Short Track Lovin’ – Chapter 128: Overton’s 150

Saturday, July 29

 

Sarina lays there, quietly, eyes locked on Chase as he lies beside her, sleeping away.

She had woken up a couple hours ago, grabbed some breakfast and a shower, before returning back to bed to lie beside him. She didn’t want to disturb him, knowing that he needed his sleep as the focus was put on him getting better.

Taking a deep breath, she couldn’t let everything that they’d been through escape her mind. Though despite everything, he put his full trust in her, promised to always love her, and would do anything for her. On top of that, he had convinced his parents to give her a second chance.

She couldn’t get it through her mind everything that he had done, for her. He stood up to everyone with her brother. He allowed Allison to inject the needle, instead of cheating. He always found the small time of day to reach out to her. Rather than be at home this weekend where he belonged after the week he’d been through, he was there with her instead.

Letting out a sigh, it was hard to believe this was happening before her. She never got this lucky in her life. It was always when one thing came together, she was waiting for the other shoe to drop. But yet, here she was, under contract with the top team in the truck garage and dating the sweetest guy ever. For the first time ever, it felt everything with happiness was just within reach.

“Can I help you?” His voice freezes her thoughts as she looks into his brown eyes.

“No, I’m good,” she replies as a smile forms on her lips.

“You’re just staring at me for no reason?” She nods her head. “How long have you been laying here like this?” She was almost afraid to offer her answer.

“An hour or so. You were sleeping, I didn’t want to disturb you, but I didn’t want to leave you.” She then reaches over, rubbing his shoulder. “Relax, it’s fin-”

“You were spaced out at first, though.” He then brushes her brown hair out of her face. “What’s on that mind of yours?”

“I am just thinking how lucky and spoiled I am to have an amazing guy like you in my life.” He then looks at her with surprise as he rolls over onto his back.

“I’m just an ordinary guy who happens to go fast for a living.” She then chuckles, causing him to look back her way. “What?”

“Ordinary guy? Have you been outside of your own little universe lately, Chase?” His eyes widen even more surprise.

“Listen, just because I may be a little fam-”

“That’s not what I’m talking about, Prince Charming.” He then freezes, caught off-guard by the comment. “I’m talking about how sweet you are. I’m talking about how caring you are. I’m talking about how you’d do anything for me. I’m talking about how we’ve been through everything, and yet you’re still here beside me 100% committed. I’m talking about how you stood up to Alison, for us. There are very few guys in the world that can equal that level of charm and sweetness, honey. I’m gonna say that you rank up there in the 5% range.” He then rolls his eyes.

“Listen, I’m nowhere near perfec-”

“I didn’t say you were, Chase. But you’re damn close to that – at least to me, and a lot closer than a lot of people.” He then rolls back on his side so he can look right into her green eyes.

“So you’ve been lying here for the past hour contemplating all that?” She nods her head. “Why?”

“I’ve never ever felt this right and perfect in a moment with someone. I’ve never felt this type of love before, or felt that I was wort-”

“Excuse me?” He then scoots closer to her, wrapping an arm around her as he pulls her close. “Don’t you ever dare say that you’re not worthy of being loved. Sure, you had a rough hand. Sure, you had things go off plan. If anything, it makes you worthy so you can feel what you’ve been missing all these years.” She then lets out a sigh.

“I’ve made a bunch of mistakes, thoug-”

“I’ve made mistakes, too. We all make mistakes every day. Do you want to know my response? Accept your mistakes, admit that you were wrong, and learn from it so you do not do it again. That’s why when you lied to me under those circumstances, I gave you the second chance with the understanding to not repeat that mistake. Sarina, you’re a beautiful young lady and there’s nobody that could tell me different in loving you.” He then leans in and kisses her lips, as she smiles back in response.

“How do you always know what to say?” He smiles as he takes her hand, placing it on his chest.

“I speak from the heart with every bit of honesty that I have. It’s okay to open up and be honest. It’s okay to be vulnerable, and it’s okay to express feelings.  It actually feels good.” She then smiles, nodding her head.

“I’ll make sure to give it a try then.” He then lets her go, sitting up in the bed as he glances at the clock.

“Don’t you have to qualify soon?” She then lets out a sigh, nodding her head. As much as she loved racing her truck, she wouldn’t mind lying around with Chase all day.

“Yep.” She then stands up, heading to the closet to grab her firesuit, as Chase gets up behind her. She then spins around, surprised.

“I am coming to watch you qualify, followed by seeing the guys before final practice. Then we can chill and wait till your race, which I am sitting on your pit box.” She was even more surprised by the assertion in his voice.

“Oh really? Are you sure you’re up to all that?” He nods his head as he pulls the drawer open, grabbing a pair of jeans. “Are you sure that your parents will let you do that?” He then glances over surprised.

“I’m an adult. I can do what I want…” She then rolls her eyes.

“Cindy is going to put up a fight…” He then pulls the jeans up, before walking over to her and stealing a kiss.

“Tough for her. I’ll be fine.” He then goes to find a shirt, as she focuses back on getting ready for the upcoming qualifying session.

*********************

Chase stood on pit road, satisfied with the session as he took a glance at the scoring pylon. A solid eighth-place starting spot was a good start as it was going to be a long race, with drama all the way around. As long as she played it cool, and Marcus was good with his adjustments, she’d be there at the end in contention to win.

After sharing a couple comments between them, he gave her a kiss and headed away. He knew that she had to talk for a bit about Marcus in regards to the session and their race strategy, so it was time to take advantage of the time that he had. There was a crew of guys who needed to see their driver for themselves as he made his way to the trailer.

He gives a wave to a couple other Hendrick Motorsports guys hanging around, before opening the door and heading inside.

“So we’re going with this set-up, followed by this one?” Josh questions as Alan nods his head. “Got it!”

“Does that mean we have lots of work to do between runs?” Jared Seate wonders as Chase crosses his arms, clearly not noticed by the guys with his entry.

“Oh Jared, you never want to do much work, huh?” Chase then joins in, catching a bunch of surprised glances.

“Chase!!” A couple of the crew guys let go, before tackling him with hugs.

“Easy guys….” Alan tries to calm them off with a laugh.

“You know that for you, I’ll always put in a full day’s work,” Jared then comments as Chase rolls his eyes.

“What am I? Chopped liver?” Justin Allgaier, who was filling in for Chase, questions as Chase laughs.

“Please tell me that you’re here to get rid of this little short ass.” Chase laughs once again as he glances between them. He knew the pair had a history together as Jared came over from JR Motorsports.

“Unfortunately, you’re stuck with him for the rest of the weekend,” Chase comments as Jared lets out a sigh. chase couldn’t help but agree with him as he wanted to be racing more than anything. But given how he was feeling earlier that morning and knowing that the feeling would probably come back, he knew he wasn’t ready for 400 miles tomorrow.

“You’re stuck with me, Jared!” Justin says as he pulls Jared close, causing a series of laughs through the trailer.

“So if you’re standing here, you can’t feeling that badly….” Jared Erspamer then joins in the conversation, catching Chase’s attention. “Of course, a little birdie told me that you’ve been here all weekend.”

“He’s kidding, right?” Jared Seate asks and Chase shakes his head no. “And you just came to see us now? How rude!”

“Did you watch Full House?” Alan questions as Jared smiles.

“Oh puhleeeeze, who didn’t watch that show?” Alan just rolls his eyes.

“For the record,  I didn’t even leave the motorcoach at all yesterday so you weren’t just left out for no reason,” Chase starts, catching their attention. “I didn’t want to stay home because I wanted to be here to support Sarina. That said, I did not feel up to moving at all yesterday. As it is, this tour here, followed by the truck race, will probably eat up whatever energy I have made up. But I knew I couldn’t go a whole weekend without seeing you guys.”

“He loves us!” Jared Seate lets out, now taking a turn wrapping his arms around Chase.

“I thought you already would’ve figured that out a long time ago….”

“To be honest, speaking on behalf of everybody here, there’s nothing that we could do to make up for what you did last weekend,” Alan starts as he focuses his eyes on Chase. “I mean that from the bottom of my heart and we all discussed that when Josh and I told everybody. You put your ass on the line for us. That’s more than we can say for a lot of people that we’ve worked together, and we thank you.” The rest of the crew guys nod their heads in agreement with the boss.

“Well, you guys are like family to me,” Chase replies. “I mean, we spend the whole year together on this traveling circus, getting close, getting to know each other and each other’s families. You guys sacrifice all this time in your lives so you can make us the best that we can be on Sundays – basically, to the point where most people just give me the credit. I’ve always said that I wouldn’t change a single thing about this team, and I meant that.”

“So we’re not going to get traded around ever and sent away when the playoffs start like some teams?” Jared Erspamer questions and Chase shakes his head.

“Never, ever,” he assures them. “For the record, we work as a team and we do everything together – come high or low water. If things go wrong, we all accept the blame, work to improve, and go forward. That’s how it’s always been, right?” The guys nod their head. “So for that reason, you better give it your 110% for Justin on Sunday, okay?”

“Yes boss!” The guys let out together as Chase makes his way to the front of the group, wrapping his arms around Alan and Josh.

“And to both of you, don’t ever change. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Thank you for help with my absolutely crazed plan and thanks for getting me the help when I needed it – twice, now. It really  means a lot to know how much you both care. And Alan, let’s not meet like that ever again.” Alan nods his head.

“I don’t want to repeat that, ever,” Alan assures him. “I love ya, buddy. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.”

“You’re coming back next week though, right?” Jared Seate questions, as Chase looks over at him.

“Are you really trying to get rid of me that badly?” Justin asks as Jared shrugs his shoulders.

“There was a reason I was glad to be leaving JRM for Hendrick….” Justin looks on shocked as the guys let out a bunch of cheers and laughs.

