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JGR blazes; Martin tweets; Mayfield appeals

Joe Gibbs Racing is briefly evacuated after a machine shop fire; NASCAR gets serious about its online future; and Jeremy Mayfield is back in the appeals court.
Fire drama at Joe Gibbs Racing

Ten people were treated and released for smoke inhalation after a fire broke out inside the Joe Gibbs Racing complex in Huntersville, N.C., on Tuesday.

It's believed that a laser cutter caught fire in the machine shop, with observers saying that smoke poured from the complex until the emergency services were able to take care of it.

"The fire department was called and the fire was quickly contained and extinguished," the team said in a statement. "A few of our employees received treatment on site for issues related to smoke inhalation. All employees were able to return to work within the hour to continue preparations for the 2012 NASCAR season."

JGR spokesman Chris Helein added that "We're going through [the damage] now. I think it was isolated to that one piece of equipment."

The team had a similar emergency last year when a fire caused serious damage to the engine assembly area in February 2011, but without resulting in any injuries.

NASCAR focusses on online development

The sanctioning body of NASCAR is putting a renewed focus on digital and online activity as key to the series' future.

The organisers announced at the end of January that they had reached a deal with Turner Sports, who have run NASCAR's official website since 2001, to take back the online rights a year earlier than originally planned under existing contracts. That means that from the start of 2013, the series will take back control over online streaming of races, live statistics, archive information, video and photos.

"We will be taking a very, very active role, already are, and not just us but the rest of the industry," said NASCAR Chairman Brian France. He added that it was "very important for us to manage those rights carefully in the future. Obviously between digital and social media, it's the new medium to develop that deep relationship with our fans and communicate with them."

As part of the trade-off involved in the new arrangements, Turner Sports will continue oversee advertising and sponsorships across NASCAR's digital platforms through 2016.

NASCAR organisers are also highlighting social media activity as key to their strategy of tackling a downturn in audience figures for the sport and are already encouraging all drivers and teams to get active on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.




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