The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 212: Auto Club 400

Saturday, March 16 – Auto Club Speedway

Sarina started off the Xfinity Series race well, remaining in the top-five throughout the first stage en route to a solid fifth-place finish.

Unfortunately, the same couldn’t be said for the second stage, as she had to make an unscheduled green flag pit stop on Lap 61 due to the right front going down.

“Long time to go here….” Chase told himself as he watches her on-track, earning a nod from Dave when it’s confirmed she was right about the decision to come in.

She’d fight hard through the remainder of the second stage, working her way up to the 15th position by the time the checkered flag. More importantly, she was  the first car one lap down, allowing her to snag the lucky dog.

“We still got lots of time here,” Chase repeats to himself, knowing that she could get back up front for a solid finish.

She’d run solidly through the stage, keeping herself in position for a good finish.

Chase watches as Brandon Jones gets a little sideways off the corner, with Ryan Preece narrowly avoiding front end contact. However, that sent Preece down the track, barely missing catching Sarina as he did so.

“I think I just shit my pants there!” Sarina instantly yells out on the radio, and Chase couldn’t help but nod his head in agreement. “Holy crap! Where the hell was he going?”

“He was worried about avoiding 19, didn’t think through step two,” Earl Barban informs her. “Nice job avoiding there.”

“That was pure luck, buddy….”

“We’re staying out here,” Dave tells her, ready to play the strategy card as they were late in the event. With running just inside the top-10, perhaps they could steal a stronger finish with a bit of strategy.

Restarting in the second position, she would fight hard against the fresher tires around her, eventually fading back, crossing the finish line with a 12th-place finish.

“I cost you a top-10 finish with that call,” Dave comments as he walks over post-race, earning a simple nod from Chase. He admittedly wasn’t pleased with the gamble as he could see that going ugly right from the beginning. Everybody knew how important tires were at Auto Club Speedway. “I’m sorry.”

“Hey, I don’t blame you for the decision,” Sarina replies, earning a surprised glance from Chase. He was ready for her to be angry about what happened. “You don’t know if you don’t try. We could’ve gotten some more cautions, and stole a top-five after the early bad luck. I’m not mad. You know what you’re doing on the box, and you do a great job. Just keep it up.”

“Keep up what you’re doing behind the wheel as you’re amazing…” She simply smiles in return, as it felt good to already have a nice relationship together.

“That’s the most speed that we’ve had all season long, Dave. We just got to keep that rolling into Texas in a couple weeks.” Dave could only glance between the pair at the mere reminder of the off-week, remembering yesterday’s conversation.

“Make sure you both take care of each other. I’ll see you this week…” He walks away from them, as Chase is still glancing at Sarina.

“Now are you going to tell me how you truly feel?” He asks and it was now her turn to be surprised.

“I was completely honest about my feelings about the call,” she answers. “I am guessing that you were frustrated about his decision.” He nods his head, easily. “Sure, tires are everything and we knew that we’d lose track position. We didn’t believe we lost as much as we did, but I am not mad because I wasn’t mad when he tried due to knowing the risk, and ready for the reward if possible.”

“That’s a very respectful, grown-up approach…” She then gives him a playful punch. “I’m serious! Normally you’d be stomping your feet at this point.” She just rolls her eyes in response.

“Just promise me that you’ll actually do something smart tomorrow…” He then looks over surprised. However, he instantly shifts conversation away in hearing his phone go off in his pocket. He pulls it out, reading the message. “Do I want to know?”

“Laiken said that there was a note sent to her office, stating that she should pass along to me that I need to be careful about my decisions in the coming weeks, as they’ll affect everybody.” He then lets out a sigh, looking over at her. “Do you think he figured out what we’re doing?”

“There was no way as we haven’t told anyone publically, and we both know that we can trust Dr. Grayson with everything. She didn’t reveal that I was pregnant despite her career being on the line with the rules, so why would she reveal this?” Chase had to agree with Sarina’s assessment as he looked back at the message. “Maybe it has to deal with the charges against….” Sarina glances down immediately, taking a deep breath.

“There’s no way that I am changing my mind and dropping those charges.” He then wraps his arm around her, pulling her close. “I know what you went through, and I want to make sure that I do whatever it takes to keep you safe so you don’t go through that again. There’s no way that he gets away with this.”

“Then why does this feel like de ja vu?” Chase lets out a sigh, having the exact thought as he remembered a similar text message from Alison.

“He was the mastermind behind Alison’s tricks and giggles, recall. He knows what she did because he helped her do everything. I bet he’s going to play right that book in hopes that he throws me off my game. That’s not happening this time.” It was now Chase’s turn to take the difficult deep breath, still having his regrets about some of the events with Alison at times. “We’re going to be okay, Sarina. Nobody is going to hurt us, or tear us apart…”

Sunday, March 17 – Auto Club Speedway

Sarina glances over as she watches Chase pull on his t-shirt, smiling immediately as she recognized it.

“So I go ahead and ask Daniel for one of his Amigo shirts, and then you steal it?” She questions, as she was still hailing Daniel as a hero for tackling Michael McDowell a couple weeks ago. Based on Michael’s actions over the past couple of years, it was something that was a long-time coming.

“It fits me better, anyways,” he answers, giving her a butt wiggle in return. She then grabs the edge of the shirt, pulling him close to her.

“Have I told you lately how much I enjoy the color grey on you?” He shakes his head no, but remembered the constant banquet compliments. “Have I told you lately how much I love when you wear these jeans, because they showcase every single curve…” She then wraps her arms around him, placing both hands on his ass. “They certainly leave nothing to hide, and I have to admire that fact because boy, let me tell you, you are fine specimen.”

“The same could be said for this beauty right before my eyes…” He then leans in, and lightly kisses her lips. “You didn’t have to stay today.”

“I know, but I knew that you didn’t want to spend last night alone. Frankly, I didn’t want to spend last night without you.” He then easily wraps both arms around her, holding her against him. “It’s getting easier, but I need you…”

“I know, and I’m here for every single moment that you need me.” He then looks into her eyes. “Trust me when I say this – I will do whatever you need because I love you. I made the promise to take care of you, and vowed to protect you. I don’t break my promises.”

“I know…” She then slowly stands up off the bed. “I also know that you’ll do whatever it takes for me and Abigail and our family – you’ve proven that so many times over, Chase. You don’t need to do something to prove that to me.”

“Are you referring to tomorrow?” She slowly nods her head, as he sits down beside her. “I thought you were fully on-board with me getting it done.”

“I fully agree with your sentiment and reasons, and understand that, and like I told you – I fully support any decision that you make, as you would for me. I just don’t want you to feel obligated to do something.” He knew it was nothing like that when he made the decision.

“I’m not doing it out of obligation, but rather love and caring for you. Aren’t those all the right reasons?” She nods her head. “And how is it different then you doing this for me and us?”

“I know it’s not, Chase, but yet I just haven’t fully got on-board with it. Do you realize that you can’t go back on that?” He nods his head, having read everything about it. “What if something happens to me? What if the unthin-”

“That’s not going to happ-”

“Trust me, I damn well agree with you, but please play the hypothetical game for a minute. Accidents unfortunately happen every day, right?” He then lets out a sigh, but he knew that she was right, given the dangerous life that they both lead. “If something were to happen for whatever reason, you would be stripping your ability to also have kids with someone else. On the other side, I cannot carry a baby full-term due to it being too risky so it’s not like I stripping anybody’s abili-”

“You’re stripping your own ability, and you never know what the future could hold. There’s break throughs in medicine every day as they’re always developing new methods. What if they come up with a way to do uterus reconstruction surgery successfully?” She then glances down, having not let that thought cross her mind. She honestly didn’t want to play the game of false hopes for the future as having a finalization allowed her to come to grips fully with the decision. “If we’re going to play the hypothetical game, then maybe we both shouldn’t do this.”

“And what if I get pregnant again? I know we’ve talked about better birth control methods – whether different brand of condoms and pills, but what if I get pregnant again?” He knew there was only one way to handle that – just like they did here.

“We’ll go through with every single step necessary to ensure you can’t get pregnant without the surgery, but if it happens, we’ll handle it – just like we did with Abigail. We’ll handle everything that comes with it, together, side-by-side, no matter what. We’ve gotten to this point. I’m pretty sure we can face whatever else the world has for us and succeed.” She then glances over with a small smile on her face.

“Have I told you how much you mean to me lately?” He nods his head, as he wipes her hair out of her face.

“Every day, but you can continue to tell me because you mean just as much as to me.” He then leans in, and lightly kisses her lips. “I love you, forever and always.”

“I love you, too, and for the reasons stated, we’ll just go through with the egg retrieval, keeping all options open.” He nods his head, approving her suggestion.

Starting deep in the field, there was some speed in the No. 9 NAPA Chevrolet as Chase was able to work his way into the top-15 through the opening stage. He then continued to move forward in the middle of the race, running just outside of the top-10.

With a couple back-to-back cautions, Alan decided that they might as well try something since the speed wasn’t there to continue moving forward as they would’ve hoped. As a result, he left Chase out on-track, allowing him to restart up in the fifth position.

The restart would see a lot of close battles with everybody racing three-wide, trying their hardest for any position necessary. Sarina felt herself biting nails at times on the pit box, including almost jumping out of skin when he and Ryan got close together, making slight contact down the frontstretch. Thankfully, both of them were able to keep it straight and going without any damage.

“Damn, that was close,” Eddie commented afterwards in which Sarina had to agree.

“Hurt my rears playing defense trying to run with those guys,” Chase replies, not even referencing the contact with Ryan in the process.

“10-4 just hold on and do the best that you can,” Alan tells him, with a sigh of his own.

“Oh lawdy, Ryan isn’t happy….” Sarina comments, earning a glance from Jordan in the process. “Lindsay just texted me that he blasted Chase on his radio, and frankly I can’t blame him. Ryan basically said, ‘How about he stops trying to fucking side draft so hard? He just doored me,’ and referenced being the second time this year.”

“I guess that means his best man privileges for the wedding are revoked,” Jordan replies and Sarina couldn’t help but chuckle.

However, she admittedly had to agree with Chase. He knew he was at a disadvantage on the older tires – hence his lecture to her about the call yesterday, and he knew the risks of side-drafting. He also knew when he was pushing his equipment too hard, as well. So why was he being an ass here?

Ultimately, he would fade back to where he was running before, crossing the finish line with an 11th-place finish.

“Are you going to say anything to Ryan about the contact?” Sarina wonders post-race and Chase shakes his head no as he gets changed. He had totally let it go until hearing the reminder.

“He knows I didn’t do it on purpose,” Chase answers. “He also knows that we’ve been struggling to find what he has, and pushing our stuff to its limit. I bet by tomorrow he will have forgotten about it.”

Sarina could only hope that was the case as she didn’t need a riff between them, not wanting to see how that’d affect things with Lindsay and her. She wasn’t ready to lose that friendship, again.

Tuesday, March 19 – College Football Hall of Fame – Atlanta, Georgia

“Are you okay?” Chase questions as he glances in the mirror, giving himself another look over.

“Yeah,” she answers as she walks behind up him, fixing the collar on his jacket.

“You don’t have to come tonight….” She then lets out a sigh, as she knew what he was referencing already.

As planned, she went through the egg retrieval process on Monday. Everything went smoothly with Dr. Grayson able to retrieve three viable eggs that they could use in the future. She also couldn’t complain about the days following, either. While she was a little sore, it wasn’t anything above what she could handle. That was why she had made the choice to go with him tonight.