“If everything goes according to plan, I will be back next weekend at Watkins Glen,” he assures Jared, who lets out a big yes.

“Can you please convince Dale that he should work with us both so I can torture him?” Justin asks as Chase laughs.

“Unfortunately, I can’t do that. He was the one that convinced Sarina to call me, so I ow-”

“Save me this weekend?” Jared interrupts as Chase rolls his eyes.

“You’re on your own, this time buddy,” Chase tells him. “Cash in your favor another week. I’ll see ya boys later.”

Chase then heads out of the hauler, a smile firmly planted on his face. He couldn’t wait until he was back in the saddle next weekend.

****************************************

Chase sits on the pit box, intently watching the action on track as he watches the laps count closer to the end of the event. Sarina had done a great job all day, running with the front runners, keeping herself in contention for a good finish, and possibly a win. Though taking a deep breath, he knew anything was possible on a late-race restart – good and bad.

“Oh shit!” He lets out as he watches the No. 18 truck go sliding up the track in turn one, hitting the outside wall. He watched them go into the corner with Chase Briscoe taking her and Kaz Grala three-wide. Briscoe then caught the corner of Kaz, which caused Kaz to hit her and send her up into the wall.

“I’m okay….” Sarina lets out immediately on the radio, using every ounce of energy to not start blasting both Briscoe and Grala over the radio.

“10-4,” Marcus replies. “You did an amazing job all day. Nothing you could do there. Just one of those deals. We’ll get them in a couple weeks.”

“Thanks for the amazing truck, boss.”

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Short Track Lovin’ – Chapter 122: The E-Mail

Friday, July 21 – Indianapolis

Sarina walks through the motorcoach lot, smiling as she glances back at Marcus as they reach their direction.

“Thank you once again, Marcus,” she thanks the crew chief as he gives her a hug. “From being there today, to the support on the way home, and leading me out here. I appreciate it.” He simply nods his head.

“You’re welcome,” he assures her. “If you need anything, don’t hesitate to call.” She nods her head back in response as she looks at her phone once again.

On the flight home, she heard the alert go off, catching her attention. She was used to fans sending e-mails, and casually usually looked through them. With some time to kill, she figured that she’d glance through the latest batch. It was then she came across one in particular, causing her to freeze upon opening.

I thought I’d be nice enough to pass this along to you. This girl was in Chase’s hotel room in Vegas. I’m a fan, and I care, and I don’t want to see you get played.

She remembered the rage, anger and heartbreak that immediately hit her upon looking at the photo of this blond chick sitting in the bed, surrounded by stuff that she knew was his. She had trusted him more than anything – but yet, like everybody else in her life, here he had gone and turned his back on her with this girl.

She had shown the photo to Marcus immediately upon receiving, who was in total disbelief.

“That’s nothing like Chase, though,” she remembered him saying, and had let the thought run through her mind a couple times. But then she remembered – those who seem the best on the outside are typically the ones with the deepest closets.

Upon landing in Indianapolis, she didn’t want to see his face so she called Kyle immediately, asking if she could check in there with them. They immediately accepted – after a couple of questions, of course. By the end of the phone call, she could feel the anger from Kyle in learning the details.

Knocking on the door, she casually glances at her feet as she waits for it to be opened. She hoped she knocked loud enough they heard her, but not too loud that she woke up Brexton.

She immediately glances up as she hears the door open, set to head inside. However, she freezes when she sees Christopher Bell standing there before her. She was even more perplexed when he came forward, closing the door behind him.

“There’s not enough room for you in there with them so Kyle called me afterwards and briefly explained things,” Christopher comments as Sarina rolls her eyes.

“Of course you’d be the one he’d call,” she says as he glances at her.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” She crosses her arms as she looks around.

“You were the one that rode my ass for months about being cautious about this whole deal. You were the one that warned me about getting with me and making sure that everything was for the right reasons. You were the one that kept asking me if we could truly overcome what happened and trust each other. You challenged every bit of the relatio-”

“And now I’m ready to put you two back together.” Her jaw drops in surprise.

“You can’t be serious, Bell?!?” Christopher nods his head. “Kyle did tell you everything that happened, right?” Christopher nods his head again. “But yet, you think we should just go forward as the perfect couple when he chea-”

“You don’t have fool’s proof of that.” She then goes to take out her phone and load the photo, when Christopher places his hand on top of hers, holding the same photo she saw earlier. “Sure, she’s lying in his bed in the hotel room with stuff surrounding her. But is he anywhere in sight? Is he kissing, screwing, anything with her?” Sarina shakes her head no.

“It doesn’t mean nothing happened…..” Christopher knew that factoid, and wondered whether he could truly believe what Chase told him earlier.

“That photo fell into my hands earlier toda-” Sarina now wondered just how many people had a copy.

“How?” Christopher pulls out his phone, showing her the e-mail. A “concerned fan” had sent it, knowing that teammates took care of each other.

“I immediately took the photo to Chase, obviously as angry and upset as you are right now. He recognized the girl immediately – Allison is her name.” Sarina just lets out a laugh.

“He knows her name, but yet I’m supposed to believe nothing happened and just go back to usual relationship with him?” Christopher lets out a sigh, remembering a similar reaction.

“Chase told me that she was upset about being eliminated in the rounds, noting the judges as his back-up as there was a dispute right in front of them. If you go to the broadcast, you can see her standing at the table arguing with them for a bit after her elimination, too.” Sarina felt her guard drop a little, relaxing, as she was growing more curious. “He says she then snuck up into his room, and tried to entice him into sleeping with him. He says he didn’t, but rather packed up his stuff, left, and told security at the front desk.”

“So you’re trying to tell me that he was set-up and this was supposed to make me believe that they did and didn’t?” Christopher nods his head.

“Sarina, you know what I think of Chase. You know how many times I tried to convince you otherwise. You know that I am not a fan of you guys being together. But, when he reacted and told me all this, I believed him. Ryan Blaney was there, too, and he believed him as well.” Sarina glances at the photo once again.

“I don’t know….” Christopher wraps an arm around her shoulders.

“He said he’d take a lie detector test. He has people backing up what he’s saying. It’s almost fool proof.” Sarina felt a couple hot tears forming in her eyes. “At least walk down the row and go see him…” Sarina shakes her head no. “Why not?”

“Our relationship has been a question of trust for a long time, and here I stand – not trusting his word when you tell me it.” Sarina then looks at Christopher. “How am I a good girlfriend when I can’t trust the sweetest guy in the garage to treat me right? How am I a good girlfriend when I can’t trust that he wouldn’t do this to me? How am I a good girlfriend when I fall for a crappy photo?”

“You’re a good girlfriend. It was just well planted and well set-up. It was meant to do this. However, you’re both strong. You can fight through this – just like everything else. Go talk to him, please…” She then takes a deep breath as she wipes her eyes.

“Fine. Stick around for 10 minutes. If I don’t come out, head in for the night. If I do come out, it’ll be before then and obviously the conversation went to shit.” Christopher nods his head as he watches her head off.

She wipes her eyes a couple times, not wanting to have a crying face when she walked into the motorcoach. She then fixes her hair, feeling every bit of nerves. She knew it make or break for them here, and truthfully, she didn’t want to see the lather happen.

She reaches the door, knocking, as she fights against pacing back and forth outside. She smiles as she watches it open just a little and he pops his head out.

“You could’ve just let yourself in….” Chase comments as he stands back, opening the door wide enough for her to enter. She then steps inside, watching as he closes it behind her.

“I wasn’t sure after…I didn’t know….I was just uncertain – okay, I’m a bloody mess right now!” She then lets out as she turns around to face him. “I just cried my eyes out on a plane after being sent a bloody photo from some random person of this girl in your hotel room. Then I come to find out that Christopher got it as well, approached you, and heard what you told him. Now my mind is battling against whether you’re telling the truth or whether it’s a lie.” Chase glances down, worried about this exact situation from the moment he saw the photo.

“All I can do is assure you that I would never lie to you, never hurt you, and that I am telling the truth. It is up to you what to do with that information.” She lets out a sigh, remembering those common words from other discussions together.

“Remember when we got back together we said that we’d trust each other no matter what and tell each other everything honestly? I keep remembering that discussion. I keep thinking about every sweet moment that we’ve had together. But yet, I’m still conflicted when I look at the photo. I asked Christopher, and he insisted that we talk together. How am I a good girlfriend if I can’t trust you?” Chase could feel emotions breaking apart around them, feeling tears of his own forming. It was like a break-up discussion almost here.

“Anybody would have questions after seeing a photo like that – especially since I failed to mention what happened before you saw it, either. I just thought it was no big deal and tried to forget about it. I should’ve said something, and I’m sorry. That is just making things worse right now.” He then looks down himself. “So really, I broke the vow of trust and honesty first, so I can’t blame you for your questions, nerves, and accusations.”

“Why didn’t you say anything, by the way?” He then looks up and shrugs his shoulders.

“I just thought she was some crazed girl mad that she hadn’t moved forward in the competition – like some random crazy fan. I didn’t think it was a big deal.” Sarina looks back towards the photo.

“But yet, now everything about our relationship rides on this…” Chase nods his head. “The more I think about what you said, the more I think about what Bethany told me today. We ran into each other as I was leaving the court room after I sent you the text message. She was surprised that you weren’t there. I reminded her that you have a job, which I told you to focus on. She then said, ‘I hope he doesn’t grow bored or annoyed of you and find someone else to play with…’” The comment caught Chase’s attention immediately.

“It’s funny that she says that, and then this photo shows up, don’t you think?” He then snatches the photo, glancing at the attached e-mail. “I’d like to trace this e-mail and see where it lands.” Sarina then crosses her arms.

