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Second Thoughts on NASCAR: Correct call on Daytona 500 photo finish

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Second Thoughts on NASCAR: Correct call on Daytona 500 photo finish

Bob Pockrass


There is still a decent amount of chatter on social media on whether Alex Bowman — and not William Byron — won the Daytona 500 on Monday night.

The biggest piece of evidence is Bowman’s in-car camera, where he appears to be ahead when the yellow light comes on.

But upon further review, it appears that the video actually indicates NASCAR made the right decision.

When NASCAR calls a caution, the field is frozen, and drivers don’t lose spots as long as they keep a reasonable speed.

This is done by NASCAR’s race director hitting a button that triggers the lights and also registers a time stamp as far as time into the race (and it activates scoring to print out the running order at the previous scoring loop). Except on the last lap of a stage or a race, NASCAR uses the previous scoring loop embedded into the track to determine the order.

On the last lap, they match that timestamp with their video (which has the same timer) to make the call as far as position.

NASCAR released a photo that it says is the overhead view that matches the time stamp at the time of caution (there are no time stamps shown). The lights atop the flagstand appear to be changing from green to yellow. It shows Byron ahead of Bowman.

Then there is Bowman’s in-car video that shows him side-by-side with Byron and when the yellow light comes on, from that angle, it appears Bowman is ahead.

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But watching the video frame by frame, the green light goes out for a second or so before the yellow light goes on. When the green light goes out — which logically would be the time NASCAR triggered the lights to change from green to yellow — Byron appears to be inches ahead of Bowman.

Bowman obviously is in a tough place because he can’t argue too much that he won since it was a battle of Hendrick teammates. But it didn’t sound like he thought he won during his television interview after the race.

Based on that demeanor and the photos and videos, it seems NASCAR made the right call.

Bob Pockrass covers NASCAR for FOX Sports. He has spent decades covering motorsports, including over 30 Daytona 500s, with stints at ESPN, Sporting News, NASCAR Scene magazine and The (Daytona Beach) News-Journal. Follow him on Twitter @bobpockrass.

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