Chapter 6: Daytona 500 Qualifying
Dale and Angela stood by the car, silent as can be as they waited for their turn.
Dale took a couple glances over at her, wondering where her thought process was. Normally, having gotten to know her way of working, she would be busy discussing changes made to the car, or how the session had played out so far.
Given how the previous night went, he thought that perhaps she’d bring that up and share some discussion – maybe an apology.
However, instead, they both stood there quietly.
“Something’s up,” Dale finally comments, annoyed with the silence. “You’re too quiet. What gives?” Angela then looks away at these words. She didn’t want to tell as it would weaken her power to this point.
She was truthfully thinking about her discussion with Jimmie, and what to do moving forward. Could she handle this job? Should she talk to Rick about their relationship? Should she suggest that her and dale totally talk things out? Or could she simply move forward without another thought?
“I’m thinking,” she blurted out anyway as she couldn’t take the silence any longer, either. She had a lot of on her mind and couldn’t hold it in. How was she supposed to handle this all by herself? The combination of heartbreak, the pressure, and unknown future was scary. “We both know the way our relationship stands right now. We both know that things haven’t been easy so far. I’ve been giving it a real thought with regards to how to approach this, and what to do moving forward. I want this, Dale. I just don’t want to go into this and not do the best job possible, and short change us both.”
Dale turned to her shocked. He wasn’t thinking that her thoughts could possibly be deep at that, and wondered from his own perspectives as to what would happen moving forward.
Besides that, he heard the last comment and it pulled at the heart. Short change us both. Somewhere in there, she still cared. She possibly forgave him. She possibly was set to move forward despite her resistance.
“So, what are you going to do?” Angela leans back against the car and shrugs her shoulders.
“I don’t know, Dale. I haven’t quite decided yet. Hence the fact that I was thinking.” Dale glances back over at her, curious. There was one thing that he didn’t like in her comments – the possible chance that she was going to give up. He couldn’t take having someone who would even think of doing that on his team. That wasn’t how you moved forward, worked hard, got through tough times and won championships. If that was even a small thought, why was she still standing there? He could possibly curse Rick for hiring her right now.
“I sense a thought that you’re going to give up this position. I thought it meant a lot to you, Angela. Are you feelings getting in the way of what is going on? I thought you were the one that told me that those shouldn’t be played around with in a professional environment.” She then looks over at him, shocked and her own anger boiling. Was he serious?
“Fuck you.” Dale then pulled out his helmet, getting ready to go. He knew he figured out how to play the buttons correctly. While she was angry, he got the answer that he wanted – she wasn’t about to give up. “I’m not the type of person to give up. I’m the type of person that will work hard till the very end. So stop trying to put your own puzzle together, Earnhardt. Besides, this is a two-way street. You can’t keep throwing it in my face and not working with me accordingly because that’ll get us nowhere. Give me an unco-operative driver and there’s nothing that I can do but give up.” Dale knew that she was right in her words. He wasn’t about to give up on his front; he only wanted an answer. That didn’t mean that he was going to give in on that right now. In his mind, she had to understand where he stood.
“It’s a puzzle that the pieces were following into place via what you were telling me and your thoughts.” He then puts his helmet on. “Given your response, though, I see where we stand.” He then climbs in the car, set for qualifying. He knew that they had to talk more and certainly get rid of the tension. However, they didn’t have time for that right now. He had to focus on laying down two solid laps.
“Not everybody is read so simple, Earnhardt.” She knew what he was thinking by his comments. He thought that she was just going to throw into the towel easily. That wasn’t the case, though. It was going to take a lot to make her give up, even if that was an option per her discussion with Jimmie. Given the strain of the relationship, though, she also knew that a talk between them would be warranted. They obviously had a lot of things to get out of the way with how they wanted to read each other’s emotions.
In the end, he would lay down the 16th quickest lap – set to start eighth in his Duel on Thursday. Now if only he could sort things out a little more with Angela before then.
As he relaxed in the garage area, he started to realize that perhaps he was a little too hard on her. Perhaps he had let his emotions get in the way too much. Perhaps he was still pissed off about her breaking his heart then. he knew that if they were going to move forward, he had to talk with her.
