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Crash Derails Kendall in Debut

August 17, 1989

In his Winston Cup debut, Tom Kendall of La Canada made it to Lap 80 of the Budweiser at the Glen NASCAR race in Watkins Glen, N.Y., Sunday before a deflating tire caused his car to spin and crash. Four laps earlier, Kendall led the race.

Kendall, 22, a three-time International Motor Sports Assn. champion who is fourth in the IMSA Trans-Am series, has built a reputation that has earned him offers to drive on several teams.

But the attention Kendall gets from sponsors pales to that which he gets from fans. And the notion of signing autographs is still novel to him.

"People who have been race fans for 20 years will say, 'God, it's really awkward for me to be asking a kid half my age for an autograph,' " said Kendall, a senior at UCLA majoring in business.

Kendall will often make an appearance in a shopping mall and sign thousands of posters to promote a race. "People want to put you on a pedestal but at this point in my career, I don't think I deserve that," he said. "You can't take it too serious. Especially in a mall, half the people are just taking it because it's a free poster--they don't know me from Adam."

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