Maybe it wasn't as easy as it looked, but there isn't any question about the decisiveness of the Miss Budweiser's victory Sunday in the $150,000 Columbia Cup.
Chip Hanauer, en route to his final straight victory of the season, scored three heat victories and then won the championship final in record time.
After churning up the river with three aborted starts, Hanauer piloted the Budweiser to a wire-to-wire win.
The Tide beat out the Winston Eagle for second place, Miss T-Plus was fourth, KORD Presents Pietro American Spirit fifth and Miss Rock sixth.
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The Miss Budweiser's speed of 140.193 mph for the five-lap final is a record for a 10-mile course.
"With a field this fast you can't afford to let up, I had to go all out, the boat had nothing more to give," Hanauer said. "The thing is, the Budweiser team gives me an unfair advantage. Today, this boat was just better than anything else. It was super in the rough water."
As George Woods, Jr., driver of the second place The Tide put it, "The Bud is on a different level than the rest of us."
As a result, the only drama in the 27th running of the Columbia Cup entered around Hanauer's sore back. Even that proved to be anticlimactic. Reports that the leading driver in the history of the sport might not be able to continue after the second heat proved groundless.
"I injured it because of a stupid mistake in the first heat at Miami in June," Hanauer said. "It bothered me in the Gold Cup and the Indiana races, but I thought it had healed after our three week layoff. Unfortunately, the rough water aggravated it. It's just something I'm going to have put up with."
The Budweiser trailed in the start of heat 1A, but had the lead coming out of the first turn and led the rest of the way, winning with an average speed of 143.966 mph.
Pushing the Bud but unable to catch it was Woods in the surprisingly swift Tide.
In fact, the Tide set a course lap record of 146.311 mph in the second lap, but barely made up any ground.
It was the same story in heats 2A and 3A. The Budweiser's average speed in heat 2A, the fastest of the day, was 144.674 mph and 141.312 in heat 3A.
In the meantime, the U.99.9 KISW-Miss Rock made it clear it's no longer the laughing stock of the fleet by winning the first two heats of the so-called slow boats.
Miss Rock, driven by Nate Brown, averaged 137.095 mph in winning heat 1B and 137.430 heat 2B. However, a blown engine in heat 3B allowed the U-50 KORD Presents Pietro's American Spirit to win the heat and grab a berth in the championship final.
Miss T-Plus, driven by Steve David, won the "last chance" heat with an average speed of 141.189 mph and the last berth in the championship final.
"I can't believe we went five-for-five in the Tri-Cities," owner Bernie Little said, counting Saturday's Dash for the Cash, all three heats and the championship final. "I don't know what we'll do for an encore in Seattle."
Winning the sixth straight race of the season will probably suffice.
"I try not to think about it but I have to admit the idea of an undefeated season did enter my mind today," Hanauer said. "But it was for only about 10 seconds before I put it out of my mind. I will make a deliberate point of not thinking about it any more. The only race that means diddley squat to me this week is the Seattle race."
The rest of the field made it clear it wasn't throwing in the towel.
"We'll go faster, the crew will see to that," said Woods of The Tide. "Right now it's going fast enough that I have to hang on."
Steve Woomer, Winston Eagle owner, also indicated his determination to play catch up.
"The Eagle isn't giving up," he said. "My budget is almost as big as Bernie's. We're going to be doing something about it."
A likely move by the Winston camp would be to concentrate on its new boat, the Winston Select. "We increased its speed more than 10 mph in the Tri-Cities," Woomer said.
They'll need more than that to catch the Budweiser.