alan chuckles as he looks back at her.

“Easy there young lady,” he offers. “You’re going to be 43 one day and regretting those words…” She just rolls her eyes as she takes her usual seat behind Josh alongside Jordan.

“Here we go….” She puts her headset on, hoping the race just went smooth as possible.

“Appreciate the effort on that Sun Energy 1 car. Looks good.” Sarina had to agree with the crew chief based on how things went yesterday. She just hoped they had that speed once again today.

“Appreciate it fellas as always,” Chase replies on the radio. “Nice and smooth today.”

The race wouldn’t start off on a calm note, though, as the first few laps saw Kyle and Denny begin the crazy battle for the lead ahead of Chase.

“Are you going to be able to handle today?” Jordan jokes as he sees the look on Sarina’s face as they watch them go through the bus stop on the monitor.

“Maybe Kyle will do us a favor and wreck Denny,” she offers, earning a laugh from the interior mechanic.

It also didn’t take long for the first caution to come out, either, as Joey Logano went off course to the surprise of everyone.

“That was pretty damn wild to be the first two laps,” Chase immediately comments on the radio under the yellow to the agreement of everyone.

Once the race restarted, the action didn’t slow down as there was craziness throughout the field. Chase, meanwhile, ran it clean as possible, running fourth throughout the stage until Alan called him to pit road with three laps to go. While it sucked to rejoin the field and finish 11th – one spot outside of earning points, she knew the reasoning behind it and believed in the crew chief’s strategy.

Once everybody else pitted under the yellow, Chase cycled up to the front and immediately made it worth his way, taking the lead early in the stage. He wouldn’t look back throughout, crossing the finish line for another stage victory.

“Alright, green-checkered here,” Eddie D’Hondt says on the radio as Sarina let out a small fist pump in the air. “Save fuel. Save fuel.”

“Good work, bud,” Alan adds as he glances over at the notes from the engineers on fuel strategy.

The restart would not go as planned as Chase would get loose through turn one, allowing Kyle to grab the lead. Chase wouldn’t let him get out that far, actually gaining ground at times through the bus stop and carousel. However, it wasn’t enough to actually get back by him.

“Hey bud, if you can’t get him, just take care of fuel for me,” Alan suggests, earning a small bit of nerves from Sarina in knowing that fuel was going to come into play at the end of this thing.

“What’s more important because I might have a shot at him?” Chase questions in return, and Sarina believed those words. It was easy to see via the lap times that they were making good time, and she believed through the second half of the course, he could make something happen.

“If you can get him, then get him. We just can’t run behind him and lose fuel.”

They didn’t have to worry much longer about fuel numbers to the end of the race as the caution would fly for Matt DiBenedetto blowing up with 37 laps to go. While it was good to not worry as much about fuel, there were still a couple small nerves in knowing they were one lap before the fuel window opened now pitting under yellow.

The pit stop was fast, though Chase would go just before Nick O’Dell was clear of the car, barely clipping him as he left the pit box, coming off pit road in second.

“Sorry about that Nick,” Chase says immediately over the radio.

“He’s okay; he’s laughing,” Alan replies, even chuckling himself at the landing motion.

Sarina just shakes her head as she climbs down off of the pit box, walking over to where Nick was with the guys.

“Are you sure you’re okay?” She asks and he nods his head. “You realize you were just hit by a stock car right?” He nods his head once again.

“But I held on to the air gun, and that’s what matters,” he tells her as she smiles back, remembering the discussion from pre-race. “I just didn’t think he’d actually test the theory.”

“Well, you earned your gold star from me today. Love ya, Nick!” She gives him a big hug, before heading back up to her post.

“Chasey gonna be jealous if he hears about that hug,” Chad Avrit teases, which Nick just flips him the bird back in response earning a laugh from the other guys.

“I’d rather him be jealous over a hug than starting at the tail of the field for this restart,” Nick comments as the team gets comfortable, ready to watch the final laps unfold.

Everybody was then caught off-guard when Kyle Busch made the trip back down pit road, giving up the lead to Chase.

“No fuel in the car whatsoever,” Alan reports over the radio. “He’s not going to be a factor.” Sarina felt herself pout a little, feeling bad for both Kyle and Samantha in being her bosses. Besides, she was actually looking forward to seeing her boss and fiancé fight it out for the win.

“Copy that,” Chase replies. “Is everybody pretty much good to the end here?”

“It’s close. Just save all you can. When you get an opportunity to attack, you know, attack. But just don’t be frivolous with it.” Sarina felt her nerves kick up, already imagining him running out of the gas in the closing stages while leading.

“Frivolous?” She repeats, earning a glance from Jordan. “What? Does Alan think that Chase carries a dictionary in the car or something?” Jordan just chuckles in response as he pats her leg.

“Just relax and enjoy the show,” he starts. “It’s time for your man to do what he was born to do.”

Chase would get the perfect restart with 33 laps to go, pulling out to a solid lead ahead of Martin Truex Jr.

25 to go. 20 to go. 15 to go. 10 to go.

5 to go. The gap was still steady and enough to not get too nervous, but Truex was there if Chase did something.

4 to go. 3 to go. 2 to go.

Sarina felt everything on edge as he took the white flag for the last lap and went down into turn one. Then it happened. The back of the car kicked out a little as he wheel-hopped entering the corner, but he immediately got it back rolling.

“Did he just kick it out of gear to fix that?!?” Sarina questions, feeling every bit of nerve as Jordan just shrugs his shoulders. “Come on, Chase!!”

The moment allowed Martin to shrink the gap considerably, but not enough as Chase held onto the lead, putting together the perfect lap the rest of the way through the course, set to come back around to the checkered.

“Just bring it home, bring it home….” Eddie D’Hondt says as he comes off of the final corner.

“Baby, that’s how you do it!” Alan lets out as he crosses the checkered line. “Get the checkered flag, son!” Sarina lets out the double fist pump, before grabbing Alan from behind, and hugging the crew chief.

“Yeah, baby yeah!” Chase screams on the radio as elation hits the pit box with everybody hugging each other as a couple stray tears roll down Sarina’s cheeks. “Hell yes! Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you!”

“Proud of you guys, proud of all of you,” Bill is next over the radio, earning a small smile from Sarina. She almost wanted to cry a little bit more in knowing that Cindy wasn’t there to experience it, but rather at home with grandma. She could only imagine the emotions that she was going through. “Burn that son of a gun down, boy!”

“Right here for you big boy…” Sarina glances up at the big screen, set to see the burnout through the back half of the course – but then the car stalls suddenly. She just shakes her head, knowing that they must’ve been closer on fuel than she thought, and was glad that Alan didn’t keep them totally in the loop as she would’ve been more nervous than she was. “Oh, just kidding! I’m out of gas. I need a push Eddie, I need a push.”

“I’m working on it, man,” Eddie replies as Sarina just shakes her head. She was actually looking forward to seeing him lay down his first win burnout. It’d been awhile since she saw him lay down a good one.

“I got my man, Jimmie Jam, coming to push me…” Sarina just smiled in watching Jimmie line up perfectly to give Chase a push back around to the front stretch.

“That’s a pretty cool victory lap right there,” Alan comments as Sarina nods her head in agreement. She knew the friendship the pair shared, and could only imagine the meaning that it meant to Chase.

“That is badass, man!”

“Come on!!” Both Jordan and Josh yell at Sarina as they hurry for the steps on the pit box, wanting her to follow as they were both set for the frontstretch celebration, and wanted her to be right there in the middle of it.

As soon as he stopped on the frontstretch, the crew surrounded the car as he jumped out, letting out a big fist pump in the air. He then hops off, immediately meeting with Alan as he pulls him into a hug.

“Way to go kid,” Alan says as he gives him at a pat on the back.

“Happy Birthday, man!” Chase replies as he then looks into the crew chief’s eyes. “Thank you, thank you for everything. I mean it when I say I wouldn’t want to work with anyone else. Thank you….”

“I’m just glad that we could win one!!” They then share another hug together, before Alan lets him go.

Chase then goes through hugging the rest of the crew guys, including a special hug for Nick, along the way. He then stops as he reaches the last person on the line, pulling her right close as he locks his lips with hers.

“I love you so much,” Sarina tells him. “Congratulations Clyde!”

“I love you, too, and I can’t wait to celebrate with you,” he replies, giving her another kiss in return.

“So are we going to head to victory lane or are we just going to party here all day?” Alan questions as Chase shrugs his shoulders.

“Does it matter? We’re winners!” Sarina lets out as Chase just smiles, keeping her held close.

The crew then starts pushing the car to victory lane – with Chase only stopping to share a hug with Jimmie – before continuing to join them on the journey.

“Can you believe it?” Sarina questions and he shakes his head. “You’re a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race winner. Do I need to pinch you?”

“It’s slowly sinking in….” Chase answers as he glances over into her eyes. “I’m glad that you were here.” He then gives her another kiss.

“I just wish your mom was here….” Chase nods his head in agreement.

“She’s probably having a ball running the party in Dawsonville. The siren is going to be blaring tonight!” She chuckles as they reach victory lane.

Chase sits in the car, waiting for the cue to climb out. As he does, a series of drivers come in for hugs, beginning with Ryan and Bubba, to Kyle. Chase made Ryan promise he’d be at the party that night, while Sarina stopped Kyle to offer him a hug.

“Nice drive back up through to third,” she tells him. “I was actually looking forward to you two racing each other.” Kyle glances back towards Chase, before looking at Sarina.

“Would you have been mad at me for beating him?” He questions as she laughs.

“Who says you would’ve?”  He then laughs back, giving her a playful punch before heading off out of victory lane.

Sarina remained in background, smiling as Bill walked over for a hug with Chase, just standing there in pure admiration and amazement.

“I was wondering what was going to go wrong this time,” Bill confesses and Sarina nods her head, having the same theory at times.

The trophy presentation went smoothly, with everyone set for the champagne shower afterwards. Sarina had to laugh at the crew mostly dumping it on Alan, but knowing he deserved for his birthday.

“You still want to be close even though I’m stinky of sweat and champagne?” Chase says as she cuddles up close for photos.

“I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else,” she offers, giving him yet another kiss.

After posing for a bunch of photos, they instructed for just Chase to remain there for the obligatory hat dance. Sarina stood back watching, earning an idea of her own as she walked over to the bowling pin mascot.

“I have to ask one question….” She starts, with a smirk on her face.

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The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 100: Pocono Sickness

Tuesday July 24, 2018 – North Carolina

Sarina walks into the bedsroom, pulling her shirt off as she glances over at Chase.

“What are you reading?” She asks, noticing his eyes don’t leave his phone at all.

“Casey’s press release,” he answers as she looks over slightly confused. She then flops down in the bed beside him, glancing at his phone. “Haven’t you heard? Casey Roderick is finally getting a chance to run an XFINITY race.” She then places her hand on his leg.

“I bet you set that up…” Chase glances away as she just laughs. “It’s sweet, actually. Look at you, already giving back…”

“He’s one of the talented drivers in late models and I’ve always wanted to see what he could do at this level with the right funding. When Mike Beam mentioned having an opening for Iowa, I went all in.” He also smiles, knowing that there was another announcement coming.

“Didn’t you and Casey work together at one point?” Chase nods his head.

“We were teammates actually. I learned a lot from him. Now we’ll see what he can do.” He then switches screen on his phone. “It’ll be interesting to see everybody’s reaction to the other announcement.”