“What are you thinking, Chase?” Chase looks back at Sarina.

“She sent this chick purposely at me to see if she could make me cheat on you. This wasn’t the first time Allison approached me. She was the one that I mentioned on the phone message that offered some time by the pool, and the odd comments about our relationship. What if I was set-up by Bethany?” Sarina shakes her head.

“Bethany has always just been talk. She’s never done anything…..”

“But what if she did something this once knowing that Chris’ hands were ti-”

“The guard told me that they had an interesting conversation, and possibly warned that I should consider a restraining order against Bethany. Something about how we’d never be happy, she had a plan, and my brother would make it out of jail. He told me that I couldn’t press charges of threats since it wasn’t uttered to me, but a restraining order may be an option for my safety.” Chase then hands her the phone back.

“There you go….” Sarina lets out a sigh as she looks towards the ground.

“And I played right into her hand. I didn’t believe you for that time, exactly as she wanted.” She then glances up at Chase. “We know Chris is doing the trial to test everything about me – the honesty of my life, what happened, and to see how that’d affect me, you, Ryan, Kyle, and my career. This was the first test, Chase. I failed miserably…” He immediately steps towards her, wrapping both arms around her.

“No, you didn’t fail miserably. Sure, you had a couple moments where you wanted to strangle me, maybe even kill me. Sure, you shed some tears. However, you let yourself have the patience to listen to Christopher, and then listen to me. She may have won the battle initially, but you won the war because you figured it out and are still here in my arms.” She then looks up at him.

“What if we can’t always do that?” Chase shakes his head.

“Listen, we are always going to do that. Do you want to know why? Because there’s no way I am ever loosing you, no matter what. It’s going to take everything that she’s got to try because I am going to do whatever I have to do to fight for you, and make this work. I love you too much, and we’ve been through too much to let this go. Like it or not, you’re stuck with me.” She then chuckles as she lays her head against him.

“I don’t think I mind that….” She then looks up, and kisses his lips. “Thank you for dealing with my insecurities, anger, sadness, questions, everything.” He brushes the hair out of her eyes.

“It’s worth it for the fun times that we have together, the love we share, and all the good times that I know are to come.”

*******************************

Saturday, July 22 – Indianapolis

Chase and Sarina lay awake that morning in the motorcoach, with her clutched close to him as he kept his arms wrapped firmly around her.

“Do we have to get up?” Sarina questions as she sees the sun shining through the window. Chase chuckles and shakes his head no.

“I could just not qualify the car and start last on Sunday,” he answers as she chuckles.

“Could you imagine if you didn’t go out to qualify and the reason was because you didn’t want to let me go? Alan would kill me.” Chase chuckles, shaking his head.

“Actually, Alan likes you more than you realize. He says that you help keep me in a good mood on weekends, and easier to deal with at times. He also says I am happier when you’re around so he wants to make sure that doesn’t change. Besides, you already know the crew likes you.” She couldn’t help but shake her head as she remembered the antics of the crew at times.

“I still can’t believe Jacob called me and insisted that I call you because of how upset you were…”

“The guys care about me. What can I say?” She nods her head, knowing that feeling as she had already grown close to all of her guys at KBM, too. “Look at it this way – all I have to do is get up, get my firesuit on, walk out to pit road, qualify the car, and then we can do whatever we want.”

“Oh yeah. Watch you get the pole and then be delayed a half hour due to photos and media.” Chase shakes his head, remembering how practice went.

“That’d be a miracle, actually.” She then lifts her head off of him, looking up at his eyes with surprise.

“Excuse me?”

“You saw how the car was in practic-”

“I don’t give a shit what you thought of the damn car in practice. Where’s the belief that you’re the best damn racecar driver and can get the job done? Where’s the confidence in Alan and the guys making the right adjustments? I mean, they could make the perfect changes and boom – you start up front. Don’t ever give me that type of answer, ever.” Chase knew that she was right as a smile formed on his face.

“Alright, that’s fair. I will make sure to push it 100%, and believe that it’s the best car I’ve ever driven and I can get the job done.” She then smiles, going back to her position with her head against his chest. “But if I am going to do that, I need to get up now so I can grab a shower and get ready…”

“5 minutes?” He was set to protest, though remembered the discussion last night as he kept his arm wrapped around her.

“Deal.”

Short Track Lovin’ – Chapter 121: Court

Friday, July 21

Sarina glances at herself in the mirror, fixing her dress once again, before taking a deep breath. She hoped today went smooth as possible as she hated every second that she was spending there.

“Are you okay?” She hears and glances over her shoulder, nodding her head.

“Thanks for coming again, Marcus,” she thanks the crew chief with a smile. “It means a lot to have someone here.” Marcus rubs her shoulders.

“I told you – I’m always here for you, whether at the track or not. Besides, he did poison one of my guys, as well.” Sarina nods her head, remembering the story clearly. “I’m surprised that Chase didn’t com-”

“He wanted to, but I told him not too. He can focus on practice. He doesn’t need to be here to see what’s said.” She then takes another glance at herself in the mirror, before turning to him. “Alright, let’s go.”

The pair made their way down the hall, followed by entering the pair of big brown doors that revealed a court room. Continuing to take a couple deep breaths to keep herself calm, she makes her way to the front, taking her assigned seat behind the prosecutor. Marcus sits beside her, grabbing a hold of her hand, as she gives him a glance. She knew she had gotten lucky when Kyle had partnered them together.

Her eyes then focus forward as she watches her brother enter, surrounded by a pair of guards, and led to his location. She watches as the handcuffs are done, as he takes a glance towards her. She immediately looked away, not wanting to revisit every memory or thought she had. Her eyes then turn to the judge who entered, trying to see whether there was going to be any chance of sympathy, which she hoped was actually not the case.

“Judge Reynolds presiding,” the clerk states as he stands before the judge’s desk.

“Chris Dryer, correct?” Judge Reynolds questions and Chris nods his head yes. “I am going to read each change one by one. You are to state whether you’re guilty or not.” Sarina silently prayed to herself that he just pled guilty to each charge, not wanting to have to deal with months of court. “On the charge of poisoning Joseph Sanjay, how do you plead?”

“That was the random crew member from Bristol,” Sarina whispers as Marcus looks over confused.

“Guilty,” Chris states, giving Sarina hope for the rest of the day.

“On the charge of poisoning Jake Lamont, how do you plead?” Judge Reynolds asks, catching Marcus’ attention. He certainly had a personal vendetta over that one.

“Guilty.” Marcus takes a careful deep breath, pleased with the outcome. He knew the fellow team members would be, as well.

“On the charge of poisoning Peter Ebbs, how do you plead?” Sarina and Marcus both knew the name, having connected with him through Joe Gibbs Racing.

“Guilty.” Sarina couldn’t help but smile as she added the years up in her head, knowing eight years a person equaled 24 in total. It was the sanity that she needed to begin realizing the future she wanted.

“On the charge of poisoning Darrell Wallace Jr., how do you plead?” Marcus looks over at Sarina surprised and Sarina nods in approval, remembering that. He wasn’t that big of a deal, but enough to catch their attention. Everybody did a good job of blowing it off as Bubba just passing out from dehydration.

“Guilty.”

“On the charge of poisoning Ryan Blaney, how do you plead?” Sarina crosses her arms, remembering that one clear as day. She could still picture her and Chase returning to the motorcoach, receiving the concerning text from Erin, and hurrying to the hospital. It was also Ryan’s confession about her brother that got the wheels in motion for today. She then takes a careful breath, quivering a little, knowing that it was also a moment that almost drove her and Chase apart. Her stomach still ached at the thought of their fight.

“Not guilty.” Sarina then looks up shocked, cursing under her breath. What was the big deal now?

“Ryan saw him,” Sarina whispers to Marcus. “He was the one that set the wheels in motion, but yet he feels he can get away with that? Is he fucking serious?”

“Deep breath,” Marcus coaches her, rubbing her shoulder as he keeps his eyes locked on the judge. “He’s probably got a reason for doing it. He knows it will get under your and Chase’s skin. Didn’t you say the reason for him doing this was disagreeing with your life? Didn’t you say he wanted to end what you had grown? Well, this may be an approach. Don’t let him do that…”

“On the charge of poisoning Chase Elliott, how do you plead?” Judge Reynolds asks, catching Sarina and Marcus’ attention, again.

“Not guilty,” Chris states as Sarina looks over at Marcus. She was beginning to put more thought into his theory.

“He wants Ryan and Chase to testify,” she starts. “He wants them to have to come down here and testify, and possibly hope the rekindled emotions drive us all apart again.” Marcus nods his head.

“And what do you say to that?” Marcus replies as a smile forms on Sarina’s face.

“He’s got another coming if he thinks that. There’s no way Chase and I are letting anything come between us now, especially him for that reason. And as far as Ryan, there’s no issue there, either.” Marcus smiles as he had to applaud her attitude and perseverance.

“Thank you,” Judge Reynolds states as he looks over the notes. “Chris Dryer, you have pled guilty to four charges. At eight years a piece, that would give you a total of 32 years in prison with no chance of parole.” The judge then turns to the state attorney. “Are you going to pursue the remaining two charges?” The attorney glances over at Sarina, who simply nods her head. She knew it wasn’t going to be easy with Ryan and Chase’s schedules, though.

“Yes, we are,” she says as the judge makes a note.

“A trial date will be arranged at a future date for the trial to begin. Jury or no jury?” Sarina knew the answer to that already.

“No jury, please, for celebrity reasons. We are trying to keep this as quiet as possible.”

