20 April 2008
Long Beach 2008: Era ends with Power cut.
The final race of the Champ Car World Series was won by Will Power after 83 laps around the street of Long Beach brought the curtain down on 29 years of competition.
Power took the lead at the start and was untroubled from the moment Justin Wilson retired early on, the run of success enjoyed by the McDonalds car in California coming to an abrupt end with mechanical problems on lap twelve. From there, the Australian only ceded top spot during the pit-stop windows, eventually coming home a comfortable five seconds clear of the field to add to his victories in Las Vegas and Toronto last season, and add a second success to Cristiano da Matta's sole win for KVRT predecessor PKV Racing.
“I got a very good start, which I knew was really important,” Power said, “The KVRT team did a great job with the car - good fuel saving, great pit-stops - and I was very fast in the race.
"I am very happy for Kevin Kalkhoven and Craig Gore, who is the one who gave me the opportunity to race Champ Cars. I am also happy for the whole KVRT team. They have put in so much work over the last couple of months, having been away from their families, so it's great to give them a win because they are the ones who deserve it.”
Franck Montagny provided a glimpse of what might have been, the Frenchman taking second spot for Forsythe Pettit Racing after setting the pace in testing at Sebring before the decision to unify America's two premier open-wheel series spelt the end for Champ Car.
The podium was completed by the man who spent much of last season plugging gaps at various teams, but Mario Dominguez had extra reason to celebrate as he gave Pacific Coast Motorsport its maiden Champ Car top three. The team has yet to reveal its plans for the coming year, but at least bowed out of Champ Car on a high.
“Everyone was racing really hard and to be on the podium in the final Champ Car is a great honour," the Mexican commented, "The team gave me great communication today. We saved a lot of fuel and drove hard. I passed [Alex] Tagliani for third right toward the end and it was an exciting moment."
With IndyCar's Motegi event having gone ahead, albeit a day later than planned, the Long Beach event counted for points after all and Enrique Bernoldi built on his strong result in St Petersburg by adding fourth spot on his third outing.
“I had a really good pace at the end of the race, but it was tough," the Brazilian noted, "The race was long and very tiring physically because the car is very demanding. But I had a good race and I am happy to score points for the championship. It's my best result so far this year, and hopefully I can keep improving my positions like this.”
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