The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 52: “I would rather talk about penalties over this all day.”

Friday March 16, 2018 – Auto Club Speedway

“Ready to return to reality?” Chase questions as they make their way through the garage area.

“Not many people can say they get to drive fast cars for a living, and not many people can say they’re spoiled with a great guy,” Sarina answers, sneaking in a quick kiss as they reach the garage area.

“Everybody hide – the love birds are here!” Josh spats out as the pair reach the garage stall, earning an eye roll from Sarina.

“Aren’t you supposed to be on vacation this week?” Chase questions, causing Josh’s smile to disappear immediately.

“I don’t want to talk about that….” Chase rubs his shoulders with a chuckle.

“Hey, I’m not upset. I get pushing the envelope. I’ve done it before myself, right?” Josh nods his head as he picks up a stack of paper. He counts out 13 pieces, handing them to Chase.

“That’s the penalty. That’s how far the spacer and shim angle were apart according to NASCAR. Tell me how that is fair…” Chase shakes his head as he hands the pieces of paper back to Josh. “I mean, what if something happens in the race and it shifts slightly? What if you catch a curb or a bump? It’s ridiculous the confines that NASCAR expects out of us, and then how the fans go nuts when we just miss it by that much.”

“Like I said, I’m not upset as I get it. We stick together, right?” Josh nods his head in agreement as Chase makes his way over to where Alan and Jordan were hanging out. “I just want to know if there’s any way out of that penalty….”

“It’s a cut dry subject,” Alan offers as he crosses his arms. “We’ll see what happens. Jeff and I have to talk about it some more before next week..”

“Speaking of more to talk about…” Jordan starts, pulling an envelope out of the drawer. “This was sitting by the garage stall this morning…” He hands it over to Chase, earning an immediate sigh from him.

“I would rather talk about penalties over this all day,” Chase comments, as he rips the top of the envelope open. He had hoped to avoid any thought or collision course with Alison for the rest of time, and find her way to being caught.

“I already reported the fact that it was found here so they’re on the lookou-”

“We know how that works, don’t we?” Sarina cuts them off, earning a glance from Chase. “She managed to sneak into a public appearance that you were doing amongst hundreds of people, spend time with you, and escape without a trace. But oh no, we’re supposed to believe that having eyes on her is supposed to catch her. Do you see me being hopeful?” Chase wraps an arm around Sarina, pulling her close to him as he pulls out the slip of paper. He knew it was her fear spewing the comments more than anything, and he respected that based on what had happened. In a way, he could also feel the same trembling at times.

“I hope you haven’t forgot about the decision that you made and the effects that it will have moving forward,” Chase reads. “I have a surprise for you and you may not enjoy it…” He then takes the note, set to rip it right down the middle when Jordan snatches it out of his hands, slipping it back in the envelope.

“For the record, you’re not going to see that surprise no matter how hard she tries,” Josh states, catching the group’s attention. They didn’t realize that he had walked over to join them. “We’ve got your back, and we’ll do whatever we can for you – just like you’ve got our backs this weekend.”

“Like I said, I’m done letting her control my life.” Chase walks away, glancing in the car to make sure everything was set in place for the first practice. Both Sarina and Jordan went to follow, but found a hand on each of their shoulders.

“Just leave him be,” Alan advises, causing a sigh and almost protest from Sarina. “He’s using practice and this weekend as a distraction and frankly, that may be a good idea so he isn’t pondering every theory possible as to what she is planning. But we also know that when he wants to talk, he’ll say something to one of us, right?” Sarina and Jordan nod their heads.

“It just kills me to watch him let it eat at him like this,” Sarina comments, as Alan gives her a shoulder a little squeeze.

“It kills us all, but that’s why like Josh said, we’ve got his back. Don’t worry – we’re done playing games, too.” She then looks back at the crew chief intrigued, but is left without an answer as he heads off, set to give some more instructions to the team.

“Do I want to know what Alan is thinking?” Jordan shakes his head no as he keeps his eyes locked on Chase.

“Should I have hid the envelope and not let him see it at all?” Jordan wonders out loud and Sarina shakes his head no.

“He would’ve found out eventually, and been twice as upset,” Sarina offers, before taking a deep breath and heading out of the garage area.

It pained her to stand back and do nothing with everything going on, and she knew staying there any longer would result in that coming out. Certainly, that wasn’t going to help the being strong and united front attitude that Alan wanted. So for that reason, she knew that it was time to catch up with Samantha and Brexton. He was always a good distraction when things weren’t going as planned.

From the start of practice to the end, Chase had to admit that the car wasn’t that bad. They certainly could use some adjustments to get better, but it was handling pretty good and close enough that believing this could be the weekend they get a victory was there. Pleased with the session, he would end the day ranked 15th on the charts.

With the session in the books, he makes his way back to the team transporter, heading inside and up into the lounge. Grabbing himself a quick drink, he texts Sarina where he was in case she was looking for him, but already knew that she was having a fun relaxing afternoon with Samantha and Brexton. Truthfully, he was glad to see that knowing her reaction to the note, and almost wishing a perfect distraction could be in his corner right now.

“It’s nice to see you again, Chase,” he hears, instantly catching him by surprise as he looks towards the doorway, watching it slide close slowly.

“How did you get in here?” He questions without moving a single inch. He was already eying  a couple different ideas, ranging from where his phone was placed to the doorway and her location.

“I have my ways, right? It’s easy to sneak in here when nobody is around during the practice session.” He immediately wanted to curse the lack of security or people, or the fact that the doors had been left unlocked. If everybody was on the same page and not willing to leave anything to chance, why wasn’t that taken care of? Besides, where were the guys right now? Shouldn’t they be there going over notes and grabbing some grub? “Besides, there’s more important questions at hand that need to be answered.”

“Like what?” He hated to entertain her, but figured it was worth buying some time as the guys should be on their way soon.

“Have you seen Sarina lately?” His breath immediately hitches in his throat, but he tried to ignore the worry. If something was wrong, he would’ve heard something from Samantha and Kyle already – unless….

“She’s taking a fun day to hersel-”

“With her boss and Brexton. How adorable, right? It almost sucks to ruin it.” Chase felt his heart drop immediately in worry. He knew that Samantha and Sarina could take care of himself – he could honestly see Samantha sticking a heel up someone’s ass. However, it didn’t seem fair for Brexton.

“This is obviously between me and you – as you’ve made it from the beginning. Let’s try and keep it that way, alright?” He keeps his eyes closely locked on her as she makes her way around the small table closer to where he was sitting on the couch. Eyes locked on his phone, objects around him, a couple different ideas began to form immediately. Why couldn’t he find it in himself to do something?

“I’m glad you see it that way. Decisions, right? As long as you make the right choice here today, we won’t have to do anything…” He was almost set to throw the book off the table, when he watches her load an image on her phone of Sarina with Samantha and Brexton at the park. His hand immediately lowers as he knew if she had images, someone was there and something was possible. He didn’t want to be the reason something happened to them. He just needed to buy some time….

“What do you want?” A smirk forms on Alison’s face immediately as she sits down on the couch beside him.

“What have I wanted from the beginning? What did I ask you for at India-”

“Go to hell.” She breaks out laughing as she reaches for her phone, set to push a button upon his words.

“Like I said, decisi-” In an instant, he felt every nerve rise inside of him, almost like his stomach flip flopped with worry and panic, as he reached over and placed his hand on top of his. The crew guys would be there soon, right? They always came back to the lounge.

“As much as I hate you and despise you, I’m willing to deal…” Her smirk widens immediately, only making him feel sicker in the process.

“I know that this can be hard on you to do, so let’s just take it slow – one step at a time per meeting that we are going to have.” In Chase’s eyes, this was going to be the last meeting ever because she was going to get caught and this nightmare would be over. “Kiss me, or else I will send the message that you’re dreading.”

“Kiss you?” She nods her head as he takes a deep breath. He knew he was going to hate every minute, and cursed the guys for not coming around sooner, but what else was he supposed to do? He watches as her finger lingers closer towards the ‘send’ button, placing his hand more firmly on hers to hold it back. Against every wish and thought, he brought his lips close to hers, letting them brush across lightly as possible, before pulling back. “Happy?”

“Such a tease, Elliott….” He actually hated the thought that it seemed she got off on it. “It almost makes me want to take charge and have my wa-”

“That’s not happening.” She then laughs as she brushes his hand away, holding up the phone with pride.

“You’ll do anything for her, and I know you wouldn’t want to be responsible for something happening to Brexton…” She then stands up, standing over him as he glances at her, closing his eyes as he says every prayer imaginable that Alan would burst through the door already. “So what do you say, Chase?”

“I’m not betraying Sari-”

“Then I guess I can send the messa-”

“Don’t you have another trick up your sleeve?” She laughs even harder as she reaches for her pocket. His eyes catch a glimpse, only picking up his nerves that much more. He had half-expected a needle or something else, but certainly not that. “Okay, I get it, you’re not playing games.” He places his hand on top of hers, pulling it away from her pocket.

“So you accept my offer?” He hated that he was going to do this, but what other choice did he have? He simply slowly nodded his head, closing his eyes, not believing that this could be happening. “I knew you’d co-operate…” She straddles herself over him, reaching for the zipper on his firesuit, slowly bringing it down. “I just hope you enjoy watching how a real woman works…”

“What the hell?!?” They both hear as the door slides open with Alan standing there.

“Duck!” Chase yells, catching the crew chief off-guard but he does as requested and luckily so, as Alison spins around, grabbing the gun out of her pocket and letting off a shot. Chase uses it to his perfect advantage, grabbing her leg and causing her to fall on the ground. With her caught off-guard, he slips the gun out of her fingers, throwing it on the table. “Alan?”

“I’m….” Alan slowly stands up as he glances over himself, before looking at his driver. “I’m okay. I’m okay. It totally missed me..” Chase lets out a long sigh as he places a foot on her to keep her held down as Alan grabs his phone, calling for help. “What about you?!?”

“I’m fine…now….” Alan simply nods his head as he rambles off some details. “Call Sarina and tell her to get back to the track immediately with Samantha and Brexton, please. Just tell them something is up.”

“Sure, I’ll do that, whatever you say – whatever you need.” Chase takes another deep breath as he tries to relax back, but not letting go of his hold on Alison.

It didn’t take long for the right officials to get there and take away Alison in handcuffs, before getting a statement from both men as they sat in the trailer stunned. It didn’t even bother them right now that the car had failed tech inspection twice and there was going to be no attempt to qualify because quite frankly, that probably wouldn’t been possible with what had just happened.

“I can’t believe she had a gun,” Alan comments as he looks over at Chase with full surprise. “I can’t believe she took a shot at me, either.” Chase shakes his head in disbelief, too.

“That was too close for comfort, Alan,” Chase offers and Alan nods his head in agreement. “I’m sorr-”

“I’d jump out of the way of a bullet any day if it meant the nightmare was over, kid.” Chase smiles a little. “She’s certainly beyond crazy, actually crazier than Chris if I have to be honest, and I’m just glad that I was here for you.” Chase couldn’t argue with that as he takes a deep breath.

