The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 108: Johnsonville 180

Thursday, August 23 – Nashville, TN

Ryan walks over to the table, placing a glass of Jack Daniels and coke before Chase, before sitting down with his own. The ladies were each drinking a Shirley Temple as Sarina wasn’t seeing anything on the menu of interest, and felt bad if Lindsay wasn’t the only one allowed to drink.

“I still can’t believe you’re not going to Canada with her,” Ryan comments as he takes a sip of his drink.

“What about those romantic CN Tower dinner plans?” Lindsay adds as Chase glances over at Sarina.

“I’m sorr-” He starts, starting to feel bad as she places a hand on his shoulder.

“Have I yelled at you about this once?” Sarina questions. Have I told you that I was mad or upset? Have I tried to stop you?” Chase shakes his head no. “Then I have no problem with this. I understand you not wanting to miss your dad being back behind the wheel, and I have my guys to  look out for me. Besides, you’ll be there Sunday and we can go out for dinner after the race if everything goes well.”

“You know, only the best win in Canada,” Ryan says as he leans his head on Chase’s shoulder. “We’re part of a very elite group.”

“How does Austin Cindric figure into that group?” Chase wonders, earning a questionable glance from Ryan.

“Austin isn’t that bad of a driver.” Chase chuckles a little. “Really?”

“Did you see what he’s done in the 60 for Roush?” Ryan nods his head.

“Have you seen what he’s done for Penske? Trust me when I say he’s going to run well this weekend. That’s why I’ve been trusted to spot for him – so help me…” The group lets out a chuckle. “Besides, that car is cursed as everybody has wrecked in it, even Ty Majeski and you, yourself, have said that man can drive.” Chase shakes his head no.

“I’ve bragged upon people – and still say Casey Roderick and Bubba Pollard are among the best, but I don’t recall mentioning Majeski.” Sarina smiles as she wraps her fingers around her glass.

“Oh, so you’re admitting that Bubba is talented now?” She questions and he glances at her. “I’m sorry, but you always talked down him in previous conversations.”

“I never said he couldn’t drive, though,” Chase reminds her as Ryan just smirks.

“Chase is just jealous that he offered you a ride first before he did,” Ryan comments, earning a finger from Chase, which brings chuckles around the table.

“So wait a minute – you almost didn’t drive for Chase?” Lindsay interrupts, and Sarina nods her head. “Let me guess – the crush caused you to say yes.”

“Oh no, the equipment and opportunity did because I liked what he was offering,” Sarina says.

“In more ways than one,” Ryan adds, earning a smack from Sarina as Chase just laughs. “Oh don’t you laugh over there. You only asked her because of the crush.” Chase shakes his head no.

“Dad and Ricky talked about the idea for a while of starting a team,” Chase refreshes their memory. “I just suggested a driver who was talented. Just like I told Sarina, I didn’t ask her because I had a crush on her. I asked her because she could win, she could drive, and she knew how to work hard. She deserved a chance. I just didn’t envision her driving for Kyle Busch.”

“I wouldn’t change that, though,” Sarina offers with a smile.

Admittedly, the past two years had been amazing in being able to work with likes of Rudy and Marcus, while having Kyle’s guidance and Samantha’s friendship.

Friday, August 24 – Road America

“Is this really happening?” Chase questions as they walk through the garage area.

“NASCAR says I can’t run unless I attend the rookie meeting,” Bill reminds him as Chase just chuckles to himself.

“I don’t think you could’ve ever had someone bet on having Katherine Legge, Conor Daly, and you in a NASCAR rookie meeting together.” Bill couldn’t help but nod his head in agreement.

“Rules are rules….” They make their way inside the NASCAR trailer, as Bill accepts the hand-out from the official reading it over.

“So when do we just let your dad run the meeting?” Christopher questions as Chase chuckles a little. “Did you give all your notes to Sarina ahead of this weekend?”

“She doesn’t need my help at CTMP,” Chase replies. “She finished second last year, remember?” Chase could still picture the emotions on her face after the race was over, knowing she’d missed locking into the playoffs by just that little bit.

“As long as she stays out of trouble on the last lap, she’ll be fine…” Chase nods his head in agreement. “By the way, I’m sure you heard that she invited me to the wedding.”

“Yeah – both you and Morgan actually.” Christopher remembered seeing that on the invitation.

“I hope you don’t min-”

“Are you kidding me? Seriously?” Christopher looks over at Chase.

“Things haven’t always been smooth between us due to all the discussi-”

“Other people may be saying that you and Sarina are doing this and that, should be together, possibly seeing each other. It’s the same stuff that I’m hearing about me and Erin. Do you know what I have to say to that? I don’t care. I know where she stands, I know where I stand, and I get the friendship you both have together. there’s no problems, Christopher.” Christopher smiles a little.

“I just didn’t want to cause any issues….” Chase places a hand on the young man’s shoulder.

“You’re welcome around Sarina anytime that you want. It doesn’t bother me, okay?” Christopher nods his head before Chase makes his way out of the meeting quietly.

Chase makes his way back to the garage after the second practice, pretty satisfied. It sucked the first session had rain as he knew it would’ve been critical to get another 50 minutes in. However, even seeing his dad ranked 26th on the chart, he couldn’t be upset.

“Are you having fun?” He asks after Bill gets done debriefing things over with Chad.

“More than I thought I would,” Bill answers. “I actually have to thank you for bringing my name up.” Chase smiles as the key for the weekend was having fun, and enjoying the experience. “It’s a bigger difference than I even could’ve expected with everything that has changed. So much stuff that I didn’t think I’d have to get used to.”

“You’re not doing that bad, either. You’re getting quicker each lap. Keep that up in the race, along with staying out of trouble, and we should have a decent day.” Bill nods his head in agreement.

“To finish a road course you must first just keep all four Goodyears on the pavement.” Chase smiles, remembering that advice the first time he went road course racing. He then surprised himself with a win up at CTMP that weekend.

“You’ve also got my ear to talk off if you need any more tips – which even feels awkward saying after all the years you’ve helped me.” Chase then glances at his phone, seeing the text message from Sarina as he replies.

“I just can’t believe you’re getting married in four months.” Chase smiles as he glances back up. it still felt just like yesterday when he popped her the question.

“It’ll be here before we know it…” Bill places a hand on Chase’s shoulder.

“I don’t get what happens in your life – married, older, fatherhood, years from now – just know that you can always come to me for advice.” Chase nods his head accepting.

“I don’t ever forget that I can lean on you, if I need you.” Chase gives him a hug before letting Bill get back over to the crew to discuss things over some more.

Saturday, August 25 – Road America

Bill sits up on the counter, glancing over at Chase as he watches him curiously.

“Something is on your mind…” Bill comments, not even getting Chase’s attention in return. “I know we qualified 23rd, but it’s not ba-”

“I’m not complaining as it’s a fine spot to start from all things considered,” Chase cuts him off as he keeps his eyes focused in the other direction.

“Are you missing Sarina?” Chase shakes his head no. “Did she struggle in practice?”

“Led the first session, seventh in the second.” Bill was now growing frustrated as it seemed nothing would get his attention.

“So what is on your mind?” Chase finally looks towards his father.

“You have a race to focus on. I can worry about this la-”

“We’ve got a whole hour until the race, Chase. We’ve got time to talk and I can tell this is really bugging you.” Chase lets out a sigh, wishing the conversation would’ve already disappeared.

“I got a notice last week that Alison has written a note that she would like for me to receive and read.” The same reaction as Alan had a week ago began to appear with Bill as it didn’t take long for frustration.

“I thought the idea of her being locked away in a mental institution was closure, an ending, and a way for her to never play havoc in your life again. However, we’re opening that door with a notice? Why are they are even contacting you?” Chase glances back away.

“They say it’s important, so I’m guessing it may be an apology considering she realizes what she did.” Bill almost wanted to laugh.

“I’m sorry, but there’s not a damn single word that would make up for the shit that she put you through for months, Chase.” Chase was taken aback by how direct his father’s words were, but understood where he was coming from.

“Trust me, I could never forgive and look past what happ-”

“Then why are you even entertaining this? As soon as they reached out, I would’ve told them to stick the note where the sun doesn’t shine.” Chase almost wanted to chuckle in response.

“She was able to get the advantage on me by playing my emotions, and playing me totally. She used this is a gam-”

“…which you’re continuing to entertain by accepting this no-”

“Or am I getting the upper-hand by not letting her get a single thing over me and knowing where everything stands? I don’t want to be outsmarted again.” Bill now saw everything came from the regrets that still seemed to remain from what happened.

“I still say that you should ignore every bit of it and focus on moving forward, like we’ve talked about previously. But hey, it doesn’t matter what I say as you’ll do whatever you want.” Chase looks back to his father with a bit of sympathy written in the eyes.

“I still appreciate you hearing me out, and offering your advice on the situation, though. I also take it into consideration when figuring out what to do.”

“I always told you to be nice to your elders, and show people respect. If you’re unable to tell someone where to stick it, please let me do it because I have other words for them.” Chase rolls his eyes, knowing that wouldn’t end well especially if his mom got involved, too.

“I’m a big boy, Dad. I can handle it…”

Chase couldn’t complain about his vantage point for the race, as he takes a deep breath, ready to focus on the task at hand. It was all about having a solid day, and things started off that way as Bill was up inside the top-20 in the first stage. However, everything wouldn’t stay that way as he’d make contact with the back of somebody when Brandon Jones got spun with four laps to go.

“Significant front end damage,” was the report from the pits, which easily could be seen on the No. 23 Chevrolet. Chase could only roll his eyes, but knew there was a long way to go.

After finishing the stage in 19th, the GMS Racing team went to work in fixing the damage under the pit stop, ultimately putting Bill back to 33rd after pit stops. It’d be slow moving through the second stage, only earning a single spot to finish 22nd. However, it was better than the situation dealt for Austin Cindric and Ryan, with Cindric breaking with five laps to go while running in the top-five.

“You guys were running good,” Chase offered to Ryan before Ryan left the turn to head back to the pits.

“We’re not going to pit here,” Chad comes over the radio shortly after, causing a small panic to set in for Chase. he knew that’d make for an interesting restart as many of the guys up front had pitted, putting a bunch of fast cars behind them. buckling in, he knew there’d be a lot to spot through this back half of the race.

Restarting seventh, it didn’t take long for Bill to fall back outside of the top-20 immediately. however, Chase found himself slightly distracted after watching the contact ensue between Christopher and Justin.

“Nice job, Christopher!” Chase said to himself, trying to get his focus back on where it was supposed to be. He now had even more questions for Eddie and how he remained focus in most of these long races.

Focused back on the No. 23, Chase watched as his father began to make up ground late in the race. However, it seemed everything went downhill as while running 17th, he watched the No. 23 go around for a spin with seven to go.

“Dang it,” he commented to himself. “Chaos is set to happen here; we may be alright still…”

It seemed the race continued to go downhill from there, as he watched the No. 20 of Bell go around with five to go, spun out of fourth courtesy of Matt Tifft.

“I feel like I hit everything but the lottery,” Chase heard as he returned to pit road after the race, having a chuckle himself. The smile on his father’s face made all of the frustrations from the day go away immediately as all that mattered was having fun, and that had happened. Oh, and they got their top-20 as warranted, with a 20th-place finish.

