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.