“She had convinced me that someone was watching Sarina with Samantha and Brexton, and willing to hurt them if I didn’t agree to her terms.” He takes another deep breath, trying to erase the thought as he glances over at the crew chief. “She was about to strip me dow-”

“Seriously?” Chase slowly nods his head. “So you were going to let her do that to you to make sure that Sarina, Samantha and Brex stayed safe?”

“What else was I supposed to do, Alan?” Alan couldn’t argue with that as he places a hand on Chase’s leg.

“That was brave, really brave. You did good…” Chase nods his head in agreement.

“I’m just glad that it’s over and I never have to see her again.” He then grabs a bottle of water, taking a big mouthful as he wipes his lips multiple times. “I just wish I never had to taste her li-”

“You kissed her?” Chase freezes, slowly nodding his head. “Oh man….”

“I had to do what I could to stall her, to stop her in anyway. I was willing to put it out there..” Alan looks over surprised as he glances back forward.

“I’ve always admired you and been grateful for the chance to work with you. But seeing how brave you were, seeing what you were willing to do today, I’m at a lost for words. That takes a lot from you. You should be proud of yourself.” Chase rolls his eyes. “I’m serious, Chase. Not many people would go that far for the people that they love.”

“Alan is right, and I’m forever grateful for you, and I know Kyle and Brex will be too,” they hear and look towards the doorway as Samantha stands there with Brexton in her arms. Sarina makes her way by, heading to the couch immediately, as she wraps her arms around Chase.

“Are you okay?” Sarina asks and Chase nods his head yes. “Are you sure? I mean, I heard that she had a gun, she took a shot at Alan, and she tried to mak-”

“I’m okay, Sarina,” he cuts her off, kissing her lips with as much passion as he could, before drawing back away. “I’m okay. She didn’t hurt me at all.” Sarina nods her head, accepting, before laying her head against him.

“I’m here for you, always.” He nods his head accepting, rubbing her back as he lays his head on her shoulder. “It’s okay…”

“I’m fin-”

“Don’t try and push it off as if nothing happened,” Alan starts as he stands up. “Make sure you talk about it if you need to, because whether you admit it or not, she had you right where she wanted you.” Alan then leaves the lounge, shutting the door behind him to give the pair some time alone.

“Talk to me, Chase….” Sarina offers as she sits back a bit, glancing into his brown eyes.

“What do you want me to say?” He questions as she lets out a sigh. “I get it. Everybody is right that a lot went through that my mind with her, but I’m okay. I wasted enough of her time for Alan to get here and for us to do the right thing. Sure, I maybe cut it close a litt-”

“You think?” Chase lets out a sigh, having seen the hole in the wall further down the trailer.

“But I did what I had to do. I told you that I was done letting her control me, and she didn’t get to control that situation. She thought she had me right where she wanted me, but the whole time I had a plan in mind and was not letting it happen. I’ve always told you this, but I would never betray you or let someone hurt us. I love you.” He kisses her lips lightly.

“I love you, too. now, can I just hold you in my arms all night and be thankful?” He nods his head, accepting as he pulls her back close, laying his head back on her shoulder. He knew he was also saying the same thing, too.


The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 49: Pennzoil 400

Sunday March 4, 2018 – Las Vegas Motor Speedway

After being released earlier that morning, Chase makes his way into the garage with Sarina, fingers locked together as they make their way to the trailer. They go inside and up into the lounge, sliding the door closed behind them.

“Do you need my help?” She questions and he shakes his head no, slipping his pants off. “Chase, if you’re not feeling good, let’s just go tell Alan and let Just-”

“I’m fine,” he cuts her off as he slips the bottom of his firesuit on. He pauses, taking a deep breath, as his eyes locked with hers. “I’m fine, okay? I’m ready to go today with full certainty.”

“Just promise me that if something comes up, you will let Justin take over.” Chase nods his head, accepting, as he slips off his shirt. He then pulls his firesuit, biting his tongue in the process, as he slips it on. “I just don’t want you doing this because you think you need to impress everybody, or hold up to this standard, or do it because of Alison. You need to take care of yourself.”

“I told you that I was fine, and I am fine.” She lets out a sigh, as she wanted to believe in those words. However, she couldn’t let go of the fact what had just happened not even 24 hours ago, and felt every piece of her heart cringe in watching him go through that again. She felt everything flash before her once again, and almost wanted to run and cry somewhere. It certainly had her entering today’s race on high alert.

Changed into his firesuit, he makes his way to the garage, watching the crew went about their normal pre-race routine before heading over to technical inspection. Taking a deep breath, it was certainly a nice sight and a good distraction from everything. For Chase, escaping any reminder of Alison was a welcome sight right now. While he had let off Emma easy with having been part of Alison getting away, it was certainly back to eating at him more than he had wanted. He kept wondering where the next decision would come.

“Please tell me you didn’t escape the hospital this morning without permission,” he hears and immediately chuckles, holding up the release papers that he knew NASCAR would want if they had gotten word about what happened – which was likely. He had actually been lucky it wasn’t all over the news considering it happened in a public place. Jordan takes the paper, reading over it, before handing it back over. “Okay, that’s great you’re fine and released. But seriously, why are you here?”

“I’m ready to go today,” he answers, causing the interior mechanic’s jaw to drop. Jordan had been all set to get Justin over there in the car, and everything fitted as closely as possible, believing there was no chance that Chase would be set to go after hearing the news from Alan. However, now his driver stood before him?

“Seriously?” Chase nods his head. “Dude, you just spent the night in the hospital, and I bet there’s still lingering effe-”

“Feeling nauseous was talked about this morning,” Sarina throws in, actually welcoming the third degree from Jordan.

“So the fact that you could throw up or have something lingering, plus the fact that we’re only now what? Three weeks removed from crashing into Daytona beach and bruising some ribs, on top of crashing a racecar at 180 mph? But yet, we’re going to stand here and say that we’re ready to go today?” Chase nods his head as Jordan crosses his arms. “Throwing yourself in that car today as a distraction isn’t healthy, or a welcome sight. I know you don’t want to think about it, but using this as a distraction when you’re not 100% is not right.”

“So that’s why you think I’m doing this?” Chase questions and Jordan nods his head. chase could only let out a sigh. “Maybe you’re right, but can you blame me after everything? How would you feel if someone was constantly tormenting you every single damn week of your life?” He takes a deep breath, realizing more of his emotions were coming out than warranted.

“Chas-” Jordan starts, but Chase puts his hand up.

“I’m not denying what you’re saying, Jordan. You know that better than anyone here, actually. but that’s not why I am fully committed to today. Sure, my ribs are sore as they’ve been for the past couple of weeks. Sure, there may be a lingering effect or two, but that’s why I took two Gravol this morning. I know myself, I know my body, and I know what I can handle. I will be fine today.” Jordan takes a deep breath, hating to have a confrontation like this with him, but it was only out of caring for him that he threw it back in his face.

“Just promise me that you’ll do somethin-”

“Justin will be on the pit box as back-up if needed, and I already promised Sarina. But, trust me, I’m fine.” Jordan nods his head, accepting.

“By the way, we know enough doctors around the country now. let’s stop meeting them, okay?” Chase couldn’t help but agree as Jordan walks away.

Despite every bit of nerve that she may had been experiencing, she found herself sitting on the pit box, ready for another race day. There was nothing that she could do to stop this, so all she could do was be the supportive girlfriend and hope everything went smoothly.

The Pennzoil 400 started off smoothly, as Chase ran in the top-10 throughout the first two stages, feeling confident that they had a solid base moving forward into the second half of the race. A couple more adjustments and they’d be good to go.

The third stage started off even better, as he was even able to break into the top-five a little, before the caution flew for Jamie McMurray blowing a tire.

The restart brought forth the usual expected chaos, with three-wide racing throughout the field. The second lap afterwards, Kurt Busch made a move underneath Chase off of turn four, ready to try and snag the position. However, to the surprise of everyone, he got loose, turning up across the track coming onto the front straightaway, taking Chase up into the wall with him.

“What the hell?” Eddie D’Hondt immediately questions on the radio, which matched the reaction of everybody on the pit box as well.

“He just came wide open up the track,” Chase comments, knowing immediately their day was done based on the amount of front end damage in seeing how far the hood was buckled up. Thankfully, the impact wasn’t too hard that he was feeling it, as he knew that wouldn’t bode well given how he was feeling already.

“Jerk.” Sarina had to chuckle at how clearly Eddie made his feelings known about the situation, but couldn’t help but agree – not really caring if Kurt meant it or not. He should know his limits, right?

“What in the hell?” Alan questions, still confused as ever as he hadn’t even moved from his spot on the pit box. Even watching the replays, it just didn’t seem to make sense that just like that, their day was ruined.

“Lost control of his car,” Eddie tries to reason. “Carried too much speed.” It was the only explanation humanly possible.

Once back in the garage, Chase made the mandatory walk over to the care center, easily getting checked in and out despite everything going on. After a reminder about breathing exercises, and possibly wanting to ice those ribs, he was allowed to go without reservation.

The trip also allowed him to cross paths with Kurt, who apologized for the contact.  It didn’t mean much, nor did it really make up for what happened, but at least it was nice to see a guy admit something for a change.

“It was unfortunate,” Chase tells the media outside of the care center. “I thought we were getting a little bit of momentum.  We had a really good pit stop there and gained a bunch of spots on pit road, got ourselves inside the top five and could run with them for a few laps.  So, just trying to make the most of what we had and there was no guarantee how it was going to end up and ended up poorly. We will move on down the road.”

He then makes his way back to the garage, standing back as he watches the crew get the car ready to load in the trailer, just shaking his head with a sigh.

“Are you okay?” Alan questions as he walks over, and Chase simply nods his head quietly. “You can tell me how you’re feeling…”

“Disappointed, upset, pissed off,” he answers. “We finally start to get somewhere and this happens. Now in three weeks, we’ve wrecked two cars. Great start to the season, right?” Alan wraps an arm around his shoulders.

“On the flip side, we still have the speed that we finished last year with, and we were able to make headway at Atlanta where we struggled. We’re also headed to Phoenix, where I believe someone almost won last year. I’m not losing my faith in you or this team, ever.” Chase smiles a little as it was a nice pick me up from the crew chief. “On a much serious note, though, promise me you’ll take care of yourself this week. Get the much needed rest, relaxation, and do what you need for you. don’t even worry about tomorrow’s mee-”

“I’m comi-”

“The number one thing that matters is your health, end of the day. I’d rather you take the time to sleep in, relax, and focus on yourself before you have to jet off to California. Look at what you’ve been through this weekend. Take a step back, and properly handle things.” Chase glances down as Alan keeps his eyes locked on him. “I know what you told at Atlanta. Being able to sit in that trailer with me for a couple hours was the perfect distraction. I understand that’s why maybe that meeting tomorrow would be therapy. But what happens when we keep pushing ourselves and fall over the edge? We crash and burn, and it hurts worse. You need to take care of yourself, Chase. you need to get the rest that you need physically, and you need to find a balance with your emotions.”

