Tom Kendall won the Camel Grand Prix of Southern California on Sunday at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, capturing for Chevrolet the International Motor Sports Assn. GTU-class Manufacturers' Championship. But the season's final race was marred by a controversial finish.
Kendall, who led most of the 45-minute race until a pit stop dropped him to sixth, was behind leader Amos Johnson on the last lap. In an attempt to pass, Kendall nicked the rear of Johnson's Mazda RX-7. The light collision caused Johnson to sideswipe the wall, careen off and take out Dave Kruse, who was in third place.
Though they were unable to finish the race, neither Kruse nor Johnson was hurt.
Johnson, who called the episode "an unfortunate incident" after the race, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
Kendall, of La Canada, had this to say:
"I pulled up on him as he went to shift. When he slowed down, I hit him from behind. It's a shame to be running for the win and then finish the race by the side of the road. I owe him one."
Tuesday, Kendall said everyone involved in the situation reacted in a professional manner.
Kendall, 22, who in 1986 was the youngest driver to win a IMSA GTU crown, clinched an unprecedented third title this year. He switched from Mazda to Chevrolet and says his progress is ahead of schedule.
"By capturing both championships, we accomplished everything in one year we set out to do in two," he said.
Chevrolet, which needed 1 car to finish in the top 10 to win the manufacturers' title, wasn't about to risk defeat. They signed Kendall's brother, Bart, to a 1-race contract. He placed fifth.
Tom Kendall says his goal is to drive in the Indianapolis 500, but adds he wouldn't take just any offer.
"A lot of drivers--no matter how good--jump at the chance to get in an Indy car and get on a bad team. It makes them look bad."
Add Kendall: Chevrolet representatives were at Del Mar distributing posters of Kendall and teammate Max Jones, entitled "Born to Run."
Kendall spent 2 hours autographing the posters for fans.
Top notch: Franklin High tailback Lamont Lovett leads the state in rushing, according to Cal-Hi Sports of Sacramento.
Lovett, a senior who has 1,294 yards in 150 carries, has also shed the nickname "Fumbles," which teammates gave him last year. He has yet to fumble this season. "Our passing game is not on so it's come down to me and the line," Lovett said. "My season goal was 2,000 yards but I didn't expect to be this far this soon."
In an 11-3 win at Lincoln on Friday, Lovett gained 227 yards in 32 carries.
Franklin (6-0 overall, 4-0 in league play) is ranked No. 1 in the L. A. City Section by the Times.
Flag Happy: One reason for the recent decline of the Glendale High football team might be the players' propensity for penalties.
In a 10-0 Pacific League loss to Crescenta Valley last week, the Dynamiters (3-4, 0-2) were flagged for 110 yards in penalties--5 more yards than the Falcons gained in total offense.
One at a Time: Aran Aleamoni, a junior forward on the Occidental College men's soccer team, scored the only goal in a 1-0 win when the Tigers (8-7-2, 7-3 in Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference play) played host to Redlands (2-11, 1-9) last Saturday.
Aleamoni also provided the margin of victory in Occidental's 1-0 win over Pomona two weeks ago. It was the first time Occidental had beaten Pomona since 1976.