“There’s another announcement? Please tell me that you got Bubba Pollard a chance, too.” Chase then gives her a slightly impressed grin.

“Bubba Pollard? I thought you got off of his high horse a long time ago.” She then shakes her head no.

“That boy is still winning races across the country. Somebody has to pick up the phone soon.” Chase actually had to admit that he hoped she was right as that’d be another fun driver to watch get a chance.

“Bubba isn’t the driver for the announcement, though. They had an opening for Road America, and I sort of threw my dad’s name out there.” Sarina’s jaw drops in shock. “The more shocking part is Mike Beam took that seriously, and then asked Dad and he agreed.”

“So your dad is running Road America at the end of this month?” Chase slowly nods his head yes. “Woah, okay, that’s kind of cool. I almost wish that I was off that weekend so I could be there in person to watch that.” Chase lets out a sigh as he knew what was coming next. “So I’m guessing you’re not coming to Canada with me then…”

“I am coming for the race on Sunday, but I will not be there on Satur-”

“And we’re not doing CN Tower dinner like we had planned, either.” She then takes a calming deep breath as she couldn’t help but feel disappointed in seeing their own plans spoiled. However, she also knew what this announcement meant. “It’s okay. We can do the dinner another time as you deserve to be there with your dad. I think it’s pretty cool that he’s coming back after all of this time. I think he’ll surprise people. I mean, he surprised me with how well he ran the TransAm race at Road Atlanta.”

“I appreciate your understanding.” He then leans over, giving her a kiss. “I also want you to let me know if Erin gives you an trouble.”

“You saw the conversation on Wednes-”

“We crossed paths in the garage this past weekend, and she shared some thoughts in that she’s totally not all set on you as she said, yet, due to our past together. I told her that you had changed and there’s nothing to worry about, but she wasn’t totally ready for you to have it.” Sarina slowly nods her head, understandingly. “But you have nothing to worry about in regards to me and her-”

“You don’t need to tell me twice, Chase. I know we’re committed to this together…” She then places her hand on top of his. “This lovely ring, the heart on my bracelet, and every time we spend together says it by itself. Let’s just live our lives and forget about the reassurances, okay? We understand where we each other is with regards to each other, and our friends, and that’s what matters.”

“You make it sound so easy…” She then grins as she scoots closer to him.

“…because it is that easy when I have lips like yours to taste each night.” She then slowly kisses his lips.

Friday July 27, 2018 – Pocono Raceway

Sarina makes her way into the garage area, taking a deep breath as she stops and leans back against the wall.

“What are you doing here?” Rudy immediately questions as he looks over at his young driver.

“I’m here, ready to wor-” She starts slowly as he shakes his head.

“Practice was cancelled due to weather. I texted both you and Chase hoping that you’d stay in the motorcoach and sleep some considering how sick you are. Instead, you’re standing before me. Why do I bother?”

“Getting in the groove, working on the truck, doing everything as I should, it’ll make me feel better…” Rudy just smiles as he looks over, almost set to roll his eyes, or perhaps even punch her.

“Do you know how many drivers have told me that? You should be taking care of yourself!”

She lets out a sigh as she was hoping to not get a lecture once in the garage area. Sometime Thursday, she had gotten a real pain in her stomach, which turned into her throwing up. Since then, she had been only able to keep down a little bit of toast and rice, with the vomiting happening on a constant basis.

Despite being sick, though, she was determined to race this weekend.

“Besides, it’s a distraction from those papers…” Rudy glances over a little confused as she lets out a sigh. “Now that two doctors have said I wouldn’t be able to carry a baby to full term, there’s options to look over and decide. I just want to scream when I look at them.”

“Then why are you bothering with them?” Rudy questions. “What part of take care of yourself, get sleep, drink, relax do you not understand lady?” She then lets out a sigh. “Don’t tell me that Chase is forcing the pape-”

“He’s telling the same thin-”

“So how about you listen for a change, please?” Rudy walks over, wrapping an arm around her shoulder as he hands her a bottle of Gatorade. “We’re just trying to take care of you. We love you, hate to see you sick, and want you to get better.” She then glances over with a small smirk.

“You actually love me?” He immediately want to kick himself in the ass for those words.

“Underneath this hard exterior, away from all of your other stupid shit at times, yes Sarina, I love you and care about you. I consider you a friend and want to see you doing well.” She smiles as she twists the top off the bottle, downing it immediately.

“See, I knew you were just a big teddy bear…” Rudy rolls his eyes as he walks away, going back over notes knowing down to just one practice session, they’d need to have all their ducks in a row.

Chase makes his way up through the No. 18 hauler, listening against the lounge door to make sure he wasn’t interrupting something before slipping inside.

“Nice job leading prac-” he starts, as planned, since she had led the session. It had been a good day as his girl had led truck practice, while Casey Roderick led XFINITY practice at Iowa Speedway.

“Why weren’t you here sooner?” Rudy immediately cuts him off. “I expected to see your ass here to take your fiancé back to the motorcoach so she could sleep and rest being as sick as she is. Where have you been mister?” Both Chase and Sarina look over at Rudy surprised.

“I was busy, but I came as soon as I got done the appearance…” Rudy shakes his head as he glances over at Sarina, who was curled up on the couch.

“Well since you’re finally here, please do the righteous duty of taking care of this lovely lady.” Chase didn’t need to be told twice as he walks over, brushing her hair out of her face.

“Are you feeling any better?” She slowly shakes her head no, before grabbing the bucket that was on the floor by the couch, throwing up again. “Sweetheart…”

“I suggested that she go to the care center as they may be able to help her. You can tell that she’s a little dehydrated…” Chase nods his head in agreement.

“Rudy has a good idea, sweetheart.” She shakes her head no. “No? I think he does, though.”

“I’m fine,” she says as she slowly sits up. “I just want to go back and lay down, please…” She leans against Chase as he rubs her back.

“I’d rather you go to the care center, though,” he tells her before looking down into her eyes. “Do you remember what you told me at Chicagoland? The fact that you wanted me to go get checked over so you would know that I was okay, and get the help I needed if necessary. Remember how you said it would make you feel better to know that I was okay? Now I’m asking you to please do it for me, please….”

She then slowly stands up, nodding her head in agreement, as they make their way through the trailer together.

It was a short ride over to the care center on the pit cart, where they took her inside immediately. As both Rudy and Chase predicted, she was pretty dehydrated, resulting in them giving her fluids immediately. Summing up her continued vomiting to a stomach flu going around, they also gave her some gravol to hopefully lessen the vomiting.

“Remember to stick to the brat diet,” the nurse says once she leaves the room. They weren’t releasing her yet, but it was good advice for later on.

“Did she just call me what I thought she did?” Sarina asks as Chase just chuckles. “It’s not funny!”

“Brat Diet – banana, rice, applesauce and toast,” Chase answers as he chuckles once again. “It’s the four items that are easiest on your stomach while sick and are known to bind things up to make it harder for it to come up stream.” She then gives him a little puzzled look. “My mom always made me follow it if I was even just a little sick. It works so listen, please…”

“Yes, Dr. Elliott..” He just rolls his eyes as he sits back in the chair.

“Once you get out of here, we’re going back to the motorcoach and you’re going straight to bed. I’ll deliver you food and drink, and cuddles of course.” She couldn’t help but smile in response as she lets her fingers interlock with his.

“Thank you for convincing me to come…” He glances over with a small smile as it was nice to see some of the color back in her face.

Saturday July 28, 2018 – Pocono Raceway

Chase walks into the garage area, fixing his firesuit one last time.

“Considering you were up late last night, you look ready to go this morning,” Jordan comments as he places the gloves in the car with the helmet. “Don’t play dumb, but I saw you online last night. Getting in another round of Fortnite?” Chase then shakes his head.

“That’s what you were doing,” Chase says as he stops at the car. “That’s the only way that you could tell that I was online last night. Meanwhile, I was watching The Ranch off Netflix while cuddling Sarina as she tried to get to sleep. But hey, good try man…” Jordan then gives him the once over.

“So you haven’t caught the bug, right?” Chase slowly shakes his head no. “Please give me warning if you do because I don’t want it.” Chase knew the answer immediately.

“Trust me, I don’t plan on catching that thing…” Jordan then leans over the roof as Chase gets set to climb in.

“That bad, huh?” Chase nods his head before climbing in the car. “Is she feeling any better today?”

“Nope as she threw up breakfast about a half hour after eating, and fell back asleep just before I left for practice.” Jordan shakes his head as he felt terrible before kneeling down, set to help him buckle in if needed.

“It feels solid, but we just need a little more,” Chase comments after ending the first practice sitting 10th on the speed chart. “If you give me something more to work with in turn two, I should be fine as we’re rolling three good.”

“What about turn one?” Alan wonders, earning a shaky glance from his driver. “If you can live with that, I’ll work on the other two corners.”

“Chase?” A voice interrupts them as Chase looks through the garage to see Tyler Kieper off Sarina’s team standing there. “Rudy told me to come find yo-”

“What’s going on?” Chase questions, knowing if Rudy sent a crew member to get him during qualifying that something serious was up.

“Sarina is at the care center. She’s not being cleared to run today due to being sick as Erik Jones is runn-”

“How is she?” Chase could worry about the small minor details later as there was only one thing on his mind.

“She’s pretty dehydrated. She just about passed out on pit road during qualifying. Rudy took her back to the car center on the golf cart.” Chase gives Alan a quick glance and Alan simply nods.

“Go on,” the crew chief instructs. “I have enough to work on something for session two.”

Chase then makes his way through the garage stall, headed directly to the care center to see how she was.

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 95: Kentucky Speedway

Thursday July 12, 2018 – Kentucky Speedway

Sarina kicks her feet up, scrolling through photos on her phone.

“That’s not bad,” she comments out loud quietly, before looking at the next one. “This one is nice…” She then flips to the next photo, immediately making a disgusted face.

“I’m guessing that one is ugly?” Rudy questions, earning a glance from her as she nods her head. “I thought you’d be hanging out with Chase right now…”

“He’s doing an appearance for NAPA so I’m stuck here with you instead. Lucky me, huh?” Rudy just rolls his eyes as he looks away from his laptop at her.

“You can’t pick on me. I gave you a good handling truck all through practice, and with what I have before me, we should be good tonight.” She then looks over intrigued. “I bet that sounds a lot better than those photos you’re looking at.”

“I can’t complain when my crew chief tells me he is going to give me a truck that will win, now can I?” Rudy shakes his head no as he turns back to his notes.

“What are you even looking at to begin with, or do I want to know?” She then lets out a sigh as she kicks her feet up.

“Wedding photo ideas, actually.” Rudy now glances over surprised. “What? Did you think I was just going to stay engaged forever?”

“Based on what I know about you, wedding and commitment weren’t high on your list…” She then lets out a sigh as she looks back at her phone.

“That was before I met Chase, and saw what love was capable of. Now, I’m almost excited for it to be official and call myself Sarina Ott Elliott, or just Sarina Elliott.”

“If that’s all that matters, then let’s go pick the boy up and head down to city hall.” She then takes the small pillow that was beside her, chucking it at him as he laughs. “Besides, I can’t see you planning a wedding….”

“Hey now, I can be pretty just as much as I am tomboyish.” Rudy then shakes his head.