“I want to be there to support you,” she comments as he spins around to face her. “It’s pretty amazing to see you being honored by the boy scouts for your achievements, and I agree with every sentiment of the Professional Athlete Award. I mean, you showcase your great character and personality by always having a positive attitude, being there for the fans, and taking care of everybody. I’m proud of you.”

“I just don’t want you to push yourself too hard…” She then takes his hands with her own.

“Chase, I’m fine, I can handle this. Let me be there for you, please…” He lets out a sigh, nodding his head accepting. Besides, there was no way that he’d change her mind.

“Just promise me you’ll tell me if you get too sore or something….”

They both then headed out, making the trip up to the College Hall of Fame. They had to admit that everything was nice and smooth going with the ceremony, with Sarina even absolutely adored at how cute some of the younger scouts were all dressed up in their uniforms. They were glad to see Chase’s acceptance of the award go smoothly, along with the couple of photos that followed.

They even hung around with some of the boy scouts afterwards, taking a couple photos for the ones who were racing fans and wanted an image. It was nice to have a quiet night out together without much going on after everything they’d been through lately.


The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 211: What the heck?!?

Friday, March 15 – Auto Club Speedway

Sarina stands on pit road, arms crossed, watching as the first round of qualifying begins. She was intrigued to see how things would play out, considering just a couple weeks earlier in Las Vegas with times not counting and more.

She watches Chase roll off, set to make his first lap of the session. He would take the initial green flag, carrying what the tracker deemed a good amount of speed. Though through turns one and two, she watched as he took the high line looking for momentum, straddling the seams. It didn’t pan out, as he caught one with the left rear tire, causing the car to get loose and go around.

“We’re okay…” She lets out, watching on the big screen as he kept it off both the outside and inside wall in the process. That could’ve turned ugly in a quick second.

“Bring it in,” Alan immediately instructs on the radio. “We’ll change the tires, and roll again. Is it really loose?”

“Nah, just caught the seam,” Chase replies, which Sarina had figured anyway watching. However, she was intrigued by Alan’s decision to change tires. Normally once you started a qualifying session, you were not allowed to change tires – and had to start the race with what you qualified on. The only way the sanctioning body allowed you to change was if you had a flat, and if you changed it post-qualifying you would start from the tail of the field.

“Are we really allowed to change tires?” She asks Jordan, as he was the only crew member not busy doing something at the moment. He gives her a quick nod of approval. “But there are no obvious fla-”

“He probably flat spotted them though,” Jordan comments, which Sarina was pretty sure would be the case. However, that wouldn’t normally constitute getting approval, meaning they’d change and start last Sunday no matter where they qualified – or she believed. “We haven’t made a timed lap yet. If you have something happen and as long as you haven’t made a lap yet, you are allowed to change your tires – but will have to start on the tires you change to. It just means that we’re down one set for practice tomorrow if this set truly is flat-spotted and Alan tosses it.”

“It seems that I am learning something new every day when it comes to the rulebook…..”

She watches as the No. 9 team quickly gets the tires changed, sending Chase back out to lay down a lap in the first round. This time, he was able to escape all the seams and laid down the top-10 time. She watched his strategy carry over to the second round, getting the draft he needed to lay down the eighth quickest time and move onto the final round.

Once the green flag was dropped on the session starting the clock, she watched as Chase rolled down pit road with the rest of the field, everybody sitting down near the end together. She then lets out a long sigh, knowing the game of chicken was about to begin. Here they went down the same road they played at Fontana.

“How many minutes is this round?” She asks, not even bothering to take her eyes off of the No. 9 car down pit road.

“5, and there’s still 3 more remaining,” Jordan informs her, watching her eyes to see where they were still watching. “He won’t probably move for another couple. You have to leave pit road with at least 55 to 75 seconds remaining to get back to the start-finish line.” She then lets out a long sigh, already growing impatient.

“I don’t get why someone doesn’t go lay down a lap, and then get themselves back in line. Or even if they don’t get back in line, it’s probably going to be worth something as they aren’t all going to get there in time with that clock game. Didn’t we learn that already this year?” Jordan nods his head, as he glances over at Alan.

“Josh actually suggested something similar along those lines to Alan, but they didn’t want to risk being in the right position to lay down the lap they wanted of record.”

Sarina could only shake her head as she watched the entire field of 12 cars not make it back to the line.

“Told you!!” She lets out as Jordan just shakes his head in disgust. “This is an utter embarrassment for NASCAR. I mean, seriously?”

“Would that be why Scott Miller just stated they’re going to look into changing it before Texas?” He questions and she nods her head, as she knew nobody would be happy with how that resulted out.

As a result of nobody laying down a lap in the final round, NASCAR went back to the speeds of the second round to set the starting grid. This would set Chase to start Sunday’s race from the eighth position.

“What was the communication like when you guys realized that you were not going to make it back?” Chase is asked post-qualifying. “What were you hearing?”

“Well, I don’t know,” Chase says, almost shaking his head in the process. “Obviously nobody wants to be the first guy so it’s unfortunate. I don’t know what the fix is. I feel like it’s entertaining with us going out there and drafting and trying to set-up that gap to do it right. It’s just tough because nobody wants to be the first one, and obviously you’re not going to go if you’re going to be first.”

Saturday, March 16 – Auto Club Speedway

Chase climbs out of the car, walking over to where Alan was standing by the pit stand. He glances up, actually surprised to see that they were ranked back in 22nd for the first practice of that day. He knew they weren’t quite where they wanted to be, but that was off where he would’ve placed them.

“Are you confident with your pit road approach, and the lights?” Alan questions without even looking over, referring to how they started the practice with pit road practice.

“Absolutely,” he answers, pleased with each of his three approaches. “I just wish that I wasn’t as tight.” Alan nods his head in agreement, finally looking over at him.

“Trust me – I wish it wasn’t the case either, and I don’t get how you are still tight as you say you are despite the adjustments.” The crew chief then glances down at his notes. “I almost feel like I’m playing with the wrong adjustments, if that makes sense.”

“Rather than trackbar, maybe look at tire pressures….” Alan smiles, glad that his driver understood where he was coming from. “I’ve got decent grip, but I bounce around a lot. Just like I told you, I’m fine in 1 and 2, but 3 and 4 there’s a bump kind of on the way to the bottom prior to getting to the white line. I hit that, and it just upsets the handling.”

“I’ll get Josh to look into our travel and height, and see if maybe the splitter is catching it or something then.” Chase then glances over the data from the practice session. “Don’t you have somewhere to be?”

“I’ve got a couple minutes before I have to be there.” He then lets out a sigh, knowing that a Q&A was scheduled. He appreciated doing it for the fans, in knowing that it was for a group who paid extra with the money going to his charity. However, he would’ve preferred it to be scheduled at a different time.

“Oh, and when is Ryan and Lindsay’s wedding?” Chase then looks up from the Ipad. “Yeah, I saw the pair of them walking by as he was on his way to his hauler. I mean, I know that you and Sarina are in love and all cuteness, but they’re probably showing it more than anybody else. I know they’re engaged, so I assume the wedding is a matter of time.” Chase was actually surprised to hear how open Ryan was being about it, knowing he was normally shy on that aspect. It was nice to see his best friend happy, though.

“Sarina said that Lindsay told her that they were going to take their time planning, and enjoy the first steps of being parents. I can’t argue with them on that.” Alan smiles, knowing how much Chase loved spending time with Abigail. He could already picture her attending every single meeting with them, hopeful that the guy’s didn’t get distracted by her cuteness.

“Well when you see Ryan, you can let him know that everybody is seeing their PDA and feeling the love there.”

Chase stands before the crowd, answering the questions as they were being given to him from the host. From his understanding, they were supposed to start off with some pre-planned questions, before the microphone was passed around the room.

Everything went smoothly, with questions being asked about what he feels the team needs to do better, to his chances this weekend, and a couple off-track easy questions. He even appreciated the question from a fan asking how Abigail was doing, keeping details to a minimum.

“So I was wondering if Ryan has asked you to be his best man yet,” a fan then states, earning an immediate chuckle from Chase. It seemed everybody was catching onto Ryan and Lindsay, as it was odd hearing that right after Alan’s comments. He knew the next time they were together, he was going to rib Ryan a bunch given the teasing comments he used to offer.

“He hasn’t asked me quite yet,” Chase replies. “He was my best man for my wedding, so we’ll see what he does. But I am happy for him and Lindsay as they’re happy together, and she treats him right.”

“So what if he asks Darrell instead?” The host asks, which didn’t catch Chase off-guard. He knew of the friendship Ryan and Darrell shared.

“I’d understand. I mean, they’re best of friends, going to Disney and Hawaii together without me.” The comment earns a couple chuckles from the crowd as they remember the Daytona jokes.

“If he does ask, you could always just send a straight ‘no’ as he says that’s usual for you.” Chase lets out a sigh, remembering that comment as well. However, he also had his reasons then, which he knew Ryan understood with Sarina’s pregnancy and Abigail.

“We’ll have to see….”

While Chase had to admit there was happiness in watching Sarina qualify fifth, he could only wish to share that same glory with her. The second practice on Saturday hadn’t gone much better than first, with them ending the session ranked 22nd quickest once again.

“Are we tight anymore?” Alan questions, as he walks over with a glance at his driver.

“Nope, it’s finally free,” Chase answers as Alan looks over his notes. “Really, it isn’t all that bad. I can handle how free it is, and I feel that I am being smooth. Maybe we’re just not catching the runs to get the speed, I don’t know.” Alan places a hand on his shoulder.

“We’ll figure it out, okay?” Chase nods his head, having not lost that belief in the team, as he watches the crew chief walk away.

He then reaches up, snatching his phone off of the pit box, figuring he’d catch up on messages before going to watch the Xfinity race that afternoon. He was quickly scrolling through, before stopping and freezing when he saw a message from Brittany. Rather than typing a reply, he immediately hits the call button for her.

“Hell-” She starts on the other end.

“Tell me that my daughter is okay, Brittany,” Chase spits out without a drop of hesitation in his voice. He had read the message twice, but still wanted to hear it from her voice.

“Abigail is perfectly fine, Chase. Damien didn’t touch her, or come near her.” Chase takes a calming deep breath, as he glances down thinking it over. “Chase, talk to me….”

“I just needed to hear you say that. I get that you understand why.” It was obvious his worries were on high alert given the past couple of weeks with Sarina and Laiken, combined with the history of events.

“Absolutely. I almost hated texting that to you instead of saying it, but I didn’t want to interr-”

“When it comes to my daughter and her safety, you can interrupt practice any damn time, got it? Alan will understand. The guys will understand. If they don’t, I don’t care.” He then takes a deep breath, trying to calm himself down as he knew anger now wouldn’t help anyone. “Tell me what happened…”

“Someone from the hospital security staff came up to the floor and to the room where Cindy and I were. They mentioned that they recognized Damien on cameras, and sent someone to go get him. There was nobody close, though, and he got away without being caught. He simply came to the hospital, stood by outside, walked inside with a quick walk around on the main floor, before leaving. They then told me they’d keep a security guard on our floor near the ICU to make sure that nothing happened if he returned.” Chase wanted to feel comforted in hearing the details, however it only caused his anxiety over the situation to increase. He always believed there was nothing to worry about with Abigail being in the hospital. However, this began to swirl theories for him.

“Brittany, promise me that you’re not going to leave my daughter alone a single moment that we’re away. Also, promise me that you’ll always be with Sarina when she comes home early, please.” He knew it was a big commitment to ask with Brittany having her own life, however it was the only way that he can be assured peace of mind. She had stopped Alison before, so she was capable of handling Damien. He wanted to trust the guard was, too, but wasn’t quite convinced with history on his side.

