It looks like all the pieces could finally be in place for Sting Ray Robb to make a championship push in the Indy Pro 2000 Championship presented by Cooper Tires.
The 17-year-old from Payette, Idaho, is entering his third consecutive season on the second rung of the Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires development ladder, sanctioned by INDYCAR. This season, he was able to join defending series champion Juncos Racing and the promise from that move has already begun to show.
He paced the final test at the Homestead-Miami Speedway road course last weekend with a lap of 1 minute, 19.7509 seconds (99.761 mph). Through five combined sessions, he was one of only two drivers to break in under the 1:20 mark at the 2.21-mile, 14-turn circuit.
Although Robb raced for World Speed Motorsports and Team Pelfrey in the last two seasons, there was also a brief moment when he drove for Juncos at the Chris Griffis Memorial Test in 2017 on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.
Reunited, he admits it’s tough to match this opportunity given Juncos’ record of success in the Road to Indy, including the last two Indy Pro 2000 champions (Victor Franzoni in 2017 and Rinus VeeKay in 2018). It is all the motivation he needs as the season kicks off the season this weekend with a doubleheader at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Indy Pro 2000’s schedule calls for 16 races at nine venues this season.
“Juncos' results, they say a lot,” said Robb, pilot of the No. 2 entry. “They know what they're doing. They've proven their program and they've proven it recently. It's not something that's happened a few years ago, it's a recent history of success.
“I am walking into an event where the drivers last year, Rinus and Robert (Megennis), they had really good success right off the bat at St. Pete. Rinus was very quick there. Honestly, we had a good car at St. Pete last year with Pelfrey.
“I have the track record there for the (lap) time. It just came down to how long it took us to get there. But with (Juncos), that data now already in place, I think we'll have very good baseline to set up a good run at St. Pete.”
With VeeKay, Megennis, Oliver Askew and David Malukas all moving up to Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires this season, the title race in Indy Pro 2000 appears wide open. Robb is ready to fill the gap.
Though he finished seventh in the championship last year, there were glimpses of brilliance, including a career-best third-place finish in the second race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. His biggest learning curve was with the Tatuus chassis that was introduced to the series last year.
“One thing that I personally would really like to see is just getting comfortable in my feedback with the car and adapting to the car quicker,” Robb said.
“That's something that we worked on (at the Homestead) test, is just making sure that I'm adapting properly to the car in the way that the conditions are going. I've gotten better than that just in the last couple of tests with Juncos, but other than that, it's just a constant process of improving yourself anywhere that you can.”
The Indy Pro 2000 weekend consists of a practice and Race 1 qualifying on Thursday, the first race on Friday (12:40 p.m. ET) and qualifying and the second race (11:25 a.m.) on Saturday. Live timing and scoring accompanied by Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network commentary is available for all sessions on RaceControl.IndyCar.com. The Road to Indy TV app will stream all sessions.