“Your honor, you’re going to give them special treatment because Mr. Elliott, Ms. Dryer, and Mr. Blaney happen to be famous?” Chris’ lawyer questions as Sarina begins fuming under her breath. She knew that Chris had probably instructed him to use her former last name out of spite. She also knew the reason for jury trial, to therefore try and get the story out there more to take a shot at ruining her career. Like Marcus had thought before, there was a method to his madness.

“Motion accepted – there will be a jury elected for the trial,” Judge Reynolds states, resulting in a sigh from Sarina. She knew this wasn’t going to go over well at all, and could only prepare for the shit storm that was set to come.

“Your honor, I also request a psychological evaluation for my client. He is accepting some charges but not others due to a conflict in knowing right from wrong. He also has an established psychological history, as well.”

“That history has been pulled apart and found to be faulty with him faking through those times, including working with corrupt doctors,” the attorney starts as Sarina crosses her arms. She remembered this very discussion with the attorney a couple days ago over the phone. “He has been found insane by clinic, and then managed to find a way out. He even told Mr. Elliott that he knew they found him crazy, but nobody could fix him because that’s who he was.”

“One of the victims admitting the client is crazy?” Chris’ lawyer states. “That should be enou-”

“He was stating against the point – hence playing the perfect rol-”

“It’s heresay regardless, your honor!” Judge Reynolds looks over the notes, before looking back up at both lawyers.

“Motion for psychological evaluation accepted,” Judge Reynolds states as Sarina lets out an aggravated sigh, wishing she could punch some sense into the judge. “That is it for today. Court adjourned!”

Sarina immediately heads for the door, with Marcus right behind her. She just wanted to get away from there as soon as possible, and try to forget everything that happened. She knew with the shit storm coming their way, it was only going to get worse – and she didn’t know whether she could take that.

“Wow Sarina, I’m surprised your sidekick isn’t here with you,” she hears, causing her to freeze immediately. She then glances over, seeing Bethany standing there with a grin on her face.

“My sidekick so happens to have a job that I told him to focus on instead since he didn’t need to deal with my family drama for me,” Sarina states.

“Ah, of course. I just hope he doesn’t grow bored or annoyed of you and find someone else to play with…” Bethany than walks away with a grin on her face as Sarina lets out an aggravated sigh.

“I just want to punch her so har-”

“She’s not worth it,” Marcus interrupts her as he wraps an arm around her. “Besides, you know how much Chase loves you, you know what you have together, and you know you’re doing the right things in your life. She’s just trying to get under her skin. Don’t let her win. We’ve got this.” Sarina wanted to go with Marcus’ words, but every bit of her drew closer towards breaking free and kicking Bethany’s ass.

“Can I just punch her once?” Marcus laughs and shakes his head no.

“Let’s just blow this joint, head to the airport, and get back to Indianapolis. I bet seeing Chase will make everything better.” She smiles in agreement as they head out together.

*************************************

Ryan Blaney walks through the garage, stopping at Chase’s stall as he crosses his arms before his fellow competitor.

“What do you call this ring tone?” Ryan questions as he holds his phone up, with Barney coming from it immediately.

“Aww Blaney, I didn’t realize you still watched that purple dinosaur,” Chase comments with a laugh as Ryan gives him a stern glance immediately.

“Care to do some explaining, Elliott?” Chase just grins and shakes his head no. “You can’t lie even if you tried, buddy. I can see through it….”

“When you go out to dinner, never leave your phone unlocked on the table. And by the way, it wasn’t my handy work.” Ryan then thinks it over, remembering last night, before looking back at Chase with a shocked expression on his face.

“Sarina?” Chase smiles and nods his head. “Damn it. She’s good…..” Chase smiles.

“I told you she’d get you back and she did a nice job at that.” Chase then walks away as Ryan looks back towards his phone.

“Tell her she’s got something coming…” Chase gives him a quick wave before he continues walking, reading the latest text that he had received from Sarina.

“Ryan!” Ryan freezes and goes over at Chase, caught off-guard by the instant serious tone. “Chris plead guilty to poisoning everyone, except us. They’re going through with a trial by jury, so therefore we’ll both have to testify.” Ryan then shakes his head in disgust.

“Lovely….” Chase nods his head in agreement.

“Marcus and Sarina think that Chris is doing it on purpose because he wants people to learn about Sarina’s back story, as well as what happened to us. It’s a plan in hopes that people turn their backs on her, as well as us going against each other.” Ryan then laughs.

“He seriously thinks that’s going to work?” Chase shrugs his shoulders. “Well, I can tell you right now there’s no way that’s working because no matter what, I’ve got your back and I’ve got your Sarina’s back. Besides, I need someone to prank.” Chase laughs.

“I appreciate that, really. You know I have your back too, right?” Ryan nods his head.

“Whatever comes your way, you guys will get through together.” Chase nods his head, hoping Ryan was right about that. They had already been through enough.

“Are you sure about that, Blaney?” Another voice chimes in, catching both of their attention. Chase immediately rolls his eyes as Ryan looks on confused.

“We’ve been through already, Bell,” Chase starts as he walks over to Christopher Bell. “I thought we talked about this. Didn’t you apologize for being an ass already?” Christopher nods his head.

“But I didn’t realize this about you,” Christopher replies as he shoves a photo in Chase’s face. Chase immediately freezes, recognizing it immediately.

“Allison…” Christopher then crosses his arms as Chase looks at the photo. Allison sat on the bed in his room, dressed in her skanky clothes, with a couple of very familiar items of his around. Obviously, she had planted this well before he showed up in the room to pack-up.

“So you know her? This gets better…” Chase then shoves the photo back into Christopher’s arms.

“She was upset about being eliminated in the rounds – you can check with the judges if you don’t believe me. She snuck up to my room and tried to sleep me, but she got nowhere. I packed my shit up, left, and told security at the front desk. Don’t believe me? Call the hotel. I wouldn’t ever dare of cheating on Sarina, ever.” Ryan then walks over, glancing at the photo himself. “I’ll even take a damn lie detector test if you don’t believe me.”

“I believe you,” Ryan comments as he hands the photo back to Christopher. “I mean, that’s a common trick by these girls. We’ve seen it before.” Christopher looks at the photo and back up at Chase.

“I believe you as well, to be honest,” he confesses. “I just hope that Sarina believes you.”

Chase felt confident in his chances, though the slim chance that she wouldn’t admittedly scared him.

He could only sit and wonder about the conversation that was set to come when they reunited together, on top of everything else already.

Short Track Lovin’ – Chapter 114: Solid Rebound

Thursday, July 6

Chase walked into the garage, smiling as some crew members from fellow teams walked over to ask how he was, followed by some other drivers. He simply answered their quick question, thanking them for the well wishes.

He makes his way into the motorcoach area, smiling as he lays his eyes immediately on Sarina. He walks over, pulling her close without any hesitation, followed by a kiss on the cheek.

“I’m surprised you survived a day without me,” he comments as she rolls her eyes.

“Just be glad that you haven’t heard half of the crap around here yet,” she tells him as he looks at her confused. “You got my text about Briscoe, right? Well, he was one of many with comments.” Chase firmly wraps his arms around her.

“Listen, those comments don’t bother me at all. I’m here to do my job, and that’s drive a racecar as far as I can and try to win for my team. If anybody wants to try and create other drama around us for whatever reason, let them, because it doesn’t faze me – same as the pressure, and whatever else. All that matters to me is what we have, together.” She smiles as she lifts his sunglasses off his face, looking into his eyes.

“Do you realize how special you are?” He chuckles as he takes his keys out of his pocket, twirling them around. He then reaches over, unlocking the door for the motorcoach.

“After you….” Sarina heads in first, with Chase going to follow her, before a hand lands on his shoulder.

“Can we talk first?” He hears and feels like rolling his eyes immediately as he turns around to face his mom. “Are you sure by what you told her? I mean, there’s going to be lots said. People are going to question your actions based on being with her after what Chris did. People are going question everything about her due to her brother, and her background – the same questions that I’ve been reminding you of. Are you ready for that to be thrown in your face?” Chase nods his head.

“Just like I told you on Monday, and will repeat 10 times over if need be, I have her back and nothing is going to change that,” he informs his mom. “Her brother’s actions are not her fault. That is his fault for choosing to do that for whatever reas-”

“What about the fact that she let it go on for longer than it should’ve?” Chase crosses his arms, having asked the question himself initially.

“There was no concrete evidence pointing him to the crime prior to Ryan’s admission and them finding the vials. Secondly, she loved her brother and wanted to believe in a future together reunited just like they were when they were younger. It’s understandable that she didn’t believe it. You wouldn’t believe it if someone close to you decided to do something like that, would you?” Cindy lets out a sigh, shaking her head.

“But you said it yourself – you didn’t know whether you could trust him. That should’ve been a warni-”

“It was a warning, and she did approach him so it wasn’t like she didn’t take any steps. I was guarded more than she was without a doubt, and reasonably so based on what happened. However, I will admit that I started to believe in the change for awhile there before a couple off-key conversations happened. So while you want to accuse her, you can accuse me the same thing because I also trusted him a little there.”

“There’s nothing that I can to say change your mind?” Chase shakes his head no. “You know, I do this because I love you and I want to protect you. I don’t want to see you hurt like that ever again, and I can’t help but look at her because that’s three times now. Normally it’s three times and you’re out. I also know what everybody in this garage is capable of doing with rumors and stories from your father, and I don’t want to see you go through that.” Chase places his hands on his mom’s shoulders as he keeps his eyes locked on her. If they were going to have this discussion, might as well get it all out at once.

“I appreciate how much you care for me, and how you’re looking out for me. But with all due respect, there’s nothing you need to worry about when it comes to Sarina. I won’t get hurt with her, and as I told her – what is said won’t bother me at all, no matter who says it. I’m a big boy; I can handle it.” He then gives her a hug. “I love you.”