“Trust me – I wouldn’t think of chancing it given the latest events with Laiken and today here. You have my word, Chase. I’ll do this for however long you need me to, until he is caught.” Chase felt confidence in hearing the promise in her voice, and hoped she was right about Damien’s future.

“Alison may have said that Carter was the biggest threat, as he was connected to everything and found every hole that she managed to get into. However, Damien’s actions make me believe he was the security intel to get through those holes for them both. He’s also playing the game like she played it before – get close enough to cause concern and worry, without doing anything. He’s proving that he can get the necessary access to keep us on our toes.” He takes a deep breath, trying to not reflect back to how Alison did the exact same thing before dropping her big bombshell.

“But Chase, what is his end game? What is he planning to do?” Chase lets out a sigh, wishing he knew that answer. It just didn’t add up with Alison being locked away, and Carter on bail having laid his bed.

“I don’t know, Brittany. I guess that’s for us to figure out.”

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 203: Boyd Gaming 300

Friday, March 1 – Las Vegas Motor Speedway – 3 weeks, 6 days old

Sarina stands on pit road alongside Josh and Jordan, arms crossed. She had on eye on where the group of cars sat on pit road, along with another on the clock.

She knew the game. She knew what they were waiting for.

She watches the first car pull off, followed by the others in toe, including Hendrick Motorsports teammates Alex Bowman and Chase Elliott in toe. It almost seemed perfect in how they timed it, as she knew with the timing on the clock and how long a lap took around the track, they’d have enough time. Being at the end of the train, it should mean they’d get the biggest draft – right?

The theory played out to be true, as they watched the group take the green flag, followed by the lap of record. She let up a fist pump in watching both the 88 and 9 climb to the top of the speed chart as they crossed under the start-finish line. It wasn’t the pole that she wanted, but there’s no way that she could complain about starting second, and to Alex Bowman at that.

“NASCAR says the lap didn’t count,” Alan informs the team, causing a series of jaw drops. “They said we didn’t make it in time.”

“Are you kidding me?” Sarina immediately questions as Josh and Jordan throw up their arms in confusion. “Are you fucking kidding me? For the third week in a row, we’re getting fucked by NASCAR?”

“That’s what it sounds like,” Josh comments, shaking his head. “We’re going to start 12th since neither Alex or our lap counted.”

“The flag wasn’t out ye-”

“It goes by the cloc-”

“The clock wasn’t at 0 when Chase crossed!” Josh looks over, nodding his head, as he had been watching the same timer that she was.

“I don’t know what to say, except they say their clock says we failed. What do you want me to do?” She just shakes her head in disgust with a sigh.

She heads over with Jordan to where the drivers were supposed to do interviews following the session, arms crossed in pure frustration.

“What are your thoughts on the qualifying session?” She hears the reporter ask, and almost laughed. She didn’t know if they really wanted to hear his thoughts considering the frustration already with NASCAR for the past two weeks.

“I’m not exactly sure where the right place to be is,” Chase comments. “Obviously, Kevin did a great job at timing it up and being in the right spot. Try to replicate that I guess.” She was actually surprised by how calm he comments were in relation to the session, but she also knew he wasn’t giving him enough credit. If NASCAR would’ve properly followed rules and gave them a clock to go off of, they wouldn’t been in a much different situation.

“Do you enjoy this type of thing?” She crosses her arms, actually intrigued by his answer. She had been enjoying his way of answering various questions the past several weeks.

“I thought it was actually pretty entertaining. I enjoyed it. We might look silly sitting down there waiting until the last second, but it’s pretty fun kind of playing chicken with everybody and seeing who is going to go and who is not and all the decisions you are going to make.” Her jaw drops as she glances over at Jordan, who just shrugs his shoulders. “So yeah, whatever, I enjoyed it. it’s the rules and we’ve got ‘em so might as well like them.”

“Now that’s more like I was expecting,” she comments, noticing the dig towards the rules at the end. She smiles as he walks over, wrapping both arms around her. “You should’ve started second by timing and scoring.”

“What else is new?” He questions, before giving her a kiss. “We can work with 12th. It is what it is. The clock is never accurate because they don’t share it.”

“Well they should….” He then smiles as he looks into her eyes.

“I’m shocked how you’re more angry about this than I am.”

“TV said we did, the flag said we did, their timer said we did, all of it said we did,” they hear Alex answer in regards to supposedly having the pole. “So it’s their sandbox and we play in it. it’s wrong. They don’t give us an official clock to look at because the official clock that they gave us, our lap counted.”

“Now that’s an interview that I can applaud,” Sarina comments with a smile. “Can I hug Alex right now? Better yet, can I please take him to dinner?”

“Hey – what about me?” Chase asks, actually a little offended as she looks over at him. “I thought I was a better date than him.”

“I don’t know about that sometimes, sweetheart…” Chase looks even more shocked as the words slip from her mouth. “But I also know that I couldn’t live without you.”

“That goes both ways.” He then leans in, giving her another kiss, before they walk off pit road together. “Maybe we can buy Alex an ice cream together.”

Saturday, March 2 – Las Vegas Motor Speedway – 1 month old

Chase walks into the bedsroom, lying down beside Sarina as he looks over with a smile. He wasn’t surprised to see the video of Abigail loaded once again on the Ipad, actually glad that his mom was enjoying her time with her.

“I can’t believe that she’s a month already,” Chase comments as he looks in amazement, catching Sarina’s attention. She could only nod her head in agreement.

“It’s almost going by too quickly,” Sarina adds as Chase looks over at her.

“That just means that we have to make sure to not take a single moment for granted. I want to spend every minute that I can with her when we get home.” Sarina glances over her phone.

“And yet it was supposed to me that we were worried about missing our daughter and craving time with her. I mean, don’t get me wrong as I am certainly craving for that time right now – but you may be a little over that edge.” He then lets out a sigh as he looks back over at the screen.

“I can’t help it. she’s adorable, and she’s still so small. I want to do whatever I can for her, and I don’t want to just watch time past by and not cherish those moments. She’s doing an incredible job right now. The doctors mentioned that she may be able to come off the breathing tube next week and be tried on food.” Sarina remembered that being mentioned before they left.

“Are you still okay with my decision in regards to not breast feeding?” He nods his head, accepting.

“I told you that I fully supported whatever you decided, and felt that was best. Truthfully, with the weekends we’re going to spend apart and her spending some of those with me instead of you, it would be hard to have enough breast milk on standby. So I understand your reasoning, and fully support you.” She then smiles back in response, as it certainly made the tough moments easier.

“Is it still raining outside?” He shakes his head no, as he glances out the window.

“Alan texted me that the track should be dry in about 20 minutes for Cup practice.” She nods her head, accepting. “Hey, at least you’re going to start on the front row…”

“I almost wanted to be able to run qualifying, though, so I could’ve seen where we stacked up.” She then glances back at her phone. “So I wanted to talk to you about something…”

“You know that I told you that I am willing to hear you out and be here for you no matter what.” She nods her head, accepting, and appreciated that. However, she also knew this wasn’t probably the direction that he thought she’d be taking.

“We’ve talked about the scar from the gunshot wound and the fact that it doesn’t have the best memories associated with it for either of us. I mean, there’s days that I see it in the mirror and I almost feel that fear of watching her glance towards me gun in hand.” Chase slowly takes a deep breath, trying to erase the thoughts that immediately came to mind with that memory. “I’ve also wanted to get a tattoo for awhile, but never got around to doing it. I wanted to make sure that it was something special and meaningful since I’d carry it with me forever. I was thinking of rather than having to look at the scar each time I look in the mirror, what if I turned that into a positive?”

“Like getting a tattoo over the scar?” She nods her head, accepting.

“With your help and tender love, combined with the strength my father taught me, and the lessons learned through everything, we’ve been able to move forward. You mentioned how the sight of a butterfly can mean someone stopping to visit you. I also see it as a symbolism of spreading my wings, and being able to fly above whatever has been shoved my way – bullet included.” She then glances back at her phone, bringing back up the image of the butterfly. It was the same butterfly that Chase had gotten done up to go by their names on their racecars, featuring the letters C and V for Casey and Victor. “I was thinking of doing our butterfly on my shoulder. It’d be a way to remind myself that I overcame everything that happened, bullet included, and was able to find my way. It’d also be a way to hold my father and our baby close to me forever.”

“I think that’s a great idea, actually.” She then looks over surprised, actually expecting him to say more than that. “I think its therapeutic as much as meaningful, and it’d be a great thing for you to have.”

“So you’re not arguing against it?” He shakes his head no.

“What made you think I would?” She then sighs as she glances back at the photo.

“Just the fact that I’m trying to cover it up and not think about it….” He then places his hand on hers.

“Actually, I see you doing the opposite as you’re facing it, and trying to make it something better than it is. I think it’s a great idea for not only you, but for both of us.” She was now even more surprised as she’d never thought she’d hear those words from him.

“So you’d seriously do it with me?” He nods his head. “Do you realize it’s permanent? There’s no way to go back on this.”

“I know, but you are right – it’s a great way to carry their memories and them with us forever.” He then glances at the photo on her phone. “I can talk to Ryan and see where he got his done. That may be a good place to start.”

“I can’t believe how onboard you are with this, but I love it, and I love you.” She then leans in, kissing his lips.

“I love you too, forever and always.” He then gives her hand a squeeze, feeling pride in seeing the strength that she continued to show over this weekend.

Chase walks over to Alan, as they both just glance at each other in pure amazement. They knew the new package would be a little crazy, but they were both caught off-guard by just how action-packed the final practice was.

“Are we all the way off the splitter now?” Alan questions, referencing the first session where Chase came in just after five laps with an inability to control it.

“Oh yeah, that is dealt with,” Chase answers as he takes a sip of his water. “The third run was absolutely terrible so please do not go anywhere back near that. I could barely hang onto it.” Alan nods his head, accepting, having already marked that down in his notes.

“A loose condition just made worse by the wind. That’s why I went back on the adjustment for the last run.” Chase knew that, and felt it with the handling of the car.

“It’s still slightly free, but that could be the wind still. I mean, I could work with it so I think we’re headed in the right direction. But if you could fix that a little more, we’d be perfect.” Alan makes a note, also jotting down that they were 13th quickest overall.

“You’re much happier than you were last week so I’ll take that as progress, too.” Chase lets out a sigh. “And I meant before everything that happened, too. I wasn’t trying to bring up that.”

“I know, I just can’t help but think about that. It still makes me angry and disgusted to think that he put his hands all over her, and made her…” He then swallows the lump in his throat as Alan sets down the clipboard.

“Has she talked to you more about it?” Chase shakes his head no as he glances over at the crew chief.

“She hasn’t even brought it up at all this weekend, just solely focused on her racing and doing what she can. I mean, I think that’s all she has focused on – except for a small discussion this morning about getting the butterfly tattooed over the scar. But other than that, she hasn’t talked about what happened, or Abigail – just focused on racing.” Alan immediately found himself brought back to a familiar feeling from the previous season, remembering a certain instance in the hauler where Chase didn’t want to leave due to reminders of what happened.

“Do you think she’s just using this as a distraction so she doesn’t have to think about missing Abigail or what happened?” Chase shrugs his shoulders, as he honestly tried to figure that out the day before. “You’ve done it yourself, so that’s why I ask. I get how it makes it easier because you’re not facing or dealing with the pain. However, burying it is never the answer, and you know that. This weekend may be the right time, but you should get her to talk to you about it. Jordan even mentioned that she was a little skittish at his touch again on Friday so it’s still affecting her.” Chase looks over, a little nervous by the crew chief’s comment.

