NORWALK, Ohio -- With one runner-up in the Summit Tournament of Champions already in his career, Austin Cowan was determined that this time would be different.
Cowan finished runner-up in the 2011 version of IHRA's championship tournament in Top Dragster and with another shot at a world championship at stake, Cowan buckled down and prepared for one of the biggest rides of his life.
Fortunately for him, that intense final run was transformed more into a leisurely victory lap after final round opponent Trevor Ritchie, travelling all the way Alberta, Canada, broke on the line and couldn't complete the pass.
But it wasn't all rainbows and sunshine for Cowan.
The weekend for the Bulverde, Texas native actually began with a whole host of problems Thursday night after they unloaded the car. First it was a bit of tire shake and a change out of the ignition box. Then, the throttle hung on Cowan's very fast dragster and he was forced to pull the chutes and burned up the brakes. After that, it was just a feeling of what else can go wrong?
"I figured once Thursday was over, we had to have gotten all of the bugs worked out. All of the bad stuff we were going through meant that it was going to be a good weekend - at least that is what we told ourselves," Cowan said.
"That first round was my lucky round for sure. We missed the tree and the guy broke, which saved our weekend," Cowan said. "Having all of those problems hit us at once, it does mess with you a little bit, but you just have to put it aside and not worry about what might happen next. You just have to focus on going rounds and getting it done on the track."
And that is exactly what Cowan did the rest of the way.
"Our weekend was just amazing. Once we got over the bumps the car was deadly all afternoon," Cowan said.
Sadly the incredible final round showdown with Canadian Trevor Ritchie failed to take shape as problems struck Ritchie, allowing Cowan to take it easy on his final pass.
With the win, Cowan wraps up a successful year that included two final round appearances and a third place finish in Division 4 behind division champion Matt Levatino. Ritchie also put together a strong year, finishing with two wins and taking the Top Dragster championship in Division 6.
And for Cowan, he is convinced that it is the tough competition with the IHRA's Renegades Division which allowed him to take the championship in Memphis.
Now Cowan can add the title world champion to his name and the No. 1 to his car in a career that began racing Junior Dragsters at age 12.
"All of these years of hard work have paid off. We have been wanting to do this for a long time, it has been a dream and now here we are," Cowan said. "I really want to thank my dad, my mom, my sponsors MK Prosthetics, Bear Oil, Planet Pickup and thank the Lord for giving us this opportunity to be here and win today."
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