“Do you realize how hard that is with everything going on?” Alan sighs, nodding his head.

“It’s asking a lot, but you need to do it for yourself, whether that means talking to Sarina, your parents, me, Jordan, or figuring it out yourself.” Chase nods his head, accepting.

“I’ll try, okay? And Alan, I appreciate the support. You’ve gone above and beyond.” Alan wraps his arm around his shoulders.

“I care about you, and while I want to win, that’s what matters end of the day is you.” Alan walks away back to the team as Chase closes his eyes, thinking over their discussion.

Taking a deep breath, perhaps the crew chief was right and onto something. Maybe the time away in Colorado was what the doctor ordered.

Monday March 5, 2018 – California

“Are you sure you’re feeling okay?” Sarina questions, fixing her dress, before Chase pulls her close to him. He had grown used to her repeating the question pointless times over the past 24 hours, but wasn’t going to let it annoy him as he understood her nerves.

“I feel totally fine today – as if nothing happened this past weekend,” he answers, as she glances up into his brown eyes. “I’m serious. I haven’t felt a single thing.”

“And you’re not lying to me to make me feel better?” He shakes his head no, as he brings her left hand up to his ribs.

“These, they are a little sore still from those bruises, but they’re slowly getting easier to handle every single day. But as far as feeling sick, stomach pain, sore throat – that’s all gone.” She nods her head, accepting, as she instinctively begins to rub his side.

“For the record, I don’t want to ever see them pump out of your stomach again…” He made a disgusted face in reaction, certainly not liking the experience at all either.

“I don’t ever want to experience that again. The after taste of everything, along with my throat being sore, was just a terrible combination.” He then leans in, lightly kissing her lips. “Are you ready to go in there and face him, again?”

“He’s my brother, Chase. That’s my family. I brought this on myse-”

“It’s not your fault that you’re related to hi-”

“But I allowed him to open the door and get to you, again.” Chase nods his head, this discussion taking him back to Daytona immediately.

“What did I tell you originally? I don’t hold it back against you because I understand that want to give him a second chance, rekindle, do what you can. It’s the same reason Shelley is pushing this issue again despite everything being wrong with it. You don’t need to apologize, okay?” She lets out a sigh as she lays her head against his chest.

“It doesn’t make this any better….” He rubs her back, as he takes a deep breath. He was trying to keep his nerves at ease knowing that she needed all the comfort he could muster today.

“I know. Let’s just go in there, and get this over with, okay?” She nods her head, accepting, as they separate, hands still locked together as they make their way inside, and take their seats accordingly.

As they lead Chris into the room, Chase found himself looking everywhere but towards him, not wanting a single reminder of their past together as there was enough swirling his mind with relation to Alison to even begin to think about him. But he also clutched Sarina’s hand tighter, as if he was passing his strength onto her, knowing that this was probably tearing her in different directions as it had in the past.

As Chris gets set to sit down, Chase hears his phone go off, silently cursing himself for not putting it on silent as he was supposed to. He quickly reaches into his pocket, putting it on silent, but not before his eyes caught who had sent the text message.

“What would Jordan want?” He questions to himself as he opens the message, reading it in full. He then glances up and over towards Shelley, before glancing towards Chris, followed by his eyes looking back down at his phone. “Of course…”

“What’s wrong?” Sarina asks, catching his unease immediately.


“Don’t lie to me, Chase Elliott.” He takes a deep breath as he shows her the text message.

“Alison left a message at Hendrick Motorsports’ doorstep after hours with a warning of her own. The secretary picked it up this morning, and it made its way to my office – catching Jordan’s attention obviously. He opened it.” Sarina lets out a sigh as she takes the phone, reading the photo of the message that Jordan had attached.

“Decisions are made by everybody each day of their life. Your decision today will affect not only the future of one person, but yours and those around you. It’s your move.” She hands him back his phone, shaking her head immediately. “She’s trying to guilt you into letting the motion go through about Chris by threatening you and those around you.”

“Well, she’s in for a rude awakening because there’s no way Chris is walking down those streets again.” He takes a deep breath, thoughts immediately swirling about the re-precautions of that, wondering what Alison’s next move would be, as quickly he texts Jordan back in return. “I’m done playing games. I told her that on Saturday. She’s going to try and drop a note off, or pull some move, and she’s going to get caught. We’re going to be okay.” He places his phone back in his pocket, wrapping his arm around Sarina as he pulls her close.

The judge came in, instantly reading off the request filed by Shelley. Chase and Sarina’s lawyer was asked whether the motion would be accepted, and the answer was simple – no, due to a laundry list of reasons.

“I have records of all the trial hearings from the past two years in relation to Chris’ behavior, and eventual guilty verdict with the stipulation in place,” the judge begins. “It will take some time, but I plan to read through everything accordingly. I also plan to have it analyzed by three third-party psychologist to get their opinions. Once all that is processed, we will re-join here and discuss my findings. Until that time, nothing changes in regards to Chris’ situation. Court adjourned!”

With their fingers crossed as they left the court room, they both hoped that the judge saw everything that they knew already. Chase held those fingers extra tighter, hoping that his thoughts in Alison being found came true sooner than later.

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 45: Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500

Sunday, February 25, 2018 – Atlanta Motor Speedway

Sarina smiles as she cuddles up closer to Chase, taking full advantage of the extra hour together before he was off to start his busy day full of appearances, followed by the race. With the weather, Morgan had texted him the first couple appearances would be delayed.

“I am beginning to realize something,” he starts, catching her attention. “I was really stupid to think that we’d be better apart…” She lets out a sigh, not wanting to remember that discussion as she intertwines her fingers with his.

“You were afraid,” she replies. “That was your fear coming out in the form of desperation to do something.” He nods his head, taking a deep breath. It had honestly caught him off-guard and felt like a total out of body experience, however understandable as he thought about it. It was one thing to do something to him, but it was a total step up in fear in realizing that it was against her. Every bit of love and passion he had for her came out in that moment. Now, taking a step back, reality was beginning to show.

“I admit – I hate to see anything happen to you because I love you so much, and you don’t deser-”

“You don’t eith-”

“You’ve been through a lot more than I have, Sarina, and you deserve a second chance where you don’t have to deal with stuff like this. Maybe I went overboard, but I meant what I said and doing whatever it took to protect you.” She nods her head, accepting.

“I meant what I said back in return that I’d do whatever it took for you, too.” He glances down at their fingers intertwined together, closing his eyes as he puts some pieces together.

“Alison has been jealous from day one, so we know her end game is centered based on that. She wanted me to herself that night at the pageant, and tried to get me at Indy when I refused. It’s clear she’s upset about that, among other things. So right now, she’s lashing out, by tormenting me and going after you and the guys because she knows how much that tears at me.” He takes a deep breath as he thinks it over once again. “I’m done playing gam-”

“Chase, you don’t need to put on a strong face or pretend to be strong or shed away from your fea-”

“I’m not, Sarina. I’m being straight up honest. The only way she wins is by me letting it control me. The way she wins is by what I almost did Friday night. The way she wins is by me thinking about this day and night. I’m done. I don’t care what note or package she drops off, it’s not going to be part of my thoughts anymore. And next time she tries something, we’re going to stop her and this is going to be over.” Sarina nods her head in agreement with a small smile.

“Just promise me you’ll be careful regardless.” Chase kisses the top of her head.

“Of course. Besides, I have better things to focus on – like some great company that I have beside me.” She smiles, as she turns around to face him.

“I have no complaints about that at all. Besides, is it wrong for me to say just how turned on I am right now by you?” Chase looks at her with surprise, a small giggle slipping out.

“That came out of nowhere….” She shrugs her shoulders.

“What can I say? A cute sexy man in my bed, and it’s a natural thing. Actually, let’s try sexy man who shows every bit of strength despite staring danger right down the tube…” He smirks a little as he keeps his eyes focused on hers.

“Well, then I guess I’m looking at wonder woman, because for you to be standing as strong as you are after everything, that says a lot.” She twirls their fingers once again together.

“That’s because I have an amazing man that has my back no matter what beside me. I wouldn’t be able to do it without you.” He smiles back in return.

“I wouldn’t be as sane as I am right now without you, either.” He then kisses her lips lightly, barely running his tongue along them as they separate.

“You do realize what you do to me, right? You’re like the worse tease when you want to be!” He smirks back in response as she rolls her eyes. “Of course you realize it as that’s why you’re doing that right now. So how about instead of teasing around, why don’t you just come to me?”

“You really think I should right now?” She nods her head, wrapping an arm around his neck to bring his face right next to hers.

“I need some loving so I’m not feeling lonely and left out after that…” He runs his fingers along her chin.

“Oh, so you want me to take care of you now?” She nods her head once again as he just shakes his head. “I thought you were supposed to be taking care of me…”

“I thought you told me that they weren’t hurting that ba-”

“They aren’t, but I don’t want to overstrain myself after all.” She rolls her eyes once again as she reaches over with other arm, rubbing his ribs lightly.

“I guess we’ll just have to be careful, huh?” He nods his head back in response. “Now, do I get what I want, or am I going to have to beg?” He chuckles once again.

“I may want to see that…” She almost wanted to smack him as he rolled on his back with her climbing on top. “Don’t forge-”

“I’m prepared, remember?” She reaches over to the night stand, grabbing a condom and laying it beside them on the bed. “I love you so much, William…” She then brings her lips down to his, kissing them with every inch of passion she had as he wraps his arms around her.

“I love you, too….” He slips his hands underneath her pajama shirt, slipping it off. “I’ll always love you, no matter what…”

Following a series of appearances for the sponsors, Chase made his way to the garage area, smile still fixed on his face as it had been all morning as the crew guys stood around. A couple of them had their phones out looking at the radar, hoping the rain was all over and done with, and track drying would be done soon so the race could get started.

“Is that a big smile that I see on your face?” Jordan questions as Chase walks by him, and Chase just glances back still smiling. “Okay, I know that’s not about the car since we have sucked all weekend – but we’re going to be better today obviously – and I know the sponsor VIPs can’t make you smile that big. What did Sarina do?”

“Why can’t I just be happy this morning without a reason?” Chase asks and Jordan just smirks back in response. “Damn it!” Jordan laughs as he wraps an arm around Chase’s shoulders.

“You made that way too obvious, considering the past two days. However, given the events, I can’t say that I’m surprised by the release either.” Chase lets out a sigh as Jordan glances around looking for Sarina, before turning back to him. “Dude, I hate to bug you about this again, but you two seriously need to get engaged.”

“I’ve heard it enough from Dale, Jimmie, Chad, everybo-”

“Because everybody knows it! The chemistry between you both is top-notch, untouchable by everyone. It’s clear you’re both destined to be together. Why not make it official?” Chase didn’t have any objections himself, but Sarina’s words still bothered him.