“Did you say anything to Jordan?” Alan knew that Chase and Sarina wanted to keep the sexual assault part of the attack hidden, and respected those wishes fully.

“I just told him that she’s dealing with a bit of uncomfortably due to what happened. Jordan didn’t press the issue, so I didn’t divulge any details. For what it’s worth, though, because she spends so much time with him and he is in charge of looking out for her during the race, I think he should kno-”

“Alan, please…” Alan takes a deep breath, not wanting to argue about it as he did want the lines of communication open in knowing that there were times that Chase needed someone to talk to.

“I’m just suggesting, that’s all. I won’t say a word if you don’t let me, okay?” Chase nods his head, accepting and thankful for the crew chief’s trust. However, he also had to admit that Alan was partially right about his suggestion.

Sarina walks over to Dave Elenz after the race, giving him a fist pump as the smile could seen on her face from a mile away.

After starting the race in second, she fell back through the beginning to just inside the top-10. She’d remain there through the middle of the race, before being able to work her way back into the top-five in the second half. Through the late race restarts, combined with Dave continuing to make adjustments on the car, they got the No. 9 Switch Camaro handling better. She’d make some moves in the late stages, scoring a third-place finish behind Kyle Busch and John Hunter Nemechek.

“I almost wanted one more restart,” Dave comments. “Kyle was fighting the handling pretty good there at the end, as you could see when Christopher caught him initially. I think if you would’ve been able to get a run there, you may have been able to beat him.”

“He did look a little sideways a couple times there,” Sarina notes and Dave nods his head in agreement. He was actually surprised that the wreck which happened didn’t occur sooner. “To be honest, I was surprised at some of the moves that Tyler made at the end, too.”

“I think a lot of them started driving over their heads – where you kept it calm, and look where you ended up. You did a great job. I’m proud of you. Thank you for sticking with me all weekend.” She then glances over at him as she leans back against the car.

“Forget sticking with all you weekend as I am sticking with you all year if you keep giving me cars like these. I mean, it’s like I talked about yesterday – this team is just right to me, and I am already getting that good chemistry vibe off of you. You understand what I need, and am working the right direction each time. I feel great about our chances going to Phoenix, Auto Club, and beyond now. I think we can give these guys something to talk about.” He smiles back in return, enjoying the confidence she was showing.

“Just keep doing what you’re doing, and we’ll be winning races.”

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 201: Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500

Saturday, February 23 – Atlanta Motor Speedway – 2 weeks, 6 days old

“Are you okay?” Chase asks, as he wraps an arm around her and pulls her close. She nods her head, easily, taking a deep breath.

Once the race was over, she followed through in her promise of letting Dr. Grayson check her out. Thankfully, there was no cause for concern as everything was fine. With that out of the way, Chase took her back to the motorcoach so she could change out of her firesuit into something comfortable; she had elected to go with a pair of jeans, followed by one of his t-shirts.

“I love you,” he tells her, kissing her forehead. “It’s going to get easier.” She once again simply nods her head. “And you know, anytime you want to talk about anything, just let me know. I’m here for you. I love you, I care about you, and I want to help you. You can tell me anything that you’re feeling.”

“It’s just a general mix of shock, but yet disgust,” she replies back. “How could I let him do that to me?” He then wipes her hair out of her face.

“You didn’t let him, though. You fought as hard as you could, and you did what you could. You didn’t let him just simply hurt you, Sarina. It’s okay…” She tries to keep telling herself those words, remembering the things that she tried to do, but yet kept imagining what happened over.

“I just hate the feeling. I just want it to go away.” He takes a deep breath, remembering having those exact thoughts himself.

“It’ll get easier with time as you move forward.” She then looks into his brown eyes, finally.

“Does it ever go away entirely?” He shakes his head no, slowly, knowing that all too well himself. “I wish it would.”

“So do I. but you just have to remember what we’ve talked about. You fought your hardest, and you’re strong, and you can move forward. Also remember like I’ve told you, I’m not going to change how I think about you, or us together. I also will help you with whatever you need moving forward…” She knew that, feeling the love in being in his arms. It’s why she didn’t want to leave his arms.

“Thank you…” He then glances at his phone, seeing the message from Morgan. He quickly sends her back one back in return, before looking at Sarina.

“I have an appearance tonight for NAPA. I can drop you off at the hospital so you can see Abigail, or you can come with me.” She shakes her head no immediately.

“I just can’t do that right now, and I don’t know how to face Cindy and Brittany with this on my mind.” Chase understood, once again knowing from experience in how he tried to hide it all. However, he also knew he couldn’t skip the appearance.

“I know you don’t want to be alone, either….” They both knew the nerves and fears associated with the possibility of something happening, again. “Alan and Josh are in the hauler lounge going over stuff from practice still. Do you want to go stay with them?” It wasn’t ideally where she wanted to be – as she just wanted to be in his arms, but she also trusted the pair in knowing how they helped Chase, and the fact Alan knew what was going on.

It was a short walk from the motorcoach to the hauler lot, with Chase leading her inside. After explaining everything, Alan easily accepted, motioning to the corner of the couch.

“You can watch the truck race and curl up,” he offers, before going into the cupboard. He pulls out a blanket, tossing it at her. “That’ll help comfort you, too.”

“Thank you,” she replies quietly, wrapping it around her as she held Hootie close to her. It wasn’t the most ideal comfort, but it was better than the other options for now.

Saturday, February 23 – Northeast Georgia Medical Center – 2 weeks, 6 days old

“So was the truck race worth watching?” Chase questions as they ride the elevator up to the floor. She glances over, smile on her face.

“There’s a reason why Rowdy is the king of trucks now,” she answers,  referencing Kyle’s 52nd series leading victory. “That Cessena truck was flying…” He then glances over.

“Did you think of that one yourself?” She shakes her head no with a sly smile.

“That was Kyle, actually, but he wasn’t lying. I mean, starting 24th at the start of the second stage due to a loose wheel to leading by the checkered says everything. I also can’t hurt but giggle at Sauter’s frustration.” He then looks over intrigued. “You know that Johnny isn’t the biggest fan of Kyle dominating races?”

“His attitude explains everything. Hence why I could understand what happened in him losing his ride.” Sarina nods her head, actually having hope through the off-season that Johnny wouldn’t find a ride. However, he did, and as expected, with ThorSport Racing.

“Well after the race, he goes ahead and tells the media that on the final restart when he restarted third behind Kyle that he was trying to wreck him.” Chase looks over, surprised.

“Really? I mean, that does explain Johnny, but really?” She then loads the quote on her phone.

“Honestly, I was kind of trying to wreck him. I just couldn’t get there. I was locked on him and I was hoping he would spin out but he did a great job blocking.” Chase just shakes his head in amazement. “Like really, Chase? Who says something that stupid?”

“Johnny?” She nods her head as she puts her phone back in her pocket.

“Like, I was in total disgust watching him say those words. I honestly wanted to reach through the TV screen and punch him.”

As they expected, it was perfect therapy for them both after what happened to see their daughter that night. The good vibes were only increased by the doctor assuring them that she was big enough to come out of the incubator. That didn’t mean she could come home yet, as she had to stay and be monitored with tubes for a couple more weeks. But it did allow for the next critical step for them both.

“You go first,” Chase tells her, motioning to the chair. She then looks over at him, surprised. They’d both been waiting for this moment and yet he was moving aside so she could go first.

“Are you sure?” She questions and he nods his head. There was no doubt in his mind about this decision.

“You wanted to hold her the day she was born, and you couldn’t. Plus, you need this right now…” She then takes a deep breath, sitting down in the chair.

“Okay, I’m ready…” She then takes another careful deep breath as the nurse picks up Abigail, care of the tubes – lightly placing her in Sarina’s arms. “Am I holding her right?”

“Yes you are dear,” the nurse assures her as Sarina watches where her arms were. She then looks down, feeling every single of happiness imaginable. “It’s perfect.”

“Hey baby girl,” Sarina quietly says as she looks at the little face, followed by glancing towards the little hands. “You’re still so tiny, but yet amazing at the same time. You’re doing an amazing job, and I want you to know that you need to keep fighting…”

“She’s strong, just like her Mama,” Chase replies, kneeling down to their level after taking a couple photos on his phone. “Actually, I think she got her hair from you, too.”

“I hope she has your eyes, though.” Chase smiles, as he looks into Sarina’s.

“Yours are just as beautiful.” He then leans in, giving them each a small kiss. “She’s so precious…”

“She’s perfect, Chase. She’s more than I could have imagined…” Sarina takes a careful deep breath. “I promise you, baby girl, that for you I am going to do whatever it takes to move forward, and to keep you safe. You’re my world, and I plan to give you everything you deserve. I love you, Abigail Casey Victor Elliott.” She then leans in, giving her a kiss on the forehead. “I think Daddy should have a chance to hol-”

“No no, take your time. We’ve got all night, and the next night, and the months and years to come…”

Sunday, February 24 – Atlanta Motor Speedway – 3 weeks old

“It’s great to have you on the pit box, again,” Jordan says as he goes to wrap an arm around Sarina to give her a hug. She instantly flinches against his touch, taking a deep breath, causing him to back off right away. “Woah, are you okay?”

“Yeah, I’m fine,” she replies as she lets out a sigh. This wasn’t what she needed today. “I’m sorry about that, and I’ve missed this, too. It’s fun sitting up here with you, and the guys.” It was, as right now, they were the safety net in knowing that with them around her, she was protected. They’d do whatever it took for both her and Chase.

Despite qualifying deep in the field, Chase was able to make steady progress through the first stage, scoring a 14th-place finish. The team felt encouragement by his feedback, too, as while the No. 9 NAPA Chevrolet was still tight, it was better than it had been through practice the past two days.

“These restarts are going to be wreck city here at some point,” Chase predicts under the yellow flag in reference to the new aerodynamic package. “I just don’t know when.” Sarina had to agree it was crazy watching them go three-wide for the first 5, 10 laps after the green flag dropped – before the usual Atlanta fun took back over.

Restarting in ninth, he would drop back just outside the top-10 through the beginning laps of the second stage, ending up back along where he was before the caution.

“What line is the leader using?” Chase wonders, trying to find more speed in the car. Sarina had to admit the response would be a surprise for everybody as she watched Kyle Larson use the high line, compared the low line everybody had referenced to entering the weekend.

“Larson is up high like usual,” Eddie tells him. “He’s off two high-fiving mosquitoes off the wall.” She had to chuckle as it was a nice change of pace compared to the usual seriousness on the radio.

“Still tight here – about the same as before….” Sarina watched as Alan made a note, while Josh pointed out the nose on the video, as well as the images being sent from photographers around the track.

“10-4. We’ve got some front end damage. Could be the debris kicked up into three. That may be contributing to it.”

“I hit Bowyer on the restart..” Sarina lets out a sigh, remembering his earlier prediction about crazy restarts.

“10-4. We’ll get it fixed up here.”

The damage would hinder them throughout the run, as Chase ultimately finished the second stage in 16th. As Alan had told him, they used the yellow flag period to fix the damage on the nose, which would see them restart 20th.

Unfortunately, he unable to make up any ground once the green flag dropped, citing the adjustments once again hadn’t helped the handling condition. Thankfully, a caution for Kyle Busch blowing a tire at Lap 223 would give them the break they needed, allowing Alan to go back on the adjustments in hopefulness they fixed the handling condition.

