Chicagoland Speedway – Friday
Despite the turn of events on Wednesday, the pair remained quiet.
They spent all day just relaxing in each other’s company, playing a couple games and amusing themselves, followed by relaxing together watching some movies.
When they got to Thursday, it was like business as usual. Alyssa stopped by the shop to check in with the guys, while Chase handled some e-mails and tried to plan out the next steps.
Although both carried forward as if it didn’t happen, it was on their minds. Alyssa worried about whether they’d get to a point where they’d be past everything, while Chase worried that he’d never find what he wanted. He also contemplated running and hiding once again, though watching her caused the thought to disappear immediately.
It was why despite his own skeptical questionable thoughts, he was there that weekend with her at Chicagoland Speedway.
“Welp, last weekend before I go crazy…” Alyssa thinks out loud, before covering her mouth immediately, looking over at Chase. “I’m sorry! That just slipped out!”
“It’s fine,” Chase assures her. “Trust me – I get it. I know how the playoffs can be nerve-whacking, drive you insane, everything you can think of.” She then nods her head, accepting, but she still felt bad under the circumstances.
“Are you sure you’re going to be fine this weekend?” Chase nods his head as he wraps an arm around her, trying to reassure her.
“I get it, Alyssa. I mean, I’d be nervous after what happened. But, remember the rules put in place following Bristol. Besides, I wouldn’t want to miss being here for you.” While Alyssa appreciated that, she didn’t want to push him beyond his limits.
“I’d get it if you weren-”
“Alyssa, it’s fine.” She then stops, and nods her head, accepting.
“We do need to talk about what happened and what to do moving forward, though.” He lets out a sigh, knowing that she was telling the truth. Admittedly, he had probably avoided the topic purposely not wanting to discuss it again. Hence his thoughts of wanting to just run away….
“We will, and I will handle it accordingly. Now, stop worrying about me. You have a racecar to focus on today so that way you can be your best tomorrow.” She lets out a sigh as she looks into the mirror.
“Yeah, okay…” They both then head out to the garage together, set to start off the busy day that included a pair of practices for her.
The first practice went decently as she would time in 12th quickest on the speed chart, decently satisfied with how the car was handling. She knew a couple more adjustments before the next session and they’d be much better.
Her eyes found their way to Chase, seeing him catching up with Ryan and Darrell. She knew some time spent with friends was good therapy as it’d give him a break from everything that he was going through right now. She could only imagine the emotions, and found herself worried about a re-occurrence of Wednesday. It almost brought her to the point of saying something to someone….
“Alyssa?!?” Kevin’s questioning voice, catches her attention as she looks towards the crew chief. She hadn’t even realized that she had dazed off. How long was he calling her name?
“Sorry,” she apologizes, immediately facing him. “What were you saying?” Kevin crosses his arms, glancing in the direction she had been looking.
“What’s going on with Chase?” She immediately gives him back a puzzled reaction as he looks towards her. “You went off into your own little world staring at him. Something has to be going on….” While she had thought about talking to someone, Kevin wasn’t that person.
“Can we just not talk about it, please?” Kevin lets out a sigh, knowing that wasn’t good therapy.
“Promise me you’ll say something to either him, or someone else, though?” She nods her head, accepting. She knew it was coming to the point of not being able to avoid doing that. “Thank you. I was asking you whether the loose in was more annoying or the tight off.”
“Tight off. I want to be able to have that maneuverability off of the corner…” Kevin nods his head, looking over his notes.
“First adjustment we’ll aim to fix that. Second adjustment I want to try fixing the other half because it may fix it all. Then you can tell me what you like best. Deal?” She nods her head, accepting. “Alright. You got an hour until the next session…”
“Gotcha.” She then grabs her sunglasses, walking out of the stall as she takes a deep breath. She had to focus more. She had to keep her eyes on the car, and knock out the outside distractions. She couldn’t let Kevin see her off her game anymore this weekend. But Chase….