“She’s afraid of marriage because everything that happened. We talked about it, and agreed that we’d work towards that step together and do it when we were both comfortable. I haven’t said anything since that discussion for that reason.” Jordan crosses his arms, understanding, but having a thought of his own.

“Engagement isn’t quite marriage, though. Engagement is just sharing the intention to be together forever, and eventually get married down the road. Wouldn’t being engaged be fair within those parameters? You could ask her, and then tell her that the engagement can last as long as she wants until she is ready for that magical day.” Chase couldn’t argue with Jordan’s theory, but still couldn’t see himself popping the question to Sarina yet.

“Can I just worry about one thing before I focus on that?” Jordan lets out a sigh, knowing that Chase meant the Alison situation. He hated to see that still control aspects of his life.

“If it’s not one thing, something else will be going on. Let’s face it – your lives are always chaotic from one thing to the next, and that’s because of the chosen profession and fame. You aren’t going to get that perfect break, Chase. I say make that move and let everything just flow together.” Chase shakes his head no as Jordan gives him a glance.

“I just can’t, alright? I mean, I already pushed that envelope enough already…” Jordan looks at him a little surprised as Chase takes a deep breath. “You know better than anyone our relationship has been rocky at times since we got together, from trust to everything going on. I’d rather focus at keeping things steady than twisting the pot again.”

“I can understand that, especially given what’s been going on. By the way, any sign of Alison?” Chase shakes his head no. “I swear, she’s worse than a bloody chameleon. Does she know magic or something?”

“I got no clue, man. I just know that everybody is aware of her description, from NASCAR staff to security to fans, and nothing has been reported.” Jordan could only look back in total shock.

“Just remember what we’ve sai-”

“Just like I told you, Alan, my parents, and Sarina – I’ll be careful.”

With track drying complete, the race ended up starting – even if it was an hour later than originally scheduled.

The race did not start off promising, with Chase complaining of a shake in the brakes. However, after chalking it up to be possibly due to lack of heat, he was able to make his way up to 17th by the end of first stage despite battling a tight condition. Alan was able to work on the handling a bit more, and he climbed his way up to 14th by the end of stage two.

Entering the final stage, the progress continued as he made his way up to 10th midway through. Alan then made a decision to take a different strategy approach, breaking the final 100 laps of the race into two sections for two pit stops, versus a three pit stop strategy like the leaders. The game plan worked as it allowed Chase to break into the top-five, with a caution flying with 25 laps to go for Trevor Bayne blowing up.

Restarting eighth, Chase made the big move on the restart, going four-wide high-side through turns one and two and making his way up to fourth.

“That’s my man!” Sarina cheers, almost in shock that the race had gone this well after the frustration shown all weekend long.

The high was shortly lived, though, as he began to fade back over the next couple of laps, with the tires falling off. After reporting that he “got a little greedy with it” on the restart, he ultimately crossed the finish line in 10th.

“We have a lot of work to do,” he said post-race. “Fighting to stay on the lead lap is not where you want to be. We will go to work and great job by our NAPA team today to salvage what we could.  I don’t know how much more we really could have got there, maybe a spot or two there at the end, but I felt like we did a pretty good job making the most of what we had.”

He answers a few more questions, before the media heads off as he leans back against the car, letting out a long sigh.

“Are you okay?” Sarina questions and he nods his head. It wasn’t pain that was bothering him at this point.

“Just disappointed,” he answers as she looks on surprised. “Yeah, it’s a great rebound after starting as bad as we did, but it still sucks. I thought after testing at Texas and William’s test at Las Vegas that we would be fighting for wins, picking up where we left off last year. But to be fighting to barely get a top-10? No way.” She understands his frustration, wrapping her arms around him.

“I get it – I really do, because recall many times last year that I was the same way as you are. But, you have to remember that this is a brand new car for Chevrolet, for Hendrick Motorsports, and you guys are also making up for a bit of the lost ground to Toyota last year on top of that. You, Alan, and these guys are smart, and you’ll figure out what you need and get better. Have faith, and be positive; today could’ve been a lot worse.” He nods his head in agreement.

“I know, and thank you. But it doesn’t solve the problem…” She lets out a sigh, almost feeling useless in standing there at his reaction, but she didn’t budge one bit.

“I know…” He wanted to just ignore it totally, but a glance into her blue eyes and he found himself a little more relaxed.

“I’m sorry to be a pain in the as-”

“It’s okay, I understand. It’s all about that strive for perfection and success, right?” He nods his head in agreement. “It’s like we both said last night. If we’re frustrated in running this well, then we know success will come because we’re continuing to push the envelope.”

“This is why we’ll always work together – because we understand each other.” He leans in, kissing her lips, with a small smile on his face. “And I can’t stay mad with you…”

Despite his conversation with Jordan, his mind kept centering back to the engagement discussion as he thought over the pros and cons, as well as everything he had said to various people, along with their advice in response.

He didn’t know whether it was the latest discussion with Jordan, or the events that occurred, or simple happiness and relaxation in what they had together, but a new wave of thought came over him mid-way through the following week.

“Dad, I need your advice on something….” He called his dad late on Wednesday night. “How did you go about picking out the perfect engagement ring for mom?”

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 43: “Are you sure you want to see that?”

Friday, February 23, 2018 – Atlanta Motor Speedway

Chase makes his way into the garage area, smiling as he sees the guys going about business as usual. He walks over to the pit box, looking over at Alan Gustafson.

“Everything okay?” He questions, catching the crew chief’s eyes.

“Yeah, absolutely,” Alan answers as he crosses his arms. “If you’re referencing last night, most of the guys had no reaction at all. there were a couple intrigued responses, and an offer from Josh to kick everybody’s ass for you.” Chase chuckles, not surprised.

“I’m sorry that she brought you guys into-”

“I don’t want any apologies, Chase. It’s obvious why she did it – to get inside your head. She wants you to think about it, and ponder the possibilities. She wants to know that you’re thinking about her, and what she’s doing, rather than yourself. Do you know what I have to say to that? Don’t give her the power. Focus on this weekend, and having fun.” Chase nods his head in agreement, knowing that advice fell right along with what his dad told him. “Now, how are you feeling?”

“I’m fine, Alan. I told you that you didn’t have to worr-”

“That was before the wreck at Daytona. I heard it aggravated things from Jordan.” Chase glances over to where Jordan was, before looking back over at Alan.

“Just a little extra pain for the first couple of days, but now it’s back to where it’s been. I’m fine, Alan.” Alan nods his head, accepting.

Chase’s eyes, meanwhile, remained locked on Jordan as he went through his usual duties of making sure the radio was connected through the helmet, and the cockpit was ready to go per driver instructions. However, his eyes immediately drew to Jordan’s pocket, seeing the corner of an envelope sticking out.

He immediately lets out a sigh and closes his eyes, trying to block out any thoughts that were set to enter his mind. However, he could only ponder the contents, considering the past 24 hours. While not being able to see or know was supposed to be helping him, admittedly he was driving him bonkers right now.

He makes his way over, tapping the interior mechanic on the shoulder, before reaching for the pocket.

“Are you sure you want to see that?” Jordan questions and Chase nods his head. Jordan lets out a sigh as he takes it out, handing it over, before focusing back on his job.

“Curiosity is driving me insane,” Chase answers as he opens the envelope.

“Curiosity is also killed the cat. Then again, you remind me of a cat in having like nine lives with this family. Don’t use up your chances.” Chase lets out a sigh as he pulls out the piece of paper, seeing it’s a complete depiction of how to build a bomb.

“I already knew that she could do that…” Chase shoves the piece of paper back in the envelope, handing it back over to Jordan. While he didn’t want it to become a thought in his mind, there was no mistaking his nerves had picked up a notch. “Make sure the guys are on their toe-”

“I’ve already talked to Alan and Josh, and they spoke to everyone. Just make sure to watch your back, okay?” Chase nods his head. “And Sari-”

“Rudy is aware of what’s going on. Her guys aren’t letting anyone near her.” Jordan was thankful for that as he went back to finishing up his duties, taking a final glance towards Chase as he watched his driver return to his previous spot.

Jordan could only hope that the end was near for everyone.

Everybody didn’t get much chance to think about it any longer, with the lone practice of the day starting. While hopes were high based on previous success at Atlanta and how well the limited testing had gone, the car was evil right from the get go. Chase immediately began to complain of a lack of security with corner entry, feeling the car wanting to snap on him. Alan was able to make some adjustments to improve the condition a little, but they ended up finishing the day ranked 29th on the chart.

“You’re not the only one struggling,” Alan comments, bringing up their teammates’ data as Chase just shakes his head.

“But at least Alex is decent in qualifying trim,” Chase says as he runs his hands through his hair. “How do you end up three miles per hour off of the quick time?” Alan shrugs his shoulders as he glances over his notes once again.

“That adjustment helped, right?” Chase nods his head as he looks over. “I think if I can keep going that route, we should be closer to where you want to be. I may take a bit of what Greg has put under Alex, and combine with the direction we were headed, and maybe we can manage to get something out of qualifying.”

“Whatever you feel is going to work, I’m game. I’m going to watch truck practice. I’ll come see you an hour before qualifying, if you want?” Alan nods his head as he makes a couple notes, before flipping to another sheet.

Chase makes his way out of the garage stall, headed straight to the NAPA Hauler where he goes up on top, sipping a bottle of mountain dew as his eyes focus to the on-track action.

As the track appeared to come in more, with both the top and bottom groove being relevant, he was admittedly impressed right away by the speed that Sarina showed. It seemed that Rudy had the truck where she wanted, ranking fifth quickest in the first session. The second round, she continued to get even stronger, even passing her boss at one point to top the session.

“At least one of us has this place figured out this weekend,” he offers as he walks into her garage stall, wrapping his arms around her from behind.

“I’ve missed you this weekend,” she replies as she spins around, kissing his lips. “I know it’s only been a couple hours not seeing each other, but it’s been paining me. I was expecting to see you stop by sooner.” Chase had thought about it, but every thought in his mind had him stuck in his place.

“I got busy talking with Alan about the car, trying to figure out what to do and everything. I’m sorry, okay?” She nods her head, kissing his lips once again.

“Fingers crossed for a better qualifying run than you’ve had all day.” Chase chuckles, knowing anything was better than where he had practiced. “Don’t tell me you’re losing fai-”

“I trust that Alan will do what he can with what we’ve got, but we may be further out to lunch than we want to admit.” She looks on surprised as he can only let out a sigh. “I don’t know. We’ll see what happens.”

“Believe, and as you would always say, dig.”

Chase walks up behind Jordan, smiling as he glances over the special helmet for the weekend, before glancing out to the track with a sigh.

“What are you thinking?” Jordan wonders as he glances back over at Chase.

“Did Alan make the right adjustments?” Chase questions. “Are we going to be any closer than we were?” Jordan nods his head, as those were respectable questions. He almost hated to do what he was about to do next.

