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The Meaning Behind Each NASCAR Racing Flag AP Photo/David Graham
AP Photo/David Graham

If you’re one of the many new NASCAR fans, you may still be playing catch up on the actual rules of stock car racing. Learning any new motorsports rules and etiquette can be a bit overwhelming at first, but luckily, the NASCAR flags are pretty easy to understand.

Attending a NASCAR event for the first time is extremely exciting, but knowing what the racing flags mean when they are waved is key to actually knowing what’s going on during the race. Take a look at the meanings below, and you’ll have a much more enjoyable time at the race track.

Green Flag

As the flagman waives the green race flag, it’s the signal that NASCAR racing is starting or restarting. It is the first flag to be flown in the race, and as soon as the NASCAR drivers see green, they go.

Yellow Flag

When you see the yellow flag come out, it means the NASCAR officials are calling a caution period. It can happen for a variety of reasons, including when a crash occurs or when debris is on the race track and posing a hazard. Drivers must slow down during this time and line up behind the pace car until it is safe to restart.

Blue Flag With Diagonal Yellow Stripe

This flag signal alerts a driver that a faster, lead-lap car is about to pass them. They are required to yield to that driver, and it’s just proper auto racing etiquette to let the faster car get by, especially if you’re a lap down.

Black Flag

The black flag is one that no driver wants to see while racing. It’s normally directed at one particular driver, and it means they need to get off the track and pull into pit road immediately. This is normally used if a driver does something wrong, or if their race car is not in a safe condition to be on the track.

Red Flag

Just like green means go, red means the race is stopping. More severe than a yellow flag, when the red comes out, it tells the drivers that it is unsafe to continue circling the speedway. This can be a result of a few things, but most commonly bad weather or poor track conditions.

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White Flag

This flag signals to the drivers that they have one lap remaining in the race. Just a simple reminder that if you’re going to make a move, you better do it now.

Checkered Flag

Of course, we all know the meaning of the checkered flag. It means that the race leader has crossed the start/finish line and won the race.

Green/White Checkered Flag

This flag signal is brought out on the chance that there is a caution (yellow flag) on the final lap of the race. It was added in 2004 in order to prevent a NASCAR race from finishing while under caution. When this flag is used, it means there will be green-flag restart, followed by white for the final lap, and a checkered at the finish. If a caution occurs during the green-white-checkered finish, the race ends.

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