“Has anyone seen Angela?” He asks as one of the crew members point down the lines of haulers.
“She went to sit on one of the grass hills in the motorcoach lot,” the crew member answers. “She said that she wanted some time to think.”
“Thanks…” Dale heads out of the hauler.
He knew what she was thinking about virtue of their pre-qualifying conversation. He wondered what was going through her mind. He just hoped that they could somehow work things out as he wanted the chance to work with her.
Chapter 7: The Discussion
Dale makes his way through the backstretch area of Daytona. He then heads over by the small lake in the infield as he spots her sitting by the water, with her feet hanging over the small dock.
A small smile forms on his face as he remembers one of the late nights that they spent out here together. He had a lot on his mind with a mix of memories and things, while she had a lot of going on in her life at the time. It had been a good idea for both as it gave them a spot to relax and get their feelings out.
“Care if I join you?” He questions as he walks up to her. He glances at her eyes, knowing that the discussion that they had had hit him home, along with the rest of the thoughts on her mind. The look in her eyes was the same as that late night.
“Have a seat if you want,” she states as she watches Dale beside her. She knew that she’d rather be left by herself to think about what happened and what she was going to do moving forward.
There was still the option of quitting. The more she thought about it, the more she knew that Rick would understand her reasoning. She also knew, based on her conversation with Jimmie, that she wouldn’t have to worry about her position moving forward at Hendrick Motorsports due to the respect that she got from everyone.
However, she wasn’t a quitter. She was the type of person that wouldn’t give up when the going got tough, no matter how tough it got. With that said, she knew that she had to stick this out with Dale. The only question was how would she handle things moving forward?
Would they keep up the same relationship? Would they try to ignore everything else that surrounded them and just focus on being professional? It seemed to look like it’d work on paper, but it wasn’t working so far. If that was the case, she wouldn’t be sitting where she was sitting at that point. It was hard to simply do that due to the feelings that were still there.
The only other option was to talk about everything that had happened and for the first time since they broke up, be totally honest with each other. It certainly wouldn’t be easy to do as that’d bring a lot of pain, renewed sadness and anger. However, perhaps that was the only option left.
“I’m sorry for what I said,” Dale starts as she looks over at him, eyes still wet from the tears that had fallen through her own relationship reflection. “I hate the thought of working with someone who isn’t giving it their all. I try as hard as I can behind the wheel to do what I can do as a driver. I know those guys on that team are doing whatever they can to make the cars better. However, it doesn’t matter if the crew chief isn’t in the game as well. I just wanted to make sure that wasn’t the case with you.”
“It’s okay – I deserved it for what I said,” she tells him with a slight smile of her own. Perhaps the apology that he offered her the other night was truly sincere, just like the apology that she was receiving now. “I get it from your perspective, Dale.”
He then takes a deep breath, knowing that they couldn’t move forward without honest dialogue. A piece of honest dialogue would help ease the tension between them and make working together easier, rather than being snippy at each other as they were being.
“Listen, I meant what I said that night when I came and saw you,” he starts as she glances back over, shaking her head understanding. Perhaps she could’ve been easier to deal with that night. Perhaps that would’ve escaped the issues that they were having so far. “I screwed up majorly. I know that I broke your heart and I know that it hurt a lot. Trust me – I spent a bunch of days upset. You can even ask T.J.”
He then glances down, thinking about his own feelings. He had only came to see her to restart their crew chief-driver relationship. He wanted to make sure they found fair ground with that. However, in the moment as he looked into her eyes, he couldn’t help but remember the love that he felt then.
“If I’m going to be honest, I still love you and wish that I could be with you,” he continues as she keeps her eyes locked on his, a little surprised. “I wish that we could be where we were then, but stronger due to more time together. I know that was about seven years ago, but I still wish for that. It’s why what happened hurts a ton, even though we should’ve moved past it. But, returning there in the blink of an eye isn’t easy, or maybe possible. I don’t know. I guess it depends on how we both feel, right? So I might as well start somewhere, right? I might as well co-operate with my crew chief and let her do the job that she wants.”