“Where’s Sarina right now?” Chase then looks over puzzled. “Just please answ-”

“She’s debriefing with Rudy, Spencer, Marcus, and the other KBM guys. She told me that she’d come see afterwards.” Jordan simply lets out a sigh as he reaches in his pocket. “You asked me for a reason….”

“Let’s just say that she’s done playing mind games, and mincing her words.” Chase reluctantly takes the envelope from Jordan, pulling out the slip of paper.

“It seems you’re off your game, but this is just the beginning as I have a plan for you, involving a blue-eyed beauty.” Chase looks up at Jordan, who simply nods his head reading his driver’s mind immediately. “I’ll text her and tell her to be careful leaving the hauler. Maybe Rudy can walk her back.”

“That’d be a good idea.” Jordan takes the envelope and paper back, placing it in his pocket. “I hated to do that right before qualifying and possibly throw off your game, but I felt that you should know.” Chase nods his head, accepting.

“Better safe than sorry, right?” Jordan couldn’t help but agree as he gives the helmet a final wipe down.

Whether due to still fighting an ill-handling car, or whether his mind being thrown off by Jordan’s reveal, he certainly wasn’t going to start where he wanted to on Sunday, qualifying the No. 9 NAPA Chevrolet back in 27th.

“Some days you do and some days you don’t, and we didn’t today,” he offers for the media. “So, I don’t know. We were way off; not even close. So, I don’t really have much of an excuse for it. We just didn’t hit it right today and we’ll go to work tonight and work through it and hopefully get ready for tomorrow. It’s our only option now.”

He answers a few more questions, before making his way back to the trailer, heading up to the lounge immediately. once in there, he drops the top half of his firesuit down, letting out  sigh as he rubs his side a little. He then grabs a drink from the fridge, sitting down on the couch as he glances at the floor.

“I’m sorry,” he simply says quietly, catching the attention of Alan. The crew chief had been sitting in the corner, working through notes on the laptop. He had noticed his driver enter, but hadn’t said a single word due to concentrating, and knowing that Chase was just going through his usual steps.

“Excuse me?” Alan questions, watching the brown eyes turn to face him.

“I’m sorry about the lap. I’m sorry that I basically just threw it away there. My head wasn’t in the gam-”

“Jordan told me about the note, and frankly, I don’t want to hear anymore apologies out of your mouth today.” Chase looks over surprised as Alan sets his laptop aside. “I saw your lap and I looked over the telemetry. You were driving it for what it was worth in the package that we went with. You were doing your job, and I’ve certainly been trying to do my job, but we both just missed the set-up totally. So you don’t need to apologize. Besides, I’d rather you be aware and her be safe, than have something happen.”

“Thank you.” Alan gives him a quick pat on the shoulder, before getting up and walking out of the lounge. He returns about two minutes later with a bag of ice, handing it over to him.

“You should go and rest. It’s clear that this has been physically draining, but also mentally draining on you. Go have a nice relaxing night. I’m going to go through the data with Josh, Tom and Matt, and see if we can figure something out for tomorrow’s practice.” Chase shakes his head no as he gets out the IPad.

“I should be a part of this just as much as yo-”

“That wasn’t an option, Elliott; that was an order. You need to take care of yourself.” Chase lets out a sigh as he looks over at the crew chief.

“I’d rather be here and try to figure this ou-”

“Are you trying to make yourself sic-”

“If I just simply leave now and go back to the motorcoach, there’s no way I’m going to have a calming evening and night. My mind is immediately going to think about the note over and over. I am going to worry that something is going to happen when Sarina and I aren’t together. I am going to panic about the possibilities, based on her warnings of a decision and that diagram. Being here, sitting here going through notes, trying to figure anything out for tomorrow, is a good distraction – and something that I welcome right now.” He then glances down as he lets out a sigh. “I’m sorr-”

“For what? For being honest with me?” Chase glances back over at Alan. “I appreciate it, actually, and I understand where you’re coming from. If it makes you feel better, then I have no problem with you staying here for a couple hours. Just make sure to take it easy and don’t push yourself, okay?” Chase nods his head, accepting. “And I’ve told you many times, you can always talk to me about what’s going on.”

“I just want it to be over. I want her to be caught, and this to be done with.”

The pair then began going through all the notes from practice together, as well as comparing to their teammates’ notes and the lines they were running. They also peaked into what some of the fast cars, like Ryan Newman and Kevin Harvick, were running as far as lines, discussing ideas of what to try for Sunday.

The conversation was doing exactly what Chase wanted – a good distraction from everything going on. He was almost completely able to put it in the rearview without a single reminder, when his phone rang.

“Hello?” He answers with a bit of a smile on his face. He simply figured Sarina was calling because she probably expected he would’ve been done by now.

“Chase, are you okay?” He hears, surprised by her sounding like she was out of breath as it put him on high alert immediately.

“I’m fine as I’m in the trailer with Alan still. Are you okay?” He hears a couple more labored breathes, almost set to jump off the couch and go running for her.

“Yeah, I think I am. I’m pretty sure I am. I’m just – I need you.” He felt every heart string pulled at her request as he motioned to Alan, who simply waved him off.

“Where are you?” He makes his way through the trailer, assuming her next word would be the motorcoach as she was going to go back there once done with the guys.

“Chase, something hap-”

“Where are you?”

“I nee-”

“Just tell me where you are!” Alan was caught off-guard by his voice, setting the laptop aside as he went to follow the young driver.

“Chase, take a deep breath as she’s okay; Sam and I are with her,” Chase hears Kyle’s voice next as he stops, following the instructions, before taking a slight glance back to Alan. “Now, I am going to tell you something, but you got to promise me you’re not alone.”

“Alan is here with me.” Alan locks his eyes with him immediately, feeling a bit of confusion as Chase puts the phone on speaker. “He can hear you…”

“Don’t interrupt and just listen, please. But Alison kidnapped Sarina from when she left the KBM hauler to the motorcoach. Rudy was walking with her and Alison knocked him out, taking Sarina. I got a call about five minutes ago to come to a location and pick up a package, but to make sure to come alone. I called the investigator number that Sarina had passed along and they followed a good distance behind, but I found her tied up in an old warehouse, nobody or nothing to be found except a note stating that this is a warning that this is possible, and the future won’t be as bright. I was going to call you sooner, but I was just worried abo-”

“It’s fine, Kyle, as long as she’s okay.” Chase felt every tinge of worry on high alert, on the verge of freaking out with tears in his eyes as Alan places a hand on his shoulder.

“She’s fine, Chase. Alison didn’t hurt her at all – just tied her up and left her. I promise you that she’s okay. She may be a little scared, frightened, caught off-guard, but she’s okay. I am taking her over to the local hospital to get checked over, and then the investigator wants to talk to both of you. Alan, I know you’re liste-”

“I can bring him over, Kyle,” Alan finishes the thought, knowing the question immediately. Even if Kyle hadn’t asked for Alan to, the crew chief already plans to do so as he knew there was no way Chase was heading over by himself given his condition. “We’ll see you shortly. Thank you for calling.” Alan hits the hang up button, slowly taking the phone out of Chase’s hand and placing it in the young man’s stunned pocket. “Talk to me….”

“I just can’t believe it,” Chase says, standing there completely shocked as Alan squeezes his shoulder. “We kept saying that nothing was possible. We kept saying that everything was going to be okay. But look at what happened!”

“I know that it brings all of your fears to reality and scares the crap out of you. I understand, and I get that. I don’t know what to say to make you feel better, except to remind you that I am always here to listen, and help you. The guys and I are going to make sure this is the only thing that happens.” Chase wanted to believe those words, but his focus on the future was certainly not as bright. Contemplating his options, he knew what he needed to do.

“Let’s go see her, please…” Alan nods his head, accepting, as he follows Chase out of the trailer.

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 42: Daytona 500

Sunday, February 18 – Daytona International Speedway

It may have been the biggest race of the year, but Chase began the day like he would any race day – a quick shower in the morning, along with breakfast, before heading out to go through the usual sponsor appearances. Each of those went according to plan with no issues, as each of them wished him best of luck along with a series of photos.

He was getting finished up with the final one for the day – NAPA – and set to leave, when someone placed an envelope in his hand.

“We found this here addressed to you when we got here,” the older man tells him and Chase simply nods his head in return. He didn’t need to glance down at the envelope to know who it was from.

“Thank you sir,” he simply replies, clutching it in his hand as he shoves the envelope in his sweater pocket.

“Do I want to know?” Morgan wonders as they leave and Chase just shakes his head. “I can take it if you wan-”

“All notes go to Jordan, and Jordan opens them. He lets me know if there’s something important, and then passes it along to where it goes.” Morgan was caught off-guard, but simply nodded her head in acceptance in return. “It’s a system we developed when they started to try and make it easier on me.”

“Okay. Well if I ever can do anything to help, just let me know.”

“Thank you.”

He makes his way to the garage area, seeing Jordan standing by with the team as they get ready to push the car out to the grid. He quietly slips him the envelope, with a nod, before continuing on his way back to the motorcoach.

Jordan lets out a sigh as he glances at the white envelope, slowly ripping away the back of it. He pulls out the slip of paper, looking around, before reading the writing inside.

“I hope the message is getting to you clearly,” he reads. “A decision will be coming, and I hope you make the right one.” Jordan was puzzled, and could only wonder as to what was going to happen next.

With Alison, he could only guess on the variables – but knew it would have to deal with Sarina in some way, if she got her way. Taking a deep breath, he just hoped the measures put in place stopped that from happening.

He then made the familiar phone call, speaking of the details, before agreeing to when they would grab the note and envelope for evidence.

Sarina gets comfortable in her usual spot, as Jordan glances over with a pat on her leg.

“500 miles, 200 laps – you can do this,” he tells her as she glances over nervously.

“You saw me yesterday and you think today will be easy?” She questions and he shrugs his shoulders. In his belief, the driver was going to make it easy by staying up front all day long.

“Trust in your man…..”

For both, it was relief to see him up front as the race didn’t start off with the calm feeling that they had experienced in the Clash or Duel, with chaos from the drop of the green flag. Sarina even had to admit that she was caught off-guard when Kasey Kahne was sent out of line early, flying down pit road in the opening laps.

Chase wasn’t making her nerves any easier, either, as he fell back some spots, running mid-pack after getting split down the middle. All she could think about was him being in the eye of the storm the whole way.

She got a small break with the field stringing out single file on Lap 31, but it wasn’t a surprise to see that only last for four laps. It was actually her man ruining the calmness, too, as he made his move to get back to the front.

“That’s how you do it!” She lets out as he takes the lead with 15 laps left in the stage. If he wanted dance, she had no problem with that – a s long as he was at the front of the train.

The first major wreck of the event happened five laps later, thankfully far behind pack as Kyle Busch blew a left rear tire, collecting some others with him.

Reminding herself to take deep breathes, trying to kill the nerves, she knew that once when they went back to green, it was only going to get crazier. Everybody would want stage points, and her man was going to be right in the middle of that.

Right when the green flag flew with five laps left, the craziness began immediately with everybody switching lanes, attempting to block each others runs. Chase was one of those, going up to block a move, but ended up getting put the top with no help, causing him to slip back through the field.