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The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 104: A Victory Party

Sunday, August 5 – Dawsonville, Georgia

There were advantages to his father being at the track beyond witnessing the win, and having a pilot’s license. The convincing of both Jimmie and Ryan had began the drinks early, which was easily allowed to continue with Bill agreeing to fly them home.

The flight home was filled with laughs, including Ryan reaching into his bag to get something, instead pulling out a bottle of AXE and spilling it right on Chase’s lap.

“I feel like I peed myself now jackass,” Chase commented with a laugh.

“At least you smell good for later,” Ryan teases with a wink as he knew there was no doubt Sarina and Chase would have their own celebration later.

“Just remember to follow Kyle’s golden rule about gloves,” Lindsay adds, having heard Kyle tease them about that enough times.

Landing in Georgia and getting a hug immediately from his mother was beyond adorable, as Sarina could only stand back and smile the whole time. After not being able to see her reaction there in victory lane, those simple 10 seconds made up for it.

Knowing they were in for a fun night, the group had already gathered around the swimming pool at the Elliott household shortly after, with another round going around.

“So you got a bowling pin?” Ryan asks, as he glances back at the trophy which sat up on the deck. While promising to bring it by the shop early next week, the guys had no problem with Chase taking it home for the night.

“two actually…” A new voice chimes in as they look back, laughter immediately escaping from Ryan and Lindsay in seeing Sarina adorning the bowling pin costume that the mascot had worn in victory lane. Chase could only stand there in shock shaking his head as she made her way over to them. “I think I’m the cuter one.”

“How in the world did you manage to swipe that thing?” Lindsay questions as she takes a photo on her phone.

“How did you sneak that onto the plane?” Chase adds as Sarina just smiles back in return.

“I have my ways children,” she offers them both.

“I wanted to do this since I saw that thing in victory lane…” Ryan then muses, pushing her into the pool. Surprisingly, the costume floated perfectly.

“Ryan!!” Lindsay was the first one to yell in response.

“Didn’t you learn anything from the 4th?” Chase adds, remembering his own incident.

“Yeah – that you shouldn’t walk on pool decks so I should help you, too,” Ryan comments, then giving Chase a shove into the pool with Sarina.

“Ryan Michael Blaney!” Lindsay then shouts his full name, earning the attention of both Bill and Cindy, who just shake their heads.

Lindsay couldn’t be too mad, though, as looking into the pool, it was adorable watching Chase swim around his “bowling pin,” with the pair sharing laughs in the process.

“You can be dorky as ever with this thing, but you’re adorable,” he tells her, giving her a kiss. He then helps her stand up, followed by working their way out of the pool, now both dripping wet. “Come on, I’ll help you out of that…” He then takes her hand, leading her into the house and down to the bathroom.

Once inside the bathroom, he shuts the door behind them, slowly peeling the costume off of her. His lips then finds, as he pushes her back against the wall, working his hands underneath the t-shirt that she was wearing.

“Chase…” She slowly lets out as he does so, earning a glance from his eyes to hers.

“To the victor goes the spoils,” he offers, before bringing his lips back to hers.

“But…the…party….” He knew it was going to be a long night, and all he wanted to do was take a moment with her to celebrate. Through everything, she had been there for him and he wanted her to understand how much he appreciated that.

“Between the drinks, pool, and music, they won’t notice I’m gone…” She so badly wanted to object once again, but the taste of his lips, and feeling his skin against her fingers as she lifted his shirt caused the words to escape her.

“Oh Clyde…” She then spins them around so he’s pinned against the wall, taking control as she works his t-shirt off, followed by the jeans.

**********

The pair emerge from the bathroom, taking a glance at each other with a wink, before grabbing themselves a drink and heading into the sea of people that now filled the backyard.

“I was wondering where you went,” Lindsay says as Sarina walks over to her.

“Is it that obvious?” Sarina questions and Lindsay just laughs.

“Only because I was actually looking for you. Don’t worry – you both deserved that. Even Ryan and I agreed on the plane. Heck, if we weren’t there, you would’ve joined the mile high club.” Sarina shakes her head no immediately.

“It’s bad enough that we did that in his parent’s bathroom, forget doing that while his dad is flying the plane.” Lindsay just laughs in response.

“I’m just glad that you’re not drinking too much tonight since I can’t even drink anything…” Sarina smiles as she glances at Lindsay’s stomach, seeing it begin to pop out a little. She then looks back towards her own glass. “Oh my gosh, you are drinking….”

“Amsterdam can make someone change their mind about alcohol very quickly with their flavors of interest. Goose Island?” Lindsay just looks back in total shock.

“Who the heck names a drink Goose Island?” Sarina shrugs her shoulders as she swirls the glass around.

“It beats me, but the combination of caramel, vanilla, and chocolate with a touch of burnt oak in beer makes my taste buds soar.” Sarina then takes another long sip as Lindsay shakes her head.

“None of that adds up to Goose Island….” Sarina nods her head in agreement.

“Oh trust me, we were just as caught off guard as you are. I was also surprised with Chase agreed to order me a couple cases to keep if we were having a night like this.” Sarina wraps an arm around Lindsay’s shoulder. “When you’re done being pregnant and feeling up to it, we are going on a girl’s trip to Amsterdam and I will let you see the menu those boys explored from. Let me tell you – we tried some interesting things that night.”

“I can only imagine the fun that was spent….”

While the girls spent time chit chatting, Chase was making his way through the crowd, catching up with all different friends of his from through the years. He was even surprised to see Ryan getting close with some of the guys, too.

The drinks certainly kept flowing through the whole evening, and not just beer anymore as Ryan had broken out the bottle of Jack Daniels, making Chase promise to split the bottle with him. Everybody knew what meant immediately, and Sarina could only sit back and be entertained through the process.

Somewhere along the lines, she was caught off-guard when Chase picked up the guitar and made his way over to her, sitting before her.

“You know how much I love you, right?” He says and she nods her head.

“I love you just as much, too,” she replies, kissing his lips lightly.

“Well, this is for you….” She hten looks on intrigued, but watches as he strums a couple cords.

Your lips
Your hips
When you touch em to mine each and every time
I’m hypnotized, I’ll admit it
Your moves
Your grooves
It’s some heavy stuff, I can’t get enough
Girl your love’s a drug, I can’t quit it

I’m a broke record, a broke record.
You’ve got my heart-heart skip-skip-skipping a beat
From the needle through my ahead, hit repeat
I’m a broke record, a broke record.
You’re a song I gotta sing along with the men
When it gets to the end I gotta play it again and again

My friends, are wearing thin
They’re tired of hearing your name
It ain’t a healthy thing, this obsession that I’m living
So baby please
Rescue me
I ain’t never had nothing stuck in my head
I guess a melody I keep on hearing

I’m a broke record, a broke record.
You’ve got my heart-heart skip-skip-skipping a beat
From the needle through my ahead, hit repeat
I’m a broke record, a broke record.
You’re a song I gotta sing along with the men
When it gets to the end I gotta play it again and again

Like a yo-yo-yo-yo-yo-yo babe is what I feel like
Up and down, driving me crazy
Keep yank-yank-yanking my string-string baby baby
Don’t stop, don’t stop

I’m a broke record, a broke record.
You’ve got my heart-heart skip-skip-skipping a beat
From the needle through my ahead, hit repeat
I’m a broke record, a broke record.
You’re a song I gotta sing along with the men
When it gets to the end I gotta play it again and again
Again, again and again and again
And again and again and again and again

And again, and again

Sarina kisses his lips afterwards, more passionately before, as a couple hollers emerge from the crowd.

“You know, your little secret is out about the singing now…” She offers as he shrugs his shoulders.

“But everybody also knows the lovely lady that has my heart forever,” he replies, kissing her lips once again as his hands find their way to her hips. “You wouldn’t dance with me that night, but will you tonight?”

“I guess I can’t deny the winner what he wants after that adorableness…” She then stands up, as he pulls her close, wrapping both arms around her as he gives Kurt Thomas a quick flick of the fingers to play a song.

As the night drew on, people began to slowly file out and leave the party, with just the core four remaining as they stood on the back porch.

“I see something yellow popping up in the sky….” Ryan comments as he points up to the sky, with the sunrise having begun.

“You do realize that’s the sun, right?” Chase questions as Ryan gives him a playful slap. “Hey, I didn’t say this earlier today or tonight or whatever, but I want to thank you, too. I’ve thanked Alan for being there, Sarina for being there and amazing, but I owe that you to. You were there as someone to distract me from what I was thinking, You were also my escape to Ireland when I needed a break. Until I was ready to actually handle everything, you let me just be loose with you – and I appreciate that.” Ryan glances over with a small smile.

“That’s what we’ve always done best, though – just been there for each other to cut loose and forget the world that we’re thrown into. You don’t need to than-”

“Oh yes I do-”

“No, you don’t, because I was just doing what we’ve always done, and being there as your best friend. And as I’ve said from the beginning, I don’t regret getting caught up in that mess either because I’d rather be there for you.” The pair then look back out over the back porch. “How are things going with that anyway?”

“Great, actually. therapy was exactly what I need to do, and I almost wish I did it sooner. We’ve talked about a lot of things that I was avoiding, and I think I’ve found that closure that I needed. There’s still a couple real small things, but I’m ready to move on from Alison.” Ryan then glances back over with another smile.

“That’s great, honestly. I’m glad my best friend is back to raise hell with me.” Chase chuckles as he looks over.

“You’ve always been there, and I want you there for one more special occasion. Sarina and I are getting married in Colorado in January. Will you be my best man?” Ryan looks over surprised.

“Is that even a necessary question? Of course I’ll say yes and freeze my ass off for you.” Chase chuckles as Ryan glances back out over the yard. “I still can’t believe that you guys are engaged, and getting married.”

“I can’t believe it sometimes, either, considering how things started. But I will tell you – it’s been worth every minute.” He then looks back over at Ryan. “So, when are you getting married?”

“Woah bud, easy now. One step at a time…” Ryan then glances down at the girls talking by the pool with their feet swirling in the water. “I don’t know when. I’m just enjoying the ride right now. I can tell you that we’re absolutely happy together, and we both can’t wait to meet our little girl or boy in December. Beyond that? We’ll see what happens, man.”

“That’s not a bad approach, really. I actually can’t wait to meet the baby, either. I bet he or she’ll be adorable –as long as they get their looks from their mommy.” Ryan then gives him a playful smack as Chase laughs. “Alright, I’m headed to bed. I at least want to be laying down before Mom gets up.”

“Is Chasey still scared of getting in trouble with Mama?” Ryan teases as Chase gives him a look.

“No matter how old I get, let’s just make it clear that she can always bring the heat if she wants.” Ryan went to say something in return, but just nodded in head knowing better as he had heard the lectures from Cindy at times.

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 98: Eldora Dirt Derby

Wednesday July 18, 2018 – Eldora Speedway

Logan Seavey walks up to Todd Gilliland, as the pair watch truck series qualifying.

“Feeling confident for the pole?” Todd questions, without even glancing over at his young teammate.

“Should be fast,” Logan answers as he leans up against the fence. “How about you?”

“Still trying to get a little comfortable, but I think I’ve got something to work with.” Todd then watches as Sarina comes on track for her qualifying lap. “This’ll be interesting. She didn’t look happy after practice.”

