Will Power wins Champ Car finale in Long Beach

21.04.2008: Will Power wins Champ Car finale in Long Beach

Leads 81 of 83 laps en route to third career victory

Will Power got the jump on the entire field Sunday, vaulting from fourth to first at the start of the race, and never looked back as he cruised to victory in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, the final race in Champ Car World Series history.

The 20-car field used a standing start for the first time in the history of the race, and Power rocketed to the front immediately. Power maneuvered the No. 8 Aussie Vineyards-Team Australia car to the outside of the track to immediately pass Alex Tagliani, who started second. Power then went side by side with polesitter Justin Wilson down the front straightaway, taking the lead in Turn 1.

Power, 27, never looked back en route to his third Champ Car victory, relinquishing the lead for only two of 83 laps during rounds of pit stops.

"I got a very good start in the KVRT Aussie Vineyards – Team Australia car, which I knew was really important," Power said. "The KVRT team did a great job with the car. I was very fast in the race, good fuel saving, great pit stops. I am very happy for (team co-owner) Kevin Kalkhoven and Craig Gore and all the KVRT team. They have put in so much work over the last couple of months, having been away from their families, it’s great to give them a win because they are the ones who deserve it."

Power earned 53 points toward the championship in the unified IndyCar Series. He ranks fifth in the point standings heading into the Road Runner Turbo Indy 300 at Kansas Speedway on April 27.

Rookie Franck Montagny finished second, 5.094 seconds behind Power. Mario Dominguez was third, Enrique Bernoldi fourth and Oriol Servia fifth.

Wilson dropped out of the race after 12 laps due to mechanical problems and finished 19th. Four-time Long Beach winner Paul Tracy finished 11th. Graham Rahal, the IndyCar Series winner April 6 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., was running seventh when he spun on the final lap of the race, dropping to 13th.

The nine drivers entered in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach who are competing full time in the IndyCar Series will earn IndyCar Series points today. Those drivers: Enrique Bernoldi, Bruno Junqueira, Mario Moraes, Franck Perera, Will Power, Graham Rahal, Oriol Servia, E.J. Viso, Justin Wilson.

Today’s race will feature the first standing start for Champ Cars in the history of this event. The last standing start at Long Beach came in 1983 during the final appearance for Formula One at this event. CART began competing at this event in 1984.


WILL POWER (winner): (About start): I just got a good start. I hooked it up. I did plenty of practice starts in the morning warmup. We got a good start." (What does it mean for you to win the last Champ Car race?): "It means a lot. We were looking to win this championship this year, and then suddenly the series changed. This is a great way to finish off Champ Car."

FRANCK MONTAGNY (second): "Not too bad for first race in Champ Car, first time here. A rookie in a lot of things. It was quite all right. The team did a fantastic job." (Did you use all of your push to pass?): "No." (Did you use push-to-pass to pass Tagliani?): "Yes, I did a little bit. I knew how much he had left, and I had just a little bit more." (Any chance you’ll come to Indy?): "I would like to."

MARIO DOMINGUEZ (third): "It was a tough race. Everybody was racing hard. At the beginning, I lost some positions at the start and then I gained some, passing people. The team did a great strategy. We saved a lot of fuel. Right at the end, with a few laps to go, I managed to pass a car for third. And it was a tough pass. He sure braked late; he wasn’t giving me any room. He was really close, but thank God I made it. I’m just really glad to give Pacific Coast Motorsports this third place. Very well deserved. They’re a hard-working team. I’m very happy I gave them their best result."

ENRIQUE BERNOLDI (fourth): "It was tough to pass people. It’s a very long race, and this car is very heavy on the steering wheel. I think I got good points for the championship. I know it was a very good race for me and the whole team." (About track): This track is very nice. The atmosphere is very friendly. I like it a lot here so far."

More quotes from Will Power, Franck Montagny and Mario Dominguez will be available in the post-qualifying press conference transcript, which will be available shortly.


•This is Will Power’s first victory in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. His previous best finish was third in 2007.

•Will Power won from the fourth starting position. The last driver to win the Toyota Long Beach of Grand Prix from fourth was Sebastien Bourdais in 2005. Bourdais won from the pole in 2006 and 2007.

•This is Will Power’s third career Champ Car victory, all on street circuits. He won in 2007 at Las Vegas and Toronto.

•Will Power led 81 of 83 laps today, the most dominant performance in this race since Helio Castroneves led all 82 laps in 2001.

