The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 105: Michigan

Friday, August 10 – Michigan International Speedway

Alan walks into the Cup garage area, set to go find Josh and go over final set-up notes before the first practice of the day. However, he pauses when he notices Chase sitting in the corner by himself.

“Chase?” He questions out loud, slowly making his way over, kneeling down to his driver’s level. “Hey, is everything alright?”

“Do you ever feel like every time you take four steps forward you get knocked back two steps?” Chase asks, not even sharing a gaze with the crew chief yet as Alan sits down beside him.

“That’s better than one step forward, two steps backward as you’ve said before. I expected to enter the garage area with big smiles after last week. What would have you down so fast?” Alan could only reason that it had to deal with Sarina, considering that she wasn’t anywhere to be found.

“Alison.” Alan almost wanted to roll his eyes as he thought they were truthfully moving forward, but that obviously wasn’t true. “They spoke about the possibility of redemption and freedo-”

“She just got locked away not even a full month ago. We’re not even close to that happening, and they said there were steps that had to be taken. I thought you were fine with that decision, anyway.” Chase lets out a sigh, almost about to admit an immediate regret with that comment. Truthfully, it seemed that every situation with her was full of mistake and regrets. Taking a deep breath, he couldn’t let that trace his mind. It was not his fault no matter how it appeared were the words he had to tell himself repeatedly.

“What if that is sooner than we believed?” Alan now looks over with full shock on his face. “I got a note from the court house with an upda-”

“Why are they even bothering to keep you in the loop, to begin with? I thought moving forward involved no more reminders.” Chase wished that was the case as he would’ve preferred to not gotten the message.

“They feel I deserve a right to know due to being her primary target through all of that.” Alan actually couldn’t argue with that, understanding the dangers and safety here.

“There’s no way that they’d lock her up for a month and then relea-”

“They’ve found what was going on in her mind to cause her thoughts to be what they were and go insane, or appear of that nature. Bipolar Disorder is what they’ve diagnosed her with. The belief is once they figure out the medication regime to keep things under control, she will be able to function like anybody else and therefore no longer needing to be kept in the criminally insane.” Alan almost wanted to scream, but knew that wouldn’t help his driver’s state of mind right now.

“And because of that possibility, your mind is warped into 20,000 different theories. Let’s not forget this – it could take months to figure out the right course of action. It could even take years. They also have to make sure it true and tested before even giving her a possibility of release due to the nature of the crimes. I think you’re panicking too early.” Chase knew that, but that didn’t answer everything fully.

“But eventually, my thoughts will be reali-”

“That’s why there’s the review board. She could be told to serve jail time, or parole. Given the nature and depth of what she did to you, Chase, and what you’ve gone through because of that, they will not give her much leeway. You have to trust the justice system.” Chase almost wanted to laugh.

“Everybody has told me that since the beginning of the year when this started, but yet it took six months to get locked up. Would you understand if I didn’t feel fully convinced?” Alan nods his head, accepting.

“That’s why there’s restraining orde-”

“A piece of paper won’t stop someone from killing you.” Alan takes a calm deep breath, not even letting the thought enter his mind. He saw enough bullets, anyway.

“That’s why you can hire personal security, bodyguards, and other options.” Alan then places a hand on his leg. “Trust me when I say this to you – we will not let you go through that again with her. One time is enough and we’re not taking chances at repeating it, even if I had to pull the trigger myself on her. You can trust that you’re safe with us, always.” Chase finally looks over towards the crew chief.

“So am I crazy for sitting here right now having this discussion with you?” Alan shakes his head no.

“You’re understandably paranoid because of what happened. Obviously you’re going to fear her, and fear the possibility of going back there again. Don’t ever underestimate fear or pain. That’s what made this worse for you to begin with. My only suggestion is I know you thought your therapy was coming to a close, but I’d take a session or two and openly discuss what you just told me. It’s obvious that you haven’t uncovered everything yet.” Alan then stands up, brushing his own pants off as he glances over at the team. “The guys are looking a little lost without my direction – imagine that – so I better go get them in line. Are we good?”

“Yeah, of course.” Chase then slowly stands up himself. “Thanks, by the way.” Alan gives him one final glance.

“Anytime you need to talk, don’t be afraid to ask…” Alan then walks away and heads over to Josh as he was originally planning to do from the beginning.

Alan looks up at the speed chart, making a note they ended the session sitting 14th on the charts. It wasn’t exactly where they wanted to be, but it wasn’t the worse situation either. it was obvious they were missing on the intermediate tracks and top-15 was better than outside of that as progress was slowly being made.

“Happy driver or not?” He questions as Chase walks over to join the brain trust of the team.

“It’s free off the corner to the point that I feel I can’t hold it,” he answers as he looks up at the data. “I don’t know if I’d say totally loose, but I just can’t get the bite that I need.”

“More bite to turn give you more speed?” Chase thinks it over as he looks over at Alan.

“I think, but I don’t want to go too far either.” Alan glances back at his notes as he flips through the pages of adjustments tried, along with spring notes. “Give something a little snug, and I may be able to get you a good lap later this afternoon.”

“I’m just worried if I go this direction, that I’ll screw you even worse there. I want to fix the middle as you’re right, but you still need good entry.” Alan looks back at the data. “The key to Michigan is your run through the middle and off due to the long straightaways. So if I lose a bit on entry, can you handle that for the other side?” Chase nods his head, accepting.

“If I have to accept one over the other, I’d prefer to go that way. But why can’t I be like Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch and have both?” Alan chuckles as he looks back at his notes.

“I wish it was that easy, kid. Would you like to take over my job?” Chase chuckles, shaking his head no.

“I still say we should just get Sarina to steal notes from Kyle for us,” Josh interrupts the pair as Chase just rolls his eyes. “She loves you a lot that she’d prob-”

“You obviously don’t know her that well to say that,” Chase cuts him off. “She also believes in integrity and competition and all those things, just like I do. I could never feel right about that, and neither would she.” Josh lets out a sigh as he glances back at Alan.

“I tried….” Alan shakes his head as he grabs the clipboard.

“Focus on your job, not your crazy antics,” he instructs before walking away. Maybe a conference with the other Hendrick Motorsports crew chiefs would lead to some answers.

Sarina climbs out of the truck, smile adorning her face as she looks over at Rudy Fugle. After topping the first truck practice, she had it backed it up with the sixth-fastest time in the second session.

“We’re fast once again,” she says as she walks over, grabbing a bottle of Gatorade out of the cooler. “Now can we actually put it all together tomorrow and win?”

“I’m trying princess,” Rudy offers as he looks over at her. “I told Kyle that the pit crew needs to pick up the slack, and he said he’d have a chat with the powers that be. Now we just need to communicate, and work on the handling accordingly. Can we communicate properly?” She nods her head.

“I feel confident in our communication. I know how to describe what she’s doing, as long as you give her what she needs.” Rudy then looks over surprised.

“She?”

“You always name a car after a girl’s name for her curv-”

“I’ve seen the movie Gone in 60 Seconds so I know how that goes. But even ladies believe in that?” Sarina nods her head, yes.

“I used to always name my late models after favorite females that I aspired to be like one day. Badass girls for that matter. Why do you think Pink had a pink splitter?” Rudy just smiles as he remembered the familiar paint scheme, while crew chiefing an event for Erik. “Now, I’ve gotten away from that with my trucks, but I still talk to them like their little girls.”

“Maybe we should refer to them as teenagers given the attitude some weeks.” She chuckles a little in response.

“Could you imagine a teenager with my attitude, but yet Chase’s sweetness?” Rudy was surprised by the comment, given everything going on, but just had to shake his head at the thought.

“Totally stubborn set on their ways, but yet sweet enough to get away with it.” She nodded her head in agreement, letting out a sigh afterwards.

“….and to think that Chase had a thought of us having two children one day. I almost got myself wrapped up in that vision, too.” Rudy wraps an arm around her.

“There’s options, and knowing the both of you, just like you’ve conquered everything else, you’ll figure this one out, too. Don’t ever limit your dreams as you’ll make them all come true.” She smiles as she glances up at Rudy. “For now, let’s focus on getting ourselves a win this weekend.”

“That sounds fine by me.”

“It’s just wasn’t quite turning like I was hoping it would,” Chase tells the media after qualifying. “But, we had a hard time here in the spring race, too. I’m not real sure why. Hopefully we can get it worked out tomorrow and move forward because that was not good.”

He then walks back over to where Alan was sitting, taking a spot across from him on the pit wall. They hadn’t done anythi9ng special in the session, ultimately ending up 21st on the chart.

“That adjustment obviously didn’t work,” Chase summarizes as Alan just nods his head back in response.

“I don’t know what to say,” the crew chief replies. “I tried going one way but that didn’t work during practice, and now the other way shows that we’re slower in qualifying. I’m literally running out of ideas.” Chase was actually surprised to hear this confession.

“So then what are we supposed to do?” Alan lets out a sigh as he thinks it over.

“I could change springs and shocks, but that’s like going back to the beginning. However, if nothing is working, do I have a choice?” Chase shakes his head no.