“She’s still trying to figure out the balance between swinging it sideways enough for speed. I gave her a couple tips. She isn’t too bad to look at either.” Todd then glances over a little intrigued. “What? Can’t I compliment our teammate on her good looks?”

“I’m not going to argue.” Todd had a couple other  reserved opinions, but kept those to himself for the sake of the team.

“I mean, I can’t help but stare when she asks me ou-”

“Woah, wait, what? She asked you out?” Logan then looks over, nodding his head.

“She said that maybe we could hang out later. Last I checked, that normally leads into a date.” Todd then chuckled a little as he glanced at the speed chart.

“You do realize that she’s dating Chase Elliott, right?” Logan then looks over slightly puzzled. “Oh lawdy…”

“So maybe I did hear that. I also heard that she was hanging out with Christopher, which seemed strange due to Morgan. I mean, those two are always together.” Todd slowly nods his head as he lets out a sigh.

“Welcome to the media spinning everything. Morgan and Christopher are together as always. Christopher and Sarina are just best friends. Chase and Erin Blaney are just best friends as I’m sure you know her as well. But, Sarina and Chase are engaged. I don’t think she was asking you out on a date, but good try.” Todd then walks away as Logan thinks it over.

“Oh Logan, what did you do?” Even knowing he screwed up himself, he couldn’t help but turn around and watch as she climbed out of the truck. She was certainly a beauty….

Sarina climbs out of the truck, letting out a long sigh as she looks over at Rudy.

“I don’t even know what to say,” she offers before climbing the rest of the way out. “I tried everything that you told me, Logan told me, and whatever I did last year. I tried to make the moves that I was supposed to, but we went nowhere.” Rudy glances over his notes, before checking over the truck.

“Too tight or too loose now?” He questions, half-listening to her comments. He knew by finishing sixth in their heat that they’d have to run the last chance qualifier, which would be coming up shortly.

“I’m going to say too tight because I couldn’t slide as much as I did in practice.” Rudy nods his head as he glances back at his notes.

“They changed the track conditions slightly, and we’re getting more drivers running laps so that doesn’t surprise me.” He then looks back up at his driver. “I know you hate having to run the b-main, but look at it this way – you’re locked in the show no matter what you do, and it’s extra laps so you can get comfortable. Keep pushing, and you’ll figure it out.” She just nods her head as she runs her hands through her hair.

“How does Logan and Stewart (Frisen) and all those asses make it look so easy?”

“Because they’ve been running dirt all of their lives,” a new voice chimes in as she glances back over her shoulder, smiling. She walks over immediately, wrapping her arms around him for a hug. “Just like they’d find Winchester or Pennsacola challenging, you find this hard. But Rudy is right as you always figure it out.”

“I’ve missed you today,” she comments, before kissing Chase’s lips once again. “I’m glad that you made it here, though. How did today go?” He then takes a deep breath.

“Sample submitted. We’ll know the results on Friday when they’re delivered.” She then rubs his back a little as she could see the concern in his face.

“That’s it?” He nods his head as she lets out a sigh. She knew there was more, but she wasn’t about to push the issue.

“You know that you have to turn right to go left typically on dirt, right?” Another voice chimes in and she chuckles immediately, recognizing Ryan right away.

“Thanks Captain Obvious,” she replies, giving him a small smack as she keeps an arm wrapped around Chase. “Maybe I should just get you to drive instead.

“Woah now, I don’t have the experience even with how much racing my dad does over the year.”

“That’s surprising actually,” Chase comments as Ryan just shrugs his shoulders.

“I’ve always just stuck with pavement and stock cars,” Ryan offers.

While the boys were trading jabs, Sarina’s eyes caught Erin’s as she gives her a simple nod.

“It’s nice to see you Erin,” Sarina breaks the silence as they stare at each other. Even with both trying to ignore the kiss happened, it felt awkward to be standing there face-to-face.

“Same to you,” Erin replies. “It’s too bad that you couldn’t had joined the boys in Ireland.” Sarina silently wished she would’ve been there, too, as the kiss probably never would’ve happened.

“Maybe next time, right? I heard that you had a great time traveling across Europe…” Erin nods her head.

“I have to show you the photos some time because there’s so many beautiful spots.” Sarina just smiles back in response. “Look, it’s easy to see that things are awkward between us. I’m not going to deny to you the feelings that I shared to Chase that I have. I’m not going to deny the kiss that happened, nor will I deny that it made me think about what could’ve been. However, if he’s happy with you, then I’m willing to accept that as I think you’re pretty amazing. I’m ready to move forward, forget what happened, and just be friends.”

“I appreciate your honesty, actually. I have no issues with what happened because Chase told me the details, and I have no issues with your confession. I appreciate you giving us your blessing so to speak too, I guess. I also want you to know that I respect the friendship that you and Chase have. I get that he can come to you with things and talk like nothing – and that’s fine; it’s the same way with Christopher and I. If you guys continue that, I have no problem either.” Erin smiles as she holds out her hand, giving Sarina a hand-shake.

“I’m glad, and know that if you hurt him, I will be the first one ready to knock your ass out after his Momma.” She then squeezes Sarina’s hand a little tighter before letting go, and glancing down the pits. “I’ve got people to go catch-up with. See ya both later?” The boys nod their head simply as they watch her walk off.

“Well, that was interesting….” Sarina then pulls her ponytail out, fixing her hair before putting it back up again.

“Is everything okay, or did I miss something there?” Chase wonders as Sarina shrugs her shoulders.

“No matter what we say, Chase, it’s going to be awkward. You’re her first crush and yet you’re with me, but yet you guys kissed. We’re going to have that tension because we’ll always wonder what if and about the other person when we see each other; it’s like a reminder slap in the face. However, as we both said, we’re grown adults and ready to move forward. It’ll get easier with time, but for now, everything is alright.” She then wraps her arm back around Chase. “We just want to do the best for you, and be there for you. You deserve both of us supporting you through this time.”

“I appreciate that. I just don’t want to make things tougher on you.” She then glances into his eyes.

“Trust me, you’re not. Like I told her, I have no problem with the friendship you two have – as long as you’re okay with Christopher and I. We both love each other, want a future together, and have everything that we do have – but respect each other has a close friend of the opposite sex as well and that it’ll just be a friendship with them. Stop worrying. Let everyone else talk because it doesn’t matter what they say.” He nods his head, accepting.

However, witnessing the conversation and seeing how quickly Erin walked away couldn’t help but leave him a little nervous.

“That’s much better,” Chase comments as she crosses the finish line in second for the last chance qualifier.

He makes his way back down to the pits, taking her helmet from her as she climbs out of the truck. He gives it a quick wipe before placing it back in the truck. He then chuckles a little seeing the dirt on her back, wiping it off with his hand brushing across her ass in the process.

“Hey now,” She comments with a grin in his direction as he just gives her a wink. “One thing that can annoy me about dirt tracks – getting dirty.”

“I thought you didn’t mind getting a little dirty,” he replies as she glances over at him.

“With you, that’s a different story of course….” She gives him a wink to return the favor, before walking up to the hauler to debrief with Rudy before the main event.

The race didn’t start strongly for Sarina, as she ran outside of the top-20 most of the night, still trying to figure out the right approach for dirt racing. A decision from Rudy Fugle to not pit allowed her to stay out, moving up to 16th for the restart.

The final stretch would be deemed her best of the night as she avoided the late-race contact that took others out of contention, and even managed to figure out how to make a couple passes of her own. Ultimately, it paid off with an eighth-place finish.

“Not bad for someone who says dirt is their weakness,” Rudy comments, wrapping an arm around her shoulders. “That’s how you persevere and survive. Look where you started the day, and now look where you finished. Days like these are what will win us a championship at the end of the year. I’m proud of you.”

“Thanks for sticking with me all day long,” she replies, easily returning the hug back in return. “Let’s get back to chasing wins, okay?” He nods his head in agreement.

“I have confidence in you at Pocono. Just keep a smart head on all-race long…” Rudy then walks away, set to pack up so they could get out of there.

“Nice job,” Chase says as he gives her a hug, placing a kiss on her cheek. “See, a little dirt never hurt anyone.” She then looks up into his eyes.

“Maybe if you’re good I’ll show you a different type of dirty later,” she offers with a grin as he just smiles back in return. “Or not. I mean, it’s all up to you.” She then glances down as the words slip out of her mouth.

“What’s wrong?” She slowly looks back up at him.

“I know you’ve got so much going on, and I know you expressed those regrets to me earlier this week. I just don’t know sometimes if I’m saying the right thing, or doing what you need me to do for you. Like, I don’t want to push you there if you’re not ready and confident based on what you said.” He appreciated the show of concern from her as it was one of the many reasons why he loved her.

“Listen, just keep being you. Just do your thing without any differences. I’ll tell you if I feel uncomfortable, or if you’ve gone over the line. But being here with me, there to lean on when I need you, that’s all I need. I love you.” He then places a kiss on her lips.

“I love you, too, Clyde…” She then takes his hand as they head off back to the transporter together.

“She stole your nickname for him?” Erin questions, earning a glance from Ryan.

“Still overcritical of their relationship?” Ryan offers back in response as Erin lets out a sigh.

“I can’t help it, Ryan. I want the best for him. Is that too wrong to ask?” He shakes his head no as he crosses his arms.

“He’s my best friend, too. I want the best as well and I have called him and her both out at times when I felt it wasn’t right. I just worry that you’re overcriticalness comes from a different plac-”

“I told you already that you didn’t need to worry, Ryan. If he’s happy, then I’m willing to accept it because that’s all I want at the end of the day for him.” She then walks away, knowing they’d just go around in circles, and that would probably continue from now on until she found the right guy for her.

Friday July 21, 2018 – New Hampshire Motor Speedway

Chase makes his way into the garage, giving various crew members a pat on the shoulder as he reaches the car.

“Practice starts in 15 minutes,” Jordan offers as he glances over at his driver. “Everything is there.” Chase nods his head as he glances into the car, seeing his helmet and gloves placed as normal. “So I heard you started therapy…”

“Is this going to be the topic of the day in the garage?” Chase questions as Jordan lets out a sigh, leaning over the roof.

“Alan made a brief mention when you weren’t there Monday afternoon for the rescheduled meeting.” Chase rolls his eyes, resisting the urge to go over and yell at the crew chief. He was hoping to keep that private. “For what it’s worth, everybody let it go easily, understandably, knowing everything that happened. They also saw you at the end of the trial, too.”

“So if it’s no big deal, why are you asking me about it?” Jordan makes his way around the car, leaning back against it as he looks over at his driver.

“Everybody else just heard about therapy and your feelings. I was there when you were getting the notes and saw your reactions. I was there when you told Alan what happened, and sat with you. I was there with you for the weeks af-”

“Jordan, I appreciate it a lot as it meant the worl-”

“I’m not looking for appreciation, man. I’m just saying that I know better than anyone else and coming from that angle, I’m glad that you’re doing it. I’m glad that you’re looking into ways to help you move forward and feel better about things. I hope it works out for you, or something else for that matter possibly. I also wanted to say that if you need someone to talk to, you can always come to me.” Chase takes a deep breath, glancing over at him.

“I know, and thank you.”

“William Clyde Elliott?” Everybody in the garage freezes at the full name mention, half expecting an elder family member to be standing there. Instead, jaw dropped around the stall as they saw the officer standing there.