As usual per his race weekends, Chase made a stop at the 24 hauler catching up with the guys for a little bit. They were all polite in asking how he was, and telling him that they had his back. He assured them things were coming together – despite his own reservations, while assuring them he’d be back before long.
With the conversation covered, he headed out of the trailer, wanting to catch XFINITY practice to see how Alyssa was making out during the second session.
“Did you mean what you said?” A voice causes him to freeze as he looks towards the source. Instantly catching Jeff’s eyes, he knew there was no way to lie.
“I’m trying to work through this,” Chase tells him. “Slowly, but certainly trying.” Jeff crosses his arms, knowing that from conversation. He wasn’t certain about the other part.
“I meant how you’re feeling…” Chase lets out a sigh as he glances down.
“I could be better, really. It’s been a rough week.” Jeff nods, accepting. He already figured that after Chase texted saying he wasn’t going to check in on Wednesday as normal, changing to Thursday.
“You’re going to have those. Some days are going easier than others. I mean, it’s all about facing what you need to face and handling it, right?” Chase nods his head. “Look, I’m not trying to pry or anything. I could just tell something was off based on that, and how Alyssa has an extra eye on yo-”
“I told her not to worry and focus on her racing this weekend.” Jeff shakes his head, smiling. There were things both were missing about love.
“She loves you, Chase. She cares about you more than a lot of people in her life. That drives her to make sure you’re okay more than anything, and how you’re doing matters more than just a simple racecar.” Chase knew that, but it still didn’t make it easier. After all, he was certain that he’d find his way through his funk – he always did.
“I know….” Jeff walks over, placing a hand on Chase’s shoulder.
“Don’t hold it in. Talk to someone. Figure it out. It’s just going to eat at you. You know that…” Chase nods his head, having been through that before. It was why the thought of running was there – escape the pain before it ate at him.
“I’m working at that, Jeff. I told you that alrea-”
“I’m not questioning that, Chase, but you also can’t just stall out and not continue working at it. Progress is only made by choi-”
“You don’t realize how hard that is some days!” Jeff pauses, eyes focused on his driver. “There are times where I want to work through it, do the right steps, talk to the right people. Then there are times where I just want to run away and not look back. I mean, there are things I don’t even know how to tackle or bring up or handle.”
“That’s why it’s important to tell someone…” Chase shakes his head, knowing that he couldn’t do that with this topic at hand. Nobody should know the feelings of those photos, and how was he supposed to explain what his brain had been doing lately? Letting out a sigh, it had to be done, though. Maybe like Alyssa said – Eric would be his best bet.
“I know it is, Jeff. That’s why I told you that day after we tried to test that I needed some more time, so I could work this out, and do the right thing.” Jeff nods his head, accepting. He was actually glad that the test played out as it did – perhaps a wake-up call was in order.
“I’m glad that you’re doing what you need to do for you, and I will always have your back no matter what. Besides, Jimmie isn’t too upset about filling in…” Chase laughs as he watches Jimmie come out of the trailer with the guys.
“He still can get the job done. I wish I can be his age and say the same.” Jeff nods his head, agreeing.
“Besides, he doesn’t mind the chance to race on a weekend that his daughter is, too.”
“Could you see if a race came down between him and Lydia?” Jeff shakes his head, knowing that’d be interesting.
“It’d be entertaining, but more importantly, I can’t wait until you’re back with the team and kicking ass.” Chase smiles, agreeing.
“I know I can get the job done behind the wheel. I just have to get there…” Jeff nods his head. He never questioned Chase’s talent, ever.
“Do what you got to do, okay?” Chase nods his head as he watches Jeff walk off.
Thinking it over, he pulls out his phone and calls Eric’s office. It was time to set up that appointment for early in the week.
Alyssa leans against the post in the garage, shaking her head in disgust as she watches the crew work on the car. She couldn’t believe it happened. She thought she had it under control, but just like that, the car slipped out from underneath her and she backed in the wall.