“We’ve got two hours tomorrow. That gives us a lot of time to explore. If you want to go a different direction during the first practice, then I say let’s go for it. Then we’ll compare and choose what we really want to go with for second practice.”  Alan nods his head, accepting.

“We’ve got to do something…..”

Saturday, August 11 – Michigan International Speedway

“Are we happier?” Alan asks following the first of two practices on Saturday.

“It’s better than yesterday,” Chase answers as Alan nods his head. The speed chart showed that with them ranked 11th after the first session. Chase then makes his way out of the garage stall, having heard that NBC wanted to do an interview. He was surprised, though, when it was Dale Jr. standing there to do it. “Is it okay to admit that this is a little awkward or strange?” Dale glances at him.

“As awkward as you and Erin?” Dale questions in response, which sees all emotion fade from Chase immediately.

“Excuse me?” Chase asks as Dale keeps his eyes locked on Chase.

“What did I tell you about when you have a good thing, man? Don’t screw that shit up! I thought you were over Eri-”

“There’s no feelings there for Erin. There wasn’t ever any fee-”

“Drunken actions are sober thoughts, man. I was also there at the banquet then.” Chase shakes his head.

“You’re reading into this too much. There are no feelings. Hence why I’ve already talked it over with both Erin and Sarina. Hence why I’m still getting married to Sarina. I was inviting you to the wedding, but I don’t know now. Really?” Dale was actually caught off-guard on the retracted wedding invite.

“I thought I was planning your bachelor party with Jimmie still?” Chase laughs and shakes his head no immediately.

“I’ve heard enough stories from Jimm-”

“We aren’t going to do anything that extreme.” Chase just continues to shakes his head.

“I want to actually be at my wedding, Dale. I don’t need a Hangover movie written after me.” Dale keeps his eyes locked on him.

“I wouldn’t do that to you – as long as you can guarantee me that you’re in this for the right reasons.” Chase then looks over at his former boss and teammate.

“There’s not one shadow of a doubt in my mind that I am.” Dale nods his head, accepting.

“Then I will make sure that you are there on your wedding day to say those words.” Dale then clears his throats as the camera man gives them a 10 second motion. “Ready?” Chase nods his head, as he takes a deep breath, focused back on his practice thoughts.

Sarina gives Rudy a high-five, pleased with their qualifying performance. It wasn’t the pole, but certainly she could make something happen from third later that afternoon.

“We’ve got the speed – let’s be smart,” Rudy reminds her as she nods her head in agreement. “It’s all about closing the deal.”

“I’m ready to build that momentum, put solid runs together, and get myself ready for those playoffs,” she offers and Rudy nods his head in agreement.

“You can do whatever you want for the first half of the season. All that matters, though, is how you perform those last seven. Let’s focus on that momentum.” She smiles as she leans back against the pit wall.

“I’m 100% focused on that.” Rudy could tell as he takes a quick glance around.

“So where’s the fiancé anyway?” She was caught off-guard by the question, but saw where it was coming from.

“His car has been handling like shit most of the weekend so he’s been focused on getting better. He got the win last week, but doesn’t want to be a fluke. The pressure is there to keep that momentum going, but they’ve struggled here. So they’re trying to figure out what they need and that takes times.” Rudy could relate to that, thanks to long nights spent going over notes.

“Am I still going to have a friend on the pit box during the race?” She smiles, nodding her head. No matter how busy they got on race weekends, they always watched each other’s races and always spent the night together to rehash over the events from the day. “I’d be worried if he didn’t show up.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Rudy shrugs his shoulders. “Rudy….”

“It’d be out of character and when you start doing things like that, you know something is going on. I’m hoping you’re both done with drama for the rest of the year.” That was her wish in response, too.

“I hope so, Rudy. I need a break. I think the win and knowing Alison is locked away will bring that calmness. Now we just need to get the job done.” Rudy places a hand on her shoulder.

“That’s not a problem for me, ever.” He then walks away as she just smiles back in response.

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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 103: Go Bowling at the Glen

“A lot of emotion. A lot of relief. It’s been a tough road. Makes a helluva story.” – Chase Elliott, August 5 2018

Sunday, August 5 – Watkins Glen International

“Happy birthday big guy!” Sarina says as she climbs up on the pit box, giving Alan a big pat on the back. “So are we old or ancient now?” Alan chuckles as he looks back at her.

“Easy there young lady,” he offers. “You’re going to be 43 one day and regretting those words…” She just rolls her eyes as she takes her usual seat behind Josh alongside Jordan.

“Here we go….” She puts her headset on, hoping the race just went smooth as possible.

“Appreciate the effort on that Sun Energy 1 car. Looks good.” Sarina had to agree with the crew chief based on how things went yesterday. She just hoped they had that speed once again today.

“Appreciate it fellas as always,” Chase replies on the radio. “Nice and smooth today.”

The race wouldn’t start off on a calm note, though, as the first few laps saw Kyle and Denny begin the crazy battle for the lead ahead of Chase.

“Are you going to be able to handle today?” Jordan jokes as he sees the look on Sarina’s face as they watch them go through the bus stop on the monitor.

“Maybe Kyle will do us a favor and wreck Denny,” she offers, earning a laugh from the interior mechanic.

It also didn’t take long for the first caution to come out, either, as Joey Logano went off course to the surprise of everyone.

“That was pretty damn wild to be the first two laps,” Chase immediately comments on the radio under the yellow to the agreement of everyone.

Once the race restarted, the action didn’t slow down as there was craziness throughout the field. Chase, meanwhile, ran it clean as possible, running fourth throughout the stage until Alan called him to pit road with three laps to go. While it sucked to rejoin the field and finish 11th – one spot outside of earning points, she knew the reasoning behind it and believed in the crew chief’s strategy.

Once everybody else pitted under the yellow, Chase cycled up to the front and immediately made it worth his way, taking the lead early in the stage. He wouldn’t look back throughout, crossing the finish line for another stage victory.

“Alright, green-checkered here,” Eddie D’Hondt says on the radio as Sarina let out a small fist pump in the air. “Save fuel. Save fuel.”

“Good work, bud,” Alan adds as he glances over at the notes from the engineers on fuel strategy.

The restart would not go as planned as Chase would get loose through turn one, allowing Kyle to grab the lead. Chase wouldn’t let him get out that far, actually gaining ground at times through the bus stop and carousel. However, it wasn’t enough to actually get back by him.

“Hey bud, if you can’t get him, just take care of fuel for me,” Alan suggests, earning a small bit of nerves from Sarina in knowing that fuel was going to come into play at the end of this thing.

“What’s more important because I might have a shot at him?” Chase questions in return, and Sarina believed those words. It was easy to see via the lap times that they were making good time, and she believed through the second half of the course, he could make something happen.

“If you can get him, then get him. We just can’t run behind him and lose fuel.”

They didn’t have to worry much longer about fuel numbers to the end of the race as the caution would fly for Matt DiBenedetto blowing up with 37 laps to go. While it was good to not worry as much about fuel, there were still a couple small nerves in knowing they were one lap before the fuel window opened now pitting under yellow.

The pit stop was fast, though Chase would go just before Nick O’Dell was clear of the car, barely clipping him as he left the pit box, coming off pit road in second.

“Sorry about that Nick,” Chase says immediately over the radio.

“He’s okay; he’s laughing,” Alan replies, even chuckling himself at the landing motion.

Sarina just shakes her head as she climbs down off of the pit box, walking over to where Nick was with the guys.

“Are you sure you’re okay?” She asks and he nods his head. “You realize you were just hit by a stock car right?” He nods his head once again.

“But I held on to the air gun, and that’s what matters,” he tells her as she smiles back, remembering the discussion from pre-race. “I just didn’t think he’d actually test the theory.”

“Well, you earned your gold star from me today. Love ya, Nick!” She gives him a big hug, before heading back up to her post.

“Chasey gonna be jealous if he hears about that hug,” Chad Avrit teases, which Nick just flips him the bird back in response earning a laugh from the other guys.

“I’d rather him be jealous over a hug than starting at the tail of the field for this restart,” Nick comments as the team gets comfortable, ready to watch the final laps unfold.

Everybody was then caught off-guard when Kyle Busch made the trip back down pit road, giving up the lead to Chase.

“No fuel in the car whatsoever,” Alan reports over the radio. “He’s not going to be a factor.” Sarina felt herself pout a little, feeling bad for both Kyle and Samantha in being her bosses. Besides, she was actually looking forward to seeing her boss and fiancé fight it out for the win.

“Copy that,” Chase replies. “Is everybody pretty much good to the end here?”

“It’s close. Just save all you can. When you get an opportunity to attack, you know, attack. But just don’t be frivolous with it.” Sarina felt her nerves kick up, already imagining him running out of the gas in the closing stages while leading.

“Frivolous?” She repeats, earning a glance from Jordan. “What? Does Alan think that Chase carries a dictionary in the car or something?” Jordan just chuckles in response as he pats her leg.

“Just relax and enjoy the show,” he starts. “It’s time for your man to do what he was born to do.”

Chase would get the perfect restart with 33 laps to go, pulling out to a solid lead ahead of Martin Truex Jr.

25 to go. 20 to go. 15 to go. 10 to go.