Sarina didn’t get a chance to calm down as three laps later (two left in the stage), Ricky  Stenhouse Jr. got sideways down the backstretch running second, causing the field to get all jumbled, resulting in contact with cars sliding every which way, whether grass or outside wall. Thankfully, Chase made his way through – barely – finishing the opening stage in eighth.

“Aaah nice job,” Alan congratulates his driver as Sarina takes a couple deep breathes. That was too close to comfort, and she knew it was just the beginning with 140 laps still left to go.

“Holy shit!” Chase lets out on the radio, and Sarina couldn’t help but nod her head in agreement.

“I’m going to need malox, tums, and whatever else you can find before this is over,” she comments causing a chuckle from Jordan.

When they went back racing, the chaos didn’t calm down one bit, with passes and blocking happening every turn. The front of the field saw Chase lead some laps, followed by Ryan Blaney leading some, back to Chase, before Ryan got back to the lead.

Running in second, Chase was riding behind him with 18 laps left in the stage, trying to plan his move accordingly.

“2 has a run on the top….” Eddie D’Hondt tells him, in which Chase was set to use to his advantage. Both of them came down at the same time, which caused Brad to make contact with the left rear corner, hooking Chase. “We’re wrecking….”

The contact instantly caused Chase to spin up and hit the outside wall, before spinning around and hitting it once again as he also got hit in the door. The car then slowly rolled down the banking to the apron, damage seen at every corner.

“Are you alright?” Eddie asks right away, feeling every nerve pinched at seeing the incident.

“Yeah…” Chase answers, trying to take a couple deep breathes. Instantly upon hitting the wall initially, it had taken his breath away, with the contact afterwards not doing anything to help him. “Yeah….” He takes a couple more deep breathes, getting his wits about him, feeling a bit of pain up his back and especially through his ride. “I’m alright…”

Jordan continues rubbing Sarina’s shoulders, as he glances up at the monitor. He could only shake his head at the events that had transpired, and he could kick Brad’s ass right then and there.

“He’s okay…” Jordan reminds her once again as she takes a couple deep breathes. Upon the wreck beginning, she instantly freaked, panic consuming her. It was Jordan that reacted immediately, wrapping his arms around her to hold her and offer comfort, certainly caught off-guard by how hard the initial impact was. “He’s climbing out…”

“I can’t believe this…” Sarina lets out as she takes a couple more breathes, watching on the monitor as Chase sat on the window ledge, laying his head on the roof for a little bit as he waited for the medical staff to come over. “He’s sore…”

“I’d be sore, too if I hit a wall that hard. Come on…” He slowly helps her stand up and make her way over to the ladder. He climbs down first, before watching closely as she followed, making sure she didn’t slip.

The pair of them make their way through the garage to the infield care center, sneaking in through the back door as they wait for the ambulance to make the trip back.

It wasn’t long after before he walked in, helmet and HANs in hand, with their eyes connecting immediately. Every tinge of worry she had showed, and he saw that right away. In return, being sore didn’t help anything and any comfort she could offer was a bonus. He walks over to her, wrapping both arms around her, as he kisses the top of her head.

“I’m okay,” he tells her as he gives her another kiss. “I’m okay…”

“I know,” she replies, glancing up into his eyes. “I knew you would be, but I just couldn’t help but worr-”

“It’s okay…” He then takes her hand into his, letting him come with her as he goes into one of the cubicles as directed, sitting up on the bed. He lets out a small grunt as his hand immediately goes to his side, rubbing it.

“Sore?” He nods his head as he continues to rub his ribs, taking a couple breathes. “Worse than earlier?” He nods his head as she lets out a sigh. “I hope it’s not worse…”

“I’ll be fine. You don’t need to worry about me.” She could only let out another sigh as she walked right over, leaning against him as he wrapped his arms around her.

“I’m never going to stop worrying about you, okay?” He smiles as he kisses her head once again. “On the bright side, you have someone to look out for you tonight, and tomorrow. I suggest you take two Tylenol and a nice, long hot shower tonight or you’ll be regretting it tomorrow. Maybe I’ll even give you a massage, if you’re lucky.”

“If I’m lucky?” She nods her head as he thinks it over. “I thought I meant enough already to deserve one…”

“You’re probably right. Besides, I need to take care of you so you can spoil me.” He chuckles as they watch the doctor come in.

He goes through the usual questionnaire, answering everything accordingly, before slipping the top half of his firesuit off so the doctor can take a closer look at his ribs. Feeling them, pushing lightly in a couple spots, a couple grunts could be heard.

“I’d like to run an x-ray to be safe and make sure nothing is broken or cracked,” the doctor says, and Chase simply nods his head accepting. “How about you go do your post-wreck interview since you’re actually cleared, and then we can do that?”

“Sure,” he answers as he carefully puts the firesuit back on, feeling every bit of pain as he does so.

Following instructions as requested, the x-ray came back clean with no cracks or breaks, just the bruises that were left over from Thursday with a couple more to join them.

With strict instructions to rest for the next couple of days, and to go to the hospital if he felt any new or worsening pain, he was able to leave and head out, returning to the motorcoach to get changed.

“Let me take care of you, please,” she tells him, helping him take off his firesuit slowly.

“Oh man….” was all he could say, feeling the familiar pain up his side and through his back as he slips it off. He then slowly slipped off the undershirt, biting his tongue along the way.

“Are you sure you’re going to be alright? Maybe you should’ve let them give you something stronger for the pai-”

“I’ll be fine. I just want to get home, okay?” She slowly nods her head as she hands him a t-shirt out of the drawer.

It was no secret that he was frustrated with how Speedweeks had gone, given the fact that two days straight he had a car capable of winning, but wrong moves and over-aggressive driving by both himself and his competitors got him in trouble. Combined with the remaining frustrations over the note and plane crash, and the faster he was out of Florida and back home, the better.

With this weekend’s race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, the plan wasn’t to go home – but rather fly back with his parents to Georgia and stay at their house for the week as he went through media responsibilities promoting the event. Though given the amount of pain he was feeling, he didn’t care where he ended up – as long as he found a nice comfy bed tonight.

“There’s something on your mind, other than the wreck and how you’re feeling,” Bill says as they reach the house, holding Chase back a bit as Cindy and Sarina headed inside.

“Is it that obvious?” Chase questions and Bill nods his head.

“The notes haven’t stopped, am I right?” Chase lets out a sigh. “They haven’t found a single trace yet, and the notes haven’t stopped. You’re probably feeling a mess of emotions in regards to that, too, from anger to fear. But I can sense that something is off, too.”

“It’s just been a long wee-”

“Chase….” Chase didn’t want to talk about it, no matter how hard he tried as he wished to avoid the topic all together.

“The past couple of notes have me intrigued. They reference making a decision and being connected to someone that I care about, and making sure the right one is made.” He takes a deep breath as he tries to sort through his thoughts. “It has to do with Sarina. Alison is set to put her next plan into action, and it will be do Sarina. It’ll probably be like Sarina or something, and my decision will affect everything. Everything that has happened – we didn’t have any reasonable explanation or something we could’ve done different. But making a decision, fear of something happening – it’s messing with my thoughts more than I would like.” Bill crosses his arms as he glances out into the night sky.

“Have you told Sarina about this?” Chase nods his head. Reluctantly, he told her following the XFINITY race on Saturday – only after Jordan made him do so, in fear that something could happen.

“She put it off as not being worried, calling it an empty threat and that I needed to not let them mess with me because it’s just a mind game to screw me. Meanwhile, I can’t just say that like she can because Alison got close enough to hurt me again and if she can do that and get access to drop these notes, then the chance is there.” Bill couldn’t help but agree, increasing his own nerves about the situation.

“Sarina is just telling herself that so she can psych herself out of being worried, like you are. If she prtends that she can’t get hurt, then she doesn’t have a thing to worry about. Meanwhile, she can put that energy in trying to ease your worries, take care of you, be there for you.” Bill places a hand on Chase’s shoulders. “You have every right to be afraid and worry. But you can’t let it eat at you, or consume you. You need to keep reminding yourself that you have the right people around you, the right policies in place, and everything will work out – just like I will have your back no matter what.”

“I know…” Chase lets out a sigh as he glances up at the sky before looking back to his dad. “Thank you.”

“You can always come to me. Now, you need to get some rest…” Bill wraps an arm around Chase’s shoulders, as they head inside for the night.

The week went smoothly as the pain slowly eased with rest and time, but bothered him at times. He was able to get through during media activities Monday through Wednesday without any problems, and the visit to the Children’s Hospital on Thursday went off very successfully.

Back at the house for the night, he was focused on getting a good night’s sleep, knowing that Friday would be a busy day at the track and he needed to be as ready as possible. He was comfortable in the bed when he heard his phone go off, reaching over and grabbing it off the nightstand.

“Shit!” He lets out, catching Sarina’s attention as she was playing a game on her laptop. “Alison’s weekly vis-”

“What did she do now?” Sarina questions, feeling the immediate worry to match Chase’s reaction.

“The guy’s plane is delayed because the same sabotage put together last year was done once again, per Alan.” Sarina shakes her head in disbelief as she lays her head on his chest.

“I’m glad that they caught it.” Chase nods his head in response as he sends back a text message.

“Alan said it was obvious by how the evidence had been placed. Like, she wanted to prove she had access and could do it, but not actually hurt the gu-”

“Chase, think about this for a minute.” She then takes a deep breath as she tries to put her theory together. “She’s going in the same order of what Chris and Bethany did to you and I. We had the plane crash – which was you and Ryan this time around. Now the team plane once again. What happened next?” Chase closes his eyes, wishing he wasn’t having to think back to the timeline of events.

“I had the small issue at the training session, and then we figured out it was him as he like disappeared for awhile. We had our fight and went to California, and I fell down the ste-”

“You fell while you there for my Winter Showdown. That was the start of the plan.” Chase nods his head, remembering.

“The next thing that happened was the drugging as he began with the crew members, followed by Ryan, and then myself.” He grabs his phone once again, texting Alan. “I’ll tell Alan the theory in case.”

“I’ll make sure to mention something to Rudy tomorrow.” He then puts his phone back up as he thinks back to Jordan’s latest text messages.

“But what does all that have to do with a decision and being connected to someone I love?” He takes a deep breath as he glances into her eyes. “I know, I’ll do what you said. I’ll just forget about it and not worry.” Though closing his eyes and trying to get comfortable, the thought just wouldn’t leave his mind.

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 41: Powershares QQQ 300


Saturday, February 17, 2018 – Daytona International Speedway

“You can’t complain about that….” Sarina sounds off, as qualifying finishes up with Chase ranked 12th quickest.

“I can get to the front from there,” he comments. “The car was working well yesterday.” He also had confidence in the XFINITY Series drafting package as it hadn’t changed much over the past couple of years, and everybody remembered the drive he put in to beat Joey Logano to the line.