“So in other words, as we get closer to this supposed wedding, I should worry about having a panicking bride worried about the fine details, such as flower color and the invitations. Oh yeah, that’ll make great practice while we chase a championship. Say, when is this wedding?”

“January in Colorado.” Rudy’s jaw drops as he looks back over at her again. “What?”

“Don’t chew me out or anything, but Chase seems like the perfect family darling. I was ready for a Dawsonville wedding, or North Carolina wedding. But Colorado in the winter?”

“The cabin has been home to a lot of memorable, special moments, and it’s our place to just get away and be together without anybody judg-”

“…or wondering whether you’re with Christopher and he’s with Erin?” She slowly nods her head.

“Besides, his parents go to Colorado in the winter for some outdoor fun as Bill even came skidooing with us the one day. Everybody will be there and news flash, I think there’s enough room to invite you. And don’t worry, I won’t be one of those panicking brides. Yes, I have certain things that I would like to see for my wedding, but I’m not Bride-zilla.” Rudy then lets out a sigh of relief.

“So those images….” Sarina then glances back at her phone, before looking over at the crew chief.

“Flower ideas, dress idea, decoration idea. There are some that I saved when I first started thinking about it, along with suggestions from Samantha and Lindsay in stuff that they saw that may work.” Rudy then glances over to meet her eyes.

“And the groom?” She then smiles.

“He said that I can choose those finer details. He just wants to help in picking the venue, along with the guest list. As he put it, I’m his princess and he wants me spoiled.” Rudy couldn’t help but smile in response.

“It’s really nice to see you both so happy, and looking forward to something. I  know it hasn’t been an easy road, and there are still hurtles to figure out. Don’t ever forget how special you are, and how special he makes you feel. You deserve the happiness, but don’t take it for granted.”

“I know better than to do that, Rudy. Monday was the perfect reminder of that…” She then takes a deep breath, letting herself get lost back in the images as she didn’t want to think about Alison and give her the power that came with that thought.

Sarina climbs out of the truck, gives one glance over to Rudy, before walking over and giving the crew chief a high-five. Qualifying was in the books, and she’d be leading the field to the green flag later on that night.

“That’s what I’m talking about!” She says as Rudy just smiles back in response.

“I told you that I had something for you to work with,” he offers, before sharing high-fives with the rest of the team. “We just got to keep our heads down, keep focused on this truck, and keep doing what we’re doing. We may end up where you want to be at the end of the night.”

“I believe….”

“I believe in you both as well,” a new voice chimes in, bringing a smile to Sarina’s face immediately as she turns around to face Chase, giving him a hug.

“I missed you today,” she replies, kissing his lips.

“I missed you, too, but I heard Rudy has been taking good care of you.” She then glances over at the crew chief, before turning her eyes back to Chase.

“Not as well as you can take care of me, though….”

“I heard light colored flowers work well with a winter wedding landscape in a cabin,” Rudy offers before walking away, earning a confused glance on Chase’s face as Sarina rolls her eyes.

“Since when did Rudy become knowledgable about weddings?” Chase wonders as Sarina just just shakes her head.

“I don’t know,” she answers almost chuckling to herself. “But he caught me looking over ideas for our wedding.” Chase then looks at her surprised.

“So has the bride picked out a dress, yet?” Her jaw drops in shock.

“When have you known a bride to pick out a dress so far in advance like now before her wedding, Chase? Besides, I can’t pick any of that out before we decide on the venue, and then we need to decide on flowers. Once I know the surroundings, then I can pick the perfect dress.” He then puts his arms around her.

“Well I don’t care what you choose, I know you’re going to look beautiful when it’s time.” He then gives her another kiss on the lips, before letting her go so she could take her pole winning photos.

The race started out well, as she was fast through the beginning portion of the event. She finished second in the first stage after leading the initial laps, followed by winning the second stage.

“Loose wheel….” She says on the radio shortly after the final round of pit stops under caution in a tone that could only be defined as frustration. Here they were another weekend with a fast truck capable of winning, and here they were set to once again not be able to close the deal due to something happening.

“Come back in,” Rudy offers, which she follows instructions as requested. “Wheel spacer needed…”

The extra pit stop would force her to restart 18th, rather than inside of the top-five. With a fast handling No. 18 Toyota Tundra underneath her, she was able to make her way back through the field to score an eighth-place finish.

“Sorry,” was all Rudy could manage after the race as he gave her a hug. “The guys let you down. We’ll get ‘em next week.”

“Just got to keep trying and eventually the pieces will fall in place, right?” She questions and Rudy nods his head back in response before walking away. “I didn’t want to say it in front of Rudy, but I feel Kyle needs to fire half of this damn team because these pit stops the past couple of weeks have been awful!”

“Does it feel better to get that out of your system?” Chase questions and she nods her head.

“But am I right?” Chase was about to say something, but bit his tongue instead. “Yeah, that’s what I thought. We’re supposed to be the championship team, set to do what Bell did last year once again, and boom – we’re stuck with crappy pit stops. You don’t win races by messing up on pit road.”

“Kevin Harvick does….” She then smacks his shoulder. “Hey!”

“I just feel as though something is missing…” He then wraps an arm around her, pulling her close.

“You’re just getting frustrated because you think you should’ve won five races this year by now, and you’re probably right. Just take a deep breath, put everything in perspective, and push forward. These guys will figure it out before the playoffs.” She then looks at him, intrigued.

“You really believe that?” Chase nods his head. “I’ll try to listen, okay?”

“That’s my girl…..” They then head down pit road together. “On a brighter note, the old you would’ve freaked out on Rudy and the crew guy.”

“Maybe I need to do that…” Chase then stops suddenly, looking over at her. “Kidding, of course. Besides, you’re right. These are my guys and they’ve proven they can get the job done before. We’ll be fine…”

Friday July 13, 2018 – Kentucky Speedway

The first practice was in the books for the Cup Series, and all that it could be described was decent for Chase Elliott and company. There was speed in the NAPA Chevrolet and potential for a good run on Saturday night, but the piece of the puzzle that had been missing over the past couple of months still remained that way. They were closer, but without that touch of speed, the thought of winning wasn’t even on the radar yet. For now, a goal of scoring a solid top-10 was on the mind.

Though as he stood in the garage area, that wasn’t the thought that consumed his mind at that very moment. Instead, he was brought back to a familiar thought process that had clouded him throughout the past several months.

“Hey, are you okay?” Chase hears, not even looking back to glance over his shoulder as he could already tell who was standing there.

“Yeah,” Chase replies as he lets out a sigh. It was time to shift those thoughts back to the shelf so he could focus on the racecar. Those were thoughts that he could worry about next week and the coming days.

“It’s okay to admit when something is on your mind, Chase…” Chase finally glances over his shoulder to look at his dad.

“I know, but I can’t worr-”

“You’ll never move forward if you keep avoiding it.” Chase then crosses his arms, actually beginning to grow annoyed of this discussion. Wasn’t his decision on Wednesday supposed to quiet the critics?

“That’s why I made the appointment for next week. That’s why I’m beginning to do what I need to do. However, in this moment, that isn’t something I need to be worrying about. I have a racecar and a race team to focus on, Dad.” Bill lets out a sigh, having grown used to this response from Chase.

“That’s every bit important, but your health is more important than that….” Chase leans back against the pit box as he just shakes his head.

“Dad, can we please discuss something else for once? I’m doing what I can….” Bill places a hand on his shoulder.

“I know, but I can’t help but worry as your father. You do understand that, right?” Chase looks over and nods his head. “Like I told you, I’m proud that you took the step in admitting that you need the help, and making that appointment. I’m proud of how far you’ve come since you woke up freaking out about what happened. I’m proud of the strength that you’ve shown, as so many people wouldn’t had been able to do what you’ve done. But I can also see on the inside that it’s tearing you apart just as much…”

“Some days are worse than others. I can go through a day and not have a single thought about anything. Then the next day, it’s the only thing that consumes my mind. That’s how I knew I needed to do something because I can’t keep going through those days.” He then glances towards the ground, taking a deep breath. “Sarina was talking about the wedding yesterday, and the beginning stages of planning. I can’t wait for January for that moment, but then it made me realize something else. Everybody plans on a wedding, followed by their future together. That future includes children, and well, that’s something we’ve realized isn’t going to work how we thou-”

“There are options, though….” Chase nods his head, having heard that from so many people over and over. he was glad that there was options and knew he and Sarina would need to explore those, if need be. However, it still didn’t replace the feeling of an opportunity torn away.

“Everybody talks about the amazing feeling in watching their wife or girlfriend carry the baby for nine months, feeling it kick against them, the sensations that they feel during that experience. Just ask Ryan about Lindsay, or Kyle when he talks about everything he went through with Samantha. Kyle don’t get emotions, but that affected him. Is it wrong to feel like you’re being stolen of that experience?” Bill shakes his head no.

“So everything isn’t just about Alison in what you’re feeling….” Chase slowly looks up towards his father.

“But it always gets back to her though, right? Because while Sarina receives this news that she can’t carry a baby full term, Alison wants to prance around the fact that she’s my baby’s fath-”

“She’s lyi-”

“What if she isn’t?” Bill then looks at Chase confused.

“What are you trying to say, Chase?” Chase takes a slow deep breath, remembering the discussion with Alan.

“I trust every one of my instincts fully. I know what I believe in, and I fully believe that I remember everything that happened. I fully know to myself with my instincts that she didn’t conceive that baby. But when you’re going through these emotions, realizing that you’re trying to escape it every way possible but head on, you begin to wonder. What if I escaped that by blanking it out of my mind? What if that happened? There’s a small bit of self doubt that creeps in every once in awhile and I wonder…” Bill didn’t want to face the fact, but knew it was possible if Chase was bringing it up to him.

“What are you going to do if that is the news you receive?” Chase shakes his head.

“I don’t know. I’d like to say that I’d do the right thing and raise the baby as if it’s my own without a drop of doubt because it’s not the child’s fault, and it is a piece of me regardless. But, can I look at the baby and raise that child without thinking of everything Alison put me through? I don’t know, Dad…”

“I think for now, you should focus on what you know. You focus on what happened, and moving past beyond that. Think about the emotions that you’re feeling in regards to pain, and regret, and how to move forward in the best way that you can. I wouldn’t think about the baby until the news come down. Then once you have that news, then if it is what it is, then take your time to think about it.  You can’t control the unknowns, but control your future and what you know. You only got so long and you don’t know when your time is up…” Chase takes a deep breath.

“That’s what I’m trying to do. That’s why I made the phone call and the appointment because I want to take control of these emotions and my life. I’m done being her puppet and living a life controlled by how she manipulated me. I’m done dealing with her unknowns and the games.” Bill places a hand on his shoulder.

“That’s what I like to hear. And I know it won’t be easy, because there will be days where therapy may seem hard because of everything you’re dulging into. But remember that it’s worth it for you, and you will get through this. Your mom and I are always here for you…” Chase nods his head, accepting.

“Chase, second practice……if you’re ready,” Jordan Allen says as he walks by, placing the helmet on the roof with his gloves.

“Got to go to work,” Chase states as he gives his dad a hug before walking over to the car.

“Remember what I said…” Bill reminds him before leaving the garage, letting him focus.

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 93: Chase’s Story

Monday July 9, 2018 – Court Room

Chase makes his way into the court room just he had the week before, taking the same seat in the front row as he takes a deep breath. He smiles as he glances over to his side, looking down to see Sarina’s hand still firmly gripping on his left for support. He didn’t want to be nervous or panic, but the thought of discussing certain details still made his stomach flip flop.