5 to go. The gap was still steady and enough to not get too nervous, but Truex was there if Chase did something.

4 to go. 3 to go. 2 to go.

Sarina felt everything on edge as he took the white flag for the last lap and went down into turn one. Then it happened. The back of the car kicked out a little as he wheel-hopped entering the corner, but he immediately got it back rolling.

“Did he just kick it out of gear to fix that?!?” Sarina questions, feeling every bit of nerve as Jordan just shrugs his shoulders. “Come on, Chase!!”

The moment allowed Martin to shrink the gap considerably, but not enough as Chase held onto the lead, putting together the perfect lap the rest of the way through the course, set to come back around to the checkered.

“Just bring it home, bring it home….” Eddie D’Hondt says as he comes off of the final corner.

“Baby, that’s how you do it!” Alan lets out as he crosses the checkered line. “Get the checkered flag, son!” Sarina lets out the double fist pump, before grabbing Alan from behind, and hugging the crew chief.

“Yeah, baby yeah!” Chase screams on the radio as elation hits the pit box with everybody hugging each other as a couple stray tears roll down Sarina’s cheeks. “Hell yes! Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you!”

“Proud of you guys, proud of all of you,” Bill is next over the radio, earning a small smile from Sarina. She almost wanted to cry a little bit more in knowing that Cindy wasn’t there to experience it, but rather at home with grandma. She could only imagine the emotions that she was going through. “Burn that son of a gun down, boy!”

“Right here for you big boy…” Sarina glances up at the big screen, set to see the burnout through the back half of the course – but then the car stalls suddenly. She just shakes her head, knowing that they must’ve been closer on fuel than she thought, and was glad that Alan didn’t keep them totally in the loop as she would’ve been more nervous than she was. “Oh, just kidding! I’m out of gas. I need a push Eddie, I need a push.”

“I’m working on it, man,” Eddie replies as Sarina just shakes her head. She was actually looking forward to seeing him lay down his first win burnout. It’d been awhile since she saw him lay down a good one.

“I got my man, Jimmie Jam, coming to push me…” Sarina just smiled in watching Jimmie line up perfectly to give Chase a push back around to the front stretch.

“That’s a pretty cool victory lap right there,” Alan comments as Sarina nods her head in agreement. She knew the friendship the pair shared, and could only imagine the meaning that it meant to Chase.

“That is badass, man!”

“Come on!!” Both Jordan and Josh yell at Sarina as they hurry for the steps on the pit box, wanting her to follow as they were both set for the frontstretch celebration, and wanted her to be right there in the middle of it.

As soon as he stopped on the frontstretch, the crew surrounded the car as he jumped out, letting out a big fist pump in the air. He then hops off, immediately meeting with Alan as he pulls him into a hug.

“Way to go kid,” Alan says as he gives him at a pat on the back.

“Happy Birthday, man!” Chase replies as he then looks into the crew chief’s eyes. “Thank you, thank you for everything. I mean it when I say I wouldn’t want to work with anyone else. Thank you….”

“I’m just glad that we could win one!!” They then share another hug together, before Alan lets him go.

Chase then goes through hugging the rest of the crew guys, including a special hug for Nick, along the way. He then stops as he reaches the last person on the line, pulling her right close as he locks his lips with hers.

“I love you so much,” Sarina tells him. “Congratulations Clyde!”

“I love you, too, and I can’t wait to celebrate with you,” he replies, giving her another kiss in return.

“So are we going to head to victory lane or are we just going to party here all day?” Alan questions as Chase shrugs his shoulders.

“Does it matter? We’re winners!” Sarina lets out as Chase just smiles, keeping her held close.

The crew then starts pushing the car to victory lane – with Chase only stopping to share a hug with Jimmie – before continuing to join them on the journey.

“Can you believe it?” Sarina questions and he shakes his head. “You’re a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race winner. Do I need to pinch you?”

“It’s slowly sinking in….” Chase answers as he glances over into her eyes. “I’m glad that you were here.” He then gives her another kiss.

“I just wish your mom was here….” Chase nods his head in agreement.

“She’s probably having a ball running the party in Dawsonville. The siren is going to be blaring tonight!” She chuckles as they reach victory lane.

Chase sits in the car, waiting for the cue to climb out. As he does, a series of drivers come in for hugs, beginning with Ryan and Bubba, to Kyle. Chase made Ryan promise he’d be at the party that night, while Sarina stopped Kyle to offer him a hug.

“Nice drive back up through to third,” she tells him. “I was actually looking forward to you two racing each other.” Kyle glances back towards Chase, before looking at Sarina.

“Would you have been mad at me for beating him?” He questions as she laughs.

“Who says you would’ve?”  He then laughs back, giving her a playful punch before heading off out of victory lane.

Sarina remained in background, smiling as Bill walked over for a hug with Chase, just standing there in pure admiration and amazement.

“I was wondering what was going to go wrong this time,” Bill confesses and Sarina nods her head, having the same theory at times.

The trophy presentation went smoothly, with everyone set for the champagne shower afterwards. Sarina had to laugh at the crew mostly dumping it on Alan, but knowing he deserved for his birthday.

“You still want to be close even though I’m stinky of sweat and champagne?” Chase says as she cuddles up close for photos.

“I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else,” she offers, giving him yet another kiss.

After posing for a bunch of photos, they instructed for just Chase to remain there for the obligatory hat dance. Sarina stood back watching, earning an idea of her own as she walked over to the bowling pin mascot.

“I have to ask one question….” She starts, with a smirk on her face.

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 102: Watkins Glen Weekend

Friday, August 3 – Watkins Glen International

“Ugh, why is it raining?” Sarina lets out as she grabs a snack from the fridge before flopping down on the couch.

“Wet air rises, cools, and water vapor forms those things called clouds,” Chase starts as he glances over with a small smirk on his face. “When those clouds get large and heavy enough due to tiny particles of dust or pollen swept up high in the atmosphe-“

“I don’t need the science behind it, jackass!” He then laughs as she chucks a pillow at him. “But seriously, though, why does it have to rain today and now? Why not later?”

“So you would rather race in the rain?” She then lets out a sigh as that wasn’t the best solution, either.

“I was third in practice. Now I have to start 18th today. Do you see my point?” Chase nods his head.

“More practice for you in passing as you’ll have to make your way to the front now…” She then chucks another pillow at him. “What? You said this was practice for Canada?”

“Do you want to just come out and ask for your ass kicking instead?” He then sticks his tongue out.

“You have no more pillows…” She then glances around the couch as she smirks.

“But I do have a fist, and it’ll come over to your side of the room….” He just laughs as he resets the game he was playing. “Geez, maybe I should just go see Christopher. He may be better company than you’re being right now.”

“Oh really?” She nods her head as he sets down the controller. “Yeah, well, there’s one thing that he won’t do that I know you love to do during a nice, long rain delay to relax.” He then walks over, planting a kiss on her lips. “Now is the rain so bad after all?”

“Maybe we could make use of our time…” She then wraps an arm around him, pulling him back close as she locks her lips with his.

It felt weird to be sitting on a pit box with strangers, but it was his norm for when she raced so he wasn’t going to do otherwise. All he hoped was the day went smoothly, and she made her way to the front.

The K&N race started off well for her as she made her way through the field, running third by the 15th lap. However, a bit of confusion over the radio in whether to pit at the mid-race break or not, resulting in staying out, ultimately cost her as she’d pit outside of the window later in the event. Per NASCAR rules, that was a one-lap penalty.

She was never able to make up the lap either, ultimately finishing the race in 21st.

“Remind me to read the rulebook if I ever want to run one of these races ever again,” she tells him as they leave pit road together after the race.

“But did you have fun and learn how to turn left and right?” He questions and she glances over with a nod. “That’s all that matters then.” He then wraps an arm around her as they head back through the garage area.

“You’re an oddly cheery mood this weekend…” He then shrugs his shoulders.

“Therapy is going well, worries about Alison is off my back, and I feel like for the first time since everything, I’m really moving forward with my life. Besides, I also have a good feeling for this weekend…” She then smiles as she clutches his hand.

“Here’s to you having a better race than I did then.”

Saturday, August 4 – Watkins Glen International

Chase makes his way into the garage area, leaning back against the toolbox as he glances over at Josh.

“What are you doing?” Chase questions as Josh glances over a touch.

“Reading some posts on twitter,” Josh answers as Chase was now surprised.

“Aren’t you supposed to be working?” Josh shrugs his shoulders, passing over the notebook, before looking back to his phone. “Okay, fair.” Chase then sets the notebook back down. “What are you reading on twitter?”

“Who gave you the right to ask 20 thousand questions?” Chase chuckles as he keeps his eyes on the car chief. “Have you seen the whole hashtag debate?”

“Charina or Sarell? Sarina showed me that. Did you vote?” Josh nods his head.

“I obviously picked Sarell….” Chase then gives him a fake punch as Josh laughs. “But seriously, who believes that Sarina and Christopher should get together over you and her? Did these people miss the fact that you’re engaged and planning a wedding?”

“It’s the same people who have the fascination that I should be with Erin.” Josh then looks over shocked.

