"The kid worked hard," the 14-time champion said.
Then Force once again turned philosophical.
"I've heard two things in my life, by two legends" he said. "Richard Petty was one, and I never question a legend. Richard Petty believed women should stay in the kitchen. I never agreed with that. My children [youngest three daughters] are coming down this road. They love this sport. And it's because of the Melanie Troxels and the Hilary Wills and the Shirley Muldowneys. Women earned that right. And they've done it well.
That was one legend.
"The other was Vince Lombardi, and I have three pictures of him in my museum. And he said in every book that winning is everything. But I believe if a man fights as hard as you and he doesn't win, I believe he's still won. I'm not trying to sugar-coat this. I believe Ron Capps won. That's in my heart. This is no bullshit from an old man that gets sentimental.
"I watched that kid's pain. I watched him puke. What he went through, I've went through it, guys. I lived it. I've lived it, because it’s a gut-ache that tears you right down to the wire," Force said. "I know [Doug] Kalitta's sick. I just don't agree with Vince Lombardi that winning's everything."
Force included teammate and son-in-law Robert Hight -- the No. 2 finisher whom he beat in the semifinals -- as those he considers champions. "In my heart today he won the championship. I believe that Ron Capps wonthis championship. The only difference is that they give me the trophy and the check," he said. "Capps fought this thing right down to the wire and I love the kid to death. And he was hurt down there. But I've got a job to do, and that job is to win. If I don't, my sponsors will take my money and give it to somebody who wants to win -- like Capps."
Force said he didn't want to go on and on. "I know if I say stupid things and it goes in the paper, it'll make it worse for him. So that ain't what I'm trying to do. I just want to give respect to people I care about, people who work hard and dedicate their lives."
Force said, "I ain't got nothing to jump up and down about because I'm the champ. I was already the champ. . . . In about 60 days we'll all be standing there with no points. And Capps will look at me say, 'I'm going to kick your butt. And it starts all over again."
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