“Just remember to be smart, and be there when it coun-”

“Didn’t I prove on Thursday that I know how to make one of these races work?” She lets out a sigh, immediately smiling though as that night certainly had fond memories.

“By the way, out of all your helmets, can I just say that this one is my favorite?” He looks over at her surprised, as he glances it over.

“While I love the design, I’m surprised to hear that. I do recall that you and Hootie didn’t quite get along upon your first meeting.” She laughs, remembering how she wanted to shred the small stuffed animal at Talladega. Since then, though, she had even managed to take him with her on times when the pair were separate.

“Well, could you blame me after what happened?” He lets out a sigh and shakes his head no. “Are you running Cup practice?”

“Alan wants to continue working on the handling, and William wants some more practice working in the draft with teammates.” She nods her head, accepting. It was almost like a pointless question as he hadn’t skipped a Cup practice all weekend to date.

“How does it feel to be the teacher?” He shrugs his shoulders, not feeling anything different than any other weekend.

“At least I’m not the Grandpa…” She laughs, having heard the jokes from William and Alex about Jimmie. “Make sure you tell Lindsay that she’s welcome to join you later.” She nods her head, accepting, as they share a quick kiss, before separating.

He makes his way into the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series garage, stopping immediately as he saw Jordan twirling an envelope in his hand.

“Do I want to know?” He questions and Jordan shakes his head.

“I found it by the garage door when we came in this morning,” Jordan reveals and Chase lets out a sigh. It honestly didn’t surprise him anymore with what was going on and the fact the pieces continued to add up over and over – despite supposedly everything being followed and investigated.

“You know the drill…” He walks past Jordan, going by the pit kart as he leans back with a sigh.

His mind immediately began to wander about the contents that were in the envelope, and whether he could even feel safe about Sarina wandering the garage area without him, or someone he could trust, by her side. He even began to wonder if going easily between garages without a second thought was something he needed to stop himself. Every question that you could think about safety flooded his thoughts as he tried to push it behind himself and focus on the practice ahead. While not focusing on the contents of envelopes was supposed to save himself, it was instead proving to be a bigger distraction right now.

“Are you okay?” He hears, snapping him out of his thoughts as he just automatically nods his head. “I know you’re lyin-”

“I’d rather not talk about it,” he tells the crew chief without even turning his head to acknowledge him. “Don’t we have a practice to focus on? I’d rather just worry about that.” Alan slowly nods his head, accepting, though felt every alarm going off in his head in the process.

“Of course, but know that if you want to talk about anything, you can let me kno-”

“I know, and I appreciate that. But right now, I’d rather not.” Chase walks away and checks over the helmet and gloves, before climbing in the car.

They went through the first couple of runs without any problems, before Alan was set to take a small break with some adjustments being made.

Jordan took the time to come over, kneel by the window of the car and look in.

“The note was her usual tactic of trying to scare you,” Jordan reveals, catching Chase’s attention. “Nothing alarming, nothing new, except the fact that she’s saying that you’ll be forced to make a decision and it’ll be based on who you care about the most.” Chase instantly swallows the lump that had formed in his throat, knowing whom Allison was referring to.

“I know you’re supposed to be focused on your job here, but can you make sure that Sarina is okay?” He questions and Jordan nods his head, accepting. While it wasn’t in the normal work description, he knew Alan wouldn’t say anything based on the circumstances.

“Absolutely. I can check up on her, and make sure that she’s always got someone with or around her incase.” Chase nods his head, accepting. It made him feel a little better, but he couldn’t deny that the butterflies were still there.

“And Jordan, don’t say a word about why…” Jordan accepts immediately as he stands up, giving his driver a quick pat on the shoulder before walking away. “Deep breathes, deep breaths, and stay calm; everything is going to be okay.”

“Ready to go for another run?” He hears Alan, immediately thankful for the distraction as he gives a simple nod. “Let me know how she feels…” Alan puts the window net up having seen Jordan walk off, before sending him back out for another run.

Sarina takes a deep breath as she gets comfortable in her usual spot on the pit box, even if it felt odd to be sitting behind someone other than Alan. At least she had been around these guys a couple times before, and had familiar faces in both Jordan and Lindsay with her.

“You got to believe in your man more!” Jordan encourages as he rubs her back, seeing the nerves on her face even under the simple pace laps to get the event started.

“Oh trust me Jordan, I believe in Chase,” she assures him with a smile. “It’s just….It’s Daytona, and everything is possible. He can be doing everything right and something could happen. It’s always made me on edge.” He could sympathize, having seen her reaction to Chase’s wreck last year at Talladega.

“Well I think today is going to go smooth sailing without a single issue….” Lindsay glanced over, almost wanting to smack him, having sensed an automatic jinx in those words. However, she bit her tongue, not wanting to make her friend even more nervous.

The first two stages of the Powershares QQQ 300 went smoothly, and accordingly – even if Sarina’s reaction would’ve told you otherwise as she spent the entire time nervous. Chase spending much of the first stage marred back in the teens certainly didn’t help that, but she got to relax a little as he made up ground and brought himself to the front in the second stage. Of course, the nerves only got to take a small break, instantly returning as Chase diced back and forth with both Joey Logano and Kyle Larson for the lead, blocks happening every which way.

The final stage started off accordingly as Chase kept himself up at the front in the top-three, set to make moves to move forward, until he was hung out by Elliott Sadler, causing him to slip back some spots.

“Great teammate Sadler!” Sarina lets out in frustration, as she tries to keep herself as relaxed as possible. With lots of time in the race, and Chase’s ability on the plate tracks, she was confident that they were far from being done.

As predicted, he was able to get himself back up to second, set to make a move at chasing down Joey Logano for the lead. As he began to close that gap with 25 laps to go, Elliott locked with his back bumper through turns one and two, followed by the backstretch. The move caught the attention of NASCAR, who penalized the pair as you are not supposed to lock bumpers in the XFINITY Series.

“Are you kidding me?” Sarina questions in shock as she was caught off-guard by the penalty.

“Oh yeah, let’s go ahead and penalize him for that,” Lindsay adds. “I mean, it’s not like everybody else is going to be doing that on the last couple of laps anyway, and we know they’ll get away with it, too.” Sarina nods her head in agreement.

“Besides, what the hell is Chase supposed to do in that situation? He wasn’t his choice to hook up like that. It was Elliott’s decision to push him. So Chase just supposed to pull out of line and lose all that track position to stop that? is he supposed to cause the pusher and the field to become wrecked? I mean, that’s just ridiculous!” Sarina was almost set on the verge of punching something. “I used to like Elliott, but this is just sa-”

“Are you serious right now?” Jordan questions, surprised by her anger and Sarina looks over at him immediately.

“First Sadler hangs him out to dry, and then does that,” she reminds him. “On top of that stupid comment for Preece at Homestead about racing him for position, he’s just turning into a pain in the ass!” Jordan was shocked, but wasn’t set to argue as he knew that it would just be useless at this point in the game.

The pair of JR Motorsports teammates made their way down pit road a couple laps later, serving their pass through penalty, which dropped them back to 24th and 25th in the running order. It seemed they were right out of the equation, until a wreck happened a lap later in turn three and four, taking out a whole bunch of drivers. Chase was able to easily avoid the incident, moving him up the running order and allowing him to catch back up to the rear of the field.

“Elliott apologies by the way,” crew chief Scott Radel says under caution. “He thought you could only not lock bumpers if you were passing someone.” Chase knew the explanation by Elliott fit what they were told in the driver’s meeting, but he also knew from past years that Elliott should’ve known better.

“10-4,” was all he replied, not wanting to start a debate on the radio. For now, the focus was making his way from 18th to the front with just under 20 laps to go.

The restart came quickly, but another caution flew four laps later as a couple drivers spun. Chase was able to make up some ground, having moved up to 12th before the yellow flag, but knew the frustration was mounting as the laps were slowly running out with each caution.

He would continue to move forward when the green flag came back out, breaking into the top-five as the race neared conclusion.

“Come on Chase,” Sarina quietly says as they go by the flag stand for three laps to go. If the moves continued like they were, she knew it was quite possible for them to get back to where they belonged.

However, another wrench was thrown in their plans, as he and Elliott weren’t quite lined up down the back, with a bump causing his teammate to go spinning across the backstretch pavement rather than forward as planned.

“Karma?” Lindsay questions with a bit of a grin as she wasn’t totally disappointed in those events. Sarina could only roll her eyes and let out a sigh, not surprised to be honest.

“Of course we’d have an overtime,” she comments, taking a couple deep breathes as she tries to calm herself down, knowing action was about to get crazy – if it wasn’t crazy enough, to be honest.

“Tell those guys I’m sorry,” Chase says over the radio. While he may not have agreed with what happened earlier, he never wanted to do that to Elliott, especially considering they were teammates.

Restarting just outside of the top-three for the restart, Chase was set to make his move on the first overtime attempt, watching closely as he saw the blocks continue to be thrown between Kyle Larson and Joey Logano. He saw the move made with the attempted block by Kyle on Joey, sending Kyle around. He immediately dove to the bottom to avoid, with the car getting out of shape right away. He’d keep his steering in it, going for a complete 360 through a small bit of the grass, before continuing on.

“Nice driving!” Scott cheers over the radio as both Lindsay and Jordan had their hands on Sarina, rubbing her back and shoulders.

“He made it through,” Jordan whispers in her ear and she slowly nods her head, having seen him come back around with no damage.

“Jesus Chase, don’t be doing that to me,” she comments as she takes a couple deep breathes. “Holy shit man, he got lucky there…” She sits back in her seat, continuing to take deep breathes, just wanting to see the checkered flag and car in one piece at this point with everything that happened.

“Really, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise for Elliott…” Lindsay says, in reference to Sadler who had been far behind the incident and not caught up in it at all. With the drivers eliminated involved, Elliott had now broken back into the top-10.

“This is turning into the bloody freaking ARCA race!” Sarina now couldn’t deny that she could relate to the nerves that Chase felt last Saturday with her craziness, and only hoped that things went smoother for him this time around.

The next three attempts at a finish continued to see things not go smoothly, producing three more wrecks throughout the field. Thankfully, Chase had been ahead of each incident at the front of the field with no nerves to be spent by Sarina.

“You need to pit here bud,” Scott tells him with a sigh. He hated to deliver this news, considering they had fought back from their problems to be running in the top-five. “NASCAR says you need a passenger side window.” It seems with the spin he had earlier, it caused the window to come loose, and it was now missing.

Chase reluctantly brings the car down pit road to the attention of the team – but there was a problem as they had no spare window in the pit. David Mayo became the hero of the day, though, making the run from the pit to the trailer and back, grabbing a window and bringing it back in the nick of time to get it installed.

The efforts by the crew member earned a round of applause by everybody on the team, along with a pat on the back from Scott.

“You deserve a raise man!” Sarina lets out as he gives him a high-five.

“With the way this race is going, he may just get back in it,” Lindsay offers as Sarina just rolls her eyes, sitting her back.

