Category Archives: Speedway

How to Understand NASCAR Rules


Half the fun of enjoying a sport is knowing when to stand up and cheer. This can be hard if you aren’t sure of the rules. What types of things can drivers be penalized for? What does it mean when the flag is white? How do drivers accumulate points, and what do they mean? 

Here’s a crash course in the rules of NASCAR, so you can enjoy the races even more.. 

Step 1: NASCAR race car with hood up

The Car 

All cars must meet the following requirements to participate in NASCAR.:

  1. Engines must have:
    1. Eight cylinders
    2. Compression ration of 12:1
    3. Displacement no greater then 358 cubic inches
    4. Carburetor, not fuel injector
  2. Set body length
  3. Rear spoiler at 70 degrees
  4. Wide, treadless tires
  5. 22-gallon fuel cells 

Step 2: Pitroad Rules

The rules of pitroad may seem trivial, but if not followed strictly, they can affect a driver’s scores dramatically. 

  1. Drivers must follow speed limit requirements on pitroad.
  2. Over-the-wall pit crew are required to wear helmets, fire suites, gloves.
  3. When push-starting, a team cannot push a car more than three pitbox lengths.
  4. Changed tires must be hand-directed to the inside of the pit box, not rolled.
  5. All drivers are required to have a licensed spotter.
  6. All crew members are required to be educated in radio communications. 

Step 3: Qualifying

NASCAR  Texas Motor SpeedwayEach week before the races, the drivers who wish to participate in the race bring the car they intend to drive to the upcoming track. One by one, the drivers are allowed to run the track, and the race order is determined driver-by-driver based on the fastest lap time. There are two instances when this method is not used: 

  1. Inclement weather: Qualifying order is set by car-owner points.
  2. Budweiser Shoot Out: Driver positions are randomly assigned.

If a car cannot make a qualifying position, that car starts the race one lap down. 

Step 4: Driver’s Meetings

Every race starts with a mandatory driver’s meeting two hours before the start of the race. If a driver and crew chief fail to attend the meeting they are penalized by having to start the race one lap down. 

Step 5: Starting the Race

There are a few rules surrounding race start-up: 

  1. Drivers cannot enter their cars until after the “National Anthem” is performed.
  2. The start of the race is signaled by the grand marshal.
  3. Cars must follow the pace car for at least three warm-up laps before starting.

Step 6: Flags

There are varying flag colors throughout each race, and drivers must adhere to the rules based on those colors, or they may be penalized.

  1.  Green: Go.
  2. Yellow: Caution.
  3. Red: Stop (no pit-crew work allowed).
  4. Black: Generally the result of a rule violation, driver has to pit.
  5. Black and White X: Driver’s score sacrificed for not pitting under black flag.
  6. White: Signals last lap of the race.
  7. Checkered: End of race.

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