“I love you, too.” He then turns on his heels and heads inside, slipping the door closed as his eyes set on Sarina who was sitting on the couch.

“The usual discussion?” Sarina questions and Chase nods his head. “Chase, I’m sorry….” He walks over, sitting beside her.

“I told you that you never have to apologize, right?” He asks and she nods her head. “Well then, don’t apologize. Besides, she’s starting to come around slowly. She told me that she is just doing this because of how much she cares about me, how she wants to protect me and what not. I think she’s beginning to see why I love you so much.” She smiles as she places her hand on his leg.

“Well how about you begin taking advantage of my caring nature and we go head back there, and relax for a bit? You’re supposed to be resting and building up that energy, huh?” He lets out a sigh and nods his head. “It’s going to be one of those rainy ass days so I say we spend it being as lazy as possible, together as much as we can, until I have to race tonight.”

“Do I have a welcome seat on your pit box tonight?” She smiles and shakes her head yes, remembering her discussion with Kyle.

“Let’s just say that the boss is glad that we are back together.” Chase was glad to hear that as he didn’t need to hear any backlash from Kyle.

“It’s probably because he knows it puts you in a better mood.” She chuckles as she stands up, pulling at his hand.

“Come on. You need to listen to doctor’s orders.” He lets out a sigh as he stands and follows her. He wasn’t one for spending time relaxing quietly, so it was tough to follow the orders of keeping quiet and being lazy. However, if he had to follow them, this was the best way possible.

“Yes, Nurse Ott.”

********************************

After a quiet afternoon, the pair ventured out to the garage area, where Sarina headed into the Kyle Busch Motorsports hauler for a pre-team meeting, followed by getting ready. The actions left Chase to himself in the garage area, obviously now surrounded by the same comments that Sarina heard the day before. Of course, they were heightened with the pair having being spotted holding hands.

“You look quieter than normal….” Chase hears and glances over, seeing Ryan leaning against a wall pillar.

“I could ask you why you look lost in a garage, but I’d assume that you’re here to watch Austin and Chase (Briscoe),” Chase replies as Ryan nods his head. “Besides, I’m normally quiet anyway.”

“Touché, but it just seems quieter, and I’ve heard all the comments that people have been saying. For the record, I have your back and I’m glad you guys are back to square one. As long as her brother stays locked away, I have no issues.” Chase walks over, leaning against the wall beside him.

“We’re both on agreement on that, and so is Sarina. She’s been checking in to make sure he isn’t pulling any tricks at all.” Ryan nods his head.

“And what about the comments?” Chase lets out a sigh as he glances around.

“I can’t deny what I’ve heard. I’m surprised by who has said some of the things, to be honest. I thought some of these guys in the garage were nicer and more understanding than that. I mean, hearing that Kyle only kept Sarina because she’s a girl, and hearing that I’m messing up my perfect life by aligning myself with a witch like her isn’t heartwarming.” Ryan couldn’t help but shudder at the comments. “But, for the most part, it doesn’t matter. I haven’t really listened to any of it and just let it blow over my head. I’m focused on two things – racing this weekend, and my girl.”

“So you’re for sure racing on Saturday night despite everything that happened?” Chase nods his head, feeling confident that he’d be able to endure the full 400 mile distance despite the heat and everything, even with still working at building his strength entirely back up. “Well, I wish ya the best of luck and hope you do well.”

“Right back at you.” The pair then fell quiet, waiting for their respective drivers as Ryan thought over whether to ask the next question.

“Has Sarina told you her thoughts on the comments at all?” Chase glances over, debating whether he should open up about the text message.

“Oh, about the fact that Austin approached her unfairly yesterday entering the garage with a bitchy comment? Yeah, that happened and she wasn’t pleased just because nobody would expect that out of him. You’d think Tim would’ve raised him better than that.” Ryan rolls his eyes, having heard the rough details from a couple crew members.

“I heard he apologized, though.” Chase nods his head. “I mean, I know that doesn’t excuse him, but hey, it’s something. Oh, and for the record, I have no agreement on that.”

“Other than that, she’s her usual self – focused on doing the best that she can and kicking his ass, fully without any other thought interrupting her. I mean, that’s what makes her so good – her focus. She will stay focused and keep pushing harder, and also take in whatever lessons she can. She was texting Christopher last night while texting me to get more advice.”

“They are on good terms?” Chase wasn’t quite sure how far that went, honestly.

“Working as teammates, and probably as friends too, but I won’t confirm it.” Ryan nods his head.

“Has she mentioned her brother or family at all?” Chase looks over confused. “We both said that it was going to be something that’d tear her apart and affect her emotionally. I was wondering if she began talking, if you don’t mind me asking.”

“She hasn’t said much, yet.” Chase glances down, before taking a deep breath. “Her tactic is to avoid everything, and focus on racing as her escape. I’m letting her do that right now, while continuing to assure her that I have her back. That way when it gets to where she wants to talk, she’ll open up to me rather than running away from it. That’s all I can do.”

“Well, I hope it works out because I want to see you both happy.” Chase smiles, wishing for the same thing.

“She deserves it.” They then smile as they watch her emerge from the hauler, dressed in her familiar white uniform with pony tail fixed appropriately, heading their way.

“Don’t be getting any ideas, Ryan,” she states with a smirk, walking up to Chase. “I see you staring…” Ryan then looks at her as innocently as possible.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about as I wasn’t looking at nothing,” Ryan comments as Chase gives him a glance.

“Just because white shows everything doesn’t mean that you need to stare,” Chase says as he wraps his arms around her. “We know you’re jealous of our relationship. When Emma stops her cock-blocking games, I’ll find you a girl.” Ryan just rolls his eyes as Sarina laughs.

“Keep talking all you want, but remember who got you with the orange juice.” Sarina’s smile immediately disappears, turning into a ice cold stare on Ryan.

“That prank war isn’t over by a long shot, Blaney,” she says before walking away.

“You started a war that you’re not going to win,” Chase adds as he follows her with a smile of his own. It was nice to be getting back to their joking ways.

****************************

Sarina leans against the truck, sipping on a bottle of water following her post-race interviews, smiling as Marcus and Chase make their way over.

“Solid rebound,” Chase comments as he gives her a hug. “That was a job well done, considering.” She couldn’t help but agree. After running up front all race, she got spun at the beginning of the third stage, but managed to fight back for a fifth-place finish.

“Thank you,” she replies. “I just can’t help but think should’ve, could’ve and would’ve. If we could’ve stayed up front, we would’ve been able to possibly fight for the win and should’ve been right there with Christopher.” She then lets out a sigh as she takes another mouthful.

“Don’t let it eat at you. You’re performing great for a rookie – just ask anybody. The wins and success will come if you keep running like you are. You’re doing great.” He gives her a pat on the shoulder as Marcus looks on, nodding his head in agreement.

“Kyle found a gem in you, and we’re going to show everybody that soon,” he adds. “We’re working towards that. We’re running up front – now we just need to put it all together. Patience, young grasshopper.” She smiles as she simply gives her crew chief a hug.

“As long as we survive a night on dirt, I won’t complain,” she comments, knowing the next truck race was at Eldora Raceway. “That’s a whole new ballgame for me so it’ll be interesting.” Marcus chuckles nervously, though wasn’t too worried after seeing others adjust quickly.

“You have a natural feel. We’ll be fine…”

“You can also ask Christopher for advice,” Chase adds and Sarina nods her head, though slightly surprised. She thought that Chase was all set on those two not talking following Christopher’s previous comments.

“Keep doing what you’re doing, focus on your thing, and everything else will fall into place,” Marcus reminds her. “I’ll see you next week.” He then heads off as she turns to Chase.

“He’s right. It’ll work out, everything….” He then pulls her into a hug, knowing that the spin was still eating at her, as he rubs her back.

As she thought it over, she knew being frustrated with the spin was small in comparison to everything going on. If that was the only complaint on the day, than perhaps it wasn’t too bad and maybe Marcus was right. Maybe it was time for that happy ever after, finally.

Though letting out a sigh and seeing a missed call on her phone, she knew that was further from the truth given everything going on. She shakes her head, wishing the accompanying thoughts would disappear again as she deletes the notification.

Short Track Lovin’ – Chapter 98: The Highs and Lows

Through the whole week, Sarina was quieter than normal – something that bugged Chase.

He knew that she wasn’t one to talk about her feelings much and guarded at times, so it wasn’t a surprise. He just wished on some occasions that she’d open up to him.

“Everything okay?” He questions as they’re packing for the weekend. She just shakes her head yes, double checking her bag. “If something is on your mind, you can talk to me.”

“I know; I trust you – completely,” she tells him as she looks across the room at him. “It’s just a couple different thoughts on my mind. Do you ever get the thought that you left something in the rearview and it wouldn’t bother you again, but it does?” Chase looks at her puzzled, thinking it over. Based on life experiences, it was hard to relate as he could see where she was going.

“I thought I could be completely over what happened with your brother, but that plagues my paranoia at times. Does that count?” She thinks it over, though rolling her eyes at the same time. Chase’s comment proved her point thoroughly and that her brother was right.

“Chris and I got into a discussion about me ignoring the idea of the family reunion and pissing off Bethany a couple weeks ago. He told me that I could change my name and runaway, but it would never leave me.” She then sits down on the bed as Chase makes his way around to her side. “I get that you can’t choose your parents and what happens around you. I get that decisions were made by my brother and my father that I cannot control. But regardless, they affected me and changed me. I just wish some days that I could look forward without that single thought in the rearview.” Chase sits beside her, grabbing her hand with his.