“It’s Chase…” Chase states as he walks over slowly, taking a deep breath. His eyes were already locked on the envelope, knowing the information that it contained.

“I have a delivery for you from the Delaware Courts in relation to your case against Ms. Alison Reynolds.” Chase goes to snatch the envelope, but the officer holds it back. “We do need proof of identity and a signature first.”

“Seriously?” The officer slowly nods his head as Chase lets out a sigh. Instinctively, he holds up his hand as Alan throws him his hard card off the pit cart. “I don’t have anything else on me as I am here to do a job.”

“That’ll work.” The officer then hands him over a pen and paper, with Chase signing as instructed. “Thank you, sir.” He then hands over the envelope, before leaving the stall.

“Guys, just keep working as normal….” Everybody does as instructed, even if they kept glancing out of the corner of their eye at their driver, as he made his way to the pit box, setting the envelope there. “No opening it, got it?” Alan nods his head, accepting, but felt hesitant.

“We can hold off and let you ope-” Alan starts, and Chase shakes his head no.

“We have a job to do, and that’s figuring out what this car needs for qualifying,” he starts as he walks back over to the car. “Let’s focus on this practice, and then we can worry about that, okay?” Alan nods his head once again as he grabs his clipboard.

However, as the crew chief went to leave the garage stall, he couldn’t help but let his own eyes wander back to the envelope.

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 97: Pressure is a Privilege

“The pressure is really a privilege. … Those are things we embrace at the University of Georgia. We can’t run from those things.” – University of Georgia Bulldog Coach Kirby Smart, 7-17-2018

Tuesday July 17, 2018 – Dawsonville, Georgia

Sarina walks out onto the back porch, shutting the door behind her, as she walks over to where Chase stands, placing an arm around his shoulder.

After everything that took place on Monday, the pair flew up to Dawsonville, knowing that they needed some time to just decompress and relax a bit.

“You look like you have a lot on your mind,” she comments as he gives her a glance. “You know, you can talk to me about it.”

“I’ve got the closure that I need in knowing she’s locked away, but there’s so much else to think about,” he offers as she leans her head on his shoulder. “Just when I think that I am that much closer to moving forward, it feels like I get knocked back two steps.”

“A single therapy session isn’t going to cure everything all at once, Chase. It’s going to take time, patience, and working through everything. Like your dad convinced you, you’re taking the right steps…” Chase knew that as it seemed right in what he was doing, therapy-concerned. The first appointment on Monday had gone smoother than he envisioned, with the reassurance and topics already discussed feeling as though it was progress.

“…and I’m ready to take those steps, Sarina-”

“I didn’t say you weren’t, nor was I beginning to judge you. I have no place to judge you, Chase, considering my family, my background, and how I used to handle things. I was just stating that simple fact openly. I will also add that therapy can help as it solved my anger issues.” Chase glances over into her eyes.

“I haven’t seen any holes in my walls lately so I call that progress…” She then sighs as he lets out a little chuckle. She knew she wasn’t going to let that down no matter how she tried. “I am still doubting whether I made the right decision accepting the deal for Alison. I am still debating the paternity results tomorrow. I’m also pondering regrets, which I know I shouldn’t, but I can’t help it.”

“That’ll get easier with time as you find the answers you need…” He then takes a deep breath, as that comment opened a door to something he had wondered.

“Can I tell you something that was mentioned during therapy yesterday?” She nods her head.

“You can tell anything. I’m always here to listen, Chase…” He then glances down as he remembered the conversation.

“He asked me about how everything was affecting my daily life, and the changes that I wanted to see happen out of these sessions. I mentioned letting go of the regrets, finding comfort in the decisions made, but also the fact that I couldn’t fully open myself up to you in a sexual, romantic way as much as I felt I should because of what happened.” He then pauses, eyes catching hers again. “I hope you don’t mind me mentioning that, or you.”

“I’m glad to see you taking the steps to go to therapy, and I want to see you move forward beyond what happened. If speaking about me and our relationship helps you, then I don’t mind. I just want to see you be okay.” He then wraps an arm around her shoulders, pulling her close.

“I’m always okay when you’re with me.” He then gives her a small kiss. “He asked, though, how far we’ve gone since everything, and I said we’ve gone all the way – but something felt as though it was missing to me, whether passion, ability to just be vulnerable and show everything, or whatever. It pained me to feel that way, too, knowing that you’re always there for me…”

“Chase, I told you that I understand….” Chase nods his head, remembering the conversation.

“I hope you fully understand once I explain this, though.” She was now a little puzzled, but remained calm as she was to not deter him from mentioning it. “He mentioned that I may have dove in before I was truly ready after everything that happened for a reason. He said that I may have pushed myself to do that, in hopes that our time together would erase those images. I brought myself to do that with you, but yet comparing what happened to before, out of fear, and trying to create a distraction if you will.”

“That’s understandable based on what happ-”

“Even if essentially I was using you to try and overlap feelings and mask those to cure my own pain? Because the theory is that if we went ahead and did it, I could cover the images of what happened. But then my theory in that I couldn’t bring myself fully was because I was comparing and remembering, and not just being vulnerable to let it all out – both feeling what you were doing, and what I felt.” He then takes a deep breath. “I don’t even know if this is coming out right in how I’m trying to explain it, but I wanted to share it with you because I want to apologize for using yo-”

“Excuse me?” Her tone caught him a little off-guard.

“I used you to essentially mask everything that happened. I used you as my security blanket to cover every bit I was feeling. I apologize because that makes me feel terrible that I wasn’t honest with myself, with you, and especially in those moments that are supposed to be special to us.” Sarina places her hand on top of his.

“I understand what you’re saying fully, and I get where you’re coming from. But you don’t need to apologize, Chase. You never hurt me or mistreated me. I enjoyed every one of those moments because anytime I can be close to you, it means everything to me. My only hope is that everything you’re doing helps so we can get back to that place where you’re fully as comfortable as I am, and having none of these thoughts.” She then gives up, placing a light kiss on his cheek. “I love you, Clyde, and nothing will change that.”

“Not even Bell?” She then gives him a light smack.

“Morgan can keep that trouble maker…” He then chuckles a little. “You’re still coming to Eldora tomorrow night, right?” He nods his head.

“I’m flying up to Denver to do the test, and then flying to Eldora so I can cheer on my little dirt queen.” She then chuckles as she rolls her eyes.

“Dirt and I aren’t the best of friends, should you know…” Chase looks at her puzzled.

“You did a decent job last yea-”

“That was by luck!” Chase then laughs. “What? At least I’m honest…”

“Then maybe you should call Christopher and get some tips.” She lets out a sigh.

“Nah, he’s not as good at giving me tips as someone else.” Chase looks over.

“Like Kyle?” She shakes her head no. “Alright, who do I have to keep an eye on?”

“You. Your tips are always the best because they come from the heart..” He then gives her a mocked shocked expression. “Chessiest pick-up line?” He nods his head as they both laugh. “Please tell me you’re not going to Denver by yourself…..”

“No, Ryan and Erin are coming with me.” It was now Sarina’s turn to look surprised.

“Erin? She’s back from Ireland?” Chase nods his head, now nervous at the mention.

“She flies in early tomorrow morning actually. I hope you don’t mind that I asked Ryan, and he said that she wanted to come along for support…” Sarina bites her tongue as she couldn’t help but have a couple odd feelings considering what happened the last time the three of them were together – even if Chase was intoxicated in the process. However, she also knew that she could trust him and if Erin meant that much to be there, she wasn’t going to stand in her way.

“No, not at all. I’m actually glad because then it gives me comfort that you’re okay. Now I can focus on trying to sling some dirt…” He then pulls up his phone, loading a video, before handing it over.

“Watch this for motivation. I saw it this morning, and it’s stuck with me. Rather than running or dreading a situation, we should be blessed to have this chance….”

https://twitter.com/FootballUGA/status/1019360809422639104

Wednesday July 18, 2018 – Eldora Raceway

Sarina just lets out a sigh as she leans back against the truck.

“Ah shit, why did I do that?” She immediately questions, standing up as she feels dirt all against the back of her.

It just added to the frustration of the day as the first practice hadn’t gone as planned – no surprise – ranked 15th quickest on the speed chart. She also didn’t feel totally comfortable in the truck, not sure if the handling was off or she wasn’t sliding it just enough. Seeing her teammate Logan Seavey at the top of the board made her feel more towards the second option, unfortunately.

Worst of all, she was wishing that she was in Denver right now with Chase, there to support him, knowing a whole tirade of emotions were probably filling his mind right now. It also didn’t help knowing that Erin was there, and her mind trying to play tricks in a multitude of scenarios that could happen.

“Hey,” she hears and puts on her best smile as Logan Seavey walks over. She knew to be polite to her new teammate, even if they were just working together for this race.

“Hey,” she replies as the smile remains on her face, still trying to brush off the dirt.

“Rookie mistake in leaning against the truck?” She lets out a small chuckle realizing how ridiculous she probably looked as she nods her head.

“I’m so used to doing that everywhere else. Frustrated, waiting to just go off on my thoughts to Rudy, leaned back against it. Look at this – you’re the rookie, yet I’m making the mistakes.”

“I take it you’re not a dirt girl?” She shakes her head no as he begins to help brush the dirt off. “There, it’s all gone – except your ass, but I’m going to be the gentleman here.” She then smiles a little as she keeps her eyes locked on him.

“I see you’re already pretty comfortable out there….” She then glances motions towards the board, before returning her eyes back to him. “Got any tips?”

“Keep pinching it more than you think you should as she’ll stick with the track conditions. Just about where you feel you’re over that edge, you’ll be right on the money.” She nods her head, accepting. That seemed like sound advice and went with her thoughts earlier.

“Thanks, I appreciate the tips.”

“Maybe later we can hang out a little…” She nods her head, easily accepting. For a first meeting, he didn’t seem like a bad guy and it was never bad to have a couple extra friends.

“I wouldn’t mind that at all. I may have to return the favor and give you a couple asphalt tips for a change if you get a chance.” She then sees Rudy heading over their way. “If you would excuse me right now, though, as Rudy and I need to go over stuff for second practice.”

“I better get back to my guys, anyway. Nice talking to you.” She then watches Logan head off, not noticing the boyish grin that had formed on the young man’s face in the process.

Wednesday July 18, 2018 – Delaware

Chase walks down the hall with Ryan and Erin toe, taking a deep breath in the process, as he reaches the desk.

“May I help you?” The secretary asks as Chase clears his throat. Why did he suddenly feel nervous?

“I am here with regards to a paternity test,” he answers as the secretary just continues to give him a dull glance.

“Name?” Second time in three days that he hadn’t been recognized. What was happening?

“Chase Elliott.” He watches her furiously type information into the computer, waiting a couple minutes.

“The paternity of Ms. Alison Reynolds’ baby, correct?” He nods his head. “Please head into Room B. A court officer will be in there shortly to take your DNA sample.”

“Thank you.” Chase then heads down the hall as the pair of Blaneys follow silently behind.

“What crawled up her ass and died?” Ryan asks, as Erin gives him a smack. “What? She seemed grouchy!”

“She was just being formal, which you need to be in this line of work,” Erin answers as they follow Chase into the room.

“A little politeness would be a change. You know a smile can do millions to brighten someone’s day.” Erin then flashes a smile at Ryan.

