The final race in Champ Car’s 29 years of competition was won by KV Racing’s Will Power after Britain’s Justin Wilson suffered an engine failure.
Wilson, driving the Newman/Haas/Lanigan McDonalds car piloted so successfully in previous years by Sebastien Bourdais, qualified on pole at Long Beach but immediately lost the lead as Power swooped from fourth on the grid.
A full-course yellow for a lap one accident gave Wilson a shot at retaking the lead but he was unable to seize back the position and settled into a strategy aimed at overhauling Power in the pits. However he was forced into retirement on lap 12 of the 83-lap race with engine problems.
He said: “We were just sat there waiting to pass Will in the pit stops. I noticed a couple of laps before that the engine note had changed and it felt like it had dropped a couple of cylinders, so I think it blew up.
“I knew there was something wrong fairly early on, because I was finding it a real struggle to hit my fuel mileage target. Then we lost a cylinder and, finally, it gave up the ghost coming down the front straight.
“We’d hoped to win here and, at the very least, get a good points haul, so it’s really disappointing. It’s a missed opportunity, but we’ll just have to put it behind us and re-focus on finding a good set-up on the Dallara at Kansas.”
The race was run using Champ Car machinery but counts for points in the new unified IndyCar standings. Power’s victory puts him fifth overall but the series now enters a run of oval courses, where all the ex-Champ Car teams are expected to struggle.
Franck Montagny was second for Forsythe Pettit Racing in his American open wheel debut, while Mario Dominguez took Pacific Coast’s first podium in third.
Afterwards, Dominguez was one of several drivers to reflect on the end of Champ Car: “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.”
Power, too, was aware of the significance of his win: “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.”