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Starting Line Stuff

Sorry if this is buried in another thread but I didn't see it.

I was watching the eliminations broadcast on Sunday and noticed there were metal barriers behind the starting line, preventing anyone from going in the middle of the two lanes. I was surprised at how much area was "roped off" - what is the reason for this?

Also noticed on one race there was a guy standing in between the cars, just a few feet behind the starting line, didn't seem like the safest place to be standing. Is this just due to the lack of a permanent starter keeping everything on par?