Sunday, May 27 – Charlotte Motor Speedway
Sarina walks into the Cup Series garage, surprised to see all of the crew members gone but yet one person remaining there. Her radar of concern came on immediately, too, seeing as he seemed lost in his own world.
Taking a deep breath, knowing that things were touchy still with everything going on and having heard the latest news, she didn’t know what to expect.
“Hey,” she says quietly as she places a hand on his shoulder. “Are you okay?” He nods his head as he glances back at her. “You know, you can tell me what’s on your min-”
“I told Ryan last night about what happened,” he cuts her off, catching her by surprise. “I told him what Alison did. I was freezing up a little thinking about the pageant last year where it began, how she tried to set us up with that photo, and he caught that. He brought up a couple other things and next thing, I told him what she did. I told him that she sexually assaulted me.” He takes a shaky deep breath as Sarina just remains frozen, hand locked on his shoulder.
“That’s big, Chase. For you to be able to talk to a friend, someone you trust, and voluntarily about that is big. It shows that you’re coming to grips with it, moving forward.” He nods his head as he turns a little, facing her more.
“I almost did it though as a test to myself. Could I speak about what happened clearly without a single problem? I know I have to speak to a room of strangers in a court room about what happened. But if I can’t tell a friend, how could I do tha-”
“You’re putting too much pressu-”
“I’d rather find out before I get to that moment how I am going to react and make sure I don’t totally freak out than to have it happen then.” Sarina could understand that, but still wanted to go back to her original words. However, she knew there was no convincing him. it was part of his nature to find his flaws, and work at fixing those.
“And how do you feel about that a day later now?” He then glances down, as he takes a deep breath.
“I think I can do it. I think I can go there, state what happened, and move forward. I’m ready to put that in the rearview. Just like I was ready for that night with you, I’m ready for the rest of this. I’ve come to grips that she did what she did, and the only way it can hurt me is if I let it hurt me. I still blame mysel-”
“I know what you’re going to say, and I keep telling myself that – but it’s taking time, okay?” She nods her head, nicely. “Ryan did bring up something else though that I was thinking about, as well. He asked about the pregnancy claim, and what you thought about it. I told him you were angry initially, but have put that aside for us.” He then looks into her eyes. “Can I ask you for your honest opinion? I don’t care what it is, so don’t be afraid and lie so I will agree and make this easy. I want your honest opinion, please…”
“I want to believe you. I want to believe that she is full of shit and just doing this for what you said – to come between us, and to create false drama. I want to believe what you told me in what happened and the fact that there was no intercourse at any time. But damn it, I can’t help but wonder. Maybe that’s because of my own problems, maybe it’s jealousy – I don’t know. But I can’t stand here confidently and say that I don’t believe it without the fact on paper.” Chase nods his head, accepting, as he lets out a sigh.
“I will admit that it hurts to hear you can’t trust me fully on what happened and everything, but I get it. That’s all I’m going to say.” She then scoots closer, laying her head against his shoulder.
“No matter what, though, I am behind you and I am going to stand with you supporting you. I am going to do whatever it takes. I wouldn’t have accepted that proposal if I wasn’t going to.” A small smile forms on his face, before leaning in and kissing her lips.
“I’m glad that you accepted that proposal, by the way. I just hope you don’t go too crazy on the wedding plans.” She then chuckles back in response a little.
“I’ll try to keep it in line, but no promises….”
Chase leans back against the car, flashing a quick smile over the crew guys. It had been one of those decent races, where they looked stronger at times than others. However, running no higher than sixth throughout the event, they ended up with an 11th to show for their efforts.
“I call tonight progress,” Alan starts as he walks over, handing him a bottle of water. “We weren’t as strong as we wanted, but we were better than we’ve been lately. The new motor package made a difference, and we got closer on the handling. A couple more tweaks, and we’ll be where we were last year.” Chase nods his head as he takes a sip.
“It’s not going to happen overnight, but if we can make small gains like this, you’re right,” Chase comments as Alan smiles a little. It was nice to have a positive perspective compared to the past couple of weeks.
“Did you see how Jimmie ran? He was up in the top-five for a good middle portion of the race. Alex even flirted with the top-10. The work is beginning to finally show – hopefully enough to keep the guys in the game.” Chase gives the crew chief a glance.
