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McQueen looks towards the exit, contemplating the situation. The wheel clamp is removed. Bessie is not attached. A full tank of gas thanks to Sally. And now McQueen is free. There's nothing stopping him from leaving. So why hasn't he left?enter image description here

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    Cars can't walk. She invites him to go for a drive
    – Valorum
    Commented Apr 6 at 23:59
  • @Valorum It reminds me of the quote by Sir Hiss in 1973 animated Robin Hood. IIRC: "Snakes can't walk. They just creep". Commented Apr 11 at 15:43

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He considered it (briefly), but Sally had demonstrated that she trusts him and he was loath to break that trust, especially since he's at the beginning of a mutually flirtatious relationship with her, which is something that he's never encountered before.

Once his tank was full, Lightning considered taking off for the open road. Nothing was stopping him now.

Sally started toward a mountain in the distance. “Hey, Stickers,” she called. “You comin’ or what?” She drove away, letting Lightning decide for himself whether to make a run for it.

After hesitating for just a moment, he took off after Sally.

“Mmm-hmm,” Flo said knowingly to Sheriff. “And you thought he was gonna run.”

CARS: The Junior Novelization

He's also curious as to what she's going to show him, and interested in learning more about her back-story.

“Okay,” Lightning said as he caught up to Sally, “you got me out here. Where are we going?”

“I don’t know.” Sally zipped off.

Other themes include him starting to relax and feel good about himself for the first time in his extremely young and frenetic life, and the realisation that the town (and its inhabitants) may not be what they seem and may have something to teach him. Running away would remove that possibility.

Reluctantly, McQueen goes back to work. This time, he does the paving job right Over the next few days, McQueen starts to appreciate Radiator Springs. He likes that the cars take care of each other and their town. He learns that Radiator Springs was a bustling stop for travelers before the Interstate was built "It's kind of nice to slow down every once in a while," McQueen says to himself. McQueen also learns that Doc was a three-time Piston Cup champion. Then he had a huge wreck, and everyone in the racing world forgot about him. Doc is upset that McQueen discovered his secret He tells McQueen to finish the road and leave.

Disney Pixar: Cars - Story Reader

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  • It was very risky when Sally was giving gasoline to McQueen. He could have changed his mind and run away. 😁 Commented Apr 7 at 8:55
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    @ЖекаКрутой - He could have, but one of the themes is his growing maturity and lessening impulsivity. He's relaxing into small-town America.
    – Valorum
    Commented Apr 7 at 9:09
  • It isn't particularly risky. McQueen had already completed much of the repairs, and it's not like they can't repair the rest of the road without him. And he isn't some kind of dangerous criminal. If he drove away that would have been his loss, not theirs. And Sally sees a change in McQueen's attitude and is giving him a chance to prove it.
    – shim
    Commented Apr 9 at 14:18
  • The quoted line above was said by Lizzie, who is not a reliable source of information. The point about the horsepower was not made at the exclusion of anyone else in the town, Sally was just saying McQueen was capable of doing the job. Red, Mater, and Sarge should all be perfectly capable, plus they don't have to do it alone. A racecar is not more capable of hauling heavy machinery than a truck. Torque is more important than horsepower when it comes to hauling. Sally doesn't necessarily know the mechanics involved.
    – shim
    Commented Apr 9 at 14:44
  • Also worth noting that Doc told McQueen to leave Radiator Springs as soon as he saw him, without first requiring him to fix the road. It was only after Sally complained that he changed his mind. If it was so important for McQueen to fix the road first because no one else there could do it, then why would he do that?
    – shim
    Commented Apr 9 at 14:51

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