Restarting 13th after some drivers got penalties and others fixed damage, Chase would fade back to 16th. Green flag pit stops began with the leaders hitting pit road. Alan elected to bring Chase down pit road with 50 to go, though as they came down, contact was made with Ryan Preece and BJ McLeod, causing a yellow flag.

“2 tires!” Alan makes the call immediately, knowing they needed to get in and out quickly. While they’d gone a lap down, they just needed to beat Keselowski to the line and they’d be eligible for the lucky dog. Then once they got that, they’d be able to come back in for the left side tires.

“We’re good,” Eddie reports, as they had beat Keselowski as Alan predicted they would with the call. Sarina takes a deep breath, knowing that could’ve been much worse.

“What the hell was BJ McLeod doing stopped in the middle of pit road?” Sarina questions, causing Jordan to shrug his shoulders.

“He had a flat tire according to his team communications,” Jordan informs her as she just shakes her head in continued disgust. She felt heartbroken for Ryan Preece as he had been running in the top-10 to follow up his great Daytona performance.

“That doesn’t mean you park in the middle of pit lane! Come on, Jordan!” Jordan shrugs his shoulders, knowing that no matter what he said it wouldn’t get them anywhere.

“NASCAR says the lucky dog goes to the 2,” Eddie informs the team, causing an array of shocked expressions. “I’m talking to the official up here.”

“We beat him before the start-finish line,” Alan repeats, bringing up the images that showed that from the photographer. Josh, Jordan, and Sarina each took a look at the photo, nodding their head in agreement.

“I am trying my best!” Josh grabs a shot of the image himself on his phone, before getting down off of the pit box to speak to the official in their pit.

“We have a picture showing that we beat him to the line. It’s not that hard!” Sarina could only roll her eyes in seeing this happen.

“The second straight fucking week that NASCAR has screwed us!” Sarina lets out, and Jordan could only nod his head in agreement with his own disbelief.

“So we’re going to have to take the wavearound here since NASCAR won’t hear us out,” Alan informs Chase as he lets out a sigh, still shaking his head in disbelief.

“So we can’t pit correct?” Chase questions and Sarina felt sick watching.

“Nope. You’re going to restart scored sixth, about 12th car in line behind the non-wavearound cars. Hopefully we get a quick caution here so I can get you some more tires.” Sarina quietly crosses her fingers, knowing that the restart would be bananas anyway.

“Why is Martin Truex Jr. restarting fourth?” Sarina then questions, noticing the line-up as it was being set. Jordan points to the running order on the screen, which she didn’t need to see. “He was given a penalty for his crew members jumping over the wall too soon. That’s supposed to mean start tail end of the longest line, behind the wavearou-”

“NASCAR reviewed the pit stop and declared no penalty,” Jordan interrupts, causing Sarina to look at him confused. “They couldn’t confirm on video that the foot was down too early.”

“Seriously?” Jordan nods his head. “So on top of not being able to line up a field correctly for a restart all weekend at Daytona, they don’t have enough video to make consensus correct calls. Then on top of that, they also don’t listen to reasoning about lucky dogs. This is fucking joke!”

“I know….” What else was Jordan to say in response?

With no cautions coming out in the final stretch and only having two fresh tires compared to everyone else having four, Chase fell back through the course of the run, ultimately crossing the finish line in 20th.

Sunday, February 24 – Northeast Georgia Medical Center – 3 weeks old

“I just can’t believe how today played out,” Sarina comments for what seemed like the millionth time.

“I know – it’s frustrating,” Chase replies with a sigh. He then glances down in his arms. “But looking into these beautiful eyes, it makes everything not matter. At the end of the day, this is what matters – my two girls, both healthy, and with me.” Sarina glances down at her, seeing how easily she was cuddled up with Chase.

“She loves her daddy already…” Chase smiles as he looks down at her. “Chase, what are we going to do the next three weeks?” Chase takes a deep breath, shaking his head. It seemed like the part of the schedule they were both dreading right now with what was going on – the west coast swing – had come up quicker than they imagined.

“I don’t know. We’ll figure something out. We always do.”

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 182: Media Blitz

Monday, January 28 – Atlanta Motor Speedway – 28 weeks pregnant

Chase gets comfortable up in the lounge of the trailer, taking a glance over at his PR rep. After seeing how the past sessions had gone for Alan and Sarina, he almost wanted to ask – do we really have to do this?

“Are you ready?” She asks, and Chase nods his head. “Okay. I’ve told everyone beforehand that we are not discussing the situation surrounding Alison Reynolds, or what happened on the eve of the wedding. I asked for them to respect your privacy on those matters for the time being.”

“Why don’t we try respecting my privacy forever?” He questions as she lets out a sigh. “I’m sorry, but I don’t care what you, or anybody else say, I am not talking about that with them-”

“I fully understand and suppor-”

“So why not just tell them that so we can end the questions?” It only brought another sigh from her.

“Because a complete turn-off isn’t the best approach when it comes to deterring their effor-”

“It doesn’t matter. This is my life that we’re talking about here.” She then takes a careful deep breath.

“I thought you said that you were ready.” Chase knew that she was just saying that to change the topic of conversation.

“Yeah, I’m ready. Let’s get this over with….”

After a quick introduction on the teleconference call, they initially began discussion with the new paint scheme debuted by Hooters. From there, it was time for the questions to begin surfing from the media. Beginning with thoughts on the new package, to possibly carrying the momentum forward, everything seemed to go rather smoothly as he took his time answering each question.

“Last week Alan Gustafson said he’s a hundred percent confident that if they give you a car you want in a weekend that you will win the race with it,” one of the media members comments. Chase immediately gave the side-eye to his PR prep in the lounge, not wanting to get back to that conversation with Alan. “I’m wondering what does it mean to you to have a crew chief with that level of confidence in you, and how has your relationship with Alan grown in the years you’ve been together?”

Yeah, it’s definitely nice,” Chase starts off easily. “I have a lot of confidence in him, and nice to feel from his end it’s mutual.  I think that goes a long way.  But our relationship really has been pretty simple.  As I’ve told a lot of people, I kind of let his do his thing and he lets me do mine, and we really just go about our business that way.  Our friendship has grown, I think, over the past couple years.  We’re by no means best friends.  I think he would tell you the same thing.  But we work well together, and I think that we enjoy the competition aspect at a similar pace, and he and I, I feel like, view a lot of things the same way from that aspect, and when you’re working with somebody and you’re in the roles that he and I are both in, I’m not real sure that there’s a much better fit or a better way to go about it. We keep things very simple or as simple as we possibly can, and we believe in our process of how we prepare for races, and yeah, look forward to doing it some more with him this year.” Sarina could only roll her eyes at the comments, personally, knowing that the friendship went further than he referenced, as well as trying to keep things simple.

“We asked him about the wedding and he said that he was in attendance, and it went really well. What about you?” The side-eye from Chase to the PR rep continued, as she just shrugged her shoulders. What was the harm in a wedding question? They had asked Sarina about it as well.

“The wedding was more than I could’ve dreamed of, honestly. I didn’t realize how much it would touch me and influence me until I was standing there in that moment.” Chase then finally takes his eyes off his PR rep to look over at Sarina. “I remember standing at the altar, waiting for Sarina to walk down. That moment, seeing how stunning she looked, but also knowing what we’d been through together and how strong of an individual she is, and how she had grown, it took my breath away. I couldn’t find the words to say and I just wanted to hold her. Then when she said her vows to me, my heart just exploded with how sweet and caring they were. It’s amazing to see how much a person can touch you. I can’t wait to watch our family grow together.” Sarina looks back on, eyes watering a little as she blows a kiss over to him.

“And we have heard that the pregnancy is going well….” Chase takes a deep breath, respecting Sarina’s wishes in keeping things quiet on different aspects.

“So far things are going smoothly and as planned. I just get that much more anxious each day to meet my baby.” Sarina chuckles, knowing the wishes and moments that she and Chase had already discussed in relation to that.

“Obviously, your wedding night wasn’t all roses. I know we’re not supposed to talk about what happened, but can you speak to how you are feeling?” Chase could actually respect the angle that the reporter took in knowing the boundaries.

“No doubt getting shot in the shoulder is a real pain. It’s some of the worse pain that I’ve experienced. That said, having spent the month following doctor’s orders, I am feeling better as there isn’t as much as pain each day, and therapy has began smoothly. We’re starting off with small movements and working our way up, and I have no complaints so far. Obviously, everybody has seen the photos and knows that I was in the car at Atlanta today for Sarina. I want to say thanks to Dave Elenz, JR Motorsports, and NASCAR for the chance to see what it felt like. Although there was more pain than I expected, it was minimal and I don’t see any problems once we get down in Florida. I’ll be fine.” The thumbs up from across the room saw a smile form on his face as he knew that he did the job accordingly.

“Alright,” the moderator then speaks up. “That’s all the time that we have today so Chase, thank you for taking the time to speak with everybody. We look forward to seeing you in Daytona.”

“Thank you for having me,” he replies, before hanging up as the smile remains on his face.

“Was that so bad?” The PR rep asks and he lets out a sigh, shaking his head no. “As long as I stay on top of things, it’ll be fine. Obviously they’re going to ask and they will keep asking for probably the next couple of months. I’ll just make sure to keep watch as I know we want to make sure that things stay according to plan.”

“Yeah, I’m sorry about that….” Sarina quietly comments, catching the rep’s attention. “I know I was out of line for what I said.”

“Kelley and I already talked so there’s nothing that you need to apologize or say, Sarina, as I understand that she’s taken care of it. For what it’s worth, I would’ve done the same exact thing in your shoes.” She then stands up, grabbing her notebooks as she heads for the doors. “I heard that I’m flying back with you so I’ll let you get ready, but no wasting time.”

“Not a problem,” Chase replies as he watches the door close behind her. He then glances over at Sarina. “Sorry as I know you would’ve preferred the flight to be just the two of us. Rick arranged that, telling me afterwards.”

“It’s fine,” Sarina easily accepts as Chase scoots back close to her.

“And for what it’s worth, she was right by what she said. You did nothing wrong last week, so please stop holding it over your head.” He then leans in, giving her a quick kiss. “Now, I better get changed….”

“Would you like some help with that?” He looks over with a grin as he stands up.

“That may make us late, dear.” She then gets comfortable on the couch as he slowly drops the firesuit off of his shoulders.

“Okay, I see how it is. I guess I’ll just enjoy the show instead.” Chase keeps his eyes locked on hers as he slowly rolls the suit down the rest of his body, slipping his legs out of it. He then slowly rolls the undershirt up, before pulling it off, watching as she licks her lips. He then follows the same process with the underpants. “You’re such a tease.”

“You know you like it, though…” She then gets up, walking around the small table, pinning him back against the wall. “Easy now…”

“You’re right, I do like it. I like it enough that I can’t let you go.” She then presses her lips against his as she reaches down to help him with his boxers.

The pair would emerge from the trailer a couple minutes later than they should’ve been, grinning like school children as they tried to play off the reasons for being late.

“I had to pee,” Sarina quickly threw in, knowing that the excuse would be bought given that pregnancies typically bring lots of bathroom trips with them.

Monday, January 28 – Hendrick Motorsports – 28 weeks pregnant

Now dressed in the Hooters firesuit, Chase makes his way through the Hendrick Motorsports shop to the back where they were going to begin production stuff.

“Hey Chase!” Laiken lets out immediately, walking over to offer a big hug. “How are you?”

“I’m good,” he replies, easily smiling back in return. He was thankful that she had been chosen as the Miss. Hooters as she was one of the nicest of the girls that he had gotten the chance to work with. “How are you?”