“We’re family. You don’t ever give up on family. These guys are going to be willing to do whatever it takes until we’re celebrating in victory lane. One thing – when we finally do win, it’s going to be a long night.” Alan chuckles but knew that’d be the truth.
“Do you think we could put one of Clint Bowyer’s parties to shame?” Chase laughs, shaking his head no.
“He’s certainly special…..”
Friday, June 1 – Pocono Raceway
Fridays were normally busy days at the track with practice and media. That was no secret as that was an experience every weekend.
So why did they have to up the anty and make this weekend even crazier?
Since a good morning kiss shared in the morning, Chase and Sarina had been unable to really get a single moment together since then.
Sarina started off with truck practice, topping the charts in style. While she headed off for a debrief, Chase was in the Cup Series car, ranking 20th by the end of the session. They didn’t get any time after that as he was off to the XFINITY Series garage, showing speed with top-six rankings in both sessions. Although he had wanted to see her afterwards, that didn’t happen due to post-practice debriefs, combined with her pre-qualifying meeting.
So with the latest meeting done, Alan stood back and almost chuckled and watching his driver’s reaction. He knew the distance was getting to them both, having seen them trying to catch glances of each other. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to see the latest glance on Chase’s face as he watched her hurry through the garage to pit road for qualifying.
“I have one single question – what are you going to do next weekend?” Alan says as he walks over, snapping Chase out of her daze. “Don’t try to cover your ass up, either. You were checking her out.”
“Is there a real problem with that, though?” Chase questions as he glances back at the crew chief, before returning his eyes forward. That didn’t welcome a good response, though, as she had disappeared.
“Again, what are you doing next weekend?” Chase smiles as discussions were already put in place with the way the schedule had worked out.
“She’ll be here Sunday for the race. She’s going to run the truck race, stay there for the XFINITY event, and then fly to be here for my race. We got this, Alan…” Alan just rolls his eyes as the plan actually didn’t surprise him. He was more intrigued to see what they’d do through the harshest part of the summer.
“Are you ready for the time apar-”
“We handled it last yea-”
“That was before everything that happened…” Chase turns around, facing the crew chief.
“Are you going to continue to remind me of what happened? I don’t need that, Alan. I am working my way through it slowly at my own pace. I am finding my way of dealing wi-”
“I openly told Ryan what happened last weekend. I discussed my thoughts about the upcoming trial with Sarina. Do you call that avoiding, Alan? I know it hit me hard, and I didn’t handle it right at first. But trust me when I say this – I’m fine.” Alan nods his head, accepting, but his eyes don’t leave his driver.
“Can you blame me for worrying, though?” Chase shakes his head no. “Okay. I’ll try to remember what you’re saying and listen to what you want. At the same time, reme-”
“I know where to find you if I need you.” Chase then heads off, making his way out to pit road, actually curious to see how truck qualifying was going to go.
After watching Sarina snag the pole for the truck race, Chase knew there was no time like the present to put in a good lap and keep the good fortune going. Surprising himself a little bit, they had managed to get the third round in qualifying despite questioning their lack of speed in practice. However, the final round didn’t go as strongly as hoped, qualifying 11th for Sunday.
“I’ll take it,” Chase states as Alan walks up to him on pit road.
“It’s progress,” Alan adds. “I know you want to go run and watch her, but I need to kno-”
“Loose through the tunnel turn, but now it’s tight in three. Does that help you?” Alan lets out a sigh, nodding his head.
“See, we’re totally in sync now. if only I could get the car to be in sync with us and listen to my adjustments. I knew you’d still be loose in the tunnel turn, but not as bad as before. I didn’t realize it’d affect turn three, though.” Chase smiles as he glances at the crew chief.
“That’s why you get paid the big bucks – to figure out strange places like the tricky triangle. Wave your magic wand, say your spells, and we’ll be fine for practice tomorrow.” Alan just rolls his eyes.
“Just go tell your princess to win the race and keep you in a good mood.” Chase glances down pit road as Sarina speaking with Rudy and the guys.
“She’s got a good truck, and she’s got a good team around her. I feel pretty good about our chances.”
Chase climbs the steps, taking his usual seat behind Rudy, who simply takes a glance at the watch.
“You’re getting quicker at changing,” Rudy offers as Chase takes a swig of water.
“It’s a good workout run from the garage,” Chase replies out of breath as Rudy laughs.