As the same with the week prior, Bill sat once again to his right, glancing over at his son. He still wished that Chase had taken the advice of talking to a professional about what had happened, but appreciated the progress he made in those he had talked to thus far, as well as the strength displayed. He just hoped today went smoothly.

Cindy took her seat shortly after alongside Bill, with Kyle alongside Sarina. Alan and Jordan took their usual spot right behind Chase, along with Samantha, Ryan, and Lindsay. The support circle was there, set to do whatever it took for each other.

“Are you okay?” Bill finally breaks the silence as everybody bit their tongue, not knowing what to think in knowing Chase was supposed to take the stand today.

“Ready to get this over with,” Chase simply states as he takes a calming deep breath.

“All rise!” The court officer says, as everybody stands up. “Now presenting the honorable Judge Gus.” The judge enters, taking her spot as expected.

“Everybody may seated,” the judge states, and everyone sits down as instructed. The doors open and Alison enters, wrists bound together with handcuffs behind her back once again. As she comes in, Bill takes Chase’s right hand, offering his show of support as Chase just focuses his eyes back on the ground.

“Can’t wait to hear you tell the court how much you love me boo,” Alison says as she walks by.

“I’d rather puke on her instead,” Chase comments quietly, as he takes another deep breath.

“Just focus and it’ll be over before you know it,” Bill offers, as Chase nods his head, trying to let that sink in amongst the nerves.

“May the prosecution call their first witness to the stand,” Judge Gus requests.

“We would like to call Chase Elliott to the stand please,” the procsecuting lawyer states. Chase takes a deep breath as he slowly stands up, making his way out of the row, and up to the stand, taking his seat in the witness box.

“Do you swear to tell the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?” The court officer asks as he holds a bible before him.

“Absolutely,” Chase replies as he keeps his eyes locked on Sarina and his father, not even taking a single glance towards his left to see Alison.

“With all due respect, we would like to move straight into the charges of in which Ms. Reynolds says she’s not guilty of,” the prosecution begins. “My client has suffered enough emotional trauma from the events that I don’t feel we need to repeat those events, even if they may be different than Ms. Reynolds recalled.”

“Shouldn’t we see what Mr. Elliott has to say in respect of how he will spin those in his favor?” The defense asks as Cindy resists the urge to break out laughing having already gotten in trouble last week.

“You can cover that when you cross-examine the witness,” Judge Gus offers, as Chase bites his tongue. He knew he could easily sit there and recount the details without any issues – or at least believed that right now, but could only wonder what would happen when the tables were turned.

“Mr. Elliott, can you please recall the events from March 16, 2018 at Auto Club Speedway in the state of California?” The prosecution asks as Chase takes a deep breath.

“I had retreated back to the team trailer following practice,” Chase starts as he tries to keep focused solely on the facts. “I was just about relaxed when I heard Alison’s voice, taunting me. She asked me about where Sarina was, and I told her that she was having a nice day with Brexton. She then gave me a choice – kiss her, or she’d make sure something happened. I wasn’t about to let something happen to them so I kissed her.” He then involuntarily wipes his lips, not wanting to remember the taste of her on him.

“Then what happened?” Chase takes a deep breath, knowing that wasn’t the end of it.

“She then came on to me more, ready to undress me as she began pulling at the zipper on my firesuit – until Alan Gustafson entered. That’s when while holding me down, she turned around and popped a shot off. I used the opportunity of her being turned away from me to grab her hand with the gun, pry it away from her while knocking her off of me. I then held her there until authorities were reached.” Alan takes his own deep breath, thanking his lucky stars once again for quick reflexes.

“Under any other circumstances, would’ve you have kissed her?” Chase shakes his head no immediately.

“There’s only one person that my lips will kiss, and that’s my fiancé.” Chase then smiles as he and Sarina lock eyes, and she blows him a silent kiss. Meanwhile, a chuckle could be heard from the other side of the room courtesy of Alison.

“Thank you. We understand that you had a plane crash down into the Daytona Beach waters in February that you were flying with Ryan Blaney on board. What can you say about that in relation to Ms. Reynolds?” Chase takes a deep breath, still upset that he dragged Ryan in the midst of this and he was stuck in that situation too. Though, he actually appreciated the company while looking for help.

“She sent me plans that showed she knew how to hijack a plane to the Hendrick Motorsports offices a month earlier. That was why we implemented a protocol to check things before every flight. Being that we were running behind, we forgot to do so that night.” Chase still regretted that as he was one for always sticking by the book and following procedure. The one time he forgot, and it almost cost him and his best friend their lives. That was a regret that no matter what could’ve be taken away, even if everybody convinced him of everything else otherwise.

“Evidence A1 – the letter that my client is speaking of.” The prosecuter then places the letter before the judge, which is then passed by the jury, before being filed back away. “Martinsville Speedway, April 2018. What happened there with Ms. Reynolds?”

“I had forgotten my phone in the trailer following practice. It was snowing, but I texted Alan on Sarina’s phone and he was still there so I was going to get it. As I made my way into the garage area, she had a rope that I didn’t see pulled out, and I tripped over it, falling right away. Like she did before, she came onto me, set to kiss me – possibly more I don’t know, though ran away when she heard a pair of voices calling my name in the distance. Those belonged to Jesse Saunders and Chad Knaus.” He couldn’t thank his lucky stars enough that those two were heading by then as he could only wonder what Alison would’ve done otherwise, given his vulnerable state with the amount of pain he was in.

“Evidence B1 – the rope in question, featuring the fingerprints of Ms. Reynolds as found by forensics.” The prosecutor then lays that out once again just like the letter. “Evidence B2 – the hospital report containing Mr. Elliott’s injury, which were severe bruising of the back due to the fall.” Ryan had to chuckle a little at the memory, remembering how Chase fell asleep on the floor that night due to being only spot he could get comfortable when they got back. “The next time you saw Ms. Reynolds that is in question was when she had kidnapped Ms. Ott, which she pled guilty to. When were you made aware that she took the engagement ring?” Chase swallows the lump that had begin to form in his throat.

“The fourth night she came to see me.” Sarina glances down at the ring, twirling it around as she takes a quiet deep breath.

“What did Ms. Reynolds say with regards to the ring?” Chase closes his eyes, almost wanting to punch himself once again for the wording that he used.

“She told me that Sarina didn’t need the ring anymore. I requested that she take the ring off and she told me that may happen if I behave, and kiss her like I mean it, and give her what she wants. So I did it, and she dropped the ring on the bed before leaving.” Sarina felt a couple of her own hot tears, shaking her head. For him to put himself in that situation over a piece of metal didn’t seem fair at all. It was just a ring; it could easily be replaced. But yet, he went and did that due to the meaning and now she was lost for words.

“Obviously you touched upon the situation briefly, but the last charge is the sexual assault charge. If you could please – and take your time doing so, tell the court what happened in detail over the course of that week.” Chase takes a deep breath as he lets his mind go back to then, fighting every urge to panic and cry right there.

“She kidnapped Sarina on Saturday while I was in a total different state racing. I got home on Sunday night after the race, just wanting to try and relax whatever way I could, but obviously unable to because of my feelings. I closed the door and I heard a female voice. I followed it, and then found Alison sitting on my couch in my living room.” His breath then hitches as he glances down, taking a couple deep breathes.

“Take your time, Chase….” Chase then slowly glances back up, as he tries to find his own footing.

“I demanded for information where Sarina was, saying that it was always between me and her. I just wanted Sarina to be okay; that’s all that mattered to me. She then said I could guarantee her safety by doing whatever she wanted me to do. She would show me video proof that Sarina was okay as long as I listened. If I didn’t, she would make sure that Sarina didn’t make it out alive. That was the deal, and she would come see me every day.” Chase then stops, shaking his head, feeling his own frustration and regret in not figuring out some plan sooner, and the fact that he kept it hidden for three days following until Alan and Jordan found him.

“What did she want you to do, Chase?” Sarina feels her stomach flip in hearing his confession as to what happened, as Kyle wraps an arm around her shoulders for support. Every drop of pain that he was feeling was all due to wanting to protect her, and that made her feel a weird sense of guilt she couldn’t understand.

“The first night, she pushed me back on the couch, kissing me on the lips as she ran her fingers underneath my shirt.” He then takes a deep breath. “The second night, she did the same thing, while rubbing her body against mine.” He then takes another deep breath, feeling the tears come to his eyes. “The third night, she took my shirt off, she took my pants off, and told me that I must meet her like that every single time. She then took her own her shirt and pants, pushing herself once again against me, moving against me as she pressed her lips against mine.” The tears were now slightly streaming down his cheeks as he takes a shaky deep breath.

“Baby….” Cindy says quietly as she feels her own tears forming in her eyes, having not heard a drop of the details before this as Bill wraps an arm around her shoulders. “I just want to jump up and hug him, Bill….”

“He’s going to be okay,” Bill whispers, hoping that his words were the truth but still filled with uncertainty.

“The fourth night, she repeated the same process once again – this time in a hotel room bed rather than the couch of my living room,” Chase states as he tries to calm himself down.

“Can you tell the courts why you were in a hotel room on that Wednesday night, please?” The prosecutor asks and Chase glances up, nodding his head.

“I had flown to Bristol, Tennessee with some close friends to be close to where she was kidnapped from as they wanted to talk to me there, as well as trying to find her myself.” Alan shakes his head as he remembered the question session with the detectives, and wanting to slap a couple of them for how stupid they sounded at parts.

“How did she find out your location?” Chase bit his tongue, once again filling with instant regret.

“I told her. I didn’t want to break the deal out of fear for Sarina’s safety.” Sarina took a deep breath, shaking her head in disgust one again. How was she supposed to now let this go in knowing how much he went through for her?

“Thursday morning, it is reported that you were found upset in the bathroom by Mr. Alan Gustafson and Mr. Jordan Allen….” Alan glances down, wishing he could erase that image out of his mind, but that was always etched there. He couldn’t believe how heartbroken Chase looked sitting there, as the disgust was so easily readable on his face.

“I threw my guts up every night after Alison was done with me because I was so sick and disgusted for letting her touch me like she did.” A chuckle could be heard from Alison, which could be interrupted of being proud of work or laughing at what she would believe in her sick mind as a cover-up.

“Mr. Gustafson reported everything to the police, and that was when a trap was set to find out where Ms. Reynolds was keeping Ms. Ott. Can you explain those events, please?” Chase felt a bit of pride in having manipulated Alison in giving him the information that he wanted this way, but it still didn’t erase everything else that he felt in the process.

“I set up a meeting with her. I told her that I’d go with her, do whatever she wanted – as long as she guaranteed Sarina’s safety and released her. Alison agreed to take me to where she had Sarina held. I was given a tracking device to hide in my jeans from the police department, and I went down to her vehicle. She blind-folded me, taking me to where she had been hiding Sarina.” Chase then pauses, taking a deep breath once again.

“Take your time….”

“Leaving me blind folded, she told me to strip down to my boxers – and I did because I knew Sarina was there due to hearing her voice, and I wasn’t taking chances. Besides, the cops were on their way. She then pushed me against the wall…..reached down my pants….she touched me…. Then that’s when the cops showed up and took shots, with her running out of the building.” A trail of tears run down Chase’s cheeks as he continues taking a series of deep breaths.