“How’s that, cheeky? Is your day made now?” Ryan then gives her a playful smack as Chase just rolls his eyes.

“Are you guys always like this?” He wonders, catching their attention.

“Chase, man, we’re sorry we’re not taking this seriously,” Ryan immediately apologizes as Erin places a hand on Chase’s shoulder.

“No, keep it coming; it’s a good distraction.” Ryan then looks over at Erin with a grin.

“Hear that? He gave me permission to smack you!” Chase then looks over shocked as Erin flips Ryan the bird. “You can go stick that where the sun don’t shine.”

“Momma wouldn’t be happy to hear your tone boy,” Erin retorts back as the door opens. The pair then fall silent as the officer sits before Chase.

“Formality is the name of the game and making sure everything is done by the book is important, “ the officer states. “Ms. Reynolds was taken into a room with an officer and doctor, who performed the sample testing as discussed in the courts. The officer then took the same directly from the doctor, got Ms. Reynolds to sign off, and then left the room. Therefore, we know the sample collected from the mother is without question. We do need to follow the same guidelines of procedure with the second sample. Do you understand so far?”

“Absolutely,” Chase states as he takes a calming deep breath, wishing those nerves would disappear.

“I need proof that you are who you identify as.” Chase was a little confused, but pulled out his wallet, dropping his driver’s license on the table and sliding it over to the officer. “Thank you.” The officer scans it using the scanner behind him, printing a copy immediately that goes in the small box he brought in. He then hands it back over. “Have you been through DNA sampling before?”

“No.”

“Trust me, this guy doesn’t go making random babies with random mommas just because he’s famous,” Ryan adds, earning a smack from Erin who tries to keep a straight face.

“Who are you?” The officer then asks, catching Ryan’s immediate attention as Chase just looks down at the table, shaking his head.

“Ryan Blaney, his best friend. I am just here for morale support. I apologize if my comment was out of lin-”

“You can be supportive by remaining quiet or else I will have to ask you to leave. We have an important procedure to follow and your jokes don’t help matters.” Chase would beg to differ as a nice light relief from the butterflies he was feeling. “We collect our DNA sample from the potential father via cheek swab. You will simply take the stick that I am going to hand you, swab the inside of your cheek before me, showing me as you do so, and hand directly back to me.”

“Understood,” Chase says as he keeps his eyes locked back on the officer. He then takes the stick, swabs the inside of his cheek as instructed, before handing it back over. He then watches as it placed in the box, and sealed.

“Thank you,” the officer states. “I am going to hand you a piece of paper, and you are going to sign, agreeing that the procedure was followed accordingly, along with agreeing to whatever results may surface.” Chase nods his head, doing so as requested.

“When do we get the results?”

“48 hours and we will have the resul-“ There was no way he was flying to Denver during race weekend.

“I’m scheduled to be in New Hampshire for a race. I will not be available to attend a court hearing to hear these results.” The officer nods, as he looks over the package.

“We can have an officer of the courts deliver you the results at New Hampshire Speedway directly if requested.” Chase nods his head, accepting. The only other option was to wait until next week and the longer they waited, the worse the feeling would probably get.

It wasn’t long after before they were headed out of the offices, set to the board the plane and fly up to Eldora.

“Are you okay?” Ryan asks as they reach the airport.

“I felt like I just went through the biggest exam of my life and I have no idea whether I failed or passed,” Chase answers as they walk across the tarmac. “I know it should just be procedure and we’re going to have proof that she’s playing me, but my mind still is playing tricks. What if?”

“You never made mention of there being a possibly that she’s telling the truth…” Erin offers as Chase glances back at her.

“Everything my gut says will tell you that she isn’t because I don’t remember her actually physically going that far, Erin. But I also have my doubts because what if I am blacking it out?” Ryan shakes his head knowing that couldn’t be true.

“You’re not the type to do that, though,” Ryan comments. “You always face every situation head on, and are the hardest judge on yourself because you find every single fault that you did wrong and ways to do better. You wouldn’t just forget or black that out. You’d be trying to find every fault in yourself for allowing it to happ-”

“But what if I blacked it out because I couldn’t handle that? I put off going to therapy forever. I could’ve blacked it out for the same reason.” Ryan understood the doubts, but wasn’t ready to buy into it at all.

“You put off therapy out of your own pride in thinking that you could handle it by yourself. This is totally different Chase….” Chase lets out a sigh as they reach the plane.

“Maybe I’m just over-reacting, maybe I’m just giving her the power that she doesn’t deserve to deceive me again. But until I have those results in my hand on Friday, I will not stop questioning it because there’s a chance.” He then unlocks the door, throwing his bag inside.

“How would there be a chance if they didn’t have sex?” Erin questions out loud as Ryan glances back at his sister.

“There isn’t because they didn’t have sex, or else he would’ve told us,” Ryan answers. “She’s still playing games with him….” Ryan then backs up, so Erin can enter the plane first, before following her inside.

“Regardless what it says, though, it’ll work out. You have us here for you, always.” Chase glances back at the pair with a small smile.

“Thank you for coming today,” he comments before placing on the headset. “Ready to go dirt tracking?”

The Tale of Love & Racing – Chapter 92: Coke Zero Sugar 400

Thursday July 5, 2018 – Daytona International Speedway

“Cancelled,” Alan announces officially as they sit in the garage stall watching the rain fall from the sky. “That’s all she wrote. Least you were happy with the car.”

“We’ll be fine,” Chase states as he slowly stands up, glancing down at his foot.

“So are you going to finally admit that it’s sore?” Chase just glances over his shoulder at the crew chief who just grins. “I’m glad you listened earlier, by the way. I wasn’t actually going to call Cindy, but doing something once in a while to put a small smile on Sarina’s face – even just as small as that, try it sometime because it helps.”

“I don’t need relationship advice, even if I find ways to screw things up….” Alan was now confused as he stood up, walking over to his driver.

“What are you talking about?” Chase lets out a sigh as he knew this was only a matter of time.

“I kissed Erin while I was drunk in Ireland. I don’t even remember doing it, but I di-”

“Did you tell Sarina, yet?” Chase nods his head yes. “Well considering that she was concerned all over you earlier, I say that she took it well…”

“She was angry and a little upset, but she let it go understanding the circumstances. The problem is a photographer caught it and despite Erin’s attempts, an article will be published Monday with that image.” Alan knew what that meant immediately, already having seen some of the stuff that had emerged over the past couple of weeks. “But article or not, I screwed up, right?”

“You made an innocent drunken mistake. At least you kissed someone you knew and not a stranger, if that makes you feel better.” Chase shakes his head. “Don’t beat yourself up. We all mistakes. It’s not about the mistake we made, but how we handle that mistake. You talked to Sarina, and she is willing to let it go. Now weather this storm and everything will be fine….” Alan gives him a pat on the shoulder before letting him go.

Chase then makes his way out of the garage stall, opening the umbrella as he begins the trek through the garage area. While it was a longer walk than he would’ve wanted given how he was feeling, it was actually peaceful listening to the drops against the umbrella as he ran everything through his mind.

From Erin and the discussion of feelings there, to the kiss, to the forth coming article, there was enough under that lone section to keep him occupied for awhile.

However, he couldn’t ignore the thoughts of Alison that figured into his mind, as he pondered everything she said on Monday – games or not – and how that figured into what happened, including the repetitive baby question. He also knew that he was supposed to be on the stand on Monday, and that was certainly going to be a pleasant experience. Who wanted to be the one to recount all of the details?

Though his mind also centered back around Sarina, and their relationship together. While everything began with her putting him through a ringer of things, it seemed it’d been role reversal over the past year. Under previous circumstances, she would’ve ran kicking and screaming, letting everyone bear the heat of her anger. However, she had taken it much calmer that he had predicted, and it was welcoming. He appreciated how caring she was with him, and wished with everything at times that he could change the news they got Monday together.

Every thought of her also reminded him that it was worth asking her to marry him, because he couldn’t see himself with anybody different. Their love was pure, and he couldn’t wait to see where it took them next together.

He makes his way back to the motorcoach, making his way inside as Sarina glances over at him surprised.

“Did you walk your ass all the way back to the motorcoach from the garage?” She asks as he puts the umbrella down.

“I needed some time to think,” he offers as he places it outside to dry off, before closing the door behind him.

“Are you okay?” He nods his head as he makes his way over to where she was sitting up on the couch now. “You know, you can tell me whatever is on your mind if you need someone to talk to.’

“I know, and if I needed someone to talk to, trust me, I would tell you whatever. But I’m okay.” He then leans in and kisses her lips. “I actually cleared my mind more than I thought I would.”

“That’s all nice and great, but there’s something you’re forgetting….” He then lets out a sigh as he knew there was going immediately. “You are supposed to be taking it easy on your ankle. Instead, you’re prancing through the entire garage.”

“I’m fi-”

“You need to go lay down, and get that foot up on a pillow with some ice.” She then tugs on his firesuit. “You need to get out of this first…”

“I may need some help with that…” Considering his admission to her before about partially holding back at times due to everything, she was surprised by how forth coming this was appearing.

“I can help you in any way possible, Chase…” She then stands up to reach his level, their lips immediately clashing together. They slowly make their way towards the back of the motorcoach, reaching the kitchen portion of the motorcoach, before Sarina pushes him back against the wall.

“Sarina….” Her lips find his again, followed by leaving a trail of kisses along his chin.

“I can’t help it…” He wasn’t about to deny it as he lifted his head up, allowing the kisses to continue down his neck. Though as she reaches where the mark was previously left from Alison, she slows a little. “It’s almost gone…”

“Thankfully…” She then continues the kisses as she loosens the strap around the neck of the firesuit. “You’re supposed to be taking car-”

“Oh I’m certainly taking care of you.” He then laughs as he wraps his arms around her, picking her up in his arms as she immediately wraps her legs around him.

“I know, but you’re supposed to be careful on a foot, remember? Relax, I got this…” He then carries her to the back of the motorcoach, laying her down slowly on the bed, as he climbs on top of her.

“This is more comfortable anyway…” She then gives him a small tug, letting her lips find his again while pulling the zipper down on the firesuit.

Friday July 6, 2018 – Daytona International Speedway

“So where do you start tonight, anyway?” Alex asks as they walk up pit road together.

The first round of Cup qualifying had gone well so far for Hendrick Motorsports, with three of the four in the top-12 to move onto the second round. There were even higher hopes surrounding Chase as he had posted the quickest speed in the first round, too.

“11th, he answers Alex, speaking of the XFINITY Series race, which saw qualifying get rained out.

“So you’ll be leading by Lap 10?” Jimmie questions and Chase just laughs back in response. “What did you do to your ankle anyway? No matter who I’ve asked, they won’t tell me.”

“Fooling around in the pool.” Jimmie just lets out an aggravated sigh.

“Did you ask Ryan yet?” Alex wonders and Jimmie shakes his head no. “That’s the problem.”

“I just don’t get why this guy won’t admit to us how he did it,” Jimmie starts. “I mean, we’ve all done something stupid one time or another…” Alex then throws his hands up in the air immediately.

“Hey, I’m innocent!” Both Jimmie and Chase laugh back in response.

“I bet Emily would say different,” Chase comments. “Ryan and I were a little drunk, and decided to have a diving contest into the pool. I slipped a little running to the pool, turned my foot the wrong way as I fell in.”