“We all wish that there are things we could just make disappear or change. I wish some days that I could’ve met my cousin Casey. I never got the chance to get to know him, but the stories that I hear from my mom, dad and Ernie are just crazy. There’s also some decisions that I’ve made through the years that I wish I could change – like completely going off on you that nigh-”

“I deserved that, Chase. I wasn’t truthful and in the end, you’re the one that got hurt.” Chase knew that she was right, however he could still never blame her for what happened.

“You were afraid, scared; you had lots of emotions and reasons for what you did. Remember, I don’t fault you for that. Besides all that, listen, I know your past affects you – it’s why you wouldn’t let me in at first.” She chuckles, remembering how much she forced him to push before a first date.

“You were a good help getting ready for Berlin, though.” He chuckles, remembering the couple of long nights in her garage helping her with the late model.

“As I recall, you had a decent finish that weekend, too.” She shakes her head yes as a smile forms on her face. “We’ve both heard the saying – what doesn’t kill you just makes you stronger. I know you want to pretend some days as if nothing happened and you’re all powerful and invincible. However, remember that you’re human and you have feelings. It’s okay to have regrets, anger, sadness, and whatever else you’re feeling. Just know that you can always talk to me about it. And by the way, your past doesn’t affect how I see you. I still see you as the wonderful girl that I fell for, despite the desire to beat you so badly. But I also have more respect for you, who you are, and the strength that you have.” She smiles as she wraps her arms around, kissing her lips.

“You just know what to say at the right time. Thank you.” He gives her a kiss in response before standing up, and going back over to packing.

“Just think – this time next week, we will be headed to Florida together.” She smiles, knowing that was a good idea. “I still say you should fly out to California on Saturday with Amy.” Sarina knew the offer was very tempting, and considering that her mood was brightened, maybe it was a good idea.

“I will think about it, okay?” He crosses his fingers as he picks up his bag and leaves the room.

*****************

“So, did you talk to her?” Bethany asks as she meets up with Chris at Iowa Speedway. She was surprised that she was still on the list for available VIP passes for Sarina after their fight. She could only muster that she had forgotten to remove her name.

“She isn’t budging on going to the family reunion, or any thought of that matter,” Chris answers as Bethany rolls her eyes. “It’s like she doesn’t give a shit about anybody in the family.”

“She has to care about you to stand up for you in front of Chase.” Chris knew that was true as he looked out to the track, watching her practice.

“Sure, I supposed. But what about you? What about Uncle James? What about Uncle Nick? I mean, I get her reasons against Leon, but come on. There may have been some ruffled feathers at times, but no family is perfect.”  He then spins around. “I’ve always wished we could go back to when we were little kids and having everything just right.”

“Sometimes you don’t get what you wish for, Chris.” Chris then turned around as a smile formed on his face.

“No, but there’s other things that you can do so it works out as you want. It’s just working up to the master plan.” Bethany then looks over at him confused as he simply continues to smile.

“Chris Dryer, do I want to know what you got in mind?” Chris shakes his head no.

“Let’s just say that the world as she knows it is going to have some fun, and she will learn that you don’t turn your back on family.” He then heads for the stairs, as Bethany places her hand on his shoulder.

“What are you planning? Because whatever it is, I want in…” He then smiles as he turns back to face her.

“The past couple weeks and those accidents that have been happening to those around them is nothing out of surprise. It’s just working up to the top hits…..”

****************************

Sarina climbs out of the truck, pumping her fist in the air, before walking over and wrapping both arms around Marcus.

“Way to go!” Marcus tells her as they take a look at the top of the scoreboard to double check. Sure enough, she had scored herself the pole for that night’s race.

“Thank you for an awesome truck,” she replies. “I had a good feeling coming here, and damn, it just feels even better. I can’t believe it.”

“Just make sure to remember it’s a long night, and not to over jump the gun.” She shakes her head, knowing that.

She then makes her way through the crew members, giving them high-fives, before giving her post-qualifying interview. Once she was done the interview, she went through the usual routine of post-qualifying media center, followed by taking photos as the pole sitter. She easily accepted the accolades, glad that everything had come together perfectly after practicing well and knowing she had a good Toyota Tundra under her.

With some time to spare once she was done, she took her phone out of her pocket. She knew at about the same time as she was qualifying, Chase would be on track in Sonoma for their second practice session. Oh the fun of handling a time difference between their events. She smiled as she read his quick text message of congratulations, obviously sent between practice ones. She replied back, flipping through a couple others.

She then goes into the mobile internet, set to load the leaderboard on NASCAR.com. As she watches the main page load, her jaw drops in seeing an image of the No. 24 Chevrolet with the entire front end ripped off. She takes a deep breath, reminding herself to stay calm. If Chase was hurt in anyway, Alan or one of the guys would have texted her already.

She loads the video, watching as he gets loose through turn 10, spinning around and making contact with the outside concrete barrier. She notices the edge of the bumper catch the wall, ripping away from the car. She then sits down on the bench she had come across in her walk, telling herself repeatedly that the car looked worse than the hit actually was based on the video.

“Hey sis, are you okay?” She hears in the midst of her thoughts, glancing up to see her brother standing there.

“Yeah,” she answers as she flips screens, sending a quick text message to Alan, Chase, and a couple crew members at once. She kept telling herself not to worry, but she couldn’t help but send the message.

“What’s wrong?” Chris then sits down beside her as he watches her furiously send the message.

“Chase wrecked in final practice at Sonoma.” She sits back, hoping that she heard a ping back in response soon.

“Is he okay?” She holds her phone up, rolling her eyes, before clutching it back close to her. “I’m sure he’s fine. You know, you worry too much.”

“Well I’m sorry I damn well care about how he is doing. That’s part of loving someone, in case you didn’t realize that.” She then hears the phone ping, chuckling as she looks at the video that Jared sent her of Chase giving her a quick wave & dance. She sends back a thank you message, letting out a sigh of relief.

“What’d I tell you?” She just rolls her eyes as she sits back.

“It’s better to know and be safe, rather than regret it later. It’s a little comfort in having received or seen something. At least the boys get that.” She then stands up, taking a quick glance back at Chris. “Oh, and you can tell Bethany that as of Kentucky, she’s off the VIP list. Yeah, I saw you talking with her and my answer hasn’t changed. Now, I have a driver’s meeting to go to.” She then heads off as Chris just smiles.

*****************

Chase smiles as he keeps his eyes on the clock, watching the minutes tick by. He had promised himself not to dial her number for 20 minutes after the race. He knew that she’d be doing interviews, debriefing with the guys, and getting changed out of her driver’s suit. He figured if he gave her enough time to go through all that, she’d be ready to chit chat for awhile before flying out with the team.

18 minutes….19 minutes….19 minutes and 15 seconds….19 minutes and 30 seconds….19 minutes and 45 sec…

“Screw it!” He lets out as he hits dial on her number, lying back in the hotel room. Being out in California, he had forgone the motorhome route and instead split a hotel with Ryan Blaney.

“Hey!” She immediately answers the phone call, full of happiness.

“Nice job tonight, rookie. I’d say that laps led with a nice sixth-place finish is a great step in the right direction. You are finding your groove, and Marcus is giving you something to work with.” She smiles as she walks through the hauler, slipping the door closed to the lounge as she enters.

“Why, thank you sir. I appreciate the compliments from a Cup Series driver who has a lot of talent.” He then chuckles.

“I mean it. You did great out there. I think I could give you a couple restart tips, but not too shabby.” She then flops back, letting out a sigh. She knew the last restart could’ve gone a little better as there was a chance that she could’ve had a top-three finish if the others didn’t get the run on her.

“I’d appreciate those tips, Mr. Elliott. Actually, I have to say that tonight was just purely amazing. Can we race here every week? I mean, Iowa is beyond anything that I’ve done before.  I can’t explain how much fun I had tonight going three, four-wide at times and trying every groove. It has to be the funnest race of the year – besides racing you at Atlanta.” He smiles, knowing both truck races that he had gotten to run this year had been fun. He was wondering if possibly GMS would let him run another two later on this year.

“I always liked going to Iowa, too. Kentucky is just as much fun as that, but on a bigger scale. You’re set to find out why guys like Matt Crafton never want to leave the truck series.” She knew that she couldn’t wait for that, as a fun summer of racing would be a great way to put the past couple of weeks behind her. “So, are you coming out to California?”

“Maybe, maybe not. I still haven’t quite decided yet.” He lets out an aggravated sigh. He thought it’d be an instant yes, hence the text messages to Amy already.

“Oh come on. You know you want to see me.” She then chuckles as there was no way to lie about that.

“Hm, but I could hang around North Carolina this weekend. I could spend some time on the lake, work on my tan a little. I could even go to Hickory for a nice short track night out. You’re cutting into my fun time.” He couldn’t argue with her suggestions for a fun weekend, but that didn’t mean he was giving up yet.

“I still say coming and hanging out with me would be more fun. Besides, I miss our cuddles. I could use some tonight.” She then lets out a sigh, knowing that he was using the sympathy card on her for the qualifying wreck.

“Chase, good try but you’re fine and you’re going to do well tomorrow in qualifying, and race well on Sunday. I believe in you.”

“You should still come….” She then smiles as she finishes getting changed.

“I guess I should. Someone needs to keep your butt in line.” He smiles, letting out a fist pump.

“Oh hell no – I never agreed to sharing a hotel room with the both of you,” Ryan lets out from his side of the room as Chase looks over. “Oh no. I’m not listening to kissy sounds and cuddles each night. No way. That’s not what I agreed to.”

“Think of it this as a bonus – you can torment Blaney,” Chase teases as Ryan flips the finger at him.

“I’m sure there’s plenty of sounds that I can make to give him nightmares,” Sarina comments, followed by making some sexual noises over the phone. Chase breaks out laughing as he sees the look on Ryan’s face.

“I think I’m going to be sick,” Ryan says as he throws a pillow across the room at Chase, making him laugh even harder.