“Mr. Elliott, at anytime during your encounters with Ms. Reynolds, did you guys have sexual intercourse?” Chase shakes his head no, immediately.

“No, so there’s no possible way that she could be pregnant with my kid…” Chase closes his eyes, trying to slow the tears as they continue to run down his cheeks. He continues to convince himself to take deep breathes, feeling his stomach twirling at the same time.

“Your witness, although I would advise against cross examination due to the state of my client’s mind,” the prosecutor states, before taking her seat.

The defense lawyer then stands, making his way over as Chase opens his eyes, trying to show every bit of strength he had left.

“So Mr. Elliott, you gave Ms. Reynolds permission to sexually molest you based on what you’re saying,” the defense lawyer states, which played right into Chase’s own regrets that he had tried to escape from all this time. As he had told himself, there was no way escaping that he was one to consent to everything that happened.

“Only because she had kidnapped Sarina and I was willing to do whatever it took for her to be safe,” he repeats as Sarina tries to remain strong and focused on him, but the regret continues to eat at her as well.

“Consent is conse-”

“I was coerced, okay? Your client laid a threat on me mentally, which forced my hand. Who’s to say that she wouldn’t had done something to Sarina otherwise? I mean, you are saying that she’s crazy so would you trust your fiancé’s hands with someone like that without doing something to ensure a deal?” Alan and Bill glance at each other, sharing a nod. Perhaps there was more strength in there then they even realized.

“So do you believe that my client is crazy as she is stating as her defense?” Chase wanted to laugh in response, but held that back in fear of crossing the line. Then again, it wouldn’t matter considering.

“Crazy or not, it doesn’t matter to me. I just want to her to pay for all the pain and hurt that she caused me, Sarina, Ryan, Alan, and others by what she did. IF she’s crazy, then that’s great; get her the mental help that she needs. If she isn’t, then that’s great; send her to prison. Just please don’t let her enter my life ever again.” Chase then wipes the remaining tears out of his eyes, as he tries to focus on the strength that he had been showing, versus the mental breakdown that was set to occur behind that.

“This isn’t the first time that my client has been on trial with you…..”

“She said that she was forced into what she did due to Bethany, and given her history, I was bound to believe it. I gave her a second chance. Clearly, I made a big mistake.” There was another regret that would certainly hang on his conscious for awhile, too.

“Last week, my client detailed a very descriptive image of how she had sexual intercourse with you to conceive the child that she is currently cari-”

“We did not have sexual intercourse.” The defense lawyer crosses his arms.

“So what do you call everything that we heard from her?” Chase almost wanted to spit out the possibility of events that happened that he had blocked out, but wasn’t about to give Alison that satisfaction as every time that thought came to mind, so did denial and knowing that she was good at playing games.

“A fantasy, a dream, something other than reality. I don’t know, but it didn’t happen with me.” The lawyer nods his head as he walks back to his desk.

“So you’re absolutely certain that she isn’t carrying your child?” Chase lets out a long sigh. He absolutely hated talking about pregnancies as it was annoying in what Alison was trying to do, combined with Sarina’s inability to have a child of her own.

“No, she isn’t carrying my child.” The lawyer glances over his notes, before eying Chase.

“The prosecution stated that your mental state has been heavily affected based on the events that have happened. Given the trauma that you have suffered and how it is affecting you mentally, could you possibly have blacked out the details of a rape to not deal with the consequences?” Chase almost wanted to scream as it was like the lawyer could see inside of his head – which was impossible.

“Absolutely not. I know what happened each of those nights with Alison. No matter how hard I try to forget, I can’t erase those images from my mind. They’re etched forever, and if she went that far, trust me, I would know.” A smile of satisfaction appeared on Alison’s face with that emission.

“So if she’s found to be pregnant with your child, can we revis-”

“She’s not pregna-”

“But if we’re wrong and she is, can we revisit this?” Chase shakes his head.

“She’s not pregnant with my child!”

“Your honor, it’s a yes or no question….” Judge Gus then looks down at Chase.

“Yes or not – can we revisit this if you are found to be the father?” The judge questions sternly as Chase glances up.

“Sure, because I won’t be found the father,” Chase answers.

“Thank you,” the defense lawyer states. “You’ve proven what I needed out of your testimony. We’re done.”

“You may step down….” Judge Gus instructs and Chase just simply nods.

He then takes a couple careful steps away from the stand, swallowing every ill-feeling that he was facing as he tries to put on a strong face walking back to the row of benches.

“Court will reconvene next week for more testimony,” Judge Gus states. “Court adjourned!”

“I can’t do this…” Chase says out loud as he feels his legs get light underneath him, every bit of panic and sickness entering his thoughts all at once as the hot tears begin to fall down his cheeks once again.

“I got you,” Jordan states as he stands up first, wrapping both of his arms around him. “I got you, Chase….” Jordan then slowly pulls him over to the bench, getting him to sit down.

“Sip on this….” Alan says as he takes the cap off a bottle of water, handing it to him.

“I can’t do this….” Chase repeats once again. “I feel like I’m going to be sick….” As Jordan and Alan stay before him, Kyle grabs one of the garbage bins, bringing right over and placing it between the pair.

“Take deep breaths; close your eyes, count to 10, and sip on the water. Relax. It’s over; you’re going to be okay. They’re just memories. They can’t hurt you. She can’t hurt you anymore either as she’s locked away, Chase. Keep telling yourself that as you take the deep breaths and drink the water. Just relax and take it slow…..”

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 89: Overton’s 300

Saturday, June 30 – Chicagoland Speedway

The race had gone decently to say the least, as Chase ran just outside of the top-10 through the first two stages as a result of handling issues. However, both he and Chad Norris were able to work everything out for the second half to score a solid 10th-place finish.

Sarina and Chad Norris were walking their way over after the race, set to greet him for quick debrief knowing Cup qualifying was around the corner,

“Chase?” Sarina questions as she watches him climb out of the car, running his hands through his hair, before leaning his head on the roof.

“Is he okay?” Chad Norris then wonders as the pair pick up their pace, watching him climb out of the car, sitting down, leaning back against it. Chad reaches him first, kneeling before him. “Are you okay?” Chase slowly nods his head as he takes the cold bottle of water from the crew chief.

“Just exhausted,” he lets out as he sips on it. “I’ll be fine….” Chad wasn’t quite convinced as he kept his eyes locked on him.

“Are you sure?” Chase slowly nods his head once again.

The sequence of events, though, had caught the attention of the crew, who notified an official which sent the medical officials over to him.

“I’m fine….” Chase repeated as he took a deep breath. “I’m just a little tired….”

“We think it’d be best if you come with us and we check you over, maybe give you some fluids,” the medical personnel suggests and Chase immediately shakes his head no.

“I’ll be fine. I just needed a couple minutes to relax, but I’m fine. I have Cup qualifying. I’ll be fin-”

“We highly advise that you come with us….”

“Chase, listen to them please….” Sarina begs, catching his attention. “Just let them check you over. Best thing is they come back with the fact that you’re fine. Worst case something is up and they can get you the help you need so you’ll be fine tomorrow. Do it, please….” He hated the thought of it, but he finally gave in as he stood up.

“Can you go tell Alan what’s going on?” He offered and she nodded her head in response. She would’ve preferred to be there with him, but she also understood those nerves.

It didn’t take long for Sarina to get back through the garage area and find the No. 9 team pushing out the car for time trials later on that afternoon.

“Yo, check out the beautiful stunning lady….” Jordan comments as Sarina just flashes a smile quickly at him, before heading directly over to Alan. As the crew pushed, Alan held his notebook in hand, going over last minute adjustments.

“Where’s Chase?” He wonders, as he had expected Chase to be there pretty soon after the race given the fact that he didn’t have post-race media availability. Alan also wanted to ask him about how the track changed during the race to see if that’d give him a better direction for adjustments.

“That’s what I came to talk to you about,” she answers, catching his attention immediately as she began to detail the events following the race. Everything immediately made sense to Alan as it went along perfectly with the emotional spillage from just before the final practice session. Everything that he envisioned in things possibly becoming too much to bare was happening right before his eyes right now.

“I’m sure he’ll be fine, Sarina. A little dehydrated so they’ll give him fluids, with a strict instruction for a relaxing night.”

“That means no funny business,” Jordan comments as he had overheard everything, earning a free smack from Sarina as Alan just chuckled.

“I’m not worried because I believe what you’re saying,” Sarina starts. “If I was worried, I wouldn’t had left his side to come see you no matter how much he begged.”  Alan knew not to argue against that.

“Go tell him to take care of himself as that’s the focus and we’ll worry about whatever happens,” Alan instructs. If we start from the tail of the field, oh well. we can work out way to the front.” She nods her head accepting. “And Sarina, just be there….” She was a little caught off-guard by that but just nodded her head again before heading back off.

It didn’t take long to get to the medical center, where she immediately made her way through the hall of rooms, stopping when she saw him laying there. she makes her way inside, seeing the firesuit pulled down to his waist as they had put an IV of fluids in his arm.

“I bet you’re feeling a little better with those in you,” she tries to crack a joke as she enters the room. He just smiles back as he lets out a sigh.

“I need to talk to Chad because we need to make some changes ahead of Daytona,” he starts. “I need Jordan to set everything because it was hotter in there than normal. Combined with exhaustion, and I was done…” She places her hand on top of his, leaning in for a quick kiss.

“I’m glad to see you finally admit it, and I’m glad that you’re getting what you need. Alan told me to tell you to take care of yourself, and he’ll worry about the rest.” He nods his head accepting as he glances over at the IV.

“I asked about qualifying anyw-”

“Chas-”

“They told me that if I react while to getting some fluids, they’ll let me go for qualifying, with the strict instruction of a quiet night and to come back if I feel anything else crappy.” She already knew that was going to be on the docket, hence her plan already.

“That’s why we’re going to stay in tonight, make a quick snack, and then just relax. I may even make you a banana split…” He then looks at her slightly confused. “What? Ice cream is nice and cool so you can stay relaxed, and bananas are loaded with potassium and that’s what you need right now as your body recovers.”

“And you know this how, Nurse Ott?” She gives him a little smack as he laughs.

“I’ve been in your shoes before after a 300 lap late model event – totally wore out, dehydrated, just done. So I was told peanut butter and banana sandwich so you get the protein and potassium that your body needs for your muscles to heal. That, and lots of fluids. If you do that, you will be feeling better and you won’t cramp that badly. We need to make sure you’re ready to go for tomorrow, right?” He slowly nods his head.

“Well, I have no problem with you taking care of me tonight….”

Chase makes his way down pit road, having just re-done the firesuit up, passing by a couple pit stalls with a small wave and “I’m okay” comment to those who shared a bit of concern after seeing what happened on pit road.

He makes his way to where the No. 9 Chevrolet was parked, popping up behind Alan, who glances back surprised.

“I thought you were in the medical center….” Alan comments and Chase nods his head.

“Two bags of fluids, promise to take it easy after qualifying, and I’m loose,” he replies. “I feel better already.” Alan crosses his arms. “I’m serious, Alan! I wouldn’t be here if that wasn’t the case.” Alan nods his head, knowing that was right actually as Sarina wouldn’t let him.

“Did you have the air conditioning unit malfunction or something?” Chase shakes his head no as he sits down on the wall beside the crew chief.

