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 Mexico Grand Prix before heading off to Formula One.
Bourdais held off pole-sitter Will Power for his 31 career victory -- tied with Al Unser Jr. and Paul Tracy for the sixth-highest in series history. 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 today 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."
One crew member "couldn't even change a wheel" before they had a pre-race meeting and calmed themselves.
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 pre-race 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 Power, the runner-up.
"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 limited push-to-pass power, which gives drivers a brief horsepowerboost.