By: Ashley McCubbin
After working hard through the past three years to perfect his craft behind the wheel, everything came together for Sting Ray Robb en route to being crowned the 2020 Indy Pro 2000 Champion.
The Juncos Racing driver recently spoke with POPULAR SPEED about his thoughts on the championship, including sharing a story of how Mid-Ohio marked a critical turning point for him.
POPULAR SPEED: What are your thoughts on the championship?
STING RAY ROBB: Considering how the year started, I think our second half of the year was amazing. Winning the championship is just so awesome and just to get share that with everybody on my team and my family. Going into St. Pete, we didn’t even have to have the pressure on our backs anymore, because we clinched the championship in New Jersey, so it was pretty special to get to enjoy that last round of racing, and we walked away with a couple track records and a win. So I was really happy to do that to put the exclamation point on the season.
PS: Touching upon that side of it, what win during the year was your favorite?
STING: Considering this was the first year that I got to win in the Road to Indy, I guess you could say that first race win at Mid-Ohio was pretty special. But that whole weekend that we got to have at Indianapolis was amazing. There are not too many drivers that get to experience a triple header and win all of the races in it. So I think that’ll go down in the history books as one of my favorite events. But favorite race was Mid-Ohio in getting that first win and unloading the pressure for the rest of the season.
PS: In getting that first win, building up to that moment, what’s the biggest thing that you learned through your Road to Indy career that led to you breaking through?
STING: Obviously I’ve had a long career so far in Indy Pro 2000. I think the last few years we’ve seen myself as a driver mature a lot – not the on-track side, but the off-track side. I think a huge part of that this season came from Race 1 at Mid-Ohio. I keep referring back to it because it was a true turning point to my season. Race 1 there, I think I started second and was at the front of the pack and ended up finishing 10th, and it was no one’s fault but my own. I had no excuse for the result.
After that event, I got out of car and put my gear in the trailer, and went for a walk out in the paddock area – I ended up out in the park area and I just started praying. I’m like, ‘God, this is it. I’ve given everything that I’ve got to give so far. If it’s not the car falling apart, or other drivers running in the back of me or even flying over top of me, or me just making a mistake and I can’t ever get the result that I want. How much more of this am I going to have to go through? How much more trials am I going to have to suffer before we finally see the fruits of our labor so to speak.’
In that moment I had like a rush of peace and it reminded me a verse in James 1 that said, ‘consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds,’ and the reason for that is it produces perseverance because that’s creates maturity, and it allows you to persevere through many different aspects of life. So when you have those rough days, those trials, you can come back stronger than before.
So from that moment, I kind of took the year from no matter what is going to be thrown at us, I know that God has a purpose. I know its part of the plan and so forth and I’m working towards the goal that You set for me, so I’m going to be set.
So I think my maturity level grew so much that race, just because I didn’t have to worry so much about everything going on around me. It’s just more about seeing the process, trusting what God has put in front of me, trusting the people around me, and then the results will come naturally as long as we’re doing our job.
PS: Growing as a driver, how much has it been a benefit for you to have the likes of Riccardo Juncos and that experience surrounding you, to help get through those trials and tribulations?
STING: Oh man, those guys are unbelievable. This year, I think we saw the big factor step up to the plate in Riccardo being so involved with the team. Last year, I obviously ran for them and it was a good season, but it wasn’t the season we were looking to have.
Coming into this year, Riccardo wasn’t able to secure any IndyCar (Series) seats. There was also no Indy Lights season, and no prototype season for him, as well. So Riccardo’s main focus was to run the Indy Pro 2000 Championship team, and that meant with COVID, and everybody took a big hit including him, as he was down to five full-time employees with the team, which is way less than he normally, have. So to have his full focus and get to see a factor of how much that played in week-in-week-out, it was a huge help.
PS: Now looking forward, you’re going to get your chance to step up to Indy Lights. What does that opportunity mean for you?
STING: Well winning the championship was really special and when we realized we had secured it at New Jersey, I couldn’t tell if I was more excited to win the championship or the fact that I get to go up to Indy Lights, finally. So if that tells you anything in how special the Road to Indy is and how much hope it gives drivers if they work their way up and how much of a resource it can be, it’s pretty special.
So for me now, my focus has moved a little forward into next year and I can really look forward to getting into that Indy Lights car.
PS: Obviously, they released the 2021 Indy Lights schedule. What track are you most excited for?
STING: There’s obviously a few new ones on the schedule with Detroit added, and hopefully – it’s not for sure yet, but rumors have it that we’ll be running at Nashville. So I think those two will be pretty special; I’ve heard good things about both those street courses. Obviously, you got legendary tracks like St. Pete, Road America, Mid-Ohio, Gateway – all those tracks that we got to enjoy this year will be back on the schedule, but I’m looking forward to getting back out west as well. Those are kind of like my home races, so there’s tons of family and fans that get the chance to come out and watch my events. So to finally have one that’s a little closer, it’s pretty special.