“There are a couple adjustments that Jordan can make, but that’s not the primary source. I was dehydrated a little – I won’t deny that now, but it was more pure exhaustion. I was just tired, and actually snagging a 15 minute nap in the medical center was what I needed.” Alan takes a deep breath, having assumed this already when Sarina had told him.

“You told me earlier that you weren’t sleeping at night because of everything going on, right?” Chase slowly nods his head, knowing where this was going. “You told me every single emotion that you were experiencing, and the fact that you still have so many doubts and painful feelings stemming from what happened. You told me how they continue to affect how you move forward with Sarina, along with sleeping at night. So just how much sleep are you getting at night?”

“Not enough….” Alan gives him another glance. “Half of what I should be.”

“I told you that you were strong and you could make your way through everything – but that takes a balance, Chase. If you’re not doing what you need to do to handle everything, it can come back and bite you just as quickly. That means taking care of yourself, talking about it, getting the sleep you need, and getting the help if you need it. Consider this a warning. Make sure you do what you need to do for you to take care of yourself, your health, before anything else – or else you’re going to be in a worst spot than you were today.” Chase knew that Alan was right, as much as he hated hearing it as the easiest objective was just to turn around and try to run from it all like nothing happened. However, he could see how the small discussions were helping, and he knew that he needed to keep doing that.

“I’m trying….” Alan places his hand on top of Chase’s, getting his attention.

“I know you are; I believe you fully. But you need to keep pushing that envelope…” Alan then glances down pit road at where Lindsay and Sarina were talking. “That includes talking to her about what you told me.”

“I still can’t believe your qualifying lap,” Sarina comments as she retweets the video on twitter. Chase lies down beside her. “Did it ever go through your mind to lift there?”

“Not even one bit,” Chase answers. “I knew I had a good car, and we deserved to start up front.” She then sets her phone down and looks over at him.

“Third isn’t too shabby, either….” He shakes his head no. “Besides, I also know you had the talent to make that work…” She then leans in and kisses his lips as he takes a deep breath.

“I need to tell you somethin-”

“Chase, tonight is about rela-”

“Please, I need to get this off my chest. You have to know what I’m feeling….” She then stops, remembering Alan’s additional piece of advice.

“I’m all ears and ready to hear you out, as always. What’s going on, Chase?”

With another shaky deep breath, he detailed the fact that the exhaustion post-race was not just dehydration, but rather a lack of sleep. He then used that lead to go into every bit of emotions that he had discussed with Alan, going deeper in some spots for her, as he tried to put as much as he could out on the table without a single regret. There were times he paused, time for another shaky deep breath, or even a tear to roll down his cheek. He even could admit that he felt sick to his stomach in recounting some of it. However, like Alan said, he needed to do it because he had to do what he could for himself if he was going to find any peace moving forward.

With testimony to be said on Monday from Alison, there was no time like the present.

“You know I’m here for you always, right?” Sarina says quietly as he finishes, and he simply nods his head in return. “Chase, anytime you wake up in the middle of the night, do not hesitate to wake me up if you need comfort or someone to talk to. Let me be there for you, please…” She then puts both of her hands on top of his. “And I understand the other feelings. I understand the fear, and betrayal, and pain. I know you accepted the deal, but she manipulated your feelings so you would so please don’t hold any single regret.”

“I’m trying to convince my heart of that,” he tells her as she takes a deep breath.

“I also understand everything else that comes with that. I get holding back because involuntarily, you’re afraid of being hurt once again. Your body doesn’t want to feel that same pain, torture – and I get that, Chase. I’m not mad at you one bit for holding back and finding it hard to go completely to that place right now. I know it’ll come with time as we build that comfort, and I’m willing to be as patient as you need me to be.” She then places her hands on his cheeks. “I love you, Clyde…” She then leans in, laying a kiss on his lips.

“I love you, too. I’d do anything for yo-”

“That goes both ways. Just like you’re being here for me as I fight through my journey, let me be there for you. Just as you comfort me about the baby news, let me comfort you in the same respect. Just as you comforted me about my brother, let me comfort you about Alison. You’ve seen me at my worst and you were absolutely amazing with me. Let me repay you, please…”

“I just want to forget everything that happened, you know?” She nods her head accepting as he lays his head against her. She then runs her hands through the curls in his hair. “I never thought it could hurt this much, but it does…”

“I know, but you’re strong, and you’ll find a way – with my help, Alan’s help, Jordan’s help, and your parents. Let us in and see what you’re feeling so we can help you…” He then lets out a yawn as she shifts a little. “For now, though, close your eyes. Get some sleep, babes. I’m not going anywhere. I’ll hold you all night, I promise.”

Sunday, July 1 – Chicagoland Speedway

Chase had to admit – getting that off his chest with her was worth it as that night, he had one of the most peaceful sleeps that he had been able to sneak in since everything took place.

“Thank you,” he tells her, as he gives her a quick hug before the race. “Thank you for just being there…”

“You don’t need to thank me,” she replies. “I’ll be here for you, always, as much as you need. We’re going to be okay.” He nods his head in agreement. “Now, go get ‘em!”

“That’s the plan…..”

The Overton’s 400 started off really strong for Chase and the team, as he was able to turn the great qualifying effort into running in the top-10 through the first two stages.

Though knowing that they needed a win to work their way into the playoffs, Alan decided to go a little different route for the final stage than they had gone thus far. It didn’t pan out as well as the crew chief hoped, though, as Chase faded back as he fought the car’s handling, finishing 19th.

‘”I cost us a shit ton of poin-” Alan states after the race as he leans back against the car beside Chase.

“We’re not going to get better if we don’t try stuff, and we need to get better,” Chase cuts him off. “I’d rather we try stuff and maybe hit on what we’re missing than just say average. You did the right thing. Don’t hang your head.” Alan smiles a little.

“On the brighter note, we’re headed to Daytona, where we’ve had strong cars for awhile now. it’s time to make some magic happen Saturday night.” Chase nods his head in agreement.

“We got the car, and somehow you tell me that I know how to draft, so maybe it’ll be time, finally.” Alan pulls him close.

“Maybe? Dude, confidence kid! You know how to draft and you can kick ass!”

“I just need to get through tomorrow….” Alan pulls him a little tighter.

“You’ll be fine, believe me….”

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 88: A Pair of Appointments

Saturday, June 30 – Chicagoland Speedway

Sarina makes her way through the motorcoach, sitting on the edge of the bed as her eyes watch Chase around the room. She knew the usual drill of getting ready for the day – and normally didn’t interrupt unless it was for a fun extracurricular activity. However, a text message changed the flavor that day.

“Are you available on Monday afternoon?” She questions, catching him off-guard as he glances over at her.

“Meetings at JRM in the morning, meeting around lunch at GMS, and then yes,” he answers slightly confused. “Why are you asking?”

“I got confirmation for my appointment – Monday at 3pm.” Chase slowly nods his head, accepting. He knew it was a big deal as they’d been waiting for a chance for a second opinion for a couple months. However, if this doctor was as highly specialized and recommended as everybody said, it’d be worth the wait as they’d have an answer for certain.

“As I promised, I will be there with you.” He then walks over, slipping a kiss on her cheek. “We’ll fly out together, hold hands together, and be there together. It’s going to work out no matter what they say.” Sarina slowly nods her head as she lets out a sigh. She just hoped that she could handle what came from this appointment, as well as any other further fall-out. Allison’s pregnancy was still totally not lost on her, and while she had wanted to pass judgment and forget about it based on Chase’s account, she couldn’t help but wonder at times like these. “You can talk to me, you know that…..”

“I have nothing else to say on the matter. Let’s just see what’s said first, okay?” Chase could accept that as he resumed back to getting ready, pulling his firesuit on. “Make sure you drink lots today. it’s a hot one out there.”

“Same goes for you, and make sure you put on sunscreen.” He then stands before her, rubbing her bare shoulders. “I wouldn’t want to see you get burned, but then again rubbing aloe all over you would be a treat.”

“Wow, who knew Chase Elliott was so flirty….” He then chuckles, snagging another kiss before grabbing his phone off of the dresser.

“Let’s go, before I get other ideas….” She then just smirks as she stands up, following him through the motorcoach and out to the garage area.

One practice in the books in the Cup car, and Chase had to admit that his day was off to a great start as he was fourth fastest on the speed chart and confident in what they had unloaded with. Perhaps with a couple tweaks and maybe this is where the weekend to turn the season around would begin.

“You seem a little off today,” Jordan comments as he puts the helmet up on the roof of the car after the session was over.

“A little off? Really?” Chase questions and Jordan simply just nods back in response. “What gave you that impression?”

“The way you walked into the garage, and the way you didn’t joke around as much as you normally do.” Jordan then kneels down, leaning on the door to peak in the window. “Is everything okay?” Chase nods his head. “So you and Sarina are perfectly fine right now.”

“You don’t have to play matchmaker or cupid….” Jordan shakes his head immediately.

“Remember, that’s not my job. Jared does a great job at that though.” Chase chuckles, knowing that Jared also wouldn’t let them forget either. “So no drama about the trial, or anything that we should know about your trip to Ireland?” Chase then shakes his head no, but knew if Erin didn’t accomplish what she was trying to, the garage would be full of discussion next weekend for sure. “I know you better than anyone, Chase. There has to be a reas-”

“Sarina has her appointment on Monday for the second opinion on whether she can carry a baby full term.” Chase knew he wasn’t going to weasel his way out of this as Jordan was right about his comment. He also knew that he could trust him, and maybe a bit of advice would be good right now.

“You guys know the situation already…..” Chase slowly nods his head as he lets out a sigh, glancing back forward away from Jordan.

“We know there is a very, very slim chance that we’ll be told something different than we already know, but Sarina needs to hear it from someone else so it will settle in and she’ll stick with it. It’s that double assurance, right? The same way that I bug both Alan and Josh on certain thi-”

“The same way you double check your helmet and mirrors, despite me making sure to listen to every single detail of your request?” Chase nods his head as he looks back over at Jordan.

“You know I appreciate you, and I wouldn’t want to work with anyone else, right? You do a great job.” Jordan just simply smiles back in return.

“We’re not just a team, Chase. We’re all family together. We stick together no matter what, and that includes helping each other when things aren’t going smoothly.” Chase then glances back down at his lap.

“So what am I supposed to do on Monday when we get told the same news again?” Jordan takes a deep breath, knowing that wouldn’t be an easy situation at all.

“You comfort her. You hold her close, assure her that it doesn’t change how you feel about her, you offers the options that you gave her, you listen, and you just love her. Chase, you don’t need my advice. You’re absolutely amazing and you know how to take care of people because of that kind hearted soul you are. You’ll do what she needs by instinct.” Chase wanted to laugh at that comment based on the past couple of months and how his instincts seemed to be causing more negativity than he wanted. “And Chase, while you’re focused on her, don’t let yourself forget about you. This affects you as well, and your plans for the future. Make sure you consult your own feelings, deal with them, and talk to someone if you need to – which you seem to have a hard tim-”

“I’m talking to you right now, am I?” Jordan lets out a sigh as he wanted to scream, but bit his tongue.

“I’m talking about what happened with Allison. I bet you haven’t talked with someone head-on about that.” Chase wanted to smirk in return as he glanced over at the interior mechanic.