Chase was the first person at her side after getting out of the medical center, in which she assured him he was okay. They then separated as he headed to meet up with Ryan for another chit chat, while she went to see the guys. She hated to see them having to put this extra work in, and also knew entering tomorrow without any laps on the back-up was going to suck.
“Hey,” Dale says as he walks up to her. “Are you okay?” She nods her head as she keeps her eyes focused on the crew.
“Just hate that it happened,” she answers as he stands there, accepting. “We were trying something and went just over that edge. I thought I had it, but obviously not…”
“Sometimes there’s spins that you can’t save no matter how hard you try.” She nods her head, accepting, having heard that advice plenty of times before. It didn’t make it easier, though. “I’m glad you’re okay, and truthfully, I know you can drive the wheels off of anything so I’m not concerned about that. I could actually see you working your way through the field tomorrow – if your head is in the right place.” She then glances over at him, curiously. “Kevin mentioned that you’ve been a little distracted today….”
“Really Kevin?!?” She shouts out, causing the crew chief to look over. He drops the tool in his hand, walking over to Alyssa and Dale. He didn’t want to yell it back as he knew there were probably cameras and reporters ready to pick up anything they could for a story.
“I only mentioned it out of concern and it was before the incident,” he comments as Alyssa just rolls her eyes. “I figured if there was anyone you could talk to, it’d be your dad.”
“Alyssa?” Dale questions as she just glances away from them both.
“Like I told Kevin earlier – I’m fine,” she starts. “And I will talk about it with someone when I’m ready to do so. I don’t need you both hounding my ass. Besides, we have something else to be focusing on, right?”
“Your well-being is more important than a damn racecar and this championship.” She knew that as she glances back down at the ground. It also wasn’t pleasant hearing that tone in her father’s voice, either. She wasn’t someone to get lectured a lot.
“If there’s something on your mind, take the time now…” Kevin comments as she eyes her father carefully. She didn’t want to say anything, per Chase’s words to her. It wouldn’t be fair to go against his word.
“I can’t…” She lets out quietly, holding back the tears that threatened to fall.
“Why not?” Dale wonders as she focuses her eyes back to the ground.
“Chase…” Dale crosses his arms, almost tempted to go find him that very second.
“He cares about you. You make up his entire world, Alyssa. If there’s something bothering you, he would want you to tell me so I can help you and you can feel better.” She knew those words in general would be the right advice, but this wasn’t one of those cases.
“This isn’t one of those times…” Dale really wanted to go find him and kick his ass now.
“Why not?” She bit her tongue to stop herself from spitting it out as the tears trickled down her face. Kevin immediately stepped in, wrapping an arm around her and leading her out of the stall. He held her the entire way to the trailer, before leading her inside and closing the doors behind them.
“What the heck is going on?” Dale hears Chase’s voice, as obviously the scene had got his attention.
“Alyssa has some feelings or something, but says she can’t tell me because of you,” Dale starts in on him immediately. “Even though I told I could help her, make her feel better, and you would want that – she wouldn’t say it because of you. So you want to tell me what the hell is going on?” Chase takes a deep breath, knowing the answer immediately. He admittedly though was caught off-guard by Dale’s attitude.
“Let’s go inside, and I’ll explain….” Dale nods his head, accepting. The pair then go up to the lounge where Kevin sat with Alyssa. “Kevin, can you leave please?” Kevin nods his head, accepting.
“Chase, you don’t have to say anything….” Alyssa comments as Chase takes over where Kevin was sitting, wrapping an arm around her.
“Yes, I do. No matter how hard it is, I need to say something, talk to people, figure out what I need to do so I can continue moving forward. I can’t just sit in this funk and try and wish it all away. I’ll just be stuck here forever. Besides, I should’ve said something sooner. It’s not fair to let this eat at you, too.”
He then takes a deep breath, before recounting the tale of the past week.