•Franck Montagny finished second in his first Champ Car start. This was the best finish by rookie in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach since Juan Pablo Montoya won this event as a rookie in 1999.

•Mario Dominguez finished third, the first podium finish in Champ Car for Pacific Coast Motorsports. The team made its Champ Car debut last season.

•Will Power climbed to fifth in the IndyCar Series points with his victory today. He has 87 points, earning 53 today (50 for victory, 3 for leading most laps).

•This is the second Champ Car victory for KV Racing Technology. Cristiano da Matta won in 2005 at Portland for the team, which started in 2003 as PK Racing.


ENRIQUE BERNOLDI (No. 36 Sangari): "It was very good finishing fourth. I was close to the podium. I had a really good pace at the end of the race. It was tough, though. The race is long and very tiring physically because the car is very demanding. I had a good race, and I am happy to score points for the IndyCar Series championship. I’m really happy; it’s my best result so far this year. Hopefully I can keep improving my positions like this."

FRANCK PERERA (No. 34 Conquest Racing): "It was a tough race. It was my first big race. I don’t have the experience of Champ Car or Formula One like other guys, so it is not easy. But it was good. I had a good start. I was third or fourth throughout most of the race, and I was keeping up with Montagny and Tagliani. It was tough for me with the fresh tires and the pit stops. It’s not easy to be completely perfect on pit stops since I don’t have a lot of experience doing them. After the last pit stop, I struggled with my last set of tires, and I was not as quick as at the beginning and I was losing a lot. I couldn’t stay with the guys in front of me, and I also had to save a lot of fuel at the end. That’s when Servia passed me. It’s bittersweet, but it’s good for Conquest to have both cars in the top six."

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 06 Hole in the Wall Camps-Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing): "It’s a shame to end the race the way we did because we had a good car. We were consistently turning laps in the 68’s (one minute, eight-second range) and set some of the fastest laps of the race. On the last lap, I was on the car in front of me, hoping he would make a mistake and I could take sixth, and the rears locked up. I was on the brake, off the brake pumping them, and I was locked up and just went into the tires. We worked so hard to catch up after contact with Montagny that you just feel like an idiot for all that hard work to be wasted. It was an up-and-down race; it was frustrating. I had a tough time at the start trying to judge how much fuel the guys in front of me were saving because I could tell the Conquest boys weren’t saving much because there was no way they were going as fast as they were if they were saving fuel. Perera came in a lap earlier than we did anyway. There is a difference between saving fuel and all-out pace. I didn’t have any trouble passing people when I wanted to. If it wasn’t a classic Champ Car fuel-saving race, I think we could have won because we had more pace than anybody else."

JUSTIN WILSON (No. 02 McDonald’s Racing Team-Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing): "If we didn’t have bad luck, we wouldn’t have any luck at all. A couple of laps before I stopped, the feeling of the engine changed in the McDonald’s car, so I think we lost a cylinder two laps before. It just got worse, and I had to pull off. It’s pretty disappointing because I felt the McDonald’s car was quicker than anyone else out there today, and I just wanted to make the most of it. Sometimes these things happen. At the beginning of the race, Power got a good start. I thought I had a good one, but he was alongside me before we got to third gear. After that, I just settled in and ran our fuel strategy and tried to pass him later on the restart when I got a good run, but I got forced almost into the wall and into his back tire so I lifted off and settled for second because it was still the early stages of the race. I wasn’t too concerned at that point because the whole race was in front of us."

ANTONIO PIZZONIA (No. 9 Rocketsports): "We were looking quite good, to be honest, I think we managed to improve the #10 Borla Exhaust/Rocketsports Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone car by quite a lot from yesterday. We made some big changes to the car, which went in the right direction. Unfortunately, we had the problem with some kind of sensor, which made the car stall during our first pit stop. After that, I couldn’t use the pit limiter anymore, and we had a few other problems with changing gears and with some other sensor issues. In the end, it was just stay out there and finish what we started. It is nice to end the race with the fastest lap. It shows that we had the pace this afternoon, but luck just wasn’t on our side. I would like to thank the entire Rocketsports team for this opportunity. It was a pleasure working with them again and my engineer, John Gentilozzi. It was nice to be a part of such a historical event but sad that this is the end to a great series like Champ Car."