“As in Erin Blaney?” Chase slowly nods his head yes. “Okay, actually, you guys sort of were cute together at the banque-”

“Seriously? You’re not helping!” Josh lets out a sigh as he looks back to his phone.

“Do you even care about all of this, though?” Chase shakes his head no.

“They can say what they want – the more power to them. All that matters to me is the commitment that Sarina and I have to each other. If everybody can’t understand that I’m just friends with Erin as she’s just friends with Christopher, well, oh well.” He then gives the car chief a pat on the shoulder. “Now, I have work to do, and I think you do too…”

“I think so, and for the record, I voted Charina.” Chase gives him a small high-five before walking over to the car, set for the first practice.

Climbing out of the car after the pair of the practices, a smile could be seen from Chase’s face from a mile away. The ‘ol No. 9 Chevrolet was working as he wanted, and that showed with him leading the final practice session.

After breaking down what Alan needed him to do, he made the quick trip back to the motorcoach, knowing they had a bit of time before qualifying later on that afternoon.

He walks inside, surprised to see Sarina sitting at the small table in the kitchen with a photo album before. He quietly makes his way in, not wanting to disturb her concentration, as he grabs a drink from the fridge before sitting down.

“Nice job on the practice charts,” she says, giving him a quick kiss, before looking back at the photos. The comment had went right over his head as his eyes were now focused on the images before him, as well. He recognized them without a doubt, smiling at some of the memories.

“Why are you looking at my baby album?” He questions, knowing that sounded odd as it came out of his mouth but he was curious. He remembered when it first surfaced at the house as she wanted to see the photos of him after they had looked through the images that were given to her in the toy box. It now surprised him to see it in the motorcoach.

“I’ve got a lot on my mind, and seeing some of these gives me a little peace.” He then brushes a strand of hair off of her face. “We’ve talked about my future as a mother and there’s decisions to be mad-”

“….which you can take whatever time you need making, and do when you feel is right. Just because a doctor told you that you can’t carry a baby full term and need to explore options doesn’t mean you need to do that right away. It’s a big decision, Sarina. It’s something that we both actually need to explore all the options, talk about, and see what we want to do for us.” She nods her head, remembering the discussion they had shortly after the news and the fact that he added then he’d support her no matter what.

“I know, and I remember that, Chase. However, I can’t help but still be stuck on looking at those options. It broke my heart to lose the baby in January even though I had no idea I was pregnant. It broke my heart to learn that I can’t carry a baby full term if I wanted to one day. But looking at these options, it makes that pain easier to handle because I know I’m totally not ripped at the chance of doing something that mostly every other female can do in this life.” Chase rubs her shoulders.

“I understand….” He could see where she was coming from – same way he used certain things to help cope with everything Alison had done before. “You can’t avoid the pain forever, though.”

“I know, but dealing with it slowly rather than taking everything at once makes it easier for me.” She then glances back at the photos. “Those options make me feel a lot of things, Then when that becomes too much, trying to figure out what to buy for Lindsay or Emma can offer relief. The other thing is looking back at baby photos, whether you or me, and thinking happy thoughts about the situation. I don’t know if it’s strange or weird, but it helps me.”

“I’m not going to judge you, because we all deal with things in our own way. If this helps you, then hey, go ahead and stare at little me.” She then flips through a couple more pages.

“Your dad wasn’t the first person to hold you after your mom gave birth, right?” Chase nods his head as he looks over the photos.

“Dad gave that opportunity to Casey.” She then looks over at him, slightly confused.

“Every parent dreams of that moment of holding their child for the first time, but yet he offered you to your cousin?”

“At that time, they knew Casey was dying. However, the hope and happiness of mom being pregnant with me gave the family something to hold onto. He was happy for my parents, too. So when it came time for that day, he came to the hospital to meet me, and he followed my dad down to the room where they weigh you. Dad said in watching someone lose everything, you want to give them something to hold onto, a piece of happiness. That’s why he did it, and he said it paid off as soon as he saw Casey’s eyes light right up.”

“So he has no regrets over the decision?” Chase shakes his head no.

“That happiness that he saw from Casey was worth every part of why he did it. The weeks after, he would go over to see Casey and Casey would always ask how I was doing. He brought me a couple times, too. That was something that they could share in happiness, along with other stories and stuff, and just for a moment of time let go of what was happening.” She then smiles as she looks back at the photos, seeing one of them of Casey holding him.

“That’s why the car means so much to you for Darlington…..”

“There’s a bond there that I can’t describe because for me, I don’t remember those moments or feelings, but yet I feel connected when people tell me.” He then pauses, remembering the one conversation that happened last year. “And I know he’s watching over me, Ernie, everyone.”

“I always feel that my dad is with me, no matter what anyone else may say. Sometimes I think I feel him, too, or maybe I catch a glimpse of a butterfly or a ray of sunshine and it makes me think of him. I don’t want to lose that memory, either….” He then reaches over, squeezing her hand a little with a small smile.

“You won’t, because he’ll always be someone that we talk about together, share stories about, and tell our children one day.” She then looks at him a little surprised.

“Children? Wait a second, here. We are talking about possibly having problems surrounding having a child, and you just said children.” He nods his head, knowing what he said exactly.

“We have options, and we’re going to find what exactly works for us, and we’re going to have the child, or children that we want to have. Remember the daydream I told you about?” She nods her head as that was a discussion she’d never forget, either.

“A boy and a girl….”

“We’re going to live out every fantasy that we’ve dreamed of. The world is ours, and we can do whatever we want.” He then leans in and kisses her lips. “First, though, I need to go win the pole.”

“Please say pole…” Sarina says as she stands watching Chase come by to complete his lap.

“Third,” Alan replies instead, earning a disgruntle sign from Sarina. “Tracker looked good until the back end of the course. He was close…” She lets out a sigh as she sits down on the wall.

“That just stinks. I mean, it’s great to be starting up front, but to be oh so close and miss it by oh so much…” Alan nods his head in agreement.

“The worst part is he doesn’t slip up in turn 11 and we probably would’ve beaten Denny.” She just shakes her head in disgust.

“Of course it’s Denny winning the pole and not Kyle, too.” Alan glances over at her.

“Are you still mad over Martinsville?” She gives him a surprised look in response.

“Aren’t you? I mean, it’s one thing to do what he did, but it’s another to act like he did afterwards. Those actions aren’t to be forgotten, Alan.”

“I was over it once Chase got his sweet revenge at Phoenix…” Sarina smiles as that was a well-played moment indeed. “Listen, who cares if he starts in front of us tomorrow. All that matters is whose leading on the last lap.”  She nods her head in agreement.

Sunday, August 5 – Watkins Glen International

Chase walks over to the guys following driver introductions, giving them each a quick fist-pound.

“Ready to go?” He questions and they all nod their head in response.

“Remember what I said, right?” Nick reminds Chase, catching his attention. “We get in trouble for removing pit equipment, we don’t get in trouble for moving people. Alan tells you to go, you ju-”

“Hit the gas pedal and get outta there as you’ll get your ass outta the way.” Nick nods his head, glad the pre-race discussion had set in.

“I just don’t want us losing valuable time because you’re worried about me.” Chase places a hand on his shoulder.

“I know you’re a tough guy and can handle it….” He then glances down a couple other guys. “Unlike Jared and those fools.” Nick laughs as Chase walks away from them.

He goes and puts an arm around Sarina, placing a light kiss on her cheek.

“Here goes nothing, right?” She replies, as she leans her head against his chest. “Do your thing today and everything should work out just fine.”

“That’s the plan…” He then gives her another quick kiss, before they get set to stand for the national anthem.

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 101: Pocono 400

Saturday July 28, 2018 – Pocono Raceway

Chase makes his way into her room, walking over as he immediately lets her clasp his hand.

“You didn’t need to come,” she offers as he shakes his head back in response. He knew the second practice wouldn’t have gone as planned without a visit.

“I was worried about you after Tyler told me what happened,” he replies as she sits up a little in the bed.

“I didn’t really pass out like they all claim, okay? I leaned up against the wall because….okay, I was tired and when I leaned against the wall, Tyler asked me if I was okay. I was slow responding so he got Rudy’s attention and next thing, I’m here.”

“Dehydrated again?” She slowly nods her head as she glances up at the IV.

“They ran a couple more tests or whatever to make sure it’s stomach virus and nothing something else – like pregnant, or food poisoning. Everything came back clean so we’re stuck with it being a torturous stream and my body barely able to handle it.” He brushes the small bit of hair out of her face.

“That’s because you’re not following what everybody told you, and focusing on yourself. You should’ve been in bed still, catching up on sleep, sipping Gatorades, looking after yourself. Let this weekend go…” She then lets out a sigh as she glances down at the bed.

“I guess I have no choice now, huh? Doctors won’t clear me due to the incident as they’re worried about my hydration levels and conce-”

“I don’t blame them, as I would be as well.” She then looks over at him.

“I can handle driving while I’m sick. It seems nobody understands how strong I am.” Chase lets out a sigh as he looks into her eyes.

“Don’t ever let anybody question your strength. We all know how strong you are, how hard you push, how determined you feel. We also know your limits, and today is one of those. NASCAR has given you a waiver so take it, embrace it, and let yourself get better. You always tell me to take care of myself. Well, now I’m telling you to do the same.”