A small smile forms in return as she was glad that she had her driver on board to work with her at her dream. She could only let her brain focus on that, as she didn’t want to think about his feelings. She didn’t want to think about the fact that he still liked her a lot and wanted to be with her. She didn’t want to think about the fact that he had confessed that and was being open on that possibly happening.
They all brought tears to her eyes, reminding her how heartbroken she was.
It was hard to listen to him accuse her of betraying him. It hard to listen to him suspect that she was cheating on him with Denny, when they were just close friends as they had been for years. She didn’t want to remind herself of that.
“I know, I probably said too much,” Dale then starts as her eyes return to his. “I probably said enough that it’d scare you away and make you question everything again, or even more. I should’ve kept that to myself. It’s just that I really meant what I said and it hurt when you wouldn’t even accept my apology that night. I don’t say something unless I mean it and for you to turn it on its heels and say I wrote a ‘speech’, that hurt.”
He then takes a deep breath, seeing a mix of confusion in her eyes that went with the mix of emotions. He could see the determination and want to work together – he was going to focus on that.
“I like working with you,” he continues. “I mean, when we have worked together right, we can make it work. We both know how to make it work together. You are a very talented lady yourself, too, and I believe that you can lead us success. We can put that chemistry together; we just need to perfect it. We just need to stop fighting.
“I’ve probably said too much, but that’s why I wanted to come see you.”
She then chuckles a little as she watches his cheek turn a little red, obviously the shyness coming out in realizing that he probably went overboard and did more to chase her away than keep her there. From one perspective, you could say that he only wanted this to work due to having a crush on her – still. From another and the perspective she knew was playing a bigger importance, he wanted this to work so they could have success this season. It was just funny to watch him try to balance between the two as she remained silent.
“What’s so funny?” He questions as she just shakes her head.
“Relax – I love your nervousness and how worried you are,” she answers, immediately wishing that she could take back her words. She hoped that he didn’t see the fact that she still loved him as much he loved her. “Listen, I appreciate your explanation and apology. I appreciate your honesty. I’m sorry for how I’ve handled things since the announcement. I guess I had more emotions involved than I realized. However, I do agree with you. I like working with you, and I say if we stick together and work like we should, we should have a championship at season’s end.”
Dale smiles in return, glad that he had gotten back on her good side with his comments, even if he rambled and said more than he should’ve. He also appreciated the apology for what happened that night at her place, as well.
Given her giggles, he could also tell that perhaps he could make good on his comment in ending up with her by season’s end. He wanted to win races and the championship, but it’d be icing on the cake if they could rekindle the relationship magic by year end.
“Now that’s the plan, crew chief,” he states. “Want a Daytona 500? I will deliver if given the car.” She smiles, knowing how well he drove the plate tracks. It would also be a quick way to get the pressure that was on her to perform out of the way, and possibly relieve some of the tension that was on her shoulders.
“You can bank on that,” she tells him. “I was born to be in this spot.” She then lets out a small shiver as he stands up.
“Well, if you’re going to do that, you better head inside and stay warm. I don’t need you sick.” She then stands up and follows him as they head back towards the motorcoach lot.
“Are you trying to take care of me?” He then looks over at her with a small grin.
“Does that win me brownie points?” She smiles, stuck back in her memories. They would always ask each other that question when flirting, hoping leading to having enough points to earn a special night together.
“Brownies are better than brownie points.”
“I could bake you some.” She then looks over at him, surprised.
“All by yourself? With no help?” He shakes his head yes. “I thought you were the master of grilling and smoking meat, but nothing else.”
“I am. However, I surprised my niece with a birthday cake and I’m happy to report that it turned out right with no signs of health hazard. Perhaps I’ll be the king of baking, too.”
They then reach the motorcoach lot, knowing that they were both set to travel their own separate paths to their own motorcoaches. She looks over at him, a smile firmly planted on her face, having enjoyed the discussion on the water and on the way back. Perhaps she could put the past behind her.
“Dale, forget the past and what you did,” she tells him. “You don’t need to keep apologizing or trying to make up for it. Instead, learn from your mistakes and become a better person. See you tomorrow.”