“Fabulous, actually. I mean, I don’t want to brag but being the calendar cover girl and Miss. Hooters has kept me really busy, but yet fun and interesting.” He had to smile back in return, having heard of some things that they had her doing. “By the way, I am glad to see that you’re up and moving around. When I heard the news, I was in shock – but also felt bad because of how much you were looking forward to the wedding.”

“It hasn’t been too bad..” Laiken’s eyes then cut to Sarina, not surprised that she was there.

“Well, at least you had a nice tender loving nurse to take care of you.” Laiken gives her a glance over, easily smiling in return. “And you, my dear, look absolutely beautiful. I have to say that the pregnancy has almost given you this special glow to make you even more wonderful.”

“You don’t have to flatter me sweetheart,” Sarina replies, though admittedly was loving the compliments as the girls shared a hug. Like Chase, she had to agree that Laiken was one of the best to work with. She understood barriers, and had the personality of a sweetheart. “But thank you.”

“You deserve every single compliment, especially when I know keeping him out of trouble can be a hassle sometimes.”  Sarina chuckles as Chase just rolls his eyes.

“It never takes long for girls to work together to gain up on someone,” he comments as Laiken keeps her arm wrapped around Sarina’s shoulder.

“You’re the one to blame as you kept telling her that she had nothing to worry about with us girls,” Laiken comments, as Chase remembers those numerous pep talks. Thankfully, those hadn’t been necessary in the more recent appearances. “By the way, I was told to deliver you this message. Following our most recent events with Brittney and Alison, and possible mix-ups, they have assured me that they triple and double checked the ladies that are here for the photoshoot with me. I can also attest to these three ladies as we’ve done a lot of work together and they’re full professional, no games, no tricks. I also fully apol-”

“You don’t need to apologize. Everything that happened wasn’t your fault. Alison was the master of manipulation and she played the game perfectly. No matter what you would’ve done, she would’ve found a way. I’m actually glad that she thought it was an easy route so that way you and the other girls didn’t get hurt.” Laiken was flattered by his sentiments, surprised that he could easily say that in looking out for her safety in the midst of all the danger that had gone on during that time.

“Just because you’re telling me that I don’t need to apologize, it doesn’t mean that I am not going to. As a representative for the company, it’s also my responsibility to make sure standards are upheld. So I am going to say sorry whether you listen or not.” He lets out a sigh, knowing nothing would get done if they stood there going around in circles.

“For what it’s worth, then, I accept your apology.” The pair then share another hug, before Laiken leads him over to where the other girls were hanging out.

“Deanna, Allie, and Hannah. Ladies, I would like you to meet the one and only Chase Elliott.” Chase easily shakes their hands, accepting their sentiments of glad to have the chance to work together today. “Alright, let’s get to work…”

As Chase continued to shoot the various photographs and video that Hooters required, Sarina made her way over to the shelf where she noticed a familiar friend.

“You’re back, eh?” She says as she picks up the owl, twirling him around in her hand. “You’re lucky that you lived that day, Hootie.” She chuckles, remembering how she had told Chase she was determined to throw the owl in the shredder after they both had bad luck the first weekend he was shown at the track. “I don’t know whether it’s because your cute, or Chase’s determination, but I’m actually glad that you’re still here.”

She then feels a pain in her stomach, immediately taking a couple deep breathes. She leans back against the tool box as another pain hits her.

“Easy sweetheart….” She says quietly to herself, rubbing her stomach. She then makes her way across the shop, sitting down as another pain come. “Easy…”

“Are you okay?” She hears, not even having to glance up at the sound of the voice.

“Of course you’d be the first person to check on me, Jordan.” Why did it always seem like Jordan Allen was babysitting her?

“Just please answer the question…” Sarina continues rubbing her stomach, nodding her head. “I think I should go get Chas-”

“No, let him finish the photoshoot. I’m fine, Jordan.” Jordan didn’t know whether to believe her or not, but wasn’t about to leave her alone anyway.

“it almost looks like you’re having contrac-”

“They’re irregular, not as strong as they should be. I’ve had them already a couple times. Braxton hicks.” Jordan was familiar with the term, nodding his head.

“Just take deep breaths, count to 10, relax, and have some water…” She could only smile at how calm he was being, and how he easily took care of her in that moment. “Have they been having very often?”

“I had them once in the cabin, as well as another night last week.” Jordan could understand the first instance was out of stress. However, he knew the recent trend meant something different.

“They say that if you’re having them more often and they’re getting stronger that you’re getting closer to having the baby.” Sarina nods her head, remembering when she brought up the conversation to Dr. Grayson.

“Dr. Grayson told me that I may have the baby early due to the size restraints.” With having an irregular uterus, Dr. Grayson did not think the baby could grow to full size inside the womb without causing other problems. So therefore, she mentioned an early labor would probably be safest for mother and baby. “Can I be honest with you?”

“Absolutely…” Jordan was scared of what she would say next, but was willing to be her sounding board. He knew keeping something bottled up presented stress and that wasn’t needed right now.

“She mentioned that there’s a possibility of the baby suffocating inside me, or possibly during birth because of the concerns. She also mentioned the fears of pre-term labor and whether the baby would survive. I mean, she said that it’s a very good chance and I shouldn’t worry, but the tiny little bit remained when I insisted.” Sarina glances down, rubbing her stomach as the pains subsided. “I’m scared. I keep being confident every step of the way in this pregnancy, telling everybody that it is fine and we’re going to be fine. I keep saying that it’s meant to be, and I can’t wait to meet my child. But Jordan, I am scared. What if?”

“It’s okay to admit that…” He then reaches up, rubbing her arm a little to give her comfort. “A lot of first time mothers are scared; it’s just part of the unknowns in pregnancy. Then if you combine with everything you’re experiencing, I can see that. So don’t be afraid to admit it.” He then takes a couple deep breathes, knowing his next series of words were important. “That said, you are very strong. You are one of the most strongest individuals that I know. Chase is right up there in the same category as you. You both fought through so much to get to here, being fearless and determined every step of the way. That baby in there is a combination of you both. He or she is not going to let anything stand in their way of being part of your life. So I want you to remember that, and have faith, because I know it will work out for you both.”

“Thank you, Jordan…” She then easily gives him a hug as Chase walks over their way.

“Are you okay?” Chase asks, intrigued by her sitting there as she nods her head back in return. “If you need to relax, you can go up to my offi-”

“I’m fine, honestly Chase,” she assures him once again. He then leans in for a quick kiss before heading into the shop for the next phase of the photos and video.

“Don’t be afraid to accept his offers of comfort, either,” Jordan says as he stands up. “It’s okay to admit that sometimes you need to take it slow and rela-”

“I know, Jordan.” She then takes a deep breath. “Trust me when I say this – I am not taking any chances when it comes to this pregnancy.”

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 144: Ford EcoBoost 400

Saturday, November 17 – Homestead-Miami Speedway

“I still can’t believe that Tyler was able to find what he needed at the end,” Sarina comments as they walk back to the motorcoach.

After Chase got done final practice, the two had made their way out to pit road for the XFINITY Series race, sitting up on the No. 9 pit box with Dave Elenz. Sarina wanted to begin preparations for next year immediately after coming up short last night, and that meant observing her future team in action.

While Cole Custer dominated the race, it was Tyler Reddick finding the extra groove and speed when it mattered at the end to make the pass, and win the race for the championship.

“The high line favors those who like to take chances, and are willing to ride the cushion,” Chase starts, remembering the discussion he had with Alan and Jimmie about that groove one day. “Past examples would include Kyle Larson and Christopher Bell. Tyler is from the first category as he has taken chances all year long. Sometimes it has worked out, and other times it hasn’t. Tonight he took a good chance.”

“He knew the car that Dave had put underneath him,” Sarina adds as Chase nods his head. “It’s no coincidence that team has won three championships with three rookie drivers – and I may know the first of those very well.” She then follows him inside the motorcoach as he could only grin about the reminder.

“Are you saying that played into your decision?” Sarina shakes her head no, as she hadn’t put that together until someone else mentioned it tonight.

“The top two teams in the XFINITY Series are easily Joe Gibbs Racing and JR Motorsports. My choice was made for me when Joe didn’t have any room.” Chase had to smile a little as he liked the thought of her being at JR Motorsports. “If Joe had roo-”

“Something feels off….” Sarina then looks at him a little confused, remembering the last time he mentioned similar words.

“We changed the password. We changed the locks. They’ve increased secur-”

“You found a note at your trailer though.” She then takes a careful deep breath, remembering that. She had hoped it would’ve been forgotten amongst every else on Friday.

“Well, do you want to call someone?” Chase walks into the bedsroom, glancing high and low as Sarina stands in the doorway watching. “Are you tear this room completely apart before you’re happy?”

“I just know something is off. The door didn’t even feel right – like it was left half-open. We made sure to close it.” She was caught off by his confession as she hadn’t noticed that upon them entering.

“Chase, I think you’re just paran-”

“Is this being paranoid?” She looks over as he stands by the television, holding up a teddy bear.

“That’s my little bea-”

“It has been tampered with.” She then looks on with horror as he rips open the back, reaching his hand up inside and pulling out a small lens. “A camera was put inside the bear in the eye. We weren’t supposed to notice, and that bear would’ve spied on us the rest of the weekend.”

“How did you know?” Chase then bends down, picking up the piece of fluff and setting it on the dresser beside the bear. “Are you sure it wasn’t done yes-”

“No fluff, and the bear was moved. I set my phone on the dresser charging in front of the bear. Notice how my cord won’t reach the bear now?” Sarina finally enters the bedsroom, sitting on the edge of the bed.

“What do you want to do?” Chase lets out a sigh as he glances at the time. It was ridiculously late and he knew they both needed their sleep. If they went forth in doing anything, they’d probably end up being awake half of the night.

“Simply this.” He then picks up the lens, pushing his fingers together as the lens cracks within the tips of his fingers. “She can’t see anything. It’s late, and we need our sleep. Let’s go to bed and if we hear anything, I’m swinging without thinking. It’s the last weekend of the year. We don’t have to worry anymore.”

“I’ll make sure to wake you up if I have to pee then…” She then strips out of her clothes, changing into her pajamas before getting comfortable underneath the blankets. She waits for him to join her, immediately wrapping her arms around him. “Just hope that I don’t have to pee like Lindsay does.”

“It doesn’t matter to me. I’d do whatever it took for you. I love you.”

“I love you, too.” She then kisses his shoulder.

Sunday, November 18 – Homestead-Miami Speedway

“It’s been a fun year,” Chase says on the radio under the pace laps. “Let’s end it in a good note.”

Getting comfortable in her usual seat for the last time of the season, Sarina could only hope that the driver was right in his words as that’d be the perfect scenario.

“Are you okay?” Jordan asks and she nods her head in response. “Are you sure? If you need anything – food, water, comfort – just make sure to as-”

“Jordan, I’m fine,” she tells the interior mechanic. “I’ve been pregnant since August, and we haven’t treated any race differ-”

“Las Veg-”

“We haven’t treated any race differently than went according to plan. Let’s just stick with that, please.” He accepts her words, but knew that he couldn’t help but keep an extra eye out just in case.

Through the first half of the race, they weren’t able to make much ground, running just outside of the top-10. Though at the start of the third stage, Chase was able to crack the top-10, coming off pit road seventh under the latest caution. Beyond that, you could tell he was happy with the balance of the NAPA Chevrolet due to no adjustments being made over the past two pit stops.

The restart would go smoothly, with Chase keeping the track position he had gained solidly. However, Alan felt some nerves in knowing the track would be changing conditional-wise due to sun going down.