“But I know I have a winning truck for today. You saw how quick we were in practi-”

“You’ll have many more chances to win races this year, next year, and for many years to come. But you need to weather this storm first, so it’s time to focus on you and get better.” He then kisses her forehead. “Did they say how long you have to stay for?”

“They want to make sure my hydration levels are steady, that I can keep the fluids somewhat in my system, and I’m not feeling faint anymore. I think I have a room reserved for the afternoon, unfortunately.” Chase then glances down at the chair, shifting a little.

“Then I guess I have a seat reserved here for the afterno-”

“Uhh, you have a final practice to run so I suggest you get your ass out there and run it.” He then looks at her surprised. “What? Don’t let my sickness change your schedule. I can take plenty care of myself here while you go make circles. If I’m giving up my damn weekend, then you better have a car underneath you that can win tomorrow. Besides, a trophy would be a nice get well present.” Chase couldn’t help but smile.

“I’ll do the best that I can, but I can’t make any promises.” She nods her head, accepting, as it was better than nothing. That said, she knew how strong Hendrick Motorsports was at Pocono, and she knew that the No. 9 team had been on a upswing so her chances looked good. “I love you, and I hope you feel. I hate to see you sick.”

“I hate being sick. I get sick looking at my own vomit.” He shakes his head as he knew that wasn’t a pretty sight.

“You’ll be feeling better soon….” He gives her one final kiss before heading off for final practice, as she had instructed him to do so.

Chase climbs out of the car, following the final practice run of the day, before walking over to the crew chief.

“Better or worse?” Alan questions as he looks over at his driver.

“About the same?” Chase replies back as Alan lets out a sigh. He could only glance at the board and see they were 10th on the speed chart for the second session in a row.

“The good news is we’re consistent so we should be fine on the long runs tomorrow. The bad news is that we’re still not where we need to be to find that next step and run in the top-five.” Chase nods his head in agreement as Alan thinks it over. “I could try something for time trials, but then it may not work. Whatever we do for qualifying, we have to leave in the for the race.”

“So what if we leave it, start the race solidly, and go from there?” Alan nods his head, accepting, as it seemed like a decent plan.

“Alright, it’s settled. You can go back to taking care of your girl – as long as you don’t get sick on me.” Chase places a hand on Alan’s shoulder.

“Trust me, I’m fine.” Alan glances over at him with a small smile.

“It’s been a while since you could say that and I would absolutely believe you. Keep doing what you’re doing, kid.” Alan then walks away notes in hand as Chase makes his way out of the garage, back to the care center to see Sarina.

Thankfully rehydrated with some more fluids, Sarina was released from the care center, with Chase taking her back to the motorcoach immediately. The pair curled up together, taking in the truck race on the TV there despite Sarina’s pleas to go sit on the pit box.

The race only made the afternoon harder for her to handle as Erik Jones drove her truck from last in the field to sixth by the end of the first stage, before battling the rest of the race with Kyle for the win. Ultimately, the boss won, though, with Erik in second.

Cup qualifying was set to follow, and once again Sarina expressed the want to join Chase out on pit road. However, finally beginning to realize just how sick she was, she settled in under the blankets with a couple Gatorade bottles on the night table as he headed out for the session.

The plan to go with a solid set-up to not mess up things allowed them to lock down the 11th starting spot for the race tomorrow. It wasn’t spectacular, but certainly they could work with it.

Sunday July 29, 2018 – Pocono Raceway

“Thank you for spending the race with me,” Sarina says as she pulls the blanket even more snuggly around herself, trying to get comfortable and settled in. it was going to be odd to be at the track with Chase, yet watching the race from the motorcoach rather than the pit box.

“Are you kidding me?!?” Lindsay asks immediately as she looks over. “I wasn’t going to make you suffer watching this alone.” Sarina then returns the gaze back to her best friend.

“I just don’t want you to get sick with that little one…” Lindsay glances down at her own stomach, seeing at it was ever-growing, giving it a little rub.

“That’s why we’re not real close to each other. Besides, Ryan is already a little overprotective.” Sarina couldn’t help but chuckle as they each got comfortable on the couches.

The race started off solidly as Chase immediately made his way forward to the front.

“Stage winner,” Eddie D’Hondt says over the radio at the end of the first stage. While watching the race broadcast, Sarina had loaded NASCAR.com’s raceview so she could listen to Chase’s audio. It wouldn’t be the same watching a race otherwise. “Good work, bud. Two weeks in a row. I’m starting to like this.” She couldn’t help but agree with the spotter as the success was great to see.

The second stage started off just as strongly with Chase running up front throughout, but ultimately crossing the finish line in second behind Kevin Harvick.

“He backs up pretty much every corner, gets to the bottom, and stays there,” Alan reports over the radio which Sarina had to agree via what she saw on the screen before her. “(He) has a lot of grip in his car.”

“The grip meter is an understatement – that’s for sure,” Chase replies, earning a nod of approval from both Sarina and Lindsay.

“He makes a pretty wide arc off of the wall,” Eddie adds in as well as Sarina simply smiles.

Following the final round of pit stops, Chase continued to run up front, running as high as third before fading back a bit.

“Holy shit!!” Lindsay lets out as the No. 43 Chevrolet of Darrell Wallace slams the wall.

“Fuck!” Sarina adds as they both sit there stunned. The nerves stayed until the window net came down on the car, with Bubba climbing out shortly after to the sigh of relief.

“That was insane!” Sarina nods her head in agreement.

“If there’s a track that I never want to lose my brakes going into a corner, it’s here because the result is just insanity beyond other tracks it seems. Look at Gordon’s wreck a couple years ago!”

The girls settle in for the final run to the checkered, watching as Chase drops back to fifth. He would then make a big save down the backstretch – which caused Sarina to jump out of her skin a little – before crossing the line in seventh when it was said and done.

“I don’t even know why some race tracks seem to be more suitable for what we have, and some don’t,” Chase tells the media afterwards. “We think we’re better as a whole, but I think we still have some work to do.”

Tuesday July 31, 2018 – Pocono Raceway

Chase smiles as he walks over to Cale and Emma, giving them each a hug.

“Congratulations,” he tells them both after the ceremony. “Make sure you take care of her.”

“You don’t have to worry about that,” Cale offers as he wraps an arm around Emma’s shoulders.

“I also bet that you’re having a boy.” Emma just smiles back in return as she glances up at Cale.

“That’s what I told him, but he told me otherwise. We’ll see when we reveal it later.” She then glances around, before focusing back on Chase. “Where’s Sarina?”

“She’s at home,” Chase answers. “She was still not feeling all the way better yet so she told me that she was skipping the wedding, but sends her blessings.” Emma nods her head, accepting, already forming another theory in her head.

“She also trying to avoid seeing Erin?” Chase glances over to where Erin was talking with someone, before looking back at Emma.

“They talked at Eldora and things are straightened ou-”

“I also talked to my sister Chase, and I know her honest opinion of Sarina as of right now.” Chase bit his lip, knowing that probably didn’t come out smoothly.

“Emma, I know as she told me, but Sarina has no idea. Her skipping the wedding has nothing to do with that, I promise you.” Emma wanted to simply believe him to make things simple, but couldn’t quite do that.

“It doesn’t matter to me either way as this is my night – well, Cale’s too, and we’re set to celebrate our love with those who are close to us. But know that I don’t take lightly to people playing around with my sister’s fee-”

“The kiss was a total accide-”

“I don’t care the circumstances, reasons, whatever. Just remember what I told you. I will kick your ass if I have to. Just ask Ryan.” Emma then walks away as Cale glances between the pair surprised.

“I’m going to say that’s the pregnancy hormones kicking in,” Cale offers as Chase just grins a little.

“I’d like to believe you there, but I’ve known her a long time to know better,” Chase comments as he places a hand on Cale’s shoulder. “You found a gem in her, and I’m happy for you. Don’t screw it up.”

Chase then walks away, set to go find Ryan and Lindsay as he promised he’d catch up with them both.

The rest of the night ultimately would go smoothly, capping off with the gender reveal and Chase guessed it right as Emma and Cale were expecting a boy.

“Try topping that reveal,” Chase offers as he glances over at Ryan and Lindsay.

“We actually talked about waiting until she has the baby to see what it is,” Ryan comments as Chase looks over surprised.

“Are you sure your sisters are going to let you away with that? I’d expect them to want to know so they can shop and spoil the baby, and plan the baby shower.” Ryan chuckles as he had heard rumblings from both already about those plans.

“They have Emma’s boy to spoil. That should keep them occupied for awhile.”

Friday August 3, 2018 – Watkin’s Glen International

“What are you looking at?” Chase questions as the pair of them relax in the transporter together.

“White flowers, or light blue flowers?” She asks as she flips between the images.

“Light blue. The snow will have so much white that you want something to compliment it.” She then looks over surprised as he puts his arm around her. “You learn those things doing photo shoots. Are you almost done planning for the wedding?”

“Venue, decorations, and now flowers – I say guest list and then finding the perfect dress.” He smiles as he looks into her eyes.