“If you need the medics, I can’t help you there. I got a job to do.” Chase just rolls his eyes, but gets comfy as he knew they were in for a fun day.
The race started off strongly as starting from the pole, Sarina ran up front in the early stages, leading laps, before fading back a little. The team still felt confident about their chances, though, and knew a couple adjustments they’d be right back up there.
However, a trip down pit road sent their day on a bit of derail, courtesy of an uncontrolled tire penalty. Restarting form the tail of the field after a series of eye rolls from both crew chief and fiancé, Sarina was able to make her way back forward, returning back to the top-10. The progress continued, as she kept moving forward with a couple more passes.
It appeared as though a top-five finish was within distance until under a late caution, they heard the dreaded words “tire going down,” sending her down pit road with an unscheduled pit stop. Once again starting from the tail of the field again, she would drive her way back up to 10th by the checkered.
The disappointment was easy to see on the faces of everybody post-race standing on pit road, knowing what the truck had been capable of and feeling they should’ve been celebrating a win instead. However, Sarina was also able to put the day in perspective, proud of the strength that they showed with the adversity thrown their way.
“When we’re in the thick of the title battle and putting together days like these rather than 20s and 30s, we’ll be thankful,” she commented. “We can grow from this.”
“Is this the same crazy girl that showed up at my doorstep?” Kyle had questioned upon her revelation, earning a smile of pride from both Chase and Rudy. It was great to see her growing into a smart mature driver.
“I still have that fire Mr. Busch…” He just smiles back in return, glancing over at Chase.
“Oh I know you do, but I can see that someone has been a good influence on you.” She then glances over at Chase with a smile of her own.
“I thank whoever I can for him every day.” She then wraps an arm around him, kissing his lips. “I don’t even think he realizes what he did for me.”
“You’ve also helped me grow just as much, too,” Chase replies, keeping her held close.
“So when am I getting to invited to the royal wedding?” Rudy questions as the pair just glance between each other. “Oh no, don’t tell me you already have a date…” They then chuckle together.
“No plans yet – except it’ll be in the winter due to our crazy schedules,” Sarina reveals as neither could argue with that.
She wanted to suggest doing the wedding in Colorado since they loved to spend every winter there at the cabin, but knew that was still up for discussion – among other things. But for her, the simple thought that she was saying the word wedding and ready to walk down the aisle one day was enough to show how much things had changed.
Saturday, June 2 – Pocono Raceway
Sarina walks into the living room, placing a hand on each of his shoulders, rubbing them.
“Stay relaxed, stay focused, and don’t drive yourself insane with pressure,” she starts. “You got a busy day ahead of you, but don’t let yourself get too wrapped up. Oh, and remember to drink, drink, drink, and did I mention drink? It’s killer hot. I don’t need you passing out on me.” He then glances back over his shoulder at her.
“Aren’t I normally the one taking care of you?” He questions and she nods her head in return.
“It’s time that I pay you the favor in return. Besides, I care about you….” She then twirls her fingers in the ringlets at the end of the strands of hair, before reaching around, brushing her lips lightly across his.
“If this is caring for me and taking care of me, I’m all for it….” She then smiles in response as she straddles herself on his lap, arms backed around as she resumed playing with the curls.
“Well, I could help take care of you by helping remove these pesky clothes that you don’t need so you can get that sexy ass firesuit on.” He then wraps his arms around her, holding her in place on his lap.
“That’d be a good idea, actually….” He then brings his lips to her, as she runs her hands underneath the edge of his shirt. “Just can’t be too long. I can’t be late….”
“Don’t worry….” She then slips his shirt off, before returning the fingers to his hair, as she kisses his bare shoulder. It was to her own personal satisfaction that the mark Alison had left on him was pretty much gone now.
“Are you sure? You seem distracted by my hair…” She just laughs.
“The curls are fun….” He then stands up, keeping her held against him, carrying her from the couch to the bedsroom, laying them down together.
“Then I guess I need to keep you on-track…” He then brushes his lips slowly over her shoulder, before making his way down her body.
“Clyde….” She then reaches down for his shorts, with his hand landing on top.
“Patience…” She wanted to follow his request, but his lips across her body created that need for an immediate release.
“I…can’t….” She then lets a moan escape her lips. “Time. We don’t have much time…” He then glances back up into her eyes.
“I got enough time for you, don’t worry….”