Stephen Dorff

Big weekend for blu eCigs, Dorff, RLL in Long Beach

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Although the result didn’t come for Mike Conway and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing in Sunday’s Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, it was still a big weekend for the team and new sponsor blu eCigs.

Blu is a new electronic cigarette that produces none of the tobacco smoke, ash or smell, but also allows for vapor production and consistency to replicate an actual cigarette. It had dabbled in NASCAR with a small associate sponsorship, but Long Beach marked blu’s first race as a primary sponsor in IndyCar. A blu display was hard to miss in the Long Beach Expo Center.

Actor Stephen Dorff, whose credits include “Backbeat,” “Somewhere,” “Blade,” “Cecil B. DeMented” and “Space Truckers,” among others, was on hand to help promote the product.

The event was Dorff’s first IndyCar race and his ride in a two-seater practically blew his mind.

“It was sweet! It was so fast,” Dorff said when describing the ride. “We talked about doing an appearance for blu, and waited for this event. The partnership with Bobby and Letterman’s team provides the whole kit and caboodle. Mike looks sick out there, and the car looks fast just sitting still.”

As blu tests the waters for future races – and Conway certainly helped with a Firestone Fast Six appearance and practice pace – it could mark an opportunity for cigarette sponsorship to re-enter racing more regularly.

For a generation of racing, between Formula 1 and IndyCar, tobacco sponsorship was ubiquitous. But within the last decade, almost all signage has been phased out owing to new regulations, and Marlboro’s naming support finally ended for flagship teams Ferrari and Team Penske.

Dorff, a smoker for 20 or so years, said blu began in more of a grassroots way, and he thought of them when eCigs began popping up.

“It’s a new alternative, and it’s generated more positive reactions,” said Dorff. “If they want, the guys on Mike’s team can smoke the blus at the track, but the people around don’t need to worry. It’s old mixed with the new, and brings in a modern feel. It’s not combustion but still has the flavor.”

Bottas confident after strong qualifying in Sochi

SOCHI, RUSSIA - OCTOBER 10:  Valtteri Bottas of Finland and Williams drives during qualifying for the Formula One Grand Prix of Russia at Sochi Autodrom on October 10, 2015 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
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Valtteri Bottas is confident of scoring a good result in tomorrow’s Russian Grand Prix after qualifying third at the Sochi Autodrom on Saturday.

Bottas finished as the ‘best of the rest’ in Q3 behind the leading Mercedes duo of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton, beating the Ferrari drivers to secure P3 for the start of tomorrow’s race.

After a difficult run of form, Bottas believes that he can capitalize on this good qualifying result and make the most of the Williams car’s suitability to the track in Sochi.

“It was a strong job by the team today,” Bottas said. “We managed to set-up the car well and maximize our performance.

“I felt very good in the car all day and managed to get in a rhythm quickly and put in consistent lap times despite the limited number of laps we had completed in practice.

“Tomorrow is where it really matters but I have put myself in a very good position to capitalize.”

Bottas’ teammate, Felipe Massa, was less impressive in qualifying as a mistake and traffic caused him to drop out in Q2, finishing P15.

“I made a mistake at turn eight in my first timed lap in Q2, and then in my final two attempts I came up against a lot of traffic which lost me a lot of time,” Massa explained.

“On my final run my tires were gone at the rear and that was the end of my chances. It’s a shame and I’m very disappointed, but I have a quick car around here so we need to have a good strategy and use our pace to move up into the points tomorrow.”

The Russian Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 6:30am ET on Sunday.

GP2: Rossi victorious again in shortened Sochi opener

2015 GP2 Series Round 9. Sochi Autodrom, Sochi, Russia. 
Saturday 10 October 2015. 
Alexander Rossi (USA, Racing Engineering) celebrates his win on the podium.
Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP2 Series Media Service. 
ref: Digital Image _SBL3610
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Alexander Rossi claimed his third win in as many GP2 Series rounds in Saturday’s feature race at the Sochi Autodrom.

Since winning the last feature race at Monza in Italy, Rossi has made his Formula 1 debut with Manor and also raced for the team at the iconic Suzuka Circuit in Japan.

As part of his deal with Manor, Rossi has returned to GP2 for this weekend’s round in Russia as he bids to finish as runner-up to impending series champion Stoffel Vandoorne.

Vandoorne was expected to be crowned champion on Saturday, but Rossi managed to delay the Belgian’s celebrations by storming to victory as darkness forced officials to shorten the race.

Carnage on the first lap saw four drivers retire from the race, with damage caused to the barrier at turn 3 by Jordan King resulted in a 30 minute red flag delay.

Once the race restarted, a shortened distance of 15 laps was confirmed, but full points were still to be awarded.

Pole-sitter Alex Lynn managed to pull clear through the first stint, and after falling behind Rossi in the first round of pit stops, the DAMS driver regained the advantage soon after.

However, when Lynn crashed out, Rossi was able to pull clear of the chasing Pierre Gasly and Vandoorne just behind to record his third win in as many race weekends by three seconds.

Rossi will start tomorrow’s sprint race from eighth place on the grid which is reversed, handing pole to Frenchman Arthur Pic who finished P8 on Saturday.

You will be able to read all about Alexander’s success in his exclusive NBC Sports blog on Wednesday. To read his pre-Sochi thoughts, click here.