“I don’t care what you wear as you’ll look beautiful no matter what.” He then leans in, lightly kissing her lips. “Guest list – close friends and family only. That should be easy..”

“I just hope that things go smoothly when it comes to that.” She then sets her phone down. “I heard from Lindsay that Emma wasn’t pleased that I wasn’t there, blaming it on Eri-”

“I talked to Emma about it, and whether she agreed or not, who knows. But she knows from me that you were sick and she saw it on the weekend. She’s just set to let it go.” Sarina lets out a chuckle.

“Chase, I haven’t known them as long as you know, but I know how protective Emma can be from Lindsay.” Chase lets out a sigh.

“So Emma threatened to kick my ass should something else happen – that’s normal. Like you told me last week, there’s nothing to worry about because we love each other.” He then intertwines his fingers with hers. “Nobody is going to change that, ever.”

“I know…” She then lays her head against him. “Even if the fans want to start rumors and little hashtag battles.”

“Hashtag battles?” She then picks her phone back up, going into Twitter as she loads a poll. “Sarell or Charina? We have a couple hashtag now?” She chuckles, nodding her head. “I guess Sarase didn’t sound as good. Did you vote?”

“Uh no, I don’t want them to realize I’m stalking their crazy asses.” He then laughs as he glances through some of the tweets. “But you have to admit, there’s some entertaining stuff in there….”

“You certainly have gathered a following.” He then hands the phone back to her.

“It still surprises me, sometimes. I still can’t believe my decision to go down main street and grab a drink when we landed because I wanted to go to my favorite smoothie shop since I had been missing it resulted in paparazzi.” She then pulls up the photo they took. “Like, that’s insane. You don’t even have that unless you’re downtown New York.”

“At least they took an adorable photo of you…” She then shakes her head. “But I also heard they were in town due to Ariana Grande or something, so maybe they mistook you at first. Not that I could understand why because you’re so much more beautiful.”

“Careful Chase, too much of the flirting and we may get distracted. I have practice soon….” Chase nods his head, remembering as he rubs her shoulders. With the trucks being off, she had decided to run the K&N Series race to get some more road course experience.

“Are you sure you’re feeling up to it?” She then glances back at him surprised.

“Are you going to be overprotective for the months to come because of one sick weekend?”

“Someone has to take care of you…” He then kisses her cheek, causing her to turn back and face him, with their lips meeting together.

“We take care of each other, always….” She then wraps her arms around him as their lips find each other’s once again, with his hands slipping underneath the back of her shirt. “Chas-”

“You need to get changed anyway….”

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 100: Pocono Sickness

Tuesday July 24, 2018 – North Carolina

Sarina walks into the bedsroom, pulling her shirt off as she glances over at Chase.

“What are you reading?” She asks, noticing his eyes don’t leave his phone at all.

“Casey’s press release,” he answers as she looks over slightly confused. She then flops down in the bed beside him, glancing at his phone. “Haven’t you heard? Casey Roderick is finally getting a chance to run an XFINITY race.” She then places her hand on his leg.

“I bet you set that up…” Chase glances away as she just laughs. “It’s sweet, actually. Look at you, already giving back…”

“He’s one of the talented drivers in late models and I’ve always wanted to see what he could do at this level with the right funding. When Mike Beam mentioned having an opening for Iowa, I went all in.” He also smiles, knowing that there was another announcement coming.

“Didn’t you and Casey work together at one point?” Chase nods his head.

“We were teammates actually. I learned a lot from him. Now we’ll see what he can do.” He then switches screen on his phone. “It’ll be interesting to see everybody’s reaction to the other announcement.”

“There’s another announcement? Please tell me that you got Bubba Pollard a chance, too.” Chase then gives her a slightly impressed grin.

“Bubba Pollard? I thought you got off of his high horse a long time ago.” She then shakes her head no.

“That boy is still winning races across the country. Somebody has to pick up the phone soon.” Chase actually had to admit that he hoped she was right as that’d be another fun driver to watch get a chance.

“Bubba isn’t the driver for the announcement, though. They had an opening for Road America, and I sort of threw my dad’s name out there.” Sarina’s jaw drops in shock. “The more shocking part is Mike Beam took that seriously, and then asked Dad and he agreed.”

“So your dad is running Road America at the end of this month?” Chase slowly nods his head yes. “Woah, okay, that’s kind of cool. I almost wish that I was off that weekend so I could be there in person to watch that.” Chase lets out a sigh as he knew what was coming next. “So I’m guessing you’re not coming to Canada with me then…”

“I am coming for the race on Sunday, but I will not be there on Satur-”

“And we’re not doing CN Tower dinner like we had planned, either.” She then takes a calming deep breath as she couldn’t help but feel disappointed in seeing their own plans spoiled. However, she also knew what this announcement meant. “It’s okay. We can do the dinner another time as you deserve to be there with your dad. I think it’s pretty cool that he’s coming back after all of this time. I think he’ll surprise people. I mean, he surprised me with how well he ran the TransAm race at Road Atlanta.”

“I appreciate your understanding.” He then leans over, giving her a kiss. “I also want you to let me know if Erin gives you an trouble.”

“You saw the conversation on Wednes-”

“We crossed paths in the garage this past weekend, and she shared some thoughts in that she’s totally not all set on you as she said, yet, due to our past together. I told her that you had changed and there’s nothing to worry about, but she wasn’t totally ready for you to have it.” Sarina slowly nods her head, understandingly. “But you have nothing to worry about in regards to me and her-”

“You don’t need to tell me twice, Chase. I know we’re committed to this together…” She then places her hand on top of his. “This lovely ring, the heart on my bracelet, and every time we spend together says it by itself. Let’s just live our lives and forget about the reassurances, okay? We understand where we each other is with regards to each other, and our friends, and that’s what matters.”

“You make it sound so easy…” She then grins as she scoots closer to him.

“…because it is that easy when I have lips like yours to taste each night.” She then slowly kisses his lips.

Friday July 27, 2018 – Pocono Raceway

Sarina makes her way into the garage area, taking a deep breath as she stops and leans back against the wall.

“What are you doing here?” Rudy immediately questions as he looks over at his young driver.

“I’m here, ready to wor-” She starts slowly as he shakes his head.

“Practice was cancelled due to weather. I texted both you and Chase hoping that you’d stay in the motorcoach and sleep some considering how sick you are. Instead, you’re standing before me. Why do I bother?”

“Getting in the groove, working on the truck, doing everything as I should, it’ll make me feel better…” Rudy just smiles as he looks over, almost set to roll his eyes, or perhaps even punch her.

“Do you know how many drivers have told me that? You should be taking care of yourself!”

She lets out a sigh as she was hoping to not get a lecture once in the garage area. Sometime Thursday, she had gotten a real pain in her stomach, which turned into her throwing up. Since then, she had been only able to keep down a little bit of toast and rice, with the vomiting happening on a constant basis.

Despite being sick, though, she was determined to race this weekend.

“Besides, it’s a distraction from those papers…” Rudy glances over a little confused as she lets out a sigh. “Now that two doctors have said I wouldn’t be able to carry a baby to full term, there’s options to look over and decide. I just want to scream when I look at them.”

“Then why are you bothering with them?” Rudy questions. “What part of take care of yourself, get sleep, drink, relax do you not understand lady?” She then lets out a sigh. “Don’t tell me that Chase is forcing the pape-”

“He’s telling the same thin-”

“So how about you listen for a change, please?” Rudy walks over, wrapping an arm around her shoulder as he hands her a bottle of Gatorade. “We’re just trying to take care of you. We love you, hate to see you sick, and want you to get better.” She then glances over with a small smirk.

“You actually love me?” He immediately want to kick himself in the ass for those words.

“Underneath this hard exterior, away from all of your other stupid shit at times, yes Sarina, I love you and care about you. I consider you a friend and want to see you doing well.” She smiles as she twists the top off the bottle, downing it immediately.

“See, I knew you were just a big teddy bear…” Rudy rolls his eyes as he walks away, going back over notes knowing down to just one practice session, they’d need to have all their ducks in a row.

Chase makes his way up through the No. 18 hauler, listening against the lounge door to make sure he wasn’t interrupting something before slipping inside.

“Nice job leading prac-” he starts, as planned, since she had led the session. It had been a good day as his girl had led truck practice, while Casey Roderick led XFINITY practice at Iowa Speedway.

“Why weren’t you here sooner?” Rudy immediately cuts him off. “I expected to see your ass here to take your fiancé back to the motorcoach so she could sleep and rest being as sick as she is. Where have you been mister?” Both Chase and Sarina look over at Rudy surprised.

“I was busy, but I came as soon as I got done the appearance…” Rudy shakes his head as he glances over at Sarina, who was curled up on the couch.

“Well since you’re finally here, please do the righteous duty of taking care of this lovely lady.” Chase didn’t need to be told twice as he walks over, brushing her hair out of her face.

“Are you feeling any better?” She slowly shakes her head no, before grabbing the bucket that was on the floor by the couch, throwing up again. “Sweetheart…”

“I suggested that she go to the care center as they may be able to help her. You can tell that she’s a little dehydrated…” Chase nods his head in agreement.

