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Bourdais caps fourth straight series title with Mexico GP victory

MEXICO CITY -- Sebastien Bourdais went out a winner as well
as a champion in his final Champ Car race, overcoming a penalty and
a lead-trimming yellow flag to win the Mexican Grand Prix before
heading off to Formula One.

Bourdais held off pole-sitter Will Power for his 31st career
victory -- tied with Al Unser Jr. and Paul Tracy for sixth in series
history. And the Frenchman did it in only 73 career starts over
five years.

"I'll miss it a lot,'' he said, struggling to control his
emotions -- both over the end of his ties to longtime
Newman-Haas-Lanigan teammates and anger at the prerace penalty for
laying rubber in the pit box.

The 28-year-old driver said he'll be in Europe by Tuesday
testing cars for the Toro Rosso team he's joining for Formula One
next season.

"I don't really know what to expect,'' he said.

Bourdais said he broke down in tears twice before the race as he
"finally realized it was going to be the last time,'' and it
affected his crew as well.

"The boys were really freaking out," he said.

One crew member "couldn't even change a wheel'' before they had a
prerace meeting and calmed themselves, he added.

Emotions were heightened by what Bourdais termed a "weird''
yellow flag for a small amount of debris on the track that robbed
him of most of his hard-built lead late in the race and a prerace
penalty for laying rubber in the pit box that cost him 22 seconds
of push-to-pass power. Asked about that, he burst out with an
expletive.

But at the end, it was a day of praise: "He's the best and most
complete race driver I've ever raced against,'' said runner-up
Power.

"I think he's going to show Formula One the level we have
here,'' said Oriol Servia, who came in third.

Team Australia's Power led the first 23 laps before Bourdais
shoved past with a burst of his now-scarce push-to-pass power,
which gives Champ Car drivers a few, restricted seconds of
horsepower boost to use as they choose.

Power said he also hit the button, but "I used it too late. I
should have defended a lot earlier.''

Push-to-pass power was increased for the Mexico race. Champ Car
gave drivers 60 seconds of 50 horsepower boosts at earlier races,
while they had 75 seconds of 100 horsepower boost at the 2.774-mile
Hermanos Rodriguez road course. The cars' Cosworth engines produce
roughly 750 horsepower without the boosts.

Justin Wilson of Britain struggled, finishing 10th, but came
second in the standings to Bourdais, just like last year. He
entered the race just eight points ahead of rookie of the year
Robert Doornbos, whose challenge ended when he missed most of the
early race with mechanical problems.

While Bourdais is headed to Europe, the future of the season's
No. 2 driver is unclear because Wilson's RuSport team will close
unless a major donor or sponsor suddenly appears.

"We've been told the team is closing down. That is obviously
disappointing. I don't know what the future offers,'' he said.

The series itself, however, seems slightly less shaky than in
past years. At least, there has been far less speculation that
financial troubles will sink it in the offseason.

Power finished fourth in the point standings with 262, a shade
behind Doornbos's 268.

Eighteen-year-old Graham Rahal, son of three-time series
champion Bobby Rahal, finished fourth Sunday and wound up fifth in
the series point standings.

Servia survived a stall on the standing start that dropped him
to the back of the grid, then fought his way back up to third. He
jumped to sixth in the season standings.

Minardi Team USA suffered a disastrous end to the season due to
problems with the standing start of the Mexico race. Dan Clark
failed to complete the first lap while Doornbos dropped out after
three laps, missing about half the race before he was able to limp
back onto the track.