“I talked to Sarina. I talked to Alan. I talked to my dad a little bit. I told Ryan what happened and got his advice. I have been talking to people, Jordan. I’m slowly following the lead of what I need to do.” Chase then glances back at his hands which clutch the wheel before him. “There’s just some parts that aren’t as easy to let go.”

“I can tell….” Jordan then reaches over, placing his hand on Chase’s. “That’s why I’m pushing you to deal with it because it’s eat at you more, because I care about you.” Jordan then stands up and glances towards the garage opening. “Now, are you going to sit in there all day or are you going to qualify your XFINITY Series car?”

“Guess I have a job to do….” Chase then climbs out, giving Jordan a pat on the back as he walks by, following his PR rep and Sarina out to pit road for the next job on his list for the day.

 “I’ll take that,” Chase offers as he gives Chad Norris a quick pat on the shoulder as he goes to walk by him. “It should come in good about 15, 20 laps. You did a nice job with the adjustments.”

“You can hold a pretty wheel,” Chad Norris replies. “I’ll see you in an hour?” Chase nods.

Chase makes his way through the garage area, heading into the Cup garage and going straight to the toolbox. He grabs his phone, set to quickly check through any messages he missed before getting ready for the second Cup practice. However, that got delayed more than he would’ve liked based on a message that he wished would’ve not been received.

“Alan?” He says, grabbing the crew chief’s attention. “Is it possible that I can get out of the meeting on Monday?” The confusion on Alan’s face turned to immediate surprise.

“There’s a holiday this coming week and it’s Daytona, but yet you want out of the meeting?” Alan questions, still looking shocked as Chase slowly nods his head. it was obvious before he even asked that the question wasn’t going to go over well. “One of our most important meetings all season, and yet superstar doesn’t want to atte-”

“I’d rather be there in a heartbeat, rather than sitting in a court room.” Alan’s demeanor changed immediately to serious. “Ms. Crazy is going to make her statement for her actions, and I unfortunately have to attend.”

“What time?” Chase glances back at his phone.

“They said to be there at 9.” Alan then snags his phone off the box, making a note in his calendar. He then goes into his text messages, sending a few off.

“I’ll be ready to go early in the morning bright and early for you.” Chase was now a little confused.

“Most important meeting of the year and yet you’re busting ou-”

“I told you that I’d be there to support yo-”

“I’ll be fine with Sarina and my pare-”

“I don’t doubt that, but I still want to be there. Besides, I need to make sure she gets locked away as after all, she took a shot at me.” Chase freezes immediately, taking a deep breath as he remembered that string of events.

“Alan, you never should’ve been put in that situa-”

“What have I told you about regrets? Just like I said to you to stop blaming yourself over what happened with her in the hotel and your place, you need to stop blaming yourself for what happened with me. Just be glad that I got fast ninja reflexes and things didn’t go further.” Chase actually had a chuckle at the ninja comment.

“I appreciate it, everything….” Alan places a hand on his shoulder.

“Nobody deserves what she did to you, Chase. I don’t care who you are but nobody deserves to be put through that endless amount of mind games, physical torture, and mental abuse. She deserves everything that’s coming to her, and making sure that she stays locked away is a helluva lot more important than a meeting. The guys will hold down the fort and we can catch up when we get back.” Chase nods his head, accepting, but still wished circumstances were different.

“I want to get better. I know we have the right guys and equipment to run up front as we proved that last year. I want to get better and be up there so these meetings are important. I want to hash out ideas, work towards improvements and doing whatever we nee-”

“Your personal health and well-being, mentally and physically, comes before performance. That includes making sure Alison stays locked away. That includes making sure that you’re safe. That includes making sure that you’re handling things accordingly.” Alan knew they should get started with practice, but he also wasn’t about to let this matter go either. “Are you doing that?” Chase slowly shakes his head no.

“I’ve talked with my dad, Sarina, you, and Ryan – but yet I can’t let go that I am the person who said yes to her. She asked me whether I wanted to kiss her, and I said yes. I said do whatever you need to do. I invited her advances and told myself to accept whatever she did. And yes, you can say that I was manipulated into that because Sarina was in danger, but try telling my heart that when I can’t sleep at night.” He then takes a shaky deep breath.

“Chase…..” Chase closes his eyes as he tries to gain some calmness.

“I can’t forget her touching me, and how sick that made me feel. I can’t forget her lips against mine. I can’t forget how she had total control over me. I can’t forget how my body reacted in wanting it. I want to forget being disgusted, violated, manipulated, driven to insanity – but yet I lay awake feeling sick to my stomach.” He then glances past Alan towards the direction where Sarina stood talking to a crew member. “I have the most beautiful girl in my life, and yet I can’t fully appreciate that because I’m stuck in that moment. She sees the flirting that I do with her and yes we have done stuff since then – but yet I’m still holding back in the process.” He then looks back at Alan. “I can’t fully let myself go with my fiancé because I’m stuck in a nightmare, and that kills me. Do you know how much it hurts to not be able to give the person you love everything you have?” Alan places a hand on Chase’s shoulder.

“I know it can’t be easy, but she knows what you went throu-”

“It’s painful, like a whole other torture in itself. Sure, she understands and tries to comfort me – but that doesn’t erase that pain. I want to make it up to myself, to her, but yet I’m stuck in these images. Instead, I kissed Erin while I was drunk in Ireland. Thankfully, Sarina let that go but how could I do that, as well? Furthermore, I can’t make that up to her because once again, here we are….” Alan runs his hands through his own hair, not even knowing where to go next.

“The fact that she didn’t run is enough for you to know that she trusts you, and if you would open the door and tell her everything you’re saying to me, she’d listen and understand….” Chase lets out a sigh as he quickly wipes away the stray tear.

“The worst part is there’s one thing nothing can fix in emotions, and that’s infidelity. Once that word comes down on Monday, it’s going to hit home that we can’t fulfill our dreams and have a baby of our-”

“There’s options-”

“But they’re not the same as carrying your own child for nine months, and going through the entire process. That kills Sarina in that she can’t do that herself for me, for herself, and for us. Look at how broken up she was when she found out initially. Now imagine that reaction in knowing you have the final nail in the coffin so to speak.” Alan looks into Chase’s eyes, surprised this was all coming out – but not willing to stop it as he kept the rest of the crew at bay.

“I don’t know what to tell you, except it’s not the end of the world. Things could always be worse and you know that better than anybody. Furthermore, you both are two of the strongest individuals that I know, and that’s how I believe you’ll both get through this – despite this outpouring of emotions that you feel can’t be escaped.” Chase then leans back against the pit box.

“Alan, what if Alison is pregnant with my child?” The shocked expression was back on the crew chief.

“I thought you told me there was no way when you recounted the detai-”

“What if I blacked out that night? What if I totally made sure I didn’t remember that? What if she got her way because she drugged me, or something, and I can’t remember? I can barely handle what I know, what I saw, what I felt, and what I remember. What if it happened?” Alan places a hand on Chase’s shoulder.

“You were certain that she wasn’t pregnant, and Chase, I believe you…” Chase then glances up at Alan.

“But what if she is?” Alan then lets out a sigh, knowing this conversation was useless.

“Then we’ll deal with whatever happens. We’ll figure out where the baby goes, and what the next steps are, and you won’t be doing any of that alone as you’ll have me, Sarina, your parents, Ryan, Jimmie – everybody will  be on your side.” Alan takes a deep breath, knowing the team wouldn’t stay calm much longer. “These emotions that you told me – it’s great to see you getting them out. That’s what you need to keep doing, and know that I’m always an ear to listen, as well as everybody else we’ve discussed. Also, like your dad said, don’t be afraid to go see someone and talk to them. You’re strong, and you’re doing an amazing job handling everything and facing what’s before you. Don’t lose sight of your strength because you will get through this, and you will be stronger because of it. Everything is going to work out.” Chase takes a deep breath as he closes his eyes, repeating those words to himself.

“Are you sure, Alan?” Alan reaches over, giving his hand a squeeze.

“Absolutely…” Alan lets go of his hand, eyes looking back to the crew and the car. “Now, how about we offer a nice distraction and go get some laps in for me?”  Chase smiles, nodding his head as he accepts.

“Thank you….” Alan smiles as he watches him walk away.

The speed chart wasn’t a good reflection when the session was over, listening them 23rd fastest. But Alan didn’t care as he knew the car was feeling good per driver feedback, and knew the shift in speed was due to distraction. That was something he was willing to accept if it meant them being one step closer to everything working out.

Giving him a quick pat on the back, he hoped the XFINITY race went well to offer some more comfort for the time being.

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 68: Food City 500 (Con’t)

Sunday, April 15 – Bristol Motor Speedway

It’d been a quiet period of time waiting for the rain to pass, but it also didn’t seem like it’d be stopping anytime soon. It was at that time that NASCAR made the decision to regroup and come back on Monday to try and finish the rest of the Food City 500.

“Considering the car is wrecked and we’re out of it, we could just pack up,” Kenny suggests, catching a glance from Chase. “I know you’ve been through quite a bi-”

“Everything that happened last week has no effect on me standing here right now, or coming back tomorrow,” Chase cuts him off, which caught the crew chief by surprise. Kenny could also tell that it wasn’t the full truth, either. “Besides, we are spending another weekend working together. Let’s use tomorrow as practice for getting to know each other more, and then maybe we can make something work in Richmond.”

“If that’s what you want to do, I’m as committed as you are and I’ll see you tomorrow.” Chase nods his head with a small smile as he goes to head off. “Chase?” Chase then stops, glancing back towards Kenny. “I have no clue what happened this past week, or what Alan and Jordan know. But I will say this – whatever it is that happened between yourself, Sarina, and Alison, I hope it works out. I hope that you’re able to work your way through whatever feelings you’re having. I hope they’re able to find her so you can put your mind at peace. If you want to talk, you know my door is always open…”

“I appreciate that, Kenny, but I’m going to be fine.” Chase takes a pause, followed by a deep breath as everything flashes before his eyes once again. “I don’t think I could bring myself to talk to you about it, if I’m being honest. I just can’t find those words. But I appreciate the offer.”

“Anytime. Remember, we’re all family and we will do whatever we need to do for each other.” Chase nods his head, not needing a reminder considering Alan’s past couple of instances.

Monday, April 16 – Bristol Motor Speedway

Chase shakes his head as he glances out the window of the motorcoach. It was supposed to be nicer weather today, and get the rest of the race done – but yet it seemed worse. How did they get to the point of sleet falling at Bristol?

He then hears a knock at the door, and rolls his eyes at first. He had half-expected it to be one of the crew members with concerns for him, giving his distance through the weekend. Could you blame him for what had happened just the week before? And how could you expect him to say something? It wasn’t something he wanted everybody knowing.

He was caught off-guard when he opened the door, though, seeing his dad standing there instead. Since seeing his parents at the hospital after he woke up, he hadn’t seen them much since, focused solely on the racing that weekend and wanting to avoid everything concerning Alison.

“Hey,” Chase says quietly as he backs away from the door, watching his dad follow him back up inside.

“Hey,” Bill replies as he keeps his eyes on Chase, watching him closely. “How are you?” Chase sits down on the couch, half-expecting the conversation to come.

“I’m alright. I told you on Friday that I was fin-”

“I know what you said, Chase. I listen when you talk to me. But it’s been some time since then, and clearly everything has been on your mind more than likely. Can I guess that it’s still bothering you?” Chase lets out a sigh as he looks back out the window.