“Rudy has a good idea, sweetheart.” She shakes her head no. “No? I think he does, though.”

“I’m fine,” she says as she slowly sits up. “I just want to go back and lay down, please…” She leans against Chase as he rubs her back.

“I’d rather you go to the care center, though,” he tells her before looking down into her eyes. “Do you remember what you told me at Chicagoland? The fact that you wanted me to go get checked over so you would know that I was okay, and get the help I needed if necessary. Remember how you said it would make you feel better to know that I was okay? Now I’m asking you to please do it for me, please….”

She then slowly stands up, nodding her head in agreement, as they make their way through the trailer together.

It was a short ride over to the care center on the pit cart, where they took her inside immediately. As both Rudy and Chase predicted, she was pretty dehydrated, resulting in them giving her fluids immediately. Summing up her continued vomiting to a stomach flu going around, they also gave her some gravol to hopefully lessen the vomiting.

“Remember to stick to the brat diet,” the nurse says once she leaves the room. They weren’t releasing her yet, but it was good advice for later on.

“Did she just call me what I thought she did?” Sarina asks as Chase just chuckles. “It’s not funny!”

“Brat Diet – banana, rice, applesauce and toast,” Chase answers as he chuckles once again. “It’s the four items that are easiest on your stomach while sick and are known to bind things up to make it harder for it to come up stream.” She then gives him a little puzzled look. “My mom always made me follow it if I was even just a little sick. It works so listen, please…”

“Yes, Dr. Elliott..” He just rolls his eyes as he sits back in the chair.

“Once you get out of here, we’re going back to the motorcoach and you’re going straight to bed. I’ll deliver you food and drink, and cuddles of course.” She couldn’t help but smile in response as she lets her fingers interlock with his.

“Thank you for convincing me to come…” He glances over with a small smile as it was nice to see some of the color back in her face.

Saturday July 28, 2018 – Pocono Raceway

Chase walks into the garage area, fixing his firesuit one last time.

“Considering you were up late last night, you look ready to go this morning,” Jordan comments as he places the gloves in the car with the helmet. “Don’t play dumb, but I saw you online last night. Getting in another round of Fortnite?” Chase then shakes his head.

“That’s what you were doing,” Chase says as he stops at the car. “That’s the only way that you could tell that I was online last night. Meanwhile, I was watching The Ranch off Netflix while cuddling Sarina as she tried to get to sleep. But hey, good try man…” Jordan then gives him the once over.

“So you haven’t caught the bug, right?” Chase slowly shakes his head no. “Please give me warning if you do because I don’t want it.” Chase knew the answer immediately.

“Trust me, I don’t plan on catching that thing…” Jordan then leans over the roof as Chase gets set to climb in.

“That bad, huh?” Chase nods his head before climbing in the car. “Is she feeling any better today?”

“Nope as she threw up breakfast about a half hour after eating, and fell back asleep just before I left for practice.” Jordan shakes his head as he felt terrible before kneeling down, set to help him buckle in if needed.

“It feels solid, but we just need a little more,” Chase comments after ending the first practice sitting 10th on the speed chart. “If you give me something more to work with in turn two, I should be fine as we’re rolling three good.”

“What about turn one?” Alan wonders, earning a shaky glance from his driver. “If you can live with that, I’ll work on the other two corners.”

“Chase?” A voice interrupts them as Chase looks through the garage to see Tyler Kieper off Sarina’s team standing there. “Rudy told me to come find yo-”

“What’s going on?” Chase questions, knowing if Rudy sent a crew member to get him during qualifying that something serious was up.

“Sarina is at the care center. She’s not being cleared to run today due to being sick as Erik Jones is runn-”

“How is she?” Chase could worry about the small minor details later as there was only one thing on his mind.

“She’s pretty dehydrated. She just about passed out on pit road during qualifying. Rudy took her back to the car center on the golf cart.” Chase gives Alan a quick glance and Alan simply nods.

“Go on,” the crew chief instructs. “I have enough to work on something for session two.”

Chase then makes his way through the garage stall, headed directly to the care center to see how she was.

The Tale of Love & Racing: Sarina’s Story – Chapter 99: Casino Resort 301

Friday July 21, 2018 – New Hampshire

After talking over the last run during practice with Alan, Chase makes his way over to the 88 garage stall next door.

“How’s your car feel?” He asks, catching his teammate’s attention.

“Fighting tight through the ends,” Alex answers as he glances up at the speed charts. “Well, at least we’re all right together.” Chase had ended the session in 12th, with Alex sitting eighth.

“Look at Jimmie and explain that to me.” Alex glances up the sheet, seeing Jimmie sitting sixth.

“Cause he’s seven-time. Should I waltz over to Grandpa and ask him his secret?” Chase chuckles at the nickname that Alex and William had been using for Jimmie all season long.

“I was tight going into the corner, but Alan says if I take a bit of that set-up Jimmie has, I should be good for qualifying. I guess it’s try and see, right?” Alan nods his head.

“Greg says that he thinks a tweak in air pressure is all that I need to be right there. Guess we’ll see…” Chase then lets out a sigh as Alex looks down at the toolbox. “So what’s this envelope addressed to you anyway?” Chase instantly looks over, a little intrigued that the envelope was sitting there. However, seeing Alan’s clipboard with it, he figured it might have got stuck to it when the crew chief came over to speak with Greg.

“Paternity results from the courts for Alison.” Alex keeps his eyes on the envelope, glancing it over.

“Oh right, there’s a chance that she may be pregnant with your kid…” Chase slowly nods his head. “So you got the results that you’ve been waiting for and yet you haven’t opened them? If it was me, I would get this off of my conscious immediately and rip it by the seams.”

“I’d rather wait in case I need some time to process it.” Alex glances over a little confused.

“I thought there was no chance that she was pregna-”

“I’m beginning to wonder if it happened, and I just tried to block it out.” Alex lets out a sigh.

“Oh man…” Alex’s eyes immediately find their way back to the envelope. “I still say that you should just get it over with.” Alex begins to run his finger along the seam, though Chase places his hand on top.

“My envelope, my rules. Leave it alone, please.” Chase snatches the envelope as Alex just looks on, notably concerned based on his teammate’s reaction.

“Alright, alright, I’m sorry man. But can I give you a piece of advice? I wouldn’t leave that lying around the garage. Someone could easily pick it up, snatch the results away, do whatever they want. You also leave the door open for someone to switch the resu-”

“Alison is locked awa-”

“She could blackmail or pay someone, Chase. My advice would be to get someone to take that back to your hauler, and lock it up in a drawer with key until you’re ready to reveal the details. That’s just me, though…” Chase glances down at the envelope, before looking back at his teammate.

“Thanks for the advice.” Chase then heads off, envelope in hand, as Alex watches on.

“Yeah – 10th best,” Chase tells the reporter. “It’s been kind of the status quo I feel like lately. Just trying to get a little better. The consistency has certainly been better, I feel like, but not consistently where we want to be.”

He then walks back over to the pit wall, having a seat as he thinks over the qualifying run. It was better than they had practiced – speed-wise and feeling. However, it still wasn’t where they wanted to be as running there wasn’t winning races, and that was the ultimate goal. Alan’s work was paying off slowly, but they still needed a little more and he wasn’t settling until they got that.

After thinking it over, he heads back to the hauler, making his way to the lounge in the back. Alan and Josh were already there, going over notes on the laptop. He grabs a drink, sitting down beside them as he stares at the envelope on the table. Sarina slowly makes her way inside, sitting down beside, placing a hand on his leg.

“Look at those two smarties,” she starts, catching the attention of Josh and Alan. “They’ll figure it out..” Chase nods, knowing that they would; he wouldn’t want to work with anybody else. However, his mind was instead consumed by the package before him. “Is that what I think it is?”

“Paternity results delivered directly by a court official to the garage area,” he says as he picks up the envelope. “Everything that I’ve been questioning for months is right in here.” Sarina checks the seam, surprised to see it wasn’t broken.

“So what are you waiting for?” He then flips it over, taking a deep breath.

“I’ve been stuck on the fact that she’s not pregnant with my kid. What if this confirms her theory?” Sarina knew that was a possibility, but stuck to the belief that it wasn’t. Sure, she didn’t know what to believe initially due to how she found out the news and the fact that Chase wasn’t the most forthcoming. However, hearing what he had to say since, she was now ready to believe this was just another one of Alison’s games.

“Then we’ll deal with it accordingly, okay? We’ll look at the next steps to take and figure out where to go from here. No matter what, you’ve got myself, Alan, Josh, Jordan, your parents, Ryan, everybody. We can get through anything.” She then runs her finger along the edge. “I’d rather you open it and stop torturing yourself by letting her run your life.”

“I’m sorry. I just don’t know where to go with it sometimes….” She then rubs his shoulders.

“You don’t need to apologize, Chase. I get it. I really do, all of the feelings are understandable after everything. That’s why we’re all glad that you’re taking the steps necessary. The next step, though, is opening this.”

Chase knew that she was right as putting it off continually was getting them nowhere as he ran his finger along the edge of the envelope, finally breaking the seam that sealed it together. He opens the envelope, looking inside to see a white piece of paper.

