NTT IndyCar Series

Sting Ray Robb – “Another year in Indy Next would have been a bigger risk than reward.”

By: Ashley McCubbin

The ladder system developed to make the way up to the NTT IndyCar Series has always received great reviews from those within the series, and outside. The new year, though, brings some changes with the system. For starters, there’s a new identity – Indy NXT instead of Indy Lights. There is also a new tire compound being introduced, as Firestone takes over as supplier from Cooper Tires.

It’s why Sting Ray Robb had his eyes set on the IndyCar Series for 2023 as he said, “staying another year in Indy Next would have been a bigger risk than reward.” He brought up the fact how the data teams like Andretti Autosport had gathered would not be usable, and therefore, you wouldn’t know where you or your team would rank until things got moving.

“That’s not to say that they won’t figure it out, but it’s a risk that you take,” he explained. “Let’s say that I finish third or fourth in the championship rather than second or first. That lowers my stock value, so it creates an opportunity that’s not as welcoming for me to step into INDYCAR because I don’t have that high of a value after that. There’s been drivers in the past. To name one, I think is Santi Urrutia. He was a driver that did really well in his rookie season and from there he just didn’t win the championship, but the only place he could have gone was higher. So to not finish as well as he did or even finish the same, it doesn’t show that he’s got the ability to move up to the next level.”

Thankfully, he will get his opportunity at the top level, driving for Dale Coyne Racing full-time in 2023. It was not something that was originally in the cards, with a lot of people thinking he would be driving for Ed Carpenter Racing or Juncos Hollinger Racing.

With HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing having an association with DCR, Robb admits the conversations did not initially begin with the team, believing 2013 Indy NXT Champion Linus Lundqvist would be a “straight shoe-in.”

“I actually was at PitFit Training one day with Linus and discovered that was not the case,” Robb recalled. “That created an opportunity for us that allowed me to call up my manager, Peter Rossi, and get him on the phone, and he immediately called Dale and said, hey, we’re available. I think there was a mutual understanding of what availability was for either one of us. That’s when conversations began with testing options, et cetera, because at that point he had already committed to testing Marcus (Armstrong) in the car and David (Malukas) in the car at the Sebring test in the late off-season last year in 2022. Then we had a really good test in 2023 right at the beginning of January, and I think that was kind of the one that set the tone that allowed me to get in the seat.”

Despite getting the seat originally believed for Lundqvist, Robb still feels his fellow competitor is deserving of a seat at the top level.

“His on-track performance was incredible,” Robb commented. “But it takes more than just a driver to get into INDYCAR. You’ve got to have village around you that supports you, and so I think that that is where my group made a difference. It wasn’t just in my performance, but it was the people around me. I feel bad for Linus because as a driver I can feel that way towards him because I could be in that seat if I didn’t have those same people around me. So there you go.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s