“Bye Angela,” he replies as he heads to his motorcoach. He could only smile at her comment. It was a simple comment, but it was enough to tell him that things were going to be okay. She was letting go of what happened, and could still share comments and flirt like they used to. It was just about letting time heal wounds and moving back to that point in their lives. As he laid in his bed later that night, the smile stayed firmly planted on his face. He already couldn’t wait till practice on Wednesday. “Angela, thank you.”
Chapter 8: The Backstory
I haven’t determined the exact direction that I’m going to go from here as this is as far as I got in the original writings of this story. So with that said, I figured I’d share the back story of the relationship that you’ve all been curious about throughout while I work on deciding. Suggestions are welcome 🙂
With a couple days of no racing action, there were always some nights when everybody would get together for some relaxation. That Tuesday night, it turned into a group hanging out at Dale’s motorcoach for BBQ and conversation.
As the night went on and people faded out, the group surrounding became thinner and thinner. It wasn’t long before it was just Dale and T.J. sitting there. T.J. knew that he had to leave in the next hour or so with having to be there for practice. However, there was still some questions on his mind.
These weren’t the type of questions that he could ask when a group of people were around as he knew not everybody knew the details. Besides, he didn’t need a bunch of rumors floating around the garage. However, as a spotter stuck between driver and crew chief, he figured it was worth asking with just the pair of them.
He knew that they were together once before, but never knew the full details. He just heard of a previous relationship with a break-up based on Dale sharing a couple comments when the announcement was made that she’d be the crew chief.
“So, how’d you and Angela end up together?” T.J. questions, catching Dale’s attention. Dale knew that the spotter would eventually be curious as to the whole story.
He hadn’t told many people about their relationship, having kept it in the shadows. There were only a few that found out – Steve because he went to him for advice, his sister and mom as she attended a family dinner or two. Beyond that, though, the only others that knew would be those who she spoke to.
“It started with a late night at the Hendrick Motorsports shop, to be honest,” he states as T.J.’s curiosity peaks. He can only smile, thinking of the possibilities.
“Well, she’s pretty so I’m going to guess that looks had a part in this?” T.J. questions and Dale laughs and shakes his head yes.
“I was into my third month at Hendrick and I was there late one night. I don’t even remember now why I was there so late, but there wasn’t a lot of people left that night. Chad was there – as to be expected- a long with a couple guys in the engine shop and Angela was there. She was the only person on the shop floor at the time since Chad was in his office. She was doing something underneath the hood of Jimmie’s car, I think checking shocks and springs. As I came down the stairs, I got a glimpse of her ass.” T.J. chuckles, knowing where this was going.
“Please tell me you pinched it!” Dale laughs and shakes his head no.
“Nah, I offered her a compliment. Remember, I’m the sweet southern gentleman.” T.J. roars in laughter and shakes his head no.
“You’re dreaming now, boy. I’ve been your friend long enough to realize that’s not the case. I’ve seen how you’ve picked up some girls.” Dale shakes his head, not wanting to think about those experiences. There were definitely some that he quickly realized weren’t what they seemed.
“Can you please erase those from my memory?” T.J. shakes his head no with a laugh.
“So, tell me what happened that night at Hendrick.” Dale takes a deep breath, thinking back to that night.
Dale lets out a whistle as he’s coming down the stairs from the upstairs offices, staring at Angela’s ass.
“Daaaamn,” he comments as she immediately stands up. “I should come down here more often for that view.” She turns around and immediately rolls her eyes.
“Can’t a girl work without a bunch of whistles following her around?” She questions before turning back to what she was doing.
“I’m sorry but I’ve been told to complement a pretty lady when I see one.” Se then glances over at him with a smirk.
“And I have work to do so if you will excuse me, I’d like to finish what I’m doing.” He then crosses his arms as a smile forms. She was definitely a cutie. A cutie that knew what she was doing underneath the hood of a racecar was a bonus.
“Can’t I hang around and hand you wrenches?” She shakes her head no.
“I know you’re just down here for the view, and I don’t need the company. So why don’t you go download a copy hot photos and stare at them instead?” He then looks at her surprised by the comment. She had an attitude to boot.
“Haven’t you heard that real life and 3D is better?” She then sticks her wrench against his crotch.