“Who knew a simple white piece of paper could determine the rest of your life,” he offers as he slides the piece of paper out, blank side facing up. All it took now was flipping over the paper and he would have the results he wanted. However, he couldn’t bring himself to do it, just looking at it with a sigh.

“Can I look?” Josh interrupts as he reaches over, but Alan smacks his hand.

“This is for Chase to handle….” Alan tries to convince the car chief as Josh keeps his eyes focused on Chase.

“I’ve wanted to be Maury, though.”

“You’ve watched Maury?!?” Alan, Sarina, and Chase all say together at the same time.

“Hey now, there’s some good drama sometimes,” Josh tries to defend himself as a series of laughs break out.

“Oh what the heck?” Chase says as he tosses it over to the car chief. “I might as well let someone have some fun out of this.” Josh picks up the piece of paper, flipping it over to reveal the news they all wanted to see. Alan immediately smiles as he glances over the car chief’s shoulder.

“Alan, you would never make a good show assistant,” Sarina comments, catching the grin herself as she begins to smile a little.

“William Clyde Elliott, you are not the father of Ms. Alison Reynolds’ baby as your DNA does not match the sample given,” Josh reads out loud before handing the piece of paper back to Chase.

“Your instincts were right all along,” Alan offers as Sarina pulls him close.

Chase lets out a large sigh as he reads it for himself, feeling as though the weight had been lifted off his shoulders. It was only one step, but it was the beginning of moving further away from what happened with Alison and along with his own life.

“Well?” Sarina questions, noticing the silence from Chase as he glances over with a smile.

“It’s nice to have the proof,” he comments as he stares back at the sheet. “It’s nice to know that I was right all along. She just tried to play me, and she did a good job because I was beginning to fall for her tricks.” He then holds the sheet up in the air. “Now, I’m ready to move forward.” He goes to tear it in half, but Sarina grabs his hands. “What?”

“Keep it for those who want to say you’re full of shit…” He didn’t really care what others thought, but it wasn’t worth arguing over as he slipped it back in the envelope. He then took out his phone, texting all of those who had wondered close to him the results.

Saturday July 22, 2018 – New Hampshire

Chase walks over to his teammate, leaning his head in the window following the final run of the pair of practices that he would get before Sunday’s race.

“Alright, spill,” he starts, catching Jimmie’s attention as he was ready for some earth-shattering request. “What’s the secret to getting around this place?”

“Roll in, turn left, come off like a tiger,” Jimmie says, repeating the same advice that he had stated earlier in the weekend. Chase just lets out a sigh.

“There’s got to be more than that…” Jimmie then glances at the computer screen before him in the car, scrolling through to see Chase was 16th and 20th in the pair of sessions.

“Have you looked over throttle and brake trace to see if you’re braking at the right spots?” Chase nods his head, having gone over those screens following the first practice.

“To be honest, it felt decent through the session, except for being a little tight. But yet, here I am once again, still mid-pack.” Jimmie flips over to the throttle trace screens and sees how they compare.

“Once Alan tweaks it a little, I think you’ll be fine as you’re doing what I told you.” Chase wanted to believe that, but still wasn’t feeling totally convinced.

“Even if the handling was way out to left field through the middle of the run?” Jimmie glances over, nodding his head.

“You at least know what not to do then, right? Look, you guys are making progress and you’re figuring out the track. Given what I’m seeing, you should be just fine tomorrow. You always figure it out. Stop being so hard on yourself for once.” Chase lets out a sigh as he stands up.

“I can’t help it, man. I want to be running better..” He goes to walk away, when Jimmie grabs his hand to stop him.

“It’ll come. We’ve made considerable progress compared to where we began the season to where we are now. It’ll keep coming as these guys are too smart to not let it happen. You’ll get to running where you want to be so just relax, roll with it, and stay focused. Also, remember what we talked about before the season. Don’t get yourself burnt out too early.” Chase nods his head, running the advice through his head.

He then walks away, satisfied with the conversation even if it got him nowhere, ready to relax the rest of the night. He knew there was going to be a good XFINITY series race on-track, and there was nothing more relaxing than sitting up in the stands watching like the good ‘ol days. Hey, maybe he’d pick up something that he could use tomorrow.

He makes his way through the garage, surprised when he sees a familiar brunette before him.

“I thought you would’ve ran off the dirt track with Emma and your dad,” he offers as Erin just chuckles back in response.

“I love my guys, but I needed to catch-up with everyone,” Erin comments as she places a hand on his shoulder. “It’s nice to hear that you got the news you wanted. See, I told you to trust your instincts. Now that’s something that you don’t need to worry about with her moving forward.” Chase slowly nods his head, accepting.

“I was almost dreading meetings about what would happen if I was the fath-”

“Don’t even let those thoughts enter your mind, Chase. Don’t give her the power to control your thoughts. Focus on yourself, your future, and what you have ahead. Focus on finding the answers you need to move forward. You deserve every bit of happiness that you can get, so focus on that.” He then glances into her eyes.

“Thanks, and I’m trying…” She then smiles back in response.

“I know you are, but I also know how you try and mask everything awa-”

“I do not do tha-”

“Who put off going to therapy? Who pretended that things weren’t as messy before with Sarina when they were a disaster?” The grin then fades from his face. “Look, I’m not ready to let go how much she hurt you the-”

“It wasn’t her fau-”

“Her brother was behind it, and certainly deserves the blame. However, she still made decisions of her own that were questionable at best. I saw the pain they caused you. I held you one of those nights that you cried. I’m not about to forget tha-”

“I thought you said you were willing to accept Sarina and I being together, though.” Erin takes a careful deep breath, knowing that she was going along thin waters. However, she knew their friendship could withstand that.

“If you’re happy, then I’m willing to accept as I certainly see the potential in her to be amazing. I also see the happiness when you’re together. However, I will be the first person there to pick up the pieces, and make sure it’s the last time if something happens again. Like I told you, I have your back.” Chase places a hand on her shoulder.

“I know you do, and I appreciate that. However, you need to lay off a little, please. When I say that Sarina has changed, I mean it.” Erin glances over across the garage, seeing Sarina playing with Brexton, before looking back to Chase.

“As I’m spending time here with you, I’m seeing that. As I see more of it, then certainly I’m willing to back right off and forget. But it’s going to take time…” Chase wanted to argue back once again, but bit his tongue. He realized it was the same speech his mother had, and he knew how that turned out.

“Okay, I understand. Just please don’t get too much up in her face about it.” Erin smiles a little.

“You saw how we were at Eldora together, right? That should tell you enough. I’ll see you later.” Erin then heads off as Chase takes a deep breath, letting everything process through as he walks through the garage, catching up with Sarina and Brexton.

Sunday July 23, 2018 – New Hampshire

Following a lengthy rain delay, the race got started and there was speed in the No. 9 NAPA Chevrolet right away as Chase began to make his way forward, finishing the first stage in the runner-up spot.

He would get a good restart to start the second stage, keeping himself second right behind Martin Truex Jr.

“Easy there boy….” Sarina says quietly as he slid up across Kyle Busch’s nose. She knew that wasn’t something that Kyle would take lightly too, and was probably already complaining about on his radio.

As the stage got into the second half, Chase began to catch up to Martin Truex Jr. as they got into lap traffic

“Holy hello fuck!” Sarina lets out as he goes four-wide, splitting the two lap cars with Martin to take the lead with 19 laps to go. “Easy boy, easy – but holy fuck that was stunning!” Josh could only chuckle as he glanced over his shoulder back at her, patting her leg.

Chase would lead the rest of the way, scoring the stage victory. Unfortunately, the pit stop sequence didn’t totally go in their favor as they lost a spot.

Restarting from the second spot, Chase ran solidly there, clicking off laps as he kept himself in position.

“I got a bit of a vibration,” Chase reports over the radio with 100 laps to go, sending the team into a bit of a fury. “Are my brakes hot?”

“I can’t tell man,” Alan replies as Josh stands up immediately. “Sending someone to check in the corner.”

Josh climbs down off the steps as Sarina turns the key on the golf kart.

“Hold on boy,” she tells him as she immediately puts it in drive, making their way quickly through the infield and down to the corner. Josh takes a close look at the NAPA Chevrolet goes through the corner, shaking his head no, before climbing back on the golf cart. He was barely on, grabbing the bar as she took off back up to their pit.

“I can see why you’re a driver,” he comments as she just chuckles. He makes his way back on the box, shaking his head no to Alan.

“No color,” Alan reports back to Chase over the radio.

Whether due to brakes or something else, the other concern was surrounding handling and that affected them as he slipped back to fourth. The final pit stop was then a little slow, causing him to lose two more spots to sixth. He would make one of them back up, crossing the line in fifth.

“Considering where we started the weekend, I’ll take it,” Sarina comments as she gives Alan and Josh a high-five. “It’s progress. Keep that coming and you’ll find your win.”

“I like your vote of confidence,” Alan replies with a smile, before looking at Josh. “Maybe we should’ve made an adjustment the last run there….”

“He said he was comfortable so I went with your theory, but the track was changing, too,” Josh offers as Alan glances at his notes. “Progress, man, progress…”