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Final Point Standings
Driver Championship
1 Sebastien Bourdais 364
2 Justin Wilson 281
3 Rob Doornbos (R) 268
4 Will Power 262
5 Graham Rahal (R) 243
6 Oriol Servia 237
7 Bruno Junqueira 233
8 S. Pagenaud (R) 232
9 Neel Jani (R) 231
10 Alex Tagliani 205
11 Paul Tracy 171
12 T. Gommendy (R) 140
13 Dan Clarke 129
14 Ryan Dalziel (R) 116
15 Katherine Legge 108
16 Jan Heylen 104
17 Alex Figge (R) 95
18 Mario Dominguez 78
19 Nelson Philippe 28
20 David Martinez (R) 18
21 Matt Halliday (R) 18
22 Roberto Moreno 9

Rookie of the Year
1 Robert Doornbos (R) 268
2 Graham Rahal (R) 243
3 Simon Pagenaud (R) 232
4 Neel Jani (R) 231
5 Tristan Gommendy (R) 140
6 Ryan Dalziel (R) 116
7 Alex Figge (R) 95
8 David Martinez (R) 18
9 Matt Halliday (R) 18

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NHLR Bids Farewell to the Champ Car

Champ Car's final race
Thursday, April 17, 2008


No one ever dominated a Long Beach race weekend like Mario Andretti did in 1987 in this Newman/Haas Lola.
Photo by Mark Cipolloni
Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing will take to the streets of Long Beach for this weekend’s Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach for the 25th consecutive time in their 26th season of open wheel competition and the event will not only mark the end of an era but will also serve as the beginning of another.  In addition to wanting to earn their fourth consecutive win on the streets of Long Beach, the team would also like to win the final race in the much-loved turbo-charged race cars and bid farewell to the Champ Car World Series in what is sure to be a nostalgic weekend.

Although the event is the series finale for Champ Car, which was formed in 2004 after operating as Championship Auto Racing Teams since 1979, IndyCar Series points will be awarded from the Long Beach results to the teams competing full season in that series and will apply to their season-ending IndyCar Series championship total.  The event will be the final one in which two different North American based open wheel series operate simultaneously.  While the Champ Cars are running in Long Beach the IndyCar Series will be competing in the Indy Japan 300 which will take place on April 19 at Twin Ring Motegi. 

Since the series began competing in Long Beach in 1984, NHLR has earned six wins, 10 poles and 14 podium finishes with Mario and Michael Andretti, Nigel Mansell, Bruno Junqueira and Sebastien Bourdais, who won the past three races here in 2005-2007.  McDonald’s driver Justin Wilson and Hole in the Wall Camps driver Graham Rahal are hoping to add to that number this weekend. 

Rahal made his first appearance on “Late Night with David Letterman” last night to celebrate becoming the youngest winner in major open-wheel racing in North America after winning in his IndyCar Series debut in the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on April 6 at 19 years, 93 days old is hoping his success will continue this weekend.  He started fifth in Long Beach last year but the pit strategy of others and slow fuel flow on one stop limited his finish to eighth place.  With experience on this track and in the Champ Car racing equipment, he is hoping to maximize the opportunity to score some valuable points and attempt to make history again.

“I’m looking forward to going to Long Beach,” said Rahal, who is ranked fourth in the IndyCar Series point standings despite missing the first event on the Homestead-Miami oval due to a lack of time and car parts after he crashed in testing.  “It is a place where we feel we need to capitalize on our strengths, and of course it's a great circuit with a lot of history and I’m looking forward to being part of it.  Champ Car is a great series with a great car.  It will be sad to kiss it all goodbye but it looks to be a good field and a good race.  Obviously since it’s the last Champ Car race in history it would be great to not only win it but also be the youngest winner in Champ Car competition.  Winning in St. Petersburg kind of covered that but it would be nice to do it in Champ Car specifically as well.  I think it's good that we are finishing it there, because that has been one of the most successful races in all of auto racing.  Obviously dad never won it so it would be great to win there from that perspective.  But also just to say I've won a Champ Car race.  Of course, with points in mind here, that's the maximum points, so it would be great for us.”

Although it is tempting to make winning this event the complete focus due to the historic element, McDonald’s driver Justin Wilson is also focused on the big picture of finishing as high as possible in the season ending standings. Wilson started and finished 15th in his IndyCar Series oval debut at Homestead-Miami speedway and led the St. Pete race before alternate pit strategy due to rain continually shuffled the running order and he finished ninth for an overall series rank of 15th.  He knows that the team should be competitive in Long Beach after Bourdais won the last three here and he is excited about getting back behind the wheel of the Champ Car for the first time since the series held an open test for 2.5 days at Sebring International Raceway, February 2-4. 

“I am looking forward to getting back in the Panoz DP01 for one more Champ Car race and my first in the McDonald’s Champ Car,” said Wilson who has competed here four times with a best start and finish of second place in 2006.  “It’s quite fitting for me that the last race for the Champ Car will be at Long Beach because that was where I ran my first ever race in the series back in 2004.  It brings back a lot of good memories.  It is a great circuit with a great atmosphere and I think it ought to be another good event.  It would be great to go out with a win but at the same time we need to think about the points and the championship.  I’m hoping to make the most out of this opportunity to get as many points as possible at a track and in equipment we are familiar with.”

The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach will get underway with the first round of qualifying on Friday at 2:00 p.m. PDT. The final grid will be set with Saturday qualifying at 2:00 p.m. local time with the race scheduled to take the green flag at 1:00 p.m. local time on Sunday afternoon. Fans can watch all the racing action on ESPN2 beginning at 5:30 p.m. EDT.  It will also be broadcast live on IMS Radio Network at 4 p.m. EDT and XM Radio 145.

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