“But I bet this thing is getting hard and jacking off in front of someone is rude, right?” He then looks at her even more surprised as she gets back to work.
“You have an interesting attitude, missy.”
“Welcome to dealing with boys like you who stare at me all day. There’s only one way to deal with it.” She then stands up and grabs a different size wrench before leaning back down. “Plus, I also know how to break a pair of balls if someone touches without permission.”
“I got to say I’m impressed. A girl that knows what she’s doing underneath the hood of a car, and knows how to put a guy in their place. Can I apologize for being rude and whistling at you?” She then brushes her hands off as she puts the wrenches back.
“I’ll accept the apology, Mr. Earnhardt. By the way, my name is Angela Lockson, incase you were wondering.”
“Well, it’s nice to meet you Ms. Lockson. I assume that’s the case as I see no ring on your finger.” She then glances over at him.
“What if I didn’t want to get my ring dirty?” His jaw drops as she laughs. “I’m kidding. I’m single as ever, since I bet that crossed your mind.” He shakes his head no.
“I hadn’t even thoug-”
“It came to your mind when you whistled at me and were thinking whether you could get closer. I know how you guys think.” She then moves across the shop to where he is standing, seeing her notebook on the shelf behind him. “Can you move, please?”
“Why?” She rolls her eyes, immediately.
“I need my notebook before I leave.” He then crosses his arms.
“What if I stand here all night like this?” She shrugs her shoulders as she leans back against Jimmie’s car.
“You’ll leave eventually and I have all night to wait.” He smiles as he watches her closely. Perhaps it’d be nice to get to know her more.
“I’ll move under one condition, Angela – let me take you out for dinner and drinks tonight.” She then raises her eyebrows in curiousity.
“Are you trying to hit on me?” That was the case, but he wouldn’t admit it.
“Consider it my way of apologizing for my behavior.” She smiles in response.
“Fine. I tell you what – you pay for dinner and drinks, and I’ll pay for desert. It seems that I have some apologizing as well.” He then moves away from the shelf as she grabs her notebook.
“That’s a deal. By the way, you have the most beautiful brown eyes that I have ever seen.” She looks over and smiles.
“I’ve always thought that your blue eyes was sexy and dazzling.” The pair then head out of the shop together, set for their night.
“So that’s how you ended up going out?” T.J. questions and Dale shakes his head yes. “She chewed your ass off, gave you an unfair lecture and you gave her the benefit of the doubt?”
“I could tell that she was charming underneath that, and she had a lot of other nice qualities,” Dale states as a smirk forms on T.J.’s lips.
“You just wanted to get laid. You saw hot woman and a good sexual opportunity.” Dale chucks the empty mountain dew bottle at T.J., causing him to laugh.
“That’s wasn’t even on the mind, at that time. By other qualities, I meant a nice personality, down to earth type of girl, and someone that I could probably relate to. Besides, going to dinner with company is always better than going alone.” T.J. then gets comfy in his chair, set for more of the story.
“So what happened at dinner?”
Chapter 9: The First Kiss
“So what happened at dinner?” T.J. wondered as Dale shrugs his shoulders, putting his feet up.
“Nice conversation and I learned a little more about her,” Dale offers as T.J. raises his eyebrows in surprise.
“So wait – let me get this straight. You admitted that she’s hot, you complimented that hotness and asked her out, but yet had your typical date?” Dale shakes his head yes.
“I told you – I’m the gentleman.” T.J. rolls his eyes and shakes his head no.
“No no, that’s not true. Somewhere along the lines, something went off the tracks of being the gentleman. Did you go back to her place that night?” Dale shakes his head no. “Seriously?”
“We both agreed that it was a good dinner, shared a quick hug. I asked her for her number incase I wanted to enjoy her company again, she accepted and we separated for the night.”
“Dude, no wonder she puts your ass in place. She’s been doing that since day one. So, let me guess – you called her up a couple days later?” Dale shakes his head no, knowing that it wasn’t the typical get-together type of deal.
“We were at the shop one night – myself, Angela, Jimmie, Chad, Steve, Ron and Jason. We were poking fun and for some reason, Ron and Jason kept saying that they could drive better than us and we were just making a big deal out of nothing. So teasing aside, we agreed to go go-karting back at my pla-”
“Wait – there was go-karting without me being invited?” Dale shakes his head yes.