“Ouch,” Alex says as Jimmie just shakes his head.

“Classic,” Jimmie adds. “Everybody knows my dumb stunt – surfing on top of the golf kart.”

“I still can’t believe that Jeff cut his head open at your bachelor party,” Chase comments as Jimmie chuckles a little remembering that. “How’d that happen anyway?”

“We were comparing dance moves, and he tried to show us all up. Oh he did a great job at that…” Jimmie shakes his head as he chuckles a little more. “But I swear, I didn’t say go ahead and break dance on the table.”

“Are you sure the tequila didn’t make you say otherwise?” Jimmie laughs a little more.

“So Jeff cuts his head at Jimmie’s bachelor party, and Dale had a cut after Ricky’s party,” Alex starts. “Chase, we know what we need to do….”

“No getting drunk at their parties and doing stupid shit?” Chase questions and Alex nods his head.

“Oh you just wait boy,” Jimmie offers. “There’s a reason why Dale and I want to plan your bachelor party.” Chase knew that was probably not going to happen as Ryan and Darrell had already snagged all rights to that, thankfully – or maybe not.

“My wedding better not turn into the Hangover Winter Edition.” Jimmie and Alex just chuckle together.

Sarina glances over a couple of the crew member’s shoulders, watching the live timing and scoring closely, fingers crossed.

“Come on baby….” She says quietly as he came off of turn four.

“Pole!!” Jordan and Josh say excitedly together with a high-five, before both turning around to hug Sarina.

“Great job boys!” She says to them, before going through the whole team with high-fives.

Once Chase pulled back on pit road, she stood back as she watched the various team members trade hugs with him, followed by the media interviews. He then makes his way over to her, leaning in for a kiss.

“I’ve been waiting for that,” he says with a smile.

“I didn’t want to interrupt you,” she replies as he places his hands on her hips, holding her cloes.

“You can interrupt whenever you want.” She then smiles back in return.

“I love you, and spectacular job. Those boys built you one helluva car!” He then glances back over at the guys, before looking towards her.

“I’m not going to argue with you.”

Sarina sat on the pit box nervously, reminding herself to take the odd deep breath every once in awhile as she watched the drama unfold before her.

Starting from 11th, Chase broke into the top-eight immediately, and remained in the top-10 throughout the first two stages of the event. From what she could see, he had a good car and could make the moves he needed, but for now was biding his time and waiting for the lines to work in his favor.

With 40 to go, it was time to go and that showed as he broke into the top-five. Her legs began tapping a bit as she waited for him to make his next move, followed by a big sigh of relief in watching the first big wreck happen with 20 laps to go behind him. That sigh grew larger when the second wreck took place eight laps later, once again behind him.

“We can do this,” she comments quietly to herself as Chase ran third.

“All of the sudden, the power steering is not working,” she then hears Chase over the radio under the yellow flag. “We’re also running – 260.”

“Do whatever you feel is right,” Chad Norris instructs as Sarina just shakes her head.

“Something feels off. Coming in….” Chase then makes his way down pit road and all Sarina can do his shake her head, trying to avoid cursing up a storm while sitting there looking on disgusted.

“Broken oil pump belt. We’re done…”

“Shit!” Sarina finally lets out as she just sits back on the box, shaking her head.

Despite how nervous she was, she was excited for those final laps to play out as she knew with the position he was in, they could’ve challenged – and possibly won.

“That sucks,” she comments as she rubs his shoulders later on that night.

“Sometimes it’s just not your night,” Chase replies as he leans back in her arms. “Move on and try again tomorrow…..”

Saturday July 7, 2018 – Daytona International Speedway

Sarina could only let out a very long sigh as she made her way through the garage area.

Just like last night, the race started out promising with Chase pacing the field around the speedway, and running up front. Just like last night, he appeared to have a car that he could make the moves to win when the time came. But also like last night, the night had ended early.

An ill-timed move from Ricky Stenhouse Jr. resulted in contact, causing William Byron to go around. Being up front, nobody had anywhere to go, and that included Chase who got caught up right in the middle with heavy rear-end damage.

“Are you okay?” She asks as he comes out of the care center, and he simply nods his head. “Ricky was driving like a dick tonight from Lap 1 until now. He’s been pissing everybody off. I hope he wrecks before this is over.”

“It’s just a product of restric-” Chase starts.

“No, it’s a product of a dickhead!” Chase then looks at her surprised. “I’m not kidding, Chase. Just go ask my boss if you need confirmation.”

“I saw Kyle in there and he didn’t look happy so I’ll pass.” He then wraps an arm around her. “The main thing is that everybody is okay, and we have tomorrow to ourselves to spend on the beach and enjoy the sun.”

“Beachbums?” He nods his head as she lays her head on his shoulder. “I don’t care what we’re doing, as long as we’re together.”

“The feeling is mutual….”

Monday July 9, 2018 – Court House

“Are you okay?” Ryan asks as he walks over, folding a piece of paper in hand.

“I just have to go and say what happened, right?” Chase questions back and Ryan simply nods his head. “You have the article…..”

“It’d probably be best if you just read this late-” Chase snatches it from Ryan’s fingers as Ryan lets out a sigh. “Or not…..” Chase unfolds the paper, and begins reading the article, which showed the image in all its glory.

“Do I want to know?” Sarina asks as she walks over and Ryan shakes his head no.

“As released originally by the Irish Times, Chase Elliott was seen sharing a kiss with Erin Blaney, the sister of his best friend and vacation partner Ryan Blaney,” Chase reads out loud as Sarina just crosses her arms. “According to a quote obtained from Ms. Blaney, the kiss did not mean anything between the pair, but rather was a case of intoxication mistake as the group had been drinking while taking a tour of a pub earlier in the day.  The pair remain best friends, nothing more, according to her, with the incident already in the past.”

“That doesn’t sound too bad….” Ryan almost wanted to laugh as his eyes never left Chase.

“It gets better,” Ryan offers, earning a curious glance from Sarina.

“This incident took place at the same time as a previous reported encounter between Sarina Ott and ex-teammate Christopher bell in the Iowa garage area,” Chase continues reading, as Sarina eyes turn to slits of anger. “As noted at the time, the pair spent several minutes talking, before sharing a hug. It wasn’t also their first time spotted together in the garage, as there were rumors last year about them being together. Speculation was fueled then on whether Ott was turning to Bell for comfort due to Elliott’s situation with Ms. Reynolds….”

“….and of course they detail the court case in full of what they’re allowed to so far….”

“So essentially, they basically feel that I’m turning to Erin, you’re turning to Christopher – all because of Alison, and there may be more to my situation with Alison that is fueling this.” Chase then folds the paper back up, handing it back to Ryan. “Speculation, just as I thought would happen.”

“Can I kill them?” Sarina asks and Chase laughs while shaking his head no.

“Then you’d have to share a jail cell with Alison,” Chase comments as Sarina just shrugs her shoulders.

“I could kill her, too…” Chase and Ryan then both look on shocked. “Geez, I’m kidding. I’d never do that. I could never be locked in a cell away from this cutie…” She then places a hand on Chase’s. “But they are rats for what they wrote.”

“That’s their job, though. That’s what gets them reads, and publicity and everything they need. And what are we going to do in return?” Sarina just smiles.

“Continuing living our lives as if nothing changed and not give them the satisfaction they want. I love you, you love me, and we know where we both stand. That’s all that matters.” She then kisses his lips, lightly. “I love you, Clyde, and I’m here for you today, and always. We’re going to get through whatever they throw at you….”

The Tale of Love & Racing; Sarina’s Story – Chapter 91: A Pool Slip-Up

Wednesday, July 4 – Charlotte, North Carolina

“This is the life,” Sarina comments as she puts her feet up, smile locked on her face as she glances over with a smile.

How could she complain when she was surrounded by best friends and everybody was sharing drinks, stories, and some outdoor fun on Independence Day? Laying by the pool, soaking up the fun, catching up with her best friend while the boys played in the yard was everything that she could ask for after the stress of Monday.

“So you’d give up racing and go full beach bum?” Lindsay questions and Sarina just laughs.

“You know already that I wouldn’t survive that,” Sarina replies. “Heck, not being able to drive this weekend is going to drive me nuts. Oh wait, Daytona does that enough to me already.” She then looks over at Lindsay. “Think Alan would notice if I snuck a bit of vodka or rum in my drink on the pit box?”

“Now that’s just crazy talk from the lady who doesn’t drink…” Sarina lets out a sigh as she lays back in her seat.

“Let’s just say that restrictor plate racing is the reason that I will have a gray hair at the age of 40. It’s fun as hell in that moment, but watching Chase, I can barely stomach it.” Lindsay nods her head in agreement as she rubs her stomach.

“I just hope this little one co-operates enough that I can watch this weekend….” Sarina then glances over, feeling a little bit of concern.

“Still giving you issues?” Lindsay nods her head.

“They say morning sickness, but I call it just sickness. I can get through a couple days good, and then I go a couple days where I just continue throwing up no matter what.” The girls then watch as the boys make their way back up to the porch, grabbing another beer each out of the cooler. The boys also made sure to treat the girls as queens, with Ryan delivering a lemonade to Lindsay as Chase placed a glass before Sarina. “For a girl that doesn’t drink, that looks suspicious….”

“Take a sip and thank me later,” Chase comments, dropping a quick kiss on her cheek, before going back over to the porch ledge with Ryan. Sarina picks up the glass, taking a sniff as a smile immediately forms on her face.

“Did you seriously order in a bottle from Amsterdam?” Sarina questions as Chase just glances over at Ryan with a smile.

“Well, well, someone is trying to find his way to his girl’s heart,” Ryan offers with a laugh. “Are you trying to get lucky under the fireworks tonight or what?” Chase just rolls his eyes.

“She deserves a treat for everything that we’ve been dealing with,” Chase comments as he glances over the backyard. “I haven’t made it easy on her, Ryan…” Ryan glances over at his friend.

“Alison was not your fau-”

“But kissing your sister was my fault, and while Alison wasn’t my fault, I still appreciate Sarina for being there, comforting me, giving me space when I need it, and being understanding in my emotions. It seems no matter what I throw at her, she may get angry at that minute, but once then she’s my rock and there for me to lean on no matter what.” He takes a quick glance back at the girls, before looking over at Ryan. “How did we get so lucky, Ryan?”

“I don’t know, man, but I don’t take a single minute for granted.” Ryan holds his bottle up. “Cheers for two wonderful ladies that will do anything for us, and cheers to making this summer memorable.”

“I’ll drink to that.” They share a clash of bottles together, before taking a long sip each.

The rest of the afternoon was filled with more drinks and stories, with everybody just enjoying the chance to relax as they watched the sunset off the porch. Once the sun had set, the boys retreated to the garage, pulling out the fireworks that they had purchased, evil grins on their faces as the girls just glanced at each other nervous.

“Promise to be careful?” Lindsay questions as Ryan glances over.

“Absolutely,” he replies as he blows her a kiss.

“Are you sure you can handle this after what you’ve drank?” Sarina wonders and Chase nods his head.

“Just sit back and enjoy the show,” he offers, as he hands each of the girls a sparkler lit up.

The girls giggled as they made different shapes in the air with the sparklers, including each of their boy’s car numbers inside of a heart. Their eyes were caught on the sky seconds later as it was filled with a variety of different colors and sizes, with each boom surprising more after the previous.