“Suddenly, this weekend got a whole lot more entertaining. See you soon, boys!” Chase then hangs up as he looks over at Ryan with a smile, with Ryan just rolling his eyes.

Short Track Lovin’ – Chapter 97: Michigan

Sunday, June 18

Chase wakes up the next morning, getting himself some breakfast.

Remembering how well practice went and how last year was, confidence seemed to come easy that morning. They just had to put together a solid 400 miles and perhaps today would be the day.

He was focused on eating his breakfast when he heard a knock at the door.

He gets up and walks over, half-expecting his parents. That would’ve been fine with him, considering it was father’s day and there was nothing wrong with seeing them anytime.

Though when he opens the door, he sees Alan standing there, catching him off-guard. They hadn’t agreed to any pre-race meeting.

“Good morning,” he says as he lets the crew chief in with ease.

“Morning,” Alan replies simply as he walks inside. He then sits on the couch as Chase walks by him to where his plate sat on the table. “Whatcha eating?”

“Bacon, eggs, toast and some orange juice. I would’ve made you some if you would’ve told me you were coming.” Alan chuckles, having grown used to some of their pre-race breakfast meetings. It was always a good weekend when they avoided those as that meant no last minute discussions.

“Sorry for the surprise visit. I actually came by because something came to my attention this morning, courtesy of Jared.” Chase then looks over, curious. It was never good when the crew members brought something to their chief’s attention.

“So why are we starting at the back this week then?” Alan looks on surprised by the response.

“It doesn’t have anything to do with the racecar, actually.” Chase was now even more confused. First the surprise meeting, followed by a finding by a crew member. “Do you remember when Bubba passed out last week during his post-race interview?”

“He was dehydrated, pissed at himself. I texted him later on to see how he was.” Alan shakes his head, surprised at how underwraps it had been kept.

“Welcome to your latest incident under the poison investigation. Jared said they pulled him for more questioning on whether he recognized anybody that was seen around the RPM pit or Bubba post-race with drinks that had been around him a couple weeks ago.” Chase shakes his head in disbelief.

“No way….” Alan shakes his head yes. “You’d think Bubba would’ve said something, considering he knows one of my crew members had been affected already.”

“It seems as though NASCAR and Richard Petty Motorsports wanted to keep it under wraps. You want to see the headlines when it gets out that a driver was poisoned? Hello paranoia 101, especially considering all the headlines about him going into the weekend.” Chase knew that Alan was probably right, as he had seen the comments already by people on social media. He wished people could just leave the racism behind them, and get with the 21st century.

“Well, they are doing a good job at it…” Alan watches Chase carefully as he notices the young man thinking. “What?”

“Speak, please….” Chase lets out a sigh.

“Christopher Bell mentioned to Kyle that Sarina’s brother has been at the track every time something has happened. They flew in for Sunday’s race once she was done racing at Texas. Again, it’s another time that it checks out. Plus, we still can’t place him for that one time remember.” Alan crosses his arms.

“So you’re starting to believe the theory more and more based on what he told you that day, which you haven’t told me yet, and coincidence? Just by chance, have you said anything to Sarina?” Chase shakes his head no immediately.

“What evidence do I have to go by? She’ll think that it’s coming completely from left field, that I’m paranoid, and shoot it back in my face. Heck, I might as well kiss the progress that I’ve made away.” Alan knew there was a good chance of that, but he couldn’t let his own guard down.

“And what if something happens to you, or this gets outta control? I mean, we’ve been alright so far with everybody being fine. But what if the worse happens?” Chase knew there was a chance of that, but he wasn’t changing his approach.

“Right now, I believe that it is my own paranoia just because of what happened and the fact that I can never trust him, ever. However, if there’s any sign of evidence, I will be the first one to be knocking at her door.” Alan shakes his head in agreement. It seemed like a good plan. “Now, can we focus on today?”

“Of course. We have some goals to accomplish, right?” Chase smiles and shakes his head yes.

*****************

Sarina takes a deep breath as she looks into the graveyard. She clutches the rose to her chest, taking another deep breath, before walking forward. She slowly walks down the walkaway, hearing the footsteps in toe. It had been last minute, but she was glad that she had company.

“Thank you for coming,” she whispers quietly as she looks back over her shoulder at Marcus.

“It’s not a problem,” he replies as he pats her shoulder lightly, before giving her some space. “Your brother didn’t want to come?” She shakes her head no.

“In his mind, my father caused his own problems and only made my brother’s life worse.” She shakes her head as she stops, glancing down at her feet. “He could be further from the truth, actually. He was trying to help him, even if he went about it the wrong way.”

“Take your time. I’ll stand here and just watch over, or come closer if you want. I can give you a hug, hear you out. Whatever you need, Sarina.” She shakes her head, accepting, as she takes another careful deep breath. She then makes her way onto the grass, walking up to the stone as she places the rose on top.

“Happy Father’s Day, daddy. Just like every other year, I’m here to say the same thing – I miss you, and wish you were here with me every day. You always my inspiration, and the reason why I think I took the chaotic life that I did. I wish you were here to see where I am now, and watch me drive for someone as amazing as Kyle. Heck, I wish you could meet Chase. I know you were always a Darrell Waltrip fan and wanted him to wreck Bill one night, but heck – his kid turned out amazing.” Marcus couldn’t help but chuckle at that comment.

“So your dad wasn’t the biggest Elliott fan?” She shakes her head.

“He was one of those ones that desired the crazier personalities, like Waltrip. Maybe that’s why I’m a little hard-headed and stubborn sometimes, just like him.” Sarina stops, taking a deep breath. “I miss you. I hope you’re proud of me. I wish you were here. Thank you for everything….” She then turns around, wiping a stray from her eyes. She then keeps walking, feeling her legs to start to give out. Marcus instantly reaches out, grabbing her and pulling her close.

“Ssssh, it’s okay. I’ve got you….” He keeps her held close as he rubs her back. “I’ve got you….”

****************

Chase unlocks the door, walking in the house and shutting it behind him. He slips his shoes off as he sets his phone on the table.

It had been a solid day, capped off with another runner-up finish. While he wanted to be disappointed, he couldn’t be as they finished better than they ran all day, and that’s all you could ask for. He knew if they kept working at it, his day would come.

He looks into the living room, smiling as he sees her curled up on the couch. Marcus had texted him earlier about their quick trip to New York. He makes his way into the living room, grabbing the blanket off of the other chair, and slipping it over her.

“Chase?” She says a little groggy, looking up at him. “Hey babes…”

“Hey,” he replies as she sits up. “How are you?” She then lets out a sigh as she looks around the room.

“How long have I been sleeping for?” He shrugs his shoulders, showing her what time it was. “Wow, five hours. I was going to watch the recording of the race and then I just zonked out.” He sits down beside her, wrapping an arm around her.

“It’s okay. I understand. Emotionally drained, it happens. Don’t fret. You didn’t miss much. I just finished second to Kyle Larson.” She then grabs his hand, rubbing it as she leans against him.

“Your day will come….” He looks into her eyes.

“I don’t care about that right now. All I care about is you. I totally forgot about how you would be feeling today, and I hate that. I’m sorry. I should’ve texted or called you, or something….” She shakes her head.

“I didn’t want to mess up your focus today, and it’s fine. You’re here now, and that’s what matters. I love you.” She leans in and kisses his lips.

“I love you, too. Wanna go upstairs?” She shakes her head yes as she gets up and follows him up the stairs.

“Can we just cuddle and watch a movie?” He spins around and smiles.

“That was my plan. I have someone you should meet – Chase Race-a lot.” She then looks on surprised.

“Oh really? Is he cute?” He shrugs his shoulders. “Wait, how do you have Cars 3 already?” Chase smiles as he pulls the DVD out of his bag, and places it on the bed.

“There’s perks to be one of the stars of the movie. Now, are you ready to see my staring role?” She then rolls her eyes as she flops back in the bed.

“Sure, but I heard that Inside Laney is cooler.” Chase rolls his eyes as he pops the movie in, before slipping his shirt off and climbing in the bed with her. He pulls her close, keeping her cuddled in his arms, as they take in the move together.

Short Track Lovin’ – Chapter 93: A Watch Party

Everybody meets up in the hotel room, taking various spots on the pair of couches and floor with snacks and drinks spread out. It was going to be an entertaining night….

“Calling it now – Johnny Sauter for the win!” Alan proclaims, causing a couple surprised glances.

“You’re seriously saying that in front of Sarina’s boy?” Eddie D’Hondt questions as Alan shrugs his shoulders.

“I’m going to win….”

“In your dreams,” Chase says, having a good feeling about that night.

“I’m taking Bell,” Eddie comments, causing Chase to roll his eyes. “We all know who Chase is taking.”

“BKR trucks deserve a win – Briscoe or Cindric, I don’t give a damn which one,” Jared Seate comments.

“How are you guys betting against Crafton on an intermediate track?” Chad Avrit wonders, noting down everyone’s picks on a piece of paper.

“Well you guys are unfair in taking all the good picks, but I’ll snag Rhodes,” Jared Erspamer says.

“Guess that leaves me Nemechek,” Nick O’Dell figures as he glances through the driver’s list. “Can we come up with a better picking order next time?”

“Long as I get Sarina each time, I don’t care,” Chase says as the boys just roll their eyes.

All the eyes focused on the screen, watching Sarina lead the first several laps ahead of the field to Chase’s joy. Though as they got into the run, there was no stopping Johnny Sauter as he made the pass, taking the lead with a smile forming for Alan.

As the guys focused on various parts of the event, Chase focused on Sarina and how she was running, watching her fade back a couple spots. He watched as she dropped back to eighth by the end of the stage, knowing some adjustments were needed for the long haul.