“Let me know how the car is if you have a minute,” the crew chief requests, trying to finalize his game plan for the final set of pit stops.

“I don’t have a minute,” Chase replies, which was understandable.

He was slowly making time on those ahead of him, and it was by using the same high line right next to the wall that Tyler Reddick had been able to use to his advantage the night before. The little space that you could get between the preferred top line and wall was narrow, but the gains you could make were worth it. However, a single slip up and your night could be done just like that.

Chase managed to ride the line with perfect perfection through the ensuing laps, all the way until Lap 227 when he would slightly brush the wall with the right side of the car.

“Pit this time,” Alan instructs after the contact happened. He didn’t want to take a chance on having a tire go down like Larson had earlier, and knew they’d be fine with it being close to the pit window.

The decision to bring Chase down pit road would see Denny Hamlin pit a lap later, followed by Kevin Harvick on the next lap. Alan kept tabs on each of the leaders pitting, with just three remaining on track. Currently running eighth and knowing they had to pit before the race’s end, it would bump them up to at least fifth in the final rundown. Considering they were barely a top-10 car at mid-race, it was a solid recovery for the bunch.

Then the tides turned as the caution would come out with 20 laps to go for an incident involving Daniel Suarez and Brad Keselowski.

“That stupid fucking 19,” Alan lets out immediately on the radio. “Good God!” He could only let out a sigh, knowing that’d throw everything off. They had run enough laps that everyone had to pit now to be on decent tires for the end of the race, meaning that there’d be no advantage held with strategy. After sniffing hope for a top-five, they would be back to where they had ran most of the night.

Chase would restart sixth after making his way down pit road, dropping back two spots in the first couple of laps due to the car not firing off strong. However, as the race got closer to the end, the No. 9 Chevrolet found it’s groove of strength on the long run and he was able to catch the car ahead of him, passing the pass to finish seventh.

“We really suck down here,” Chase tells the media afterwards. “Man, if we make this Final 4 one day, we’ve got a lot to work to do.”

The disappointment was obviously there as he had so much hope initially about this race after winning at Kansas Speedway. Instead, he was dealt with a reality check of where he truly stood, and Hendrick Motorsports current ranking against the other teams still, despite the countless hours put in by everybody.

“Can you talk about your season this year?” One of the reporters ask and Chase had to smile a little. While tonight stung, you couldn’t hang your head on three wins.

“Yeah, better than the first two for sure, but not what we want,” he offers before walking away.

Given the past couple of weeks, it was obvious that the emotions had taken a toll on him. While no racecar driver wanted the off-season, he was actually welcoming a break for a change as it’d be nice to get away.

Thursday, November 22 – Dawsonville, Georgia

“Sweetheart, you don’t need to help….” Cindy tells Sarina as Sarina sets the dish down on the counter.

As they had since the beginning of their relationship, the trip was made up to Dawsonville on Thanksgiving to spend it with Chase’s parents and sisters. It was odd in seeing the relationship between them and Chase, with the age difference and the fact they weren’t super close. There was a level of respect and love there, but not the sibling blond like Sarina originally had with her brother once upon a time.

“I feel bad though if I don’t,” Sarina comments. “You and Bill worked so hard to prepare dinner – which was amazing as always, and I want to be able to do something for you in return.” Cindy looks over at her as she begins rinsing off the dishes.

“You’ve already done enough sweetheart,” Cindy tells her, taking a glance into the living room. “Look at my baby boy. That smile that he has, the adoration for you, and the fact that he has someone to lean on no matter what – especially with everything that has happ-”

“That was my fau-”

“Alison wasn’t your fault one bit sweetheart, so I don’t want to start that argument with you.” Sarina takes a deep breath, knowing that still didn’t erase what happened prior to Alison with Chris and Bethany. That was a topic that neither her or Cindy would address together. “But seeing the way he looks at you, and how happy he is, that’s everything to me. as a mother, all I wanted for Chase was for him to be happy, to live his dreams, and find someone that he could share his life with who respected him. You do that, and that’s what matters.”

“He does the same for me in return – actually, he goes beyond that. I keep saying this, but I wouldn’t be where I am without him. He believed in me when a lot of people didn’t. He also helped me through a lot of things that others couldn’t.”  Cindy could only smile, remembering his original discontent with Sarina when they met. It was amazing to see how far they’d come over the past couple years.

“Besides, you need to take care of this baby….” Sarina nods her head, easily accepting that. She knew Cindy having her first grandchild was going to be special for her, too.

“Maybe I should take a bit of a break then.” Cindy points towards the exit of the kitchen, as if to empathize the point.

Whether she wanted to admit it or not, getting off her feet and relaxing with Chase was probably a good idea. The heart in her wanted to help, but the advice from Cindy was on point.

She had been ignoring it, knowing that it was part of being pregnant and would just continue, but her back had been sore a little all day. She had heard the stories – leg cramps, swollen feet, and sore back. It made sense considering the weight you were caring around. She was always one to do her thing, and that was the plan for the pregnancy.

Though being told to take a step back, knowing what was at stake, she took the seat on the couch beside Chase. Besides, watching the amount of pain and where she felt it was critical, according to Dr. Grayson. The position of the baby in the uterus was more important for her  than other mothers-to-be due to the dimensions and shape of hers. Keeping tabs on the baby’s growth, making sure there was adequate room, and it wasn’t affecting other bodily functions or parts too badly was part of the process now.

Sitting by Chase, she didn’t want to interrupt him as he shared in conversation with Starr and Brittney, glad he was taking advantage of the time he got with his sisters. So instead, she took her phone out, figuring she’d check various social media accounts to pass the time.

She stopped immediately after unlocking, seeing a new notification from Samantha and Kyle. She opens it, a big smile forming on her face as she reads the news they had shared.

“Can I see?” Chase’s questions, catching her off-guard as she hadn’t realized his attention had been grabbed by the message. Though glancing up from the phone, she saw both Starr and Brittney had left the room.

“Samantha’s pregnancy took,” Sarina tells him, handing her phone over. “Her and Kyle found out the news this morning. She’s officially has a baby girl due in August.” Chase couldn’t help but smile in seeing the joy on both of the Busch’s faces.

“Now that’s the perfect Thanksgiving present.” He then hands her back the phone, wrapping his arms around her, precisely placed on the stomach. “Just like I’m thankful for you, the love that we have together, and our baby to be.” He then leans close, kissing her stomach.

“Oh Gosh, are you going to be one of those dads that keeps kissing my stomach all the way until the baby comes out?” He keeps her a shy glance, as she just smirks back in return. “Seriously?”

“I want to show the baby just how much him or her, as well as how much I love the mother. I also want to tell stories, and feel every single movement.” She then lets out a sigh, knowing that it’d be a long off-season. However, she wasn’t about to complain about spending time together.

“Where’d the siblings go?” He then points out in the backyard, where they were chasing around their kids with Bill.

“Just think. That’ll be us next year…” Sarina shakes her head in disbelief as she looks back over at Chase.

“I can tell that girls run in the family…..” Chase had to smile as that further confirmed his theory. “It gets me thinking. Dr. Grayson asked if we wanted to learn the paternity, or if we wanted to wait. What do you think?”

“It’s up to yo-”

“You have left everything up to me so far, Chase. It’s damn time that you decide something.” He then lets out a sigh, as it really didn’t matter in his mind.

“I still say that you’re having a girl. Whether we confirm that in a couple weeks, couple months, or when the baby is born, it doesn’t matter to me.” She rolls her eyes as his stubbornness was a bit of annoying, even if adorable.

“I kind of wanted to wait and be surprised. The pregnancy was a surprise, so why don’t we just continue the tradition? As we’ve said, everything happened for a reason. If it’s meant to be a girl, then it’s a girl. It’s a boy, that’s fine too. I don’t care what gender the baby is; I just want a healthy baby.” Chase nods his head in agreement.

“I keep saying girl because that’s everything my intuition keeps telling me, but like you, it doesn’t matter at the end of the day. I’ll be happy no matter what.” He then gives her a small kiss.

“Can you believe that our brother is getting married in two months?” Starr asks as she comes back in the room.

“Absolutely not,” Brittney answers as she follows right behind. “I remember when I wanted to kick Sarina’s ass from here to the other end of the country.” Starr chuckles, remembering the first meeting. “Actually, I think I let her off easy…”

“Seriously?” Brittney nods her head as she remembers what she told her.

“I mean, I just threatened to kick her ass along with my fellow Air Force mates. I just told her a couple words. I could’ve spouted off every other feeling that I had that day.” Brittney then stops as she finally looks up to where Chase and Sarina were sitting on the couch. “But the second time that I saw you, I remember I was just as harsh and you didn’t back down. That’s when I knew you were strong enough to take care of him. Then I saw the love when he set up the meeting with Lindsay for you.”

“No matter what Thanksgiving memories I make moving forward, there’s nothing that’ll replace reuniting with her for the first time in a long time,” Sarina confesses as she places her hand on Chase’s lap. “But I have to admit spending time here, with all of you, is pretty fun.”

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 143: “Why didn’t you tell us?”

Saturday, November 17 – Homestead-Miami Speedway

Chase walks into the No. 9 garage stall, ready for the first of two practices ahead of Sunday’s race. However, he stops immediately, noticing the eyes focused on him.

“Why didn’t you tell us?” Josh Kirk questions as he steps forward amongst the group.

“I thought you loved us!” John Gianninoto adds as Chase could only chuckle in response.

“I even helped made sure that you guys mad-” Jared Seate comments.

“Can you just let that go already?” Tom Gray interrupts. “The bigger issue here is Chase didn’t tell us before he told the world.” Chase kept chuckling as he glanced across the faces. This certainly wasn’t the way he was expecting to start the day.

“Since she shouldn’t had been racing while pregnant, we only kept it to a few people,” Chase starts with a glance towards Alan. “And she wasn’t supposed to originally tell everybody last night. We had planned to reveal at the banquet, and I was going to tell you the week before that.”

“You son of a bitch….” Jordan then lets out, earning a surprised glance from Chase immediately. “You knew!!” Alan just smiles back in response as Jordan shakes his head. “That’s why you immediately set forth on comforting Sarina at Las Vegas. You knew she was pregnant, and didn’t want her risking anything. I should’ve known something was up when you took my job.”  Alan walks over to Chase, leaning on his driver a little.

“Shouldn’t you guys at least say congratulations to our driver?” Alan questions, which just gets him back a series of scuffed glances in return.

“I want to know how this happ-” John starts.

“Are you serious?” Chase cuts him off, actually taken back by the comment. “I’d expect Jared to say that!” Jared’s jaw drops in surprise.

“Take that back!” Jared instructs and Chase shakes his head no. “Besides, we both know how it happened. They laid down together, stripped clothes and there you go.” Eddie could only shake his head.

“I don’t think I needed that image in my head,” Eddie comments as he walks over to Chase. “Congratulations, and I hope everything goes well for you both. You’re in my thoughts for a healthy baby.” Chase smiles, easily accepting a hug from the spotter before he heads off.

“See, that’s the proper way to congratulate….” Alan says before walking over to the toolbox, ready to put focus back to the task at hand.

“I still want to kno-” John starts once again, earning a series of eye rolls.

“John!” John then puts his hands up in the air.

“I meant keeping the secret and who knew before us; I didn’t mean the actual act!” Chase lets out a sigh, really not wanting to get into the details.

“Are they being typical immature boys as we expected?” Sarina questions, as she walks up behind him, wrapping her arms around as she places her hand against his shoulder.