“That was worth every penny,” Ryan offers and Chase nods his head in agreement.

Under the moonlight, another round of drinks was passed around, followed by perhaps a couple after that. The girls could tell the boys were certainly a little lit, but they weren’t about to stop them as they’d been behaved for the time being. There was the agreement that if things started to go off the rails, they’d put an end to the night.

Everything continued to go smoothly – until the boys were set on starting a competition as to who could have the fanciest, craziest dive into the pool. A glance at each other, and the girls were feeling more nerves than earlier.

“Watch this….” Chase let out as he took the run to the diving board, ready to set the bar high. Though rather than going for the diving board, he slipped on the path, foot twisting slightly, before landing head-first in the pool.

“Shit!” Sarina and Ryan yelled immediately together as Sarina jumped up from her seat.

“Chase?!?” She says as she makes her way over to the pool.

“I’m okay….” He lets out after his head pops up above water. “I’m okay…” Sarina was set to believe him as she saw no visible marks anywhere on the top of his head or face, but his response didn’t have her totally convinced.

“Oh really?” He then swims over to the edge of the pool, making his way up on the edge and sitting there. “Chase…”

“I’ll be fine…” He then glances down at his foot, moving it slightly as he lets out a small grunt. “I probably just sprained it….”

“I hope so because otherwise, Alan is going to kill you….” She then makes her way over to him, holding her hands out. “Come on, let’s go. You’re going inside and putting that up immediately.”

“I’ll be fin-”

“No ifs, ands, or buts. If you don’t get that up with some ice on it, it’s going to swell like a bitch and you’ll be sorry tomorrow.” He then reluctantly swings around, slowly getting up with Sarina’s help and hobbling in the house.

“Come on Ryan; fun is over for tonight,” Lindsay says as she grabs Ryan by the hand, dragging him in the house after her.

Thursday, July 5 – Daytona International Speedway

Sarina makes her way into the garage stall, giving the crew guys a quick wave as she does, making her way over to where Chase stood. Her eyes immediately sunk to the ground, noticing how he was trying to keep weight off his foot.

“You know, it’d be easier to do that if you were laying down with it up with ice on it as you were instructed to,” she offers as he just lets out a sigh.

Ever since he had woken up that morning before flying, she bugged him about it. She then persisted to bug him once they landed, making him put it back up on a pillow with ice while they snagged a nap. It seemed the only conversation that they were having over the past 24 hours surrounded a foot.

“I’m fine,” he offers as she glances up into his eyes, shaking her head in disagreement. His eyes obviously told a different story.

“Chase, you’re in pai-”

“I’m fine. I can handle it…” She then lets out a sigh as she crosses her arms.

“What if you broke it? What if you tore some ligaments? What if there’s more to this than you’re letting on? You should go get checked it out.” He then glances over at her.

“I’m supposed to be in the car shortly, and you want me to go get it checked out?” She nods her head. “I’m fine, Sarina.” She then places her hand on top of his.

“Chase, it’d make me feel a lot better if you got it checked out, so please listen to me….”

“Listen to her Chase,” Alan suggests as he glances over at him. he knew how Sarina was at Daytona with her nerves, and he knew anything to give her comfort was warranted. “You’ve got an hour to XFINITY practice.  You’ve got plenty of time.”

“Not helping, Ala-” Chase starts as Alan gives him a stern glance.

“Do I need to call your mother?” Chase’s jaw drops in shock. “Do what your told, please.” Chase then glances back at Sarina with a sigh, almost in total disbelief.

“Let’s go….” She then takes his hand with hers, as they make their way slowly out of the garage stall through the garage to the medical center.

Thankfully, his predictions of it being just a sprain were right as all the of the x-rays came back clean, showing all bones in their proper places. With the recommendation of more elevation and ice when he got a chance, he was back in the garage ready to start the day.

“Make sure you’re drinking lots,” Sarina offers as she watches him get set to climb in the car, earning a curious glance from him. “I don’t want a repeat of last week.”

“I’ll take care of myself, okay?” He tells her. “You don’t need to worry about me. I’ll be fine, and we’ll have a good weekend…” She then takes a deep breath as she grabs onto his hand.

“Just promise me you’ll be safe.” He then pulls her close to him so they were touching head-to-toe.

“Always.” He then gives her a kiss on the lips, before climbing the car as she takes another deep breath, slowly walking away.

She makes her way up onto the GMS Racing hauler, placing on her headset as she glances out at the oval. Trying to calm herself with another deep breath, she hoped the butterflies cooled off as they went through the rest of the weekend.

“Are you okay?” She hears Chad Norris ask as he joins her up on top of the hauler.

“Usual restrictor plate nerves,” she offers as her eyes glance down to the garage, seeing the No. 23 Untuckit Camaro pulling out of the garage.

“I’ve heard of wives and girlfriends being nervous, but I’d never thought I’d see a fellow racecar driver be nervous…” She then glances over at Chad.

“You’re looking at a driver who has seen the worst of these tracks from the driver’s seat, though. I know what it feels like to hit that wall. I know what it feels like to ride that wall with two wheels because you get pinched up there, trapped, nowhere to go and along for the ride. I think because I’ve experienced that helpless feeling, it makes my nerves worse knowing that there’s nothing that you can do if it starts around you. besides, I watched him wreck at Talladega and you can ask Alan and Jordan how I was – not pretty.” Chad then places a hand on her shoulder.

“I can understand then, but I will promise you that my guys built a real safe, fast racecar, and we’re going to be fine tomorrow night.” She nods her head.

“I don’t doubt that, but try convincing the butterflies in my stomach….”

Chase leans against the wall, knowing that there were only 10 minutes between the pair of practices, and Alan would be set for him to take his first laps of the first Cup session. After feeling comfortable with the XFINITY Series car and the moves they could make, he just hoped that same feelings was there in this practice, too.

It was also a bonus when Chad offered to not run the second XFINITY practice since there wasn’t much else they could do to get better. whether he’d admit it openly or not, the sooner he could chill in the motorcoach with his foot up, the better as it was sorer than he thought it’d be.

He then hears his phone go off, which had him a little confused as everybody was pretty good in avoiding anything during practice sessions knowing that was his priority. Though seeing the number on his phone, he answered it.

“Hey,” he says simply as he stays in the same spot.

“Hey,” Erin replies at the other end. “I thought I’d call you and let you know that the article will go live on Monday. I did what I could, but there was no way that stop it from coming out…” Chase lets out a sigh, knowing what that meant as it was only a matter of time until the world knew he kissed Erin in Ireland.

“Thanks for the heads-up.” Erin could see the disappointment in his voice.

“Have you told Sarina what happened?” Chase closes his eyes, as he remembered that conversation clearly.

“She took it better than I imagined, Erin. A little anger but not as much as I thought, understanding that it was a drunken lapse in judgment. Now, how do you convince the world of that?” Erin lays back in her bed.

“Everybody isn’t going to believe that you were drunk and it was a lapse of judgment. I think, if I’m being honest, everybody will split down the middle. Carolyn gave me the choice to add a comment, in which I did with that statement – so it isn’t like you’re coming up with a later-on statement. Chase, I’m really sor-”

“You didn’t kiss me, Erin; I kissed you. It’s my decisi-”

“A drunken decision that you don’t even remember for that matter, therefore holds no weight. It’s unfair that you have to shoulder all of this, from the trial with Alison to the kiss that was really nothing. Hopefully it blows over quickly.” Chase wanted to laugh as he knew that was impossible. It was only a matter of time that the Alison would blow-up further with the trial dates scheduled, and details to be revealed.

“Just know that whatever they may say about you, it’s not true. You’re amazing, and I’ll always be your best friend.”

“That goes both ways, Chase. I’ll see you when I get back to the States. Have fun in Daytona this weekend. Go snag a win, will ya?” He then chuckles.

“I’ll try – if you stop distracting me from practice.” Erin then rolls over, glancing at the time, doing the math silently in her head.

“Ah shit, I screwed up. I thought that practice was over by now. Sorry…”

“It’s okay. I’m not mad at you, but I better let you go. We’ll talk later, okay?”

“Absolutely. Bye Chase.”

“Bye Erin.” He then hangs up, a small smile on his face.

Certainly the circumstances of that call sucked as he would’ve preferred no article at all, but she never failed to put a smile on his face.

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 87: Overton’s 225

Friday, June 29 – Chicagoland Speedway

Chase walks through the garage, set to get ready for the first XFINITY Series practice session of the day, when he hears someone trying to catch up with him. He slows down, half-expecting to see Sarina, but surprised when it’s Ryan.

“You could’ve just called out my name,” Chase offers as Ryan doesn’t even flinch in response to the comment.

“Erin messaged me this morning and I need to talk to you immediately,” Ryan starts, sounding as if he totally missed Chase’s comment. However, the panic in Ryan’s voice caused Chase to stop right away.

“Is something wrong?” Ryan was a little hesitant on answering that. “Ryan? Is your sister oka-”

“If she was in danger, do you think I’d be standing here right now trying to get your attention?” Chase lets out a sigh, knowing that panic could leave his system immediately. “In reality, what she told me is the most innocent thing ever. However, it could have a big impact moving forward.” Chase was now confused. “She’s best friends with one of the newspaper writers in Ireland, and her friend called her to talk about something that she saw on the desks of the editors. There’s a photo of you kissing Erin.”

“You’re not pranking me, are you?” Ryan slowly shakes his head no. “Ryan, I swear if you’re lying, I will screa-”

“I am not lying, Chase. Per what Erin was told, the photographer recognized you and knew that Erin wasn’t Sarina and took the photo. The plan is to publish it with a mere mention of the flirt, which will co-exist just lovely with the Sarina and Christopher story from last weekend.” Chase runs his hands through his hair.

“The worst part is I haven’t told Sarina about the kiss yet. I haven’t said a single word to her or Erin about the matter.” Ryan then crosses his arms, not surprised. It was supposed to stay that way.

“You know as well as I do that if it gets out over there, it’ll make its way over here and boom – the fun and rumors are set to begin. Furthermore, because you didn’t say a single thing to Sari-”

“She’s could think I am cheating on her, and here we go again….” Ryan slowly nods his head, glad that Chase had put together the pieces himself.

“We know that everybody involved can handle rumors as we’ve been there before. But maybe it’s a sign that you should say something….” Chase lets out a long sigh. “I’m just saying that it’s better coming from you than someone else, right?” Chase knew that lesson all too well after the pregnancy news. “In the meanwhile, Erin and her friend are going to work at getting this eliminated so that way it doesn’t come out and throw another unnecessary wrench in your world.”

“Keep me posted, please?” Ryan nods his head, accepting.

“Just make sure you make the right decision here, okay?” Chase accepts as he heads into the garage, ready to get in the car as he knew that he could use a distraction right now.

For the first session of the day, they didn’t start off that bad in his mind, timing in 20th quickest on the speed chart. With another hour scheduled later in the day, he knew that he and Chad Norris could work at finding something to work with.

With having finished her photos for winning the pole, Sarina makes her way back to the XFINITY Series garage.

She had half-expected to see Chase on pit road or while she was doing photos, but yet she hadn’t seen him since earlier that morning before the first XFINITY series practice. She chalked it up to him wanting to spend time with Chad Norris and the GMS guys since he didn’t normally work with them. That, or the schedule was too tight to make some time; but it was still odd considering every other weekend they normally spent together.

