What are flags used for during NASCAR races? How many flags are there and what is indicated by each flag? Each of the eight main flags is colored differently and represent a specific situation during the race. Here is a one-stop guide that explains the reasoning behind every flag seen on race day.
Flags are an easy way to make drivers aware of how far along they are in the race, as well as alert drivers of any potential hazards on the track. Each race has a designated flagman that is tasked with waving different colored flags as the cars make their way around the track.
The black flag is used to gain the attention of an individual driver. The flagman will wave the black flag at a car that has either violated the rules or has extensive damage that requires immediate attention. Per the official rules and regulations of NASCAR, a driver that has been shown the black flag must promptly exit the track and make a pit stop at an off-track location where the car can be quickly serviced or repaired by a group of experienced mechanics.
A driver that sees the blue-striped flag is alerted that a faster car is about to pass their car. The flag is waved only when the faster car is leading by at least a full lap (a full trip around the track) and dictates that the driver being passed must slow down or move out of the way to allow the other vehicle to get by.
The checkered flag is used to show the finish line for the driver that wins the face. Once the driver crosses the finished line the race is over.
The green flag represents the start of a race. Once the green flag is waved, drivers know to hit the gas pedal and begin driving from their starting positions.
Since a race cannot end on a caution during the final laps (the final few laps cannot consist of a slower pace due to a potential hazard on the track), the flagman will wave a checkered green and white flag to indicate a restart once the safety concern has been addressed.
For example, if a collision occurs on the second-to-last lap and racers are forced to follow the safety car, the laps must be re-done and the race will resume as normal upon the sight of the checkered green and white flag. The flag is waved again as the leader approaches the finish line.
The red flag is waved when officials become aware of bad weather and dangerous track conditions. Rather than follow a safety car and slow down, drivers must come to a stop completely in a previously designated area until it is safe to resume racing.
The white flag means that the current leader has just one lap remaining in the race.
The yellow flag is used to warn drivers of a potential hazard on the track in the form of debris or a serious collision. When drivers spot the yellow flag, they must slow down and line up in order behind the pace car (a specially marked car that is driven by a safety official to dictate the speed when a safety concern arises) until the flag is no longer being waved, signaling that the hazard has been cleared.