The Flags Of NASCAR

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The Green Flag

Coca Cola 200 presented by Hy-Vee
David Mayhew, driver of the #2 MMI Chevrolet, leads the field to the green flag to start the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Coca Cola 200 presented by Hy-Vee at Iowa Speedway on July 16, 2011 in Newton, Iowa. Jason Smith / Getty Images

Green signals the beginning or resumption of competition. This flag is used at the beginning of the race to begin competition or after a caution period to tell the drivers that the track is clear and they can resume position for racing.

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The Yellow Flag

Quaker State 400
ASCAR official Rodney Wise waves the yellow caution flag near the end of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway on July 9, 2011 in Sparta, Kentucky. Chris Graythen / Getty Images

A yellow flag means that there is a hazard on the race track and that the drivers should slow down and stay behind the pace car. This flag typically is displayed when there has been an accident. However, it can come out for other reasons such as light rain, debris, an emergency vehicle needing to cross the track, a NASCAR tire check, or even if an animal has wandered out onto the track.

During a yellow flag situation, it is absolutely forbidden to pass the pace car unless specifically told to by NASCAR (such as the "Lucky Dog"). Doing so will result in a penalty.

At most tracks, except road races, the yellow flag period will last a minimum of three laps. This to allow adequate time for all drivers to pit and catch back up to the pace car for the restart.

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The White Flag

AMP Energy 500
Jamie McMurray, driver of the #26 IRWIN Marathon Ford, takes the yellow and white flag as he crosses the finish line in the final lap of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AMP Energy 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on November 1, 2009 in Talladega, Alabama. Chris Graythen / Getty Images

A white flag means that there is one more lap to go in the race. This flag is displayed exactly once per race.

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The Checkered Flag

NASCAR XFINITY Series AutoLotto 200
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 NOS Energy Drink Toyota, celebrates with the checkered flag after winning the NASCAR XFINITY Series AutoLotto 200 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 16, 2016 in Loudon, New Hampshire. Jonathan Moore / Getty Images

It's over, the race has been completed. If you are the first one to receive the checkered flag then you have won the race.

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The Red Flag

Aaron's 312
An official in the flagstand waves the red flag during the NASCAR Nationwide Series Aaron's 312 at Talladega Superspeedway on May 5, 2012 in Talladega, Alabama. Jared C. Tilton / Getty Images

The red flag means that all competition must stop. This not only includes the drivers on the race track but also the pit crews. If the crew is working on repairing a car in the garage area then they too must stop work when the red flag is displayed.

The red flag is commonly seen during a rain delay or when the track is blocked due to emergency vehicles or a particularly bad accident.

A red flag is always followed by a few yellow flag laps which allow the drivers a chance to warm up their engines and pit if they need to.

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The Black Flag

Chris Trotman/Stringer/Getty Images

The black flag is officially called "the consultation flag." It means that the driver who receives it must pit to respond to a NASCAR concern.

Frequently the black flag is given to a driver who breaks a rule of some type such as breaking the speed limit on pit road. It can also be given to a driver who's car is smoking, dropping pieces on the race track (or in danger of doing so) or a driver who is not maintaining the minimum safe speed on the race track.

A driver receiving a black flag must pit within five laps.

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The Black Flag with a White X or Diagonal Stripe

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

If a driver does not pit within five laps of receiving a black flag they will be shown a black flag with a white 'X' or diagonal white stripe on it.

This flag tells the driver that they are no longer being scored by NASCAR and have effectively been disqualified from the race until they obey the previous black flag and pit.

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The Blue Flag with an Orange or Yellow Diagonal Stripe

NASCAR Blue Flag with Orange Diagonal St
Blue Flag With Orange Diagonal Stripe.

This is the "courtesy" flag or the "move over" flag. It is the only flag that is optional. A driver may, at their discretion, ignore this flag.

It is displayed to a car (or group of cars) to let them know that the leaders are coming up behind them and that should be courteous and move over to let the leaders race.

Again, this flag is optional. However, NASCAR takes a dim view of anyone who repeatedly, and without a good reason, ignores it.