“I don’t always invite you every time.” T.J. shakes his head, surprised and a little angered.
“That’s just mean.” Dale rolls his eyes.
“Anyways, we ended up back at my place at the little track, all set to race against each other. It was second or third race, but we made contac-”
“You broke the number one rule – you wrecked a girl.”
“It wasn’t my fau-”
“Your fault, her fault – it’s your fault.” Dale then gives T.J. a surprised glance. “It’s always the guy’s fault.”
“So if Danica wrecks me, you’re saying that it’s my fault?” T.J. thinks it over and shakes his head yes.
“Tony would kick your ass, regardless.” Dale rolls his eyes.
“That doesn’t make any sen-”
“It’s the law of logic, okay? So, anyways, you wrecked the girl. Continue.”
“I didn’t wreck her – we just made contact fighting for the same piece of track. But anyways, it caused a small cut on her kne-”
“Not only did you wreck her, but you injured her? And yet she still went out with you? Dude, what love potion did you make her drink?” Dale shakes his head in disbelief, knowing that he shouldn’t had gone forth with telling T.J. the story.
“She had a small cut, but I was the gentleman. I offered to help her back inside the house and clean it up, as well as put a Band-Aid on it.” A smirk forms on T.J.’s face as he could already see where this was going.
Dale leads her to the bathroom where she sits on the closed-toilet lid as he grabs a washcloth, wetting it. He then comes over, set to wipe it off when she places her hand on top of his.
“I can take care of myself,” she tells him as he looks into her eyes.
“It was both our fault that this happened so let me take care of you,” he tells her as she claws the washcloth out of his hands.
“I can wipe it off, Dale. You go find a band-aid.” She then dabs the cut as he opens the cupboard, searching for the band-aids. “I didn’t think you were going to cut down like you did.”
“A racer goes for any hole available and I knew if I got underneath you, I could pass you and then chase down Ron.” She then smiles.
“Oh no – it’s rather the fact that you think you could’ve passed me.” He then glances over at her.
“I know this track better than anyone.”
“I had the top-side working to my favor. That’s how I was able to close the gap on Jimmie to pass him.”
“That’s Johnson, not me.” She then crosses her arms as he finds the band-aids.
“What are you trying to say?” He then comes back over to her.
“I’m just trying to tell you that your assumption is wrong.” He then peels the sticky back on the band-aid as he looks over the cut. “That’s bigger than I thought it was.”
“I’m a big girl and it’s a long way from my heart. I’ll live.” She then reaches down to get the band-aid from him as he looks up at her. “I can do it.”
“Can’t I take care of you?” She then thinks it over as she keeps her hand on top of his hand.
“I’m a big girl. I can take car-”
“A guy is always supposed to take care of the girl, and I feel responsible for this.” She doesn’t move her hand as he keeps his eyes locked on hers. “And meanwhile while we argue, it’s going to start bleeding again.”
“Well then why don’t you let me put the band-aid on?” She then leans down closer to him. “Perhaps some co-operation on your end will lead to something afterwards.” He then looks at her intrigued as he releases his grasp on the band-aid. She then puts it on her knee herself.
“What are you trying to say, now?” She then looks at him with a smile.
“I can see it in your eyes. I could see it from the moment that we crossed paths at the shop. You’ve been wanting to dial my number so we could hang out again, but you’re too shy to do that.” She then wraps her arm around his neck, pulling him closer. “Admit it.”
“Again, what are you trying to say?”
“Some co-operation on your end will lead to another date. Perhaps we could go out later this week?” He then chuckles a little.
“Aren’t I supposed to ask you on a date, not the other way around?” She shrugs her shoulders.
“I suppose, but I’m just taking care of business since you’re too shy to handle it yourself.” She then gives him a kiss on the cheek before standing up. “So, are you available?”
“Thursday night. I’ll pick you up and we’ll go to dinner and a movie. You can choose the movie, but no chick flicks.” She smiles as she makes her way by him.
“That’s a deal.” He then stands up and follows her.
“Are you sure you don’t need any help?” She looks back at him.
