After Bob Vandergriff Jr. lost the first round of the NHRA Mac Tools U.S. Nationals to Khalid alBalooshi there was an outpouring of fan response challenging the decision of the race. ESPN camera angles showed Vandergriff to hold a considerable lead going across the finish line during the ESPN3.com videocast.
This would have been the case had the race been contested to 1,320 feet.
NHRA and ESPN officials confirmed the photo finish shot came from a camera focused on the quarter-mile and not the nitro finish line at 1,000 feet.
Compulink timing data showed Vandergriff hold a .019 starting line advantage while Balooshi was .026 was quicker in performance for a .0074 margin of victory.
“After talking to ESPN, they confirmed they had the 1320 finish line still camera on during that run,” said Jeff Foster, timing technician with Compulink, who assisted the NHRA in investigating the incident.
“They have gone back and reiterated it on their show that they had the wrong camera for that run.”
NHRA Public Relations Manager Scott Smith confirmed Foster’s assessment.
“It was indeed the wrong camera angle,” Smith said.
The video angle was not shown in the ESPN2 broadcast.
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