Here's a crash course in auto racing flags

I was watching a NASCAR race recently and the flag man displayed a flag I haven't seen before, so I decided to check it out.

That got me thinking... maybe some fans don't know what all the flags are about, so I thought I would share this with you.

Let's get started with the green flag which does just that, starts the race.

The blue flag with the orange diagonal stripe is the courtesy flag. It means get out of the way; the field is coming.

Now remember, it's a courtesy, not mandatary, for the drivers to move over. If the slower cars were to choose not to move over, the faster-moving cars would probably move them out of the way.

The yellow flag with red vertical stripes is used only on the road courses. The corner workers employ it to warn drivers of debris or bad road conditions.

The black flag is for getting a car off the track. If a driver's car is smoking or dragging something, NASCAR may want them off the track to have the car checked for safety purposes.

The black flag may also be used if a driver is racing too aggressively and NASCAR wants to penalize him or her.

There have even been times when a team loses radio contact with a driver and wants them to come to pit road. They could have their driver black flagged to bring him in so the team can do a pit stop.

Once a driver has been shown the black flag they have five laps to get off the track. If they don't, they are shown the black flag with the white X that means NASCAR is no longer scoring you as a competitor in the race.

The yellow flag is for caution. It may come out for an accident, debris on the track or a variety of other reasons to slow the cars down. No one is allowed to pass under the caution flag.

The red flag is used to stop a race. This is usually used when there's a big wreck that's going to take a long time to clean up. Officials don't want the cars to race under caution, using up a lot of laps.

When the red flag is displayed, the cars have to stop and no work can be done on any of the cars. Even on pit road, crews are not allowed to touch the cars under red.

The white flag tells the drivers it's the last lap of the race and, if you're going to make a move, it's time to do it.

The black and white checkered flag signifies a winner has been determined. The winner has earned the right to do a burn out, then go to victory lane to celebrate and cover everyone with champagne, which is what most of them do.

The winning car is then taken by NASCAR officials for inspection. If the car passes the inspection the win stands. If it doesn't, the win goes to the first car that finished the race legally.

And then it's off to the next race, which this Sunday will be in Fontana, California.