“What did I tell you? I’m a big girl and I’m going to be fine. It’s just a little booboo.”
“Right, and you didn’t let me kiss it better so now I have to do this.” He then walks up behind her, picking her up in his arms. “I don’t want you causing anymore damage. You could relax that leg for awhile.” Their eyes then catch a glimpse from each other once again as he draws his lips closer to hers, kissing them. He immediately pulls back. “I’m sorry…”
“No, it’s okay…” She then wraps her arm around his neck, bringing her lips back to his and kissing him back in return. “I kind of liked it.”
“What do you say we chase those guys home and spend the rest of the night hanging out together?”
“Now that’s the sweet darn guy that I know in how he picks up a girl!” T.J. hoots out as he offers a high-five for Dale. “I told you that you probably charmed her in some special way. Well played, well played. Except – why hadn’t you called her yet?” Dale shrugs her shoulders.
“Busy schedule, hadn’t gotten a chance to,” he offers as T.J. shakes his head.
“Yeah, you’re lying Sir Shyness. I’m glad that she pursued you despite that.” Dale then glances down at his feet with a sigh.
“So we could break up and end up where we are now?” T.J. looks over.
“Hey, things could be worse.” T.J. then takes a sip of his beer as he thinks it over. “Sure, you guys have had your rough moments. Sure, you somehow managed to chase off the sweetest girl of your dreams ever. However, you have the moments that you had together and that chemistry. You have your second chance right in front of you right now – you just have to work at that. Rather than be upset about what happened, be thankful that she’s at least coming around and you may get that chance to be with her again.” Dale glances up with a small smile on his face. He still did really like her, if he wanted to be honest. He was still interested in pursuing a relationship, and he was set to make that happen – if it was possible. Perhaps the reflection of what happened was what he needed to do.
“Okay, maybe so. I think I have an idea of how to spend a night this week.” T.J. then looks over at him intrigued.
“You just got back on her friendly side. Do you really want to push your luck?” Dale knew that T.J. was right, but his plan wouldn’t hurt things.
“Trust me – I’m not going to screw things up with her. Besides, this would be something between friends and nothing more.” T.J. rolls his eyes as he knew this spelt trouble right from the beginning. He just hoped that Dale knew what he was doing as they didn’t need to screw things up and in return, piss of the guys on the team.
“So, did you sleep with her that night?” T.J. had figured trying to convince Dale otherwise wasn’t going to work.
“I’m pleading the fifth.” T.J. laughs as he knew exactly what that meant.
“And I’m guessing the dinner and a movie night turned into more fun?” Dale’s cheek go a darker tone of red than they had been already as T.J. laughs harder. “Oh my, now I know why tensions were high with you both. You’re both reminiscing about how wonderful the sexual pleasures were.”
Chapter 10: Practice
Dale walks into the garage on Wednesday morning with a smile firmly planted on his face. Today was going to be a good day in his mind. He was set to have a fun time working with his great crew chief and make the most of the practice session, while having some fun afterwards.
It was great to be in Daytona, right?
“Hey!” He says as he walks over to where Angela and Travis are going over a set of notes before practice. “How are you both?”
“Good,” Angela replies with a smile. “Did you enjoy your couple days off?” Dale shakes his head yes.
“I spent the time with friends, enjoying their company and relaxing. What did you do?” She smiles as she thinks over her past two days of fun.
“I went to Disney World and took on the rides.” He looks at her, surprised. She was normally focused on her work, not one to take time herself.
“You should’ve asked for some company.” She chuckles a little, knowing what he was implying. She thought they were beyond discussions of that right now.
“I was fine by going by myself and spending some time alone. Besides, we’re going to spend enough time together this year as it is.” Dale smiles, knowing that could work into his favor. A whole year working together and perhaps he could rekindle their magic. Perhaps he should listen to T.J.’s advice and forego the plan that he had on his mind – perhaps. Then again, a night out with her could be fun.
“You seem more chipper than usual this morning,” Travis offers as Dale casts a glance towards the car chief.
“Can’t I be excited to get on track for some practice?” Dale questions. “Can’t I be excited to work with my new crew chief?” Travis rolls his eyes, definitely not expecting this reaction that morning after what happened over the weekend.