JUHO ANNALA (No. 10 Pulp Management Agency/Rocketsports): "I had some problem in the brakes. I started to lose the brakes almost 10 laps earlier from when I pulled into the pits, and we decided that our day was over. The (brake) pedal just wouldn’t come back to me when I braked. So basically they failed on us today. It is a shame, it has been a rough weekend, but at the same time such an amazing learning experience for me. I would like to thank Paul Gentilozzi and the entire Rocketsports team for giving me such an amazing opportunity to run with them in a Champ Car and the final Champ Car race. It was a good weekend overall. I had a good time working with the team and having the chance to drive a Champ Car on this amazing circuit."

NELSON PHILIPPE (No. 4 Minardi/HVM Racing): "Today is not a day reflective of my Champ Car career; it was a pretty disappointing day. The car was very difficult to drive. The steering was too heavy, and I have big blisters on my hands. The first stint was OK. I had on the red tires and they went off too early, so that didn’t help us. Right before we were supposed to pit, Viso took me out and pretty much ruined my day. It’s too bad because the number-one rule in racing is, ‘Don’t take out your teammate.’ After that, it was quite hard running the race by myself a lap down. In the back of my mind, I was a bit angry. I did the best I could, and at the end of the race, I tried to do two laps to see how quick I could go, and got the eighth-fastest lap. Again, thank you to Keith (Wiggins) for trusting me, and I hope we can do this again. Thanks also to all the Champ Car fans who came out in support of us today."

E.J. VISO (No. 33 PDVSA HVM Racing): "Well, we finished ninth, and this is what happens when you qualify in the back. That is why qualifying is very important. Other than that, I am very happy with the behavior of the car. During the middle of the race, I had on the red tires, and my car was very slow. Then we put on the black tires and I was flying, nobody was quicker than me on the track at that point. In one of the pit stops, I had a problem coming in and stalled the car, which didn’t help me, either. I feel bad that while in slower traffic I came upon Nelson (Philippe), and we just clipped each other and he spun. I do feel bad, as he’s my teammate, but this is racing."

ROBERTO MORENO (No. 14 Minardi/HVM Racing): "Overall, we had a great weekend because coming here without driving for a few years was tough, and I think I caught up very quickly. The team helped me to do that. They put a car together for me very quickly. There are some good sides and bad sides to the weekend, however. On the positive side, it was very good to be back racing and see how quick I could get up to speed. On the bad side, I can see that all that is missing is the opportunity. I am chasing the opportunity to drive, and my next goal is to try and do (the) Indy (500)."

MARIO DOMINGUEZ (No. 96 Pacific Coast Motorsports): "It was an amazing race. Everyone was racing really hard, and to be on the podium in the final Champ Car is a great honor. I started in Champ Car in 2002, and it was a childhood dream of mine to compete here. I have to thank Tyler Tadevic and Pacific Coast Motorsports. The team gave me great communication today. We saved a lot of fuel and drove hard. It was great. I passed Tagliani for third right toward the end, and it was an exciting moment. This was the home race for my team and to see the joy on their faces was very rewarding. Also the fans, it almost felt as if I was driving in Mexico today. As I made the parade lap, they were yelling my name. I have so much support here; it is an incredible feeling. It is a sad moment for me because I will miss Champ Car. I loved Champ Car, and I will always be so proud to have won in Champ Car. But there has to be one series – that is very clear. The future is bright. I am sad but at the same time happy. In the end, the fans will be the winners, and that is terrific and I hope to be part of that. This is where I made my name and this is where I made my career, but my future starts right now."

ORIOL SERVIA (No. 5 KV Racing Technologies/Plantronics/HP): "It was a crazy race. I stalled at the start, which wasn’t ideal and not part of the plan. I then came from last to fifth, and it was a good race. We had good pace, and I was able to overtake. I am really happy for Will and the whole KV Racing Technology team after the huge effort they have put in. We showed speed at the last race in St. Petersburg and now a win for him and fifth for me is great for the points and a great start for the season."

JIMMY VASSER (No. 12 Plantronics-KV Racing Technology): "Where do I start … Winning the race with Will and three KV Racing Technology cars finishing in the top 10. I obviously wished for a better finish for myself, but I put the KVRT Plantronics car in neutral in the hairpin and lost four or five spots, which really hurt. I had to burn a lot of fuel to catch a back up, which was too bad. All credit to the KVRT team and Mark Johnson, our general manager. They have all put in a huge amount of work, it’s all starting to pay off." 


- David Higdon -

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21.04.2008 / MaP

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