“I woke up Friday night, as well as last night in the middle of the night because I was thinking about Alison. I was worried that she was going to show up once again. I was worried that she’d try to do something even further pushing because of her frustration in what happened. I was also sick and disgusted about what happened.” Chase then looks back towards his dad. “Is that what you wanted to hear, rather than my cover-up that I’ve told everyone?”

“It’s a start, if I’m being honest. We talked about it when you woke up in the hospital – your feelings, what happened, and the fact that you pani-”

“I was scared for Sarina. I had just watched her get shot after being kidnapped for a whole week. That didn’t have to do with what Alison did.” Bill takes a deep breath, trying to stay as calm as possible despite being frustrated as ever with Chase.

“Sure, that explains what happened. But what about Jordan and Alan finding you in the bathroom, sick and disgusted, having been up crying most of the night? That’s what worries me, Chase. The fact that you’re avoiding dealing with those feelings by putting it off as if nothing happened. I bet you haven’t said anything to anyon-”

“I brought it on mysel-”

“She sexually assaulted yo-”

“I made the deal, didn’t I?” Chase takes a deep breath as he glances back out the window. “I accepted it for Sarina’s safety, and I have to live with the consequences, whatever those may be. I’m dealing with it.” Bill rolls his eyes as he knew that wasn’t the case.

“Avoiding discussion isn’t dealing with it, Chase. You need to get a battle handle on it. When I mentioned what she did to you, you couldn’t even look me in the eye. You were about to break down in tears – but hey, there’s nothing remaining right? I let it go that day at the hospital because you were right, seeing Sarina was the most important thing that day.” Bill reaches out and places a hand on Chase’s, catching his attention. “Stop hiding it. I know you’re hurting, and it hurts me more than anything to see you like this…”

“I just want to forget it happened. I just want to find out that she’s been caught and I never have to see her again. Can we please just not tal-”

“Avoiding the topic isn’t going to make it go away, Chase. You need to talk about this with someone.” Bill reaches with his other hand into his pocket, pulling out a booklet and placing it down on the couch, catching Chase’s attention.

“There’s no way I’m talking to a complete stranger about this, Dad…” Bill takes a deep breath.

“I know it’s a daunting task, but that’s why there are psychiatrists. They can help you with your feelings because even beyond what she did this past week, she’s been messing with you for awhile now. Everybody can see that.” Chase rolls his eyes.

“Right, because that’s just how I am. Nobody believes that I can handle this and am stron-”

“Are you serious right now? Listen to yourself for a second. If you ask me, I have no question about how strong you are in how you’ve been able to face what she’s thrown at you, and keep everything else in your life in order. Not a lot of people could say or do that. I’m just trying to give you a way to stop fighting the silent fight anymore. Talk to someone, please. Take this number and call it, or talk to me, talk to Sarina, talk to your mom, talk to Jordan, or even talk to Alan. Just talk to someone and address your feelings, please…”

“I’ll think about it, okay?” Chase takes the booklet and places it up on the table. “Dad, I’ve got this. I don’t need you treating me like a kid anymore. I’ll be fine…”

He then stands up, grabs his phone and sunglasses off the table, before heading out to go to pit road. Bill could only glance in the direction he headed, and let out a sigh.

“Bill?” Sarina asks, catching his attention. “Please tell me he’s going to be okay….”

“He’ll be okay,” Bill replies as he gets up and walks over to her. “I know he’ll be okay. I just wish he would make it easier on himself…”

It was a long day, but their attitude paid off as they were able to gain some positions – and with every point mattering to qualify for the playoffs, they weren’t going to complain. But even with that said, Chase was certainly glad to be heading out of Bristol.

“I love you,” Sarina comments as he comes out of the back room after getting changed out of his firesuit.

“I love you, too,” he replies, lightly kissing her lips as she wraps her arms around him.

“You’ve been here for me through everything, and even are still here for me. I wouldn’t be able to make my XFINITY Series debut next weekend if it wasn’t for you being there, holding my hand, listening to me, letting me grow, and helping me be a better person. I can’t thank you enough for everything that you’ve done. We’re a team, Chase, so let me be here for you now. Talk to me about Alison, your feelings, your fears, how you feel. I’m willing to listen to you.” He watches as she lays her head against his chest, letting out a sigh as he rests his chin on top of her head.

“I wish I could just tell you everything, spill my guts out here and now. I wish I could just make the feelings go away by pouring them out. I wish I could do what you want – but I can’t. I can’t bring myself to say what happened….” She then glances up into his eyes.

“Is it because of the shame? Or something else?” He shrugs his shoulders as he wraps his arms around her.

“I don’t know, honestly. But I do appreciate you being here, and I love you. Nothing will ever change that.” She then lays her head back against his chest.

“Chase, I’ll always be here, forever and always….”

Friday, April 20 – Richmond Raceway

Chase makes his way into the garage area, a smile fixated on his face as he stops by the car.

“I don’t want to be insensitive here, but that smile normally means something….” Jordan starts as he leans over from the other side of the NAPA Chevrolet. He had wanted to make the dip in that something had happened, but didn’t want to push his luck just yet. He could only guess that the topic of sexual contact was still a sensitive subject.

“Check the XFINITY leaderboard and then get back to me,” Chase offers, earning a curious glance from Jordan. However, he did as requested, seeing that Sarina had ended both XFINITY series practice sessions ranked third on the board.

“She looks like no damn rookie out there!” Chase shakes his head no with a smile of his own.

“And the odd thing? She wasn’t using the bottom lane. Justin pointed it out, and I noticed watching, that she was using the middle groove instead of the bottom.” Jordan was now even more impressed as he kept his eyes on his driver.

“Are you going to try and steal a secret from your girlfriend now?” Chase just gives him back a wink as Jordan laughs. “Hey, whatever makes ya happy is all that matters, right?”

“We just need to survive this week and our boss is back next week.” Jordan nods his head in agreement as he makes his way over to Chase.

“You know, Alan told me to keep an eye on you.” Chase glances over intrigued. “He was worried about how you were feeling, and how Kenny would treat things. I mean, we both know what happ-”

“I don’t want to talk about tha-”

“Let me guess – you haven’t said a single word about that to anyone all week, have you?” Chase lets out a sigh as he lays his head on the roof of the car. “As Alan predicted. Look, we’re both just worried about you and being that we’re the only ones that know besides Sarina and your parents, we’re the only ones that can truly be here for you – unless you tell someone else.”

“Jordan, please…..” Jordan places a hand on Chase’s shoulder.

“I know you’re going to take your time and do this at your own pace and do whatever the hell you want with it. But please, don’t keep putting it off. You’re just going to make it worse. It’s like you’ve always said – don’t give someone the power to eat at you. What have you been doing with Alison for months? Don’t give her this power.” Chase glances over at the interior mechanic.

“And how am I supposed to just remove that power without question? The minute that I go to let my guard down is the minute that she strikes and does something.” Jordan nods his head, having seen the pattern over the past couple of months.

“So making yourself sick in thought is better? That doesn’t sound healthy, Chase. But hey, it’s your life.” Jordan walks away as Chase just lets out a long sigh.

Hopefully he wouldn’t have to deal with this much longer as he’d get the news they’d been waiting to hear all along. For now, though, he could use his racecar as a good distraction with the pair of practice sessions.

The first practice went amazing as he was comfortable in race trim through most of the session, and managed to top the speed chart with a qualifying trim run at the very end.

The second practice didn’t show the speed on the chart (25th), but that wasn’t Kenny’s focus as he was more focused on getting Chase comfortable over the long run. Given the pair of the practices, he had to admit that he was confident going into Saturday night’s race.

Chase makes his way into the garage area, hopping up onto the shelf with a sigh as Kenny glances over.

“For someone who just qualified second for the race, you don’t look happy,” Kenny comments as Chase looks over his way.

“Trust me – qualifying second is great, as is Sarina starting up front tonight too,” Chase replies as Kenny was now confused. “There’s more to life than that, though.” Kenny hated to intrigue on his driver’s personal lives when he worked with them, but the confusion pushed him to do so anyway.

“Enlighten me…” Chase rolls his eyes as he wanted to just forget about it.

“Media center, post qualifying. Did you not hear how they implied cheating on purpose, pressure getting to us, tension in the team?” Kenny nods his head, having watched the feed, and laughed through it all. “Alan and I have the best friendship, ever, and yet we’ve got to deal with that? They don’t understa-”

“When did it matter to you what they said, Chase? They’re just fishing for a story.” Chase lets out a sigh as he knew that was the case.

“I also had the autograph session – which by the way, it went great for the most part as the fans were awesome. But of course, someone has to remind me that she’s alive.” Kenny was now ultra confused, and even a little worried.

“Alison?” Chase lets out a sigh as he nods his head, pulling his phone out of his pocket. He loads a photo of the note, having handed the original over the authorities, before handing the phone over to Kenny. “Just because I’ve left you alone for a couple weeks doesn’t mean I’m done with you. We were just getting started…” Kenny looks up at Chase. “Did she hand it to you herself?”

“No, she left a note lying around with my name on it and someone handed it to me – typical Alison style.” Kenny just shakes his head in disgust as he hands the phone back over.

“That’s just sick and retarded. But hey, everybody is watching for her-”

“They have been for the past several months and we’ve had nothing happen. She was within feet of police officers and managed to escape.” Kenny almost felt his barrier drop immediately as he watched his young driver.

“For whatever it is worth, I believe it will work out. she’ll be found, caught, and eliminated from your life – and she won’t pull anything else ever again. I know that because of how many people have your back, and how strong you are. No matter what she throws at you, you can push it away.” Chase glances up at the crew chief.

“I used to believe that, until she played my greatest weaknesses and vulnerabilities against me. Now, I don’t know how much I can take…” Kenny almost wanted to reach out, but resisted doing so as he wasn’t sure where things stood with them together.

“You’re still standing here, right? You’re still pushing forward. You were able to keep a straight face all last weekend. That should say something, right?” Chase wanted to believe that as he kept saying that, wanting to use that strength to actually move forward, but he also felt stuck.

“What if while I put on this great front it is tearing me apart inside slowly? I can’t even begin to describe how sick she makes me feel. The thought of her makes me sick to my stomach. I don’t even want to think about the feelings that I had….” Chase takes a deep breath as he feels the emotions coming to the forefront once again.

“But the only way that you’re going to see them through-”

“I know I need to talk about them to someone, Kenny. You’re not the first person to tell me that. Sarina has told me that. Jordan has told me that. My dad told me that. Alan told me that. But how do you talk about something that makes you so sick?” Kenny wasn’t even sure where to go with it as he shook his head.

“I don’t know because I’ve never been in your shoes before. You could always make sure you’re comfortable, knowing that she can’t hurt you from memories, knowing that you will be okay.” Kenny then looks over at Chase with sympatric eyes. “I wish I could tell you some magic cure…”

“I wish there was some potion that I could drink that would make me forget everything that happened – every single motion, feeling, entrapment. But I can’t get that wish either.”

“Life isn’t meant to be easy, Chase. But for what it’s worth, you have the right friends around you and I know you’ll find that answer you’re looking for.”

“When?” Kenny shrugs his shoulders.

“I don’t know, but hopefully sooner than later. Stay strong, it’ll work out…” Kenny then heads off, leaving Chase to think over his thoughts.

“I hope you’re right, Kenny…..”