“Sure….I guess.” He then walks away as he brushes shoulders with their head engineer Kevin. “You said that they dated, right?” Kevin glances at the pair before glancing at Travis.
“That’s what Cameron said. He was certain that they were together late some nights during one of Dale’s early seasons at Hendrick.” Travis glances back at the pair before returning his eyes to Kevin.
“Keep an eye on them. They go from fighting this past weekend to being chipper to see each other.” A grins forms on Kevin’s face as he watches them.
“Maybe they got together and got laid.” Travis gives him a smack as Kevin walks off laughing.
“Actually, the pair had a heart-to-heart conversation,” the rear tire carrier William interrupts, causing a glance from the pair. “Dale came looking for her and I told him that she’d gone off to spend some time on her own. He met up with her and they discussed things. They got everything out of their system from their previous relationship and agreed to make this work together.”
“So they’re not acting extra chippy in an attempt to make this work?” Travis questions as William shrugs his shoulders.
“Perhaps if they both go into this with a extreme positive attitude, it’ll work out better than expected.”
“Sure – that’s all we can hope for. After what happened on Saturday, I’m just wanting o get through this season with all limbs intact.”
“Relax – we’re going to have a good year and win some races,” Kevin offers. “She’s a smart girl and he’s a good driver. As long as they stick by their word, we’re in for a successful year.”
“Kevin! Travis!” They hear a female voice rang through the garage as Kevin stretches out his hands.
“Time to get to work.” He then walks over to her as Travis rolls his eyes, but follows suits.
The practice ended up going really well as the car showed a lot of speed. Dale believed that they had a piece capable of winning the Daytona 500 on Sunday, simply based on how well the car felt compared to cars of the past. It was just going to be about saving the car through the Duel on Thursday. Starting in the eighth spot in the second Duel, the key words of strategy and save the car rang through his mind.
While the next day ahead on the schedule was on his mind, he also had his idea of the evening on the mind as well. He made his way into the hauler, quietly heading into the lounge as he watched her sitting there with laptop in hand. No doubt she was going over the data and comparing notes from across the Hendrick cars to see if she could even make the car that much better. He didn’t want to interrupt her while she was working, having learned his lesson previously.
“Got everything squared away?” He asks as she closes the laptop, placing it in her bag about 20 minutes later. She then looks up at him and smiles.
“I think so,” she answers. “The last package we tried in practice, you really liked and it showed good speed and draft ability. However, I think a little tweak on it in the morning will make it that much better and capable of winning the Duel.” He smiles as that plan sounded fine by him, as long it worked.
“I like the way you’re thinking. Just promise me that you won’t screw up that car since she’s driving real nice.” She grins as she stands up and walks over to him.
“Trust me – I know what I’m doing. I’m trained for the job, remember?” He then shakes his head, knowing that she had done her fair share of schooling and had been trained under Chad and Ron. If the past trainees had shown enough indication, their training program typically turned out really successful crew chiefs.
“I have a question. Do you have plans for tonight?” She then rolls her eyes as she lets out a sigh. She knew that he was going to try, but didn’t expect him to try this soon.
“Dale, while we squared things away, I’m not ready for that. I told you that. I’m just set to put it behind us so we can work together.” He shakes his head, understanding. She had obviously thought he was implying something different than planned.
“I’m not asking you on a date, or anything. I know better than to do that. I was thinking if you were bored tonight I’d take you out go-karting – just like old times, but as friends and nothing more.” A small smile forms on her face as the offer was enticing. However, she was still worried in accepting an offer, even as small as that. She knew of his future intentions and she wasn’t ready.
“I appreciate the offer, as a friend, however I’m going to have to decline. I want to get a good meal in me and go over my notes some more so they’re organized for tomorrow, along with some other notes. Then I also want to make sure I get a good night sleep so I’m in tip-top shape. I hope you understand.” He shakes his head, understanding. He should’ve known the night before a race wouldn’t work good with the idea.
“That’s fine. I understand. See you tomorrow.” He then heads off as she leans back against the wall of the trailer watching him.
Why did he have that quality that kept bringing you closer despite every bit of resistance that you tried to show?