“If it could go wrong, it has gone wrong today. All I can do, honestly, is just sit here and laugh. This is getting almost ridiculous.”

“Daytona – she’s a crazy hormonal bitch sometimes.” Sarina and Jordan both break out laughing.

There’d only be one more wreck before the end of the race, and Chase managed to get through it without a single issue, ultimately crossing the finish line in 12th.

“Not bad considering….” was all Sarina could manage as she climbed down the steps of the pit box afterwards. She just hoped that tomorrow’s race went much smoother because another day like that and she knew she’d go insane.

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 40: NextEra Energy Resources 250

Friday, February 16 – Daytona International Speedway

Sarina glances over as she watches Chase get ready for another jam-packed action day at the track.

“You’re staring again….” He comments, despite having his back turned to her as she lets out a sigh.

“Am I wrong to worry about you?” She questions as he turns around to face her and nods his head. “I can’t help it, okay?” He lays on the bed alongside her.

“I know, and it’s okay because I understand. But believe me when I say that you have nothin-”

“How can you be so chill right now?” Chase lets out a sigh as he rolls over on his stomach, eyes locked on her.

“That’s just me. I don’t let myself get worked up or frustrated. But, you are right that this isn’t the ideal situation. I am worried. I am scared. I do wonder what could happen next. I will look over my shoulder more than I need to today.” He then closes his eyes, taking a deep breath. “It’s just so hard to openly say it, and discuss why, but it is there.”

“That’s why you understood it taking time for me, right?” He nods his head. “Well when you are ready to talk, you know I’m here, and I will do whatever you need me to do. Just promise me you’ll be careful today?”

“Absolutely. Besides, today is simple – small drafting session in the XFINITY session, and a teammate only group for the Cup session. You don’t have to worry about me.” He then places his hand on top of hers. “Just promise me the same in return tonight.”

“Trust me, I’m going to do my best to create that magic you know so well.” A grin forms on his face as he leans in, kissing her lips, before getting up and heading out for the first session of the day.

The day started off smoothly as the sessions went well back and forth between the two series, with confidence rising in both cars. As long as he made the right moves come race time, it was going to be a good weekend.

Sitting in the lounge for a small break as he was sitting out the second XFINITY session, he was caught off-guard by a message on his phone. He picks it up, opening it with intrigue.

“There’s no denying that Bethany brought Alison into the picture for her own reasons,” he began to read the text message from the investigator. “But Bethany declares now that she has nothing to do in connection to the latest round of events, and prison records show no visitation between herself and Alison. It’s clear without a doubt that Alison is acting upon her intentions alone in trying to do whatever she has in mind for you. Still no trace of the lawyer or her, though.”

“How can people across the country be searching for two individuals and not see a single trace?” Jordan asks, having listened to Chase reading the message. Chase shrugs his shoulders as he quickly types back a reply.

“Crazy how someone can just hide in plain sight if you ask me.” Jordan nods his head, accepting, as a thought comes to his mind.

“Make sure no matter who you are around, you double check who they are and have no look-a-like to her. You asked how she has access to everywhere, but answered your own question at the same time.” Chase knew that as he stares at his phone blankly. Maybe he could erase the new thoughts and just focus back to their task at hand.

“You don’t need to remind me, Jordan.” Jordan knew that, based on their discussions already, but a reminder never hurt.

“I got your back, man, as always.” Jordan stands up, gives him a quick pat on the back before leaving the hauler. Chase could only lean back and let out a sigh.

The rest of the day went smoother than the discussion, and before anybody could predict it, race time was upon them. Just like Sarina had been the night before, he was now sitting atop his usual spot on the Kyle Busch Motorsports pit box, ready to cheer her on.

The race started out according to plan, as she kept herself in line, not giving up the bottom at all, en route to a solid ninth-place finish for the first stage. So far, so good.

The pit crew did their job on pit road, getting her out third for the restart, which saw her take the lead quickly to start off the second stage. With a continuous lap tap on the pit box, Chase watched as she maneuvered the lines, blocking with style just like he had done the night before. However, she made one wrong move to switch, which saw her get shuffled out, ultimately falling back through the field.

“Stick with it,” Chase whispers to himself as he lets out an aggravated sigh. He knew the discouraging feeling it delivered, but he also believed in her ability to work her way back to the front. Ultimately, she wasn’t able to make up as much ground as she or he wanted, though, finishing that stage in 14th.

Restarting 11th following a pit stop for right-side tires, she looked set to begin to make up the lost ground. However, contact ensued up ahead. She was in the right spot to avoid the mess, too, when she got sandwiched between a pair of other trucks as they tried to avoid.

“Ah shit,” was all Chase could say afterwards, seeing the front fenders pushed in.

“Both fenders got it,” she reports over the radio.

“Bring it in and we’ll get to work,” Rudy tells her. “We can still get back in this.”

The crew did what they could, pulling the fenders as much as they could out and back into shape, before sending her back out. checking the monitor and seeing her back in 28th, Chase takes a simple deep breath as he tries to keep himself calm. There was lots of time and she could make it up, even despite being a bunch of nerves to come.

However, she didn’t get the chance as another truck spun ahead of two laps later, and she would miss him – but caught the outside wall instead.

“More damage!” She barked on the radio, growing frustrated. In her eyes, that was totally her fault as she had totally missed the spun truck initially.

Losing two laps to make those repairs, she would miss the big wreck, but ultimately pulled behind the wall shortly after the restart as the repairs weren’t enough with more issues continuing.

“Ugh,” was all she could say as she climbed out of the truck. Chase walks over, rubbing her back. “That was ridiculous!”

“Daytona is always crazy,” he offers as he wraps an arm around her. “You were doing a good job. Everything that happened was out of your contro-”

“I over-steered when I went around him. I got behind on my steering trying to avoid him and got myself in the wall. That was my fault, Chase, because I didn’t keep up on my steering. If I had’ve missed the wall, and that wreck, we would’ve been right in the thick of it. Instead, we’re out of the race 20 laps early and finishing God knows where.” She then climbs the rest of the way out of the truck as he lets out a sigh.

“I know you’re frustrated. I would be as well. But hey, that’s Daytona. it’s a bitch. You will get them next week at Atlanta.” She glances back at him.

“Seriously?” He nods his head.

“You finished out the year strong on the mile and a halves. Now having Rudy setting up the truck, I don’t see any reason to doubt what’s possible. Just chalk this up to crazy Speedweeks and focus forward.” She accepts, giving him a quick kiss.

“Let me go see Rudy and the guys, and then we’ll head back.” He accepts as he watches her walk off.

Her time with the crew guys didn’t take long as they were back in the motorcoach shortly thereafter, with her changed out of her firesuit as they cuddled up together in the bed.

“Roll on your side,” she instructs and he does so, letting out small grunt in the process. “Sore?” He nods his head as he hated to admit it, but the ribs were more sore than he thought they’d be after today. She runs her fingers down lightly, rubbing as lightly as possible, as he relaxes a little.

“Look at this,” he starts. “You have the rough night, but here you are taking care of me.” She smiles as she kisses his cheek.

“That’s because I love you, and I want to help you, and I want to be there for you. It makes me feel better doing this for you.” She then takes a deep breath as she keeps herself cuddled up as close as possible. “I know everything you’re dealing with isn’t easy, from the pain to Alison looming over your head. I know it’s driving you crazy at times. I know it’s tough to talk about. But I want to be here for you throughout all of this, no matter what. Is that fair?” He nods his head, accepting.

“I appreciate it, too, more than you know. I’m glad that you’re not pushing me to tell you everything, to pour my heart out, to be perfec-”

“Because nobody is perfect, Chase, and I know what it’s like to be in your shoes, scared and unable to talk about it. Like I said to you before, it’s time for me to repay you back for that patience and understanding that you gave me. Now, close your eyes. You have a busy day tomorrow….”

They both just hoped it ended with them standing in their favorite spot once again.


Saturday, February 17 – Daytona International Speedway

Chase heads out for XFINITY Series qualifying, walking out to pit road as he meets up with the guys. He was then surprised when he saw Amy walking over to him.

“I’m surprised you haven’t said hi yet,” he replies as she walks over, giving her a hug.

“I’ve been a little busy, okay?” She offers and he nods his head.

“You look good, though. Is she being nice to her mommy now?” She chuckles, but nods back in response.

“Besides the odd crazy craving for ice cream or something sweet, it’s going smoothly.” He smiles as it was nice to see both Amy and Dale happy. “Dale sent me over, by the way. He wanted to make sure that you’re still good to run today after what happened.” Chase was slightly caught off-guard by the offer, but also understood the reasoning.

“You can tell him I’m fine. I’m a little sore, but it’s not bad. I can handle it. I’m ready to get him another win.” She smiles back in response, as she wasn’t going to bet against him right now.

“I am still surprised by those moves you pulled off during that Duel…” Chase chuckles as he had caught himself a little off-guard in watching back the replay of the final laps.

“Let me guess – if I would’ve told you that I wasn’t sure about this, he would’ve drove instead?” Amy glances away a little. “Ah, okay, I get it. Retirement totally hasn’t set in for him yet…” She then looks right back at him.

“Actually, it’s the complete opposite. He’s fallen right into being comfortable knowing that he isn’t behind the wheel this weekend, having fun with the other stuff that he’s been doing. I admit being a little concerned in coming down to Daytona, knowing that he wasn’t driving, and it feeling weird, but he hasn’t said anything yet. Instead, he’s caught himself up with what he’s doing for NBC and being that team owner.” Chase looks down pit road, seeing Dale and Kelley talking about something together.

“I feel bad for Kelley. He’s probably chewing her ear off with questions now.”

“Chase!” He then chuckles as Amy rolls her eyes. “But really, let us know if it gets to be too much, and know that we’ve got your back too – well, I’ve got your back as much as I ca-”

“You just focus on keeping that little girl healthy, okay? I can’t wait to meet her.”

“Chase!” One of the crew members calls and Chase gives him a quick wave.

“That’s my call to get to work,” he states, giving her another hug before walking over to the car.


Saturday, February 17 – California

“I thought you said you were going to be getting Chris free?” Shelley questions over the phone as she leans back against the counter in her kitchen.

“Patience, young grasshopper,” was the response that she received, causing her to roll her eyes.

“I’m sorry, but all it seems that you’re doing right now is torturing the heck out of Chase, and seeing how that affects Chelsy. It seems to have no connection or bearing in my mind in how you would be getting Chris out and away from being mistreated unfairly.”

“Can’t you just let a plan come together?” Shelley almost chuckled to herself.

“The only reason I agreed to not say anything is for Chris’ benefit because clearly Chelsy can’t seem to care about her brother or family. I suggest you make something happen or your plan is getting revealed.”

“You wouldn’t have the guts to do that.” Shelley was now actually chuckling.

“Watch me, bitch.” She then hangs up the phone, glancing over at the television.

She didn’t know why she had put on the Cup practice or why she was bothering with NASCAR, but it was the only thing she could do in trying to figure out what the heck Alison was up to.