“I wouldn’t expect anything less,” Chase replies, before turning around to face her, sharing a quick kiss which only increases the response in the garage area. “Are you okay?” She nods her head. “You don’t have to come out her-”

“I had the sex with you, I got pregnant, and I damn well agreed to go forth in the steps that I took from keeping the baby, to racing, to where we are today. If there’s going to be a tornado of reactions from everybody, it’s only fair that I face them with you.” He then places his hand on her shoulder.

“I just don’t want to stres-”

“I can handle it, Chase.” She then looks over at the crew guys, who were continuing to stare. “As for you guys, thanks for the congratulations in advance.”

“So that’s it?” Tom questions. “We don’t get a true explanation?” Chase then lets out a sigh. “I mean, it doesn’t matter either way. I just figured that we deserved it after everything.”

“Can we please not talk about Alison?” Jordan questions, not wanting to relive last week’s experiences. “Sure, we’ve gone a step above at times for these guys. But they don’t have to tell us everything that goes on in their life.” Sarina, meanwhile, knew the guys wouldn’t stop talking if they tried to just let it go.

“I found out at Indianapolis in August, okay?” She starts, earning a couple puzzling glances. “Remember the long ass rain delay that we had there? I called Samantha over, expressed some concerns, and I took the test. It was positive. I made the decision right then and there I was going to finish the season behind the wheel, no questions asked. Call it determination, call it stupid – I don’t care. That’s how it went down, right then and there.”

“So Samantha knew before you did?” Jared Seate questions as he leans back against the NAPA Chevrolet, earning a nod from Chase.

“Were you having regrets at Talladega?” Nick O’Dell offers, remembering the wreck that she had down the backstretch on the last lap.

“That’s why I was crying afterwards,” she replies, quietly and slowly. “I thought I had screwed up royally and lost the baby right then and there.” She then takes a deep breath, as Chase clutches onto her hand. “I feared the worst and knew that it was all my fault if that was the case. So certainly, there was a chance of regret and pain at Talladega. However, I made the bed, and I would have to lay in it no matter what happened.”

“So when did you find out?” John wonders, as Chase takes a deep breath.

“I found out that afternoon when I got back to the motorcoach after spending the day with Ryan,” Chase reveals. “I agreed to her plan immediately because I told her that I stood by whatever decision she made due to how much I loved and trusted her.” He then looks over at her. “And I wouldn’t change a single thing looking back now.” He then leans in, giving her a little kiss.

“Aren’t they adorable?” Jared questions as he just smiles at the pair. “All because of my dear handy work. I’m just so proud of you both…” Chase and Sarina both roll their eyes.

“Do you have any duct tape?” Sarina jokes, as Alan holds up a roll from the toolbox. “I may need some of that for the wedding.” Jared then gives her a glance as she just smiles back in response.

“Dale has working jail cells,” Chase offers. “We could just lock him up.” Sarina laughs in response, nodding her head in agreement. “The next person to find out was Kyle because she wanted him to know being the truck ow-”

“Isn’t Samantha the boss?” Chad Avrit interrupts, actually catching Chase by surprise as he had been quiet so far.

“So Kyle knew before us?” Jared asks, earning another eye roll from Chase and Sarina.

“Half-boss but Kyle calls most of the shots than she does,” Sarina states, which obviously everybody knew anyway. “He wasn’t happy, but he accepted. I believe Chase then told Alan next.” Chase nods his head, remembering the text messages sent from the motorcoach.

“I’m surprised you kept the secret this long,” Jordan comments, as Alan just shrugs his shoulders.

“I knew it was important to them,” Alan states as he locks eyes with Chase. He knew there was much more possible moving forward, giving no trace of Alison to date yet despite Homestead supposedly stepping up security. “Chase knows that he can trust me with any secret, no matter what it is, and I will keep it for him. That’s the brotherhood that we share together.”

“I went to JR Motorsports and told Kelley about what was going on Tuesday,” Sarina continues, remembering the steps that they took. “I wanted her to know what was going on since we were getting set to announce my new contract, and I didn’t want her signing up for something she didn’t bargain for. Obviously, I am probably going to miss the first cou-”

“Has the boss signed you up for those?” Josh interrupts with a glance over at Chase. Chase shakes his head no, remembering Kelley’s immediate words in the office after learning the news. The focus for Chase would remain on his own racing and Sarina; she was ready to take the pressure off them both.

“Sadler?” Tyler Semke guesses, as a small smirk forms on Chase’s face. “Seriously?”

“He said yesterday he was done racing full-time,” Chase reminds the crew. “He also stated he’d be open to running the odd race here and there. It’ll just be sooner than they thought.” The crew could only curse themselves in having seen signs, but yet nothing being figured out to date.

“So who else knew before us precious crew members?” Jordan wonders, as Chase lets out a sigh. he almost wishes he would’ve told Jordan as it would’ve made sense given his closeness to Sarina and role on race day.

“My parents found out Tuesday nig-”

“I bet Cindy wasn’t happy with Sarina’s decision to race,” Josh comments, which earns a simple nod from Chase.

“Bill wasn’t too thrilled either, but he was more accepting than Cindy,” Sarina reveals, remembering how tense she felt with Cindy raising her concerns. “We also told Ryan and Lindsay, too.” While the crew wanted to object, they couldn’t in knowing how close the pair were to them. “I told Rudy , and Christopher figured it out. Other than that, nobody else knew until last night.”

“Well, congratulations,” Chad says as he walks over, hugging the pair of them. “Here’s to a healthy baby Elliott in the new year.”

“Which run were you most comfortable?” Alan questions as Chase lets out a sigh.

“They both weren’t very comfortable if I’m being honest,” Chase answers, before glancing up at the speed chart. With having finished the session ranked 19th, he had to admit his outlook wasn’t very positive.

“I know you weren’t, but I want to figure which set-up we should start with and adjust from.” Chase takes a deep breath, trying to think it through. Which handling condition was easier to deal with?

“The last run we made felt better if we’re looking at race runs. It started off so loose, and started to come around before going tight. If you can get rid of the tightness, that would help.” Alan could work with that, as he knew long runs were their strong suit the past couple of weeks.

“Loose all the way around the corner?” Chase nodded his head. “Tightness is all arou-”

“Tight in the very middle of the corner.” Alan then thinks back through the session.

“I can work on the adjustments, but can you try to run a little higher for me?” Chase knew that was easily possible, given the space that Homestead offered. However, there was a risk involved.

“I’ll give a try if it solves our problems.” Chase then picks up his phone from the toolbox, unlocking it as he goes into Twitter. He quickly scrolls through, reading the various comments from drivers on handling conditions and progress. However, he could also see the reaction that everybody had to Sarina’s pregnancy.

“Positive or negative?” Alan could tell what Chase was looking at without even glancing away from his own notes that he had began to look through after their discussion.

“Surprisingly, it’s mostly positive. There are a lot of people that have said congratulations, they’re happy for us, they hope for the best, and even some who understand the struggle in making a decision like that if they were in Sarina’s shoes.” Alan glanced up with a slight smile in hearing the news from his driver. He knew that certainly would make things easier on his shoulders.

“That’s goo-”

“There’s some that also are upset that she chose to race for two full months while she was pregnant, feeling she put the baby in unnecessary danger. That has brought forth some to question if a change needs to be made to NASCAR’s policies, as well. You also have those who still are upset we’re together, perio-”

“Is that anything new, though?” Chase shakes his head no, having gotten used to it. There were some who still felt that she belonged with Christopher, and he belonged with Erin. There was also some who didn’t believe he belonged with either Sarina or Erin, and the couple crazies who wanted him to themselves. It was crazy to even see some of the girls inbox him with marriage requests.

“The best is this individual who tagged me in their message, asking if I had gotten a paternity test to make sure Christopher wasn’t the father.” Alan’s jaw drops in surprise. “And the other goes, ‘Well, if you could end up with Alison, it makes sense that she’d do that’ and others along those lines.”

“I don’t know if I want to be offended about the Christopher line, or the fact that they brought up Alison as if….” Alan’s voice trails off, realizing that maybe it wasn’t a good direction to be headed.

“As if they realized I brought it on and it wasn’t sexual assault?” Alan slowly nods his head.

“I didn’t mean to brin-”

“No, it’s fine. It’s actually a very important thing to think about that people out there can easily brush it off as if nothing happened. You wonder why it’s not recognized properly, and this is why.” Chase then glances down at his phone. “I get it because I didn’t want to accept the full pain, consequences, and feelings at the time, either. It took me a couple months to come to a full realization, and do what I needed to do.” He then slowly looks back up at Alan. “Let them think what they want, though. They weren’t there. It’s just sad.”

“Are you okay, though?” Chase nods his head, accepting, as he closes the twitter app.

“It doesn’t bother me. I have much more wonderful things to look forward to – like a sweet little baby gir-”

“So you found out the gender?” Alan was surprised to hear the mention, knowing that it had probably slipped from Chase accidently.

“Nope, we haven’t done that yet. I just have a really good feeling that it is a baby girl. I’ve been telling Sarina that for awhile now.” Alan had to smile as he remembered trying to guess the genders of his boys before they were born.

“Sometimes a dad’s intuition is right on point…” Chase looks over intrigued as Alan just smiles back in response. “I guessed mine right. That doesn’t mean that you will as well, but sometimes you never know.”

“I have a 50/50 chance, unless she’s having an alien.” Alan had to chuckle in response.

Alison shuts off the television screen, sitting back in her recliner with a smile on her face.

He wasn’t having the perfect weekend, and that was fine by her. It was actually nice to see him ranked 17th after the final practice session. Hopefully he finished there, or worse, on Sunday. It served him right for being such a pain in the ass to her.

It was also nice to see that he wasn’t the world’s perfect angel anymore, given the latest round of social media comments and articles. A good decent size of the population weren’t happy with him right now, and that was fine by her. They were obviously getting to see the side of him that she had gotten used to, and was ready to change.

She even felt a bit of pride in reading a couple of the messages, with people recognizing that he had fallen for her advances. That’s right, she could cast a spell on him after all and the world knew that it was possible. Why weren’t they sitting in the court room that day?

However, she couldn’t ignore the disappointment and anger she felt as she re-watched the interview from Friday night once again.

“I believed it happened for a reason,” she listens to Sarina say for what seemed like the millionth time. “I know I’ve taken a lot of your time and the light should be shining on our new series champion, which congratulations to Brett, so I’m just going to say this straight out. I am pregnant.”

This chick wasn’t supposed to be pregnant with his child. This chick wasn’t supposed to be this close to her man. This chick wasn’t supposed to be having her perfect reality begin coming true. Why was this happening? She almost wanted to hope that something happened between now and March.

“Happened for a reason my ass!” Alison lets out in a big scream, chucking the remote against the wall, causing it to break into a couple different pieces.

Though as she began to feel the fury against Sarina, she froze immediately.

Pregnant. Baby.

She takes a deep breath, her own hands landing on her stomach. She was in those very same shoes earlier this year. She was set to have a baby of her own and then it was ripped away just like that. she remembered the pain that she felt then, and how it still numbed her now.

It was why she could do nothing with Lindsay a couple weeks ago. it was also why she couldn’t bring herself to truly wish for something to happen, or for her to go after Sarina in the coming months.

“That just means there’s more loving for you in store, ‘ol Georgia boy,” she says quietly, licking her lips as she looks towards the poster on the wall.

She was still going to get another sweet taste of that peach and savor her taste buds. She also knew that was ready to take it further, and really showcase all those feelings perfectly. After all, she was still going to get her baby. She was still going to get her man in the end. She was still going to make him see what she saw, and knew that she needed to get to work on that immediately.