She makes her way down the row of cars, stopping at the 23 garage stall and making her way inside. She saw of furry of guys working around the car, glancing around as she looked for any sight of Chase. She was then surprised when she found him standing by himself, almost lost in thought by the pit box at the front of the stall. She slowly makes her way over, placing a hand lightly on his shoulder as if to not startle him.

“Are you okay?” She questions and he nods his head, keeping his eyes focused forward. Half of him wanted to spin around and just spit it out, while the other half wanted to carry forward as if nothing happened. Maybe he could tell her after the truck race. “I was expecting to see you sooner…”

“I wanted to come congratulate you, but the session was starting right then and Chad was ready to go,” Chase answers as he glances over his shoulder back at her. A glance into her eyes and the guilt ate at him even more. How could he do this again? “Congratulations, by the way.”

“Thank you.” She then gives him a kiss on the cheek. “I see you were ninth in the session, which isn’t too bad after all.” He couldn’t help but agree, as the car also felt comfortable and he thought they may have something to challenge for the win tomorrow. “Chase, what’s on your mind?”

“There’s something that I need to tell you, and I’m worried about your reaction if I’m honest.” She then looks at him a little nervous and scared; it was never good news if he was worried.

“You know that you can tell me everything, right? I mean, we’re fully trusting each other without holding back.” Chase nods his head, accepting, as he turns to face her, taking one of her hands into his own.

“So I got drunk while I was in Irelan-”

“And that’s supposed to surprise me?” She chuckles, while the serious glance on his face doesn’t fade one bit.

“I made a decision that I regret, and I wish I could do over or never ever happen, and I feel terrible.” Sarina was half-expecting him to state that he slept with someone at this point based on the sadness and guilt that showed through in his brown eyes. “I didn’t even remember a single thing about it until Ryan told me on the flight hom-”

“Chase, what happened?” He then takes a deep breath, knowing there was no going back now.

“I kissed Erin. According to Ryan, I was so out of it and saying that she was amazing that I kissed her, and then skipped off.” Sarina didn’t know whether to be mad, upset, or laugh.

“Skipped off?” He nods his head. “That’s not like you….”

“Like I said, I was totally out of it – and I wish I never would’ve kissed her, or touched her that way, or done anything. I feel terrible as here again, I broke our tru-”

“I told you to stop blaming yourself for what happened with Allis-”

“I accepted the de-”

“But did she give you a choice? No, she manipulated you – just like she’d been doing all along, Chase. You need to let that go….” Chase felt encouraged by the fact that she was still standing there before him, rather than storming out of the garage.

“But what about the kiss to Erin?” Sarina bit her tongue as she was set to yell, but the fact that he was admitting it straight out and felt bad, amidst the Allison drama, she hadn’t moved a single muscle.

“If I’m being honest, I am not happy that you went and kissed her. If I’m being honest, I can tell you that it upsets me that your lips landed on someone other than me. If I’m being honest, I am pissed and under any circumstance, I would throttle your ass right now. However, given the stress you’re under with Allison, and given the fact that you were drunk to that extent, I am willing to let it go.” Chase was now surprised, as he had braced himself for every bit of anger she had inside of her.

“Really?”  Sarina nods her head, very slowly. “So we may have a problem, though. A photographer got a shot of us together, and is planning to publish it with a nice story after your deal with Christopher. Erin’s friend works for the newspaper, and saw it. However, she is trying to get it destroyed or something so it doesn’t happen.”

“So wait – were you planning to tell me what happened? I mean, Chase, now it just sounds like you’re telling me because someone else was about to and you didn’t want to be the second person in line doing it.” Chase glances down as he knew how bad that looked as he took a deep breath.

“I didn’t even remember it so I hadn’t even thought about it. I was ready to shelf it as if nothing happened, if I’m being honest.” He then glances up into her eyes. “I don’t know if I would’ve actually said something because I was afraid of your reaction.”

“You don’t trus-”

“I trust you fully and completely, but I also know how easily it takes for you to flip a switch to anger, and I didn’t want to face that right now. I also know that things are messy enough right now with Alison, her pregnancy, and waiting for your appoin-”

“Oh, so now my infidelity concerns are an excuse to keep a secret from me?” Chase shakes his head no immediately.

“I didn’t mea-”

“Chase, I am a grown woman. I can handle anything and everything that is thrown at me. When I accepted your proposal and accepted this ring -” She places his hand on top of the pink ring that she wore. “- that meant that I fully trusted you, was willing to be fully honest, weather any storm, and do whatever it took for us together. So for you to stand here and imply that you may not have told me that you kissed another woman, even drunk, and not just any woman but Erin,  doesn’t really sit well.” Chase takes a deep breath.

“I know, and I am so sorry. I should’ve told you immediately.” He then glances back towards the ground. “I’m just dealing with everything as best as I can, and trying to face the storm that we have before us with the trial and paternity test, I tried to forget every other bit of drama.”

“Have you and Erin talked since the kiss?” Chase shakes his head no as he glances back up at Sarina.

“We texted here and there, but nothing on the matter. From what Ryan said, she was ready to forget knowing that it came from a place of misjudged behavior.” Sarina takes a calming breath as she lets go of him, pacing in a small circle. “Sarina….”

“I want to just forget about it and not think about it, but I can’t help but wonder. What’s her reaction? Does this change things moving forward?” Chase then reaches out for her hand, snagging it.

“I love you, I trust you, and I want to spend the rest of my life with you. I want to be with you all the time as any time that we’re apart kills me. You have to believe that nothing has changed…” She then gives him a small glance. “Please…”

“Is there anything else I should know, first?” Chase was about to put it off as nothing, but he knew he’d written himself a deep enough hole already with that approach.

“Erin admitted that she once had a crush on me and that’s why she was very judgmental of us being together at first. I woke up middle of the night and was on the balcony, and she came out to join me. We got talking about my feelings, and then I mentioned how we’d always care about each other as close friends. She then admitted the crush, saying that she ate up every minute that we got to spend together at the banqu-”

“But yet I’m supposed to believe that she thought the kiss was innocent?” Chase nods his head slowly.

“After she told me, she said that she also realized in the same breath that the way I looked at you for the first time was a look that she had never gotten herself in return, and she knew that I’d found the person I wanted to be with. She added that over time, she’s begin to realize how much we care about each other, how you’re there for me and vise versa, and is willing to accept what we have – as long as her and I remain close friends.” Sarina let that thought run through her mind, trying to knock out every bit of jealousy and anger mixed in by a simple kiss.

“So I’m supposed to believe that everything between you both is really nothing that I need to be concerned about?” Chase nods his head once again.

“It’s the same type of friendship that you have with Chri-”

“Don’t make this about me now, Chase.” Chase takes a deep breath as he glances down a couple stalls in Christopher’s direction, before looking back to Sarina.

“I’m not, because I don’t blame a single thing that I did on you; it’s all on me for the decisions that I made, and I accept every bit of that. I’m just saying that the friendship I have with Erin, that trust, is like what you have with Christopher. Heck, didn’t Christopher seamlessly have a crush on you at one point, too? I was able to let that go once you both explained where you stood. I’m now asking for that same understan-”

“I didn’t kiss him-”

“What do you want me to say to make it better than?” Sarina was almost set to spit back in his face, but she took a calming deep breath. It wouldn’t be worth it because she knew she’d just be mad at herself a couple hours later for chasing him away, and would want to be right back in his arms. She learned that from the other plenty of times that she tried the runaway approach.

“Nothing. You don’t need to say anything.” She then reaches for his hand. “I love you so much that it scares me to think that I could wake up tomorrow and it all be gone. I’ve never felt so in love with someone, or special, until you came into my life. You taught me how to be a better person, you made me face my demons, and you led to me something that I didn’t think possible. I’m always afraid it’s a dream, and that someone is standing right there ready to crumple it up and toss it in my face. So I’m sorry if something small like a drunken kiss or a past crush scares me. I just don’t want to lose this…”

“I don’t want to lose it, either. That’s why I kept fighting every time you tried to run.” She then looks down at her ring.

“And I said when I accepted the ring that I was done running, and ready to live my life with the one man that always makes me smile. I love you.”

“I love you, too.” He then places a light kiss on her lips as she wraps an arm around his waistband. “I’m sorry…”

“You don’t need to apologize, Chase. Let’s just focus on the rest of this weekend, us and moving forward, okay?” He nods his head in agreement.

“Go show them how it’s done,” he tells her, giving her a kiss, before walking away as she climbed in the truck, ready for that night.

He then climbs up on the pit box, taking his usual seat up beside the boss with a smile.

“Is everything okay?” Kyle asks and Chase nods his head.

“Everything’s great,” he answers with a smile as Kyle rolls his eyes.

“I just heard that you guys were having a serious conversation earli-”

“We were, and we worked it out. That’s all that needs to be said, okay?” Chase wasn’t about to tell Kyle that he kissed another girl.

“As long as you’re both happy together, I’m not going to interrupt.”

Starting on pole, Chase half-expected Sarina to cruise away from the field, but instead she fell back to second immediately fighting a loose condition in the middle of the corner. She remained second until the caution waved with 14 laps to go in the first stage. Rudy would leave her on-track, allowing her to start on the outside of the front row. She would get a good restart, taking the lead when Dalton Sargeant spun the tires, leading until the last lap.

“Are you kidding me?!?” Chase questions out loud as she crossed the line second to John Hunter Nemechek end the first stage after getting real loose in turn two.

“I repeat Rudy – I am loose!” She literally screams on the radio, as if he hadn’t heard the comment enough times over the run.

“Adjustments coming right up,” he assures her as she gets set to head down pit road.

The team would put together a good pit stop, sending her off pit road first at the front of the field. She would lead the initial laps, before fading back to sixth. She’d remain there through most of the rest of the event, fighting back to fourth at the end.

“I just fought a loose condition all night with the truck,” she tells reporters after the race. “I don’t know what it is, but I need to get better at my feedback and getting this team heading in the right direction because we can’t be doing this over and over to ourselves. I know we have the speed in the trucks and once we get it sorted the way I want it, we’re going to fight back and kick some ass.” She then smiles as the reporters walk away, feeling a pair of arms wrap around her shoulders. “Comforting and loving me is not going to save you both.”

“Can’t we at least try?” Chase offers as he gives her a quick kiss on the cheek.

“I’m not doing the kissing thing,” Kyle states as Chase just laughs back in response. “But I know you love that guy so it has to be doing something.” She then glances to her left, giving Chase a quick wink. “I saw that!”

“It doesn’t change what I sai-” Sarina starts, earning an eye roll from them both.

“You did nothing wrong tonight. You gave Rudy good feedback all night. A little bit more there from you, combined with some better adjustments in knowing what you’re saying, and you guys will be golden. Don’t shoot yourself totally in the foot. You’re doing a good job. We’ll figure it out.” He then goes to walk away from her. “Chase, make sure to give her a good distraction tonight and I’ll see you Monday.”

“I thought you were against distractions….” Kyle then glances back.

“I never said that. I just said to use a glove in all processes.” He then heads off as Chase tugs her closer to him.

“I say we follow the boss’ advice to the direct order,” Chase offers as she just grins back in response.

“Maybe it isn’t a bad idea after all,” she comments.