“You’re not growing nervous, are you?” Jared questions, eyes focused on Chase. “There’s still quite a bit to go….”

“I’m confident in Marcus and know that they’ll get her working better,” he comments, knowing that Marcus was always good in adjusting for Timothy Peters through the years and had grown a good reputation with Sarina so far. He just hoped that paid off tonight.

“I told you that I’d win!” Alan comments, as he steals the chip bowl from Chad, earning a stern look from him.

“That’s just a stage – doesn’t mean shit,” Chad says as Alan looks on, intrigued.

“Do you realize how much that one playoff point could come into play come November?” Chad knew that Alan was right, but wasn’t set to give in.

“It doesn’t matter who is leading now, but who gets the white and black flag at the end of the race, and I told you who’d that be.”

“It’s not going to be Crafton tonight,” Chase comments. “Notice how much he is struggling on the get go of a run? He loses too much time.” Chad rolls his eyes, but he knew that Chase was right in his comments.

“Junior Joiner can make just as good as an adjustment as Marcus so don’t be counting your chickens yet,” Chad states. “Besides, I think he’s running better than your girl, and that’s how the night is going to go…”

“Those are fighting words,” Nick O’Dell comments, holding up a pillow as he peeks from around it, causing laughs.

“I don’t want any food fights tonight, okay?” Alan declares. “I don’t want to tell Rick that I had to void the security deposit due to needing them to clean the room since I had a bunch of rowdy kids as crew members get into a food fight, again.” The boys laugh, remembering the last time they got together to watch something – hockey – and the result being food flying across the room as they debated penalties.

“I still say that call against Crosby was unfair,” Chad states as Nick rolls his eyes.

“Will you let it go already?” Nick questions. “Your team is in the finals. Shouldn’t that be a big enough reason to forget?” Chad shakes his head no as Nick lets out a sigh. “Ridiculous. I hope Nashville kicks his ass.”

“And I hope you choke on your chips.” Nick looks on shocked as Alan just rolls his eyes.

“Boys, they’re going back green,” he says. “Let’s just focus on the race, please…..”

Everybody quiets down as the race goes back green for the second stage. Just like the first stage, everything went smoothly without any major incidents. While Sauter led throughout, it’d be Christopher Bell snagging the stage victory with Sarina finishing eighth as she ran just outside the top-10 throughout.

“Come on Marcus,” Chase comments, fingers crossed that Marcus actually adjusted the truck enough this time.

“Any comment, crew chief?” Eddie asks as he looks over at Alan, in reference to Christopher beating Johnny.

“That’s not the final checkered on the night so like they said, no counting chickens yet,” Alan says. “She seems like she’s loose. If he would go up on the trackbar or adjust the air pressures, she’ll probably be fine.” Chase knew that Alan was probably right, hoping Marcus got the idea based on what they were seeing.

“Isn’t it tricky though with the turns configured a little differently?” Jared Seate questions and Alan shakes his head yes.

“But we got it trickier with Pocono having three different corners. By the way, Chase, I want you to jot down after what you felt each corner and scale it so I can think it over tonight.” Chase shakes his head accepting as he takes the piece of paper from the crew chief.

“Chasey got homework….”

“Jared is still a little brat,” Chase comments, causing some laughs amongst the group.

Everybody turned serious as the race went back to green, with Christopher leading as Chase Briscoe moved into the second spot, looking for every way he could around the No. 4. All eyes were focused on the battle for the lead – well, except for a pair, who were watching for some progress out of the No. 18.

With about 65 laps still on the board, though, a grasp of shock escaped Chase as he watched the No. 18 make an abrupt turn off the track on to pit road.

“Not again,” he comments out loud, referencing the fact that it seemed each week, trouble found them. He watched as she made the pit stop, before returning back to the track.

“Loose wheel,” Chad Avrit reads off of twitter as Chase looks over in surprise.

“Seriously?” Chad shakes his head yes. “Of course because what else would it be? I mean, it’s not like anything can just go normal for a night. Oh no, that’s been her season with one thing after another. If she could just knock out some solid quiet nights, then maybe she could be like Mr. Bell and winning and leading. But oh no, we got to find issue after issue after issue.”

“She was also speeding so she has to come back down.” Chase then rolls his eyes, ready to head out then and there.

“You’re kidding?” Chad shakes his head no. “Why oh why, Sarina? You should know better. She got busted for that some place else. You’d think she’d remem-”

“She thought she had a serious problem and turned quickly. It’s understandable if she speeds a little.” Chase rolls his eyes.

“You’ve done it, too,” Alan reminds him as Chase lets out a sigh, knowing that Alan was right. However, it didn’t make this any easier watching as he watched her slip two laps down, sitting back in 19th.

Chase was set to give up entirely on the night when the caution flew about 20 laps later for Stewart Frisen hitting the wall. He immediately put faith in that they’d take the wave around to at least get one lap back.

“She won’t make it on fuel if she does that,” Alan concedes, watching her head down pit road. “Remember she pitted about 10 laps shy. If we get no more cautions, she’s screwed worse than already.”

“Besides, there’s still vibration complaints per twitter,” Chad adds.

“Of course there is,” Chase says as he rolls his eyes. “They should be putting on a wheel spacer as they probably fucked the studs.” The comment catches a couple of the crew members off guard as they look back at their driver. “It’s true…”

The race goes back to green, with the caution flying once again sooner as Myatt Snider gets into the turn two wall and spins. Chase could only let out a sigh, wondering what Kyle was thinking between the issues for both Sarina and Myatt now.

“The way this is going, Bell is going to get taken out by Briscoe,” Chase comments, barely even wanting to pay attention.

“Hey!” Eddie and Jared Seate both let out at the same time as Chase rolls his eyes.

“Nothing would surprise me anymore.”

“Wheel spacer is on now,” Chad comments, having read the latest tweet from KBM.

“Now?” Chase questions. “So they didn’t do that before? Geez, what are they? A bunch of rookies? I bet Kyle is fuming in his motorcoach right now.”

They watch the race go back to green, eyes focused on the battle up front between the leaders, along with seeing Justin Haley get loose, sliding up to Nemechek with Nemechek getting in the wall heavily for the caution.

“There goes my bloody pick, thanks to Haley,” Nick O’Dell comments. “I told you being stuck with Nemechek was shit.”

“He should’ve had ran down as close to Haley’s door then,” Chase replies as Nick could just roll his eyes in annoyance. “On a brighter note, thanks to your buddy for getting me my girl a lap back.”

“Feeling a little better there?” Jared Seate questions as Chase perks up a little.

“Just need one more caution and with the way these guys drive, that shouldn’t be hard.”

“Can I have a new pick, please?” Nick questions and the boys shake their heads no. “So first I get last pick and get stuck with crap-head, and then now I don’t even get a second shot?”

“Cheater cheater pumpkin eater,” Chad teases as Nick flips the bird.

“Boys….” Alan warns as he glances up from his notes at them.

“Just because your guy is still in it, you can’t be an ass for us,” Nick says as Alan just rolls his eyes.

“Remind me that this is the last time that we do this.” Jared then pouts, having ideas for next weekend already.

“But I wanted to have a get together for Gateway,” he states as Alan rolls his eyes, again.

“Do it somewhere else, but not with me involved, please. Oh, and Sauter is going to win because jackass 1 and jackass two are going to wreck each other like Chase said originally. They’re driving each other too hard to keep it clean.” Eddie and Jared then both laugh as they watch the field get ready to go back green.

The green flag flies with eyes set on the battle for first between Bell and Briscoe. The battle didn’t last long, though, with the caution flying once again for smoke pouring out the back of Grant Enfinger. It brought a smile to Chase’s face, though, as he knew that meant Sarina was back on the lead lap with 14 laps to go.

“I’ve never seen someone smile at someone blowing up,” Alan comments with a glance over towards Chase.

“You obviously haven’t seen those who hate Kyle Busch when he has a bad day,” Chase says. “But everything’s great now that Sarina is back on the lead lap.”

“Should we remind you of when you were throwing in the towel?” Jared Seate questions and Chase rolls his eyes.

“I never give up on my girl.” The boys then chuckle as they think back to his words.

“You almost left….”

“You figured it was all over with no hope in the kitty,” Chad adds as Chase lets out a sigh. Perhaps he did over-react, but you couldn’t blame him. He was passionate about how well she was going to do that night.

“Well maybe I’ll get a top-10 after all,” he comments, eyes focused as the restart was set to take place.

Over the final stretch of laps – and two more cautions, eyes never left the screen as they watched Sarina battle back, crossing the finish line in seventh for another solid top-10. Meanwhile, among the controversy of the last lap caution (Timothy Peters flipped), it was Bell snagging the win ahead of Briscoe by a nose.

Down in Texas, Sarina climbed from the truck with a smile on her face. It certainly wasn’t the win or top-five she had envisioned after setting the quickest time, but she wasn’t going to complain. If you would’ve told her that she would’ve had a top-10 after going two laps down, she would’ve said you were nuts. However, with high fives for all the guys and a hug for Marcus, she knew they’d put in a good nights work with a well-deserved finish.

“Sorry about that loose wheel there,” Marcus apologizes once she’s done media interviews. “I got to get these guys in line as we can’t be having that.”

“It happens as we all make mistakes,” she comments. “I’ve made my fair share this year. One mistake by the guys is going to happen. As long as we can come back stronger, that’s what matters. We’ll go get them at Gateway.” Marcus couldn’t help but smile with her positivity, knowing that she could be hard on herself from Chase.

“I’m confident about Gateway and Iowa. We have a good short track program at KBM, and I know you have ran well there previously. It’s just about putting it all together.”

“We’re going to make magic happen…..” Marcus could only smile, liking the sounds of that.