Sting Ray Robb takes final full-time seat available, details plus my top 5 takeaways

INDIANAPOLIS — The 2023 NTT INDYCAR Series field is now set. On Wednesday, Dale Coyne Racing announced that Sting Ray Robb will pilot the No. 51 Dallara-Honda in the upcoming season.

Robb finished second in the INDY NXT by Firestone championship last year on the strength of 11 top five finishes, eight podiums, two poles and 99% of laps completed in 14 races, which included the win at Laguna Seca. He made his first unofficial outing with Dale Coyne Racing earlier this month during an impressive one-day test at Sebring international Raceway.

“This is an opportunity – a dream – that has been long in the making,” expressed Robb, who hails from Payette, Idaho. “I’m honored to join forces with Dale Coyne, Rick Ware and the whole organization. I am excited and grateful to be on the NTT INDYCAR SERIES grid for 2023. We had a great first test together in early January and I was very impressed with the efficiency of the DCR with RWR team and how well we worked together on our first day.

“Dale Coyne Racing has a historically distinguished program that has seen success with many drivers and most recently, with young, talented drivers. I’m looking forward to continuing in that trend and expecting some strong results as we enter my rookie season. My heroes are all those who have come alongside to make it possible for me to follow God’s calling in my life; and to them I say, ‘Thank You’. All the glory goes to God.”

The 21-year-old driver entered his first year of INDY NXT racing in 2021 after four years in the Road to Indy ladder system, which included winning the 2020 Indy Pro Championship thanks to seven wins, five poles, 11 total podium finishes and was the only driver to complete all 485 laps in the season.

“We’re very excited to have Sting Ray join our team,” shared Dale Coyne, Team co-Owner. “He is coming off a very strong INDY NXT season and he impressed us and performed very well earlier this month at our test. I think he and David will make a great pairing. With David continuing where he left off last year, and Sting Ray wanting to do well in his rookie season, we have two young and eager drivers who, I think, are a force to be reckoned with.”

Rick Ware Racing also shares Coyne’s views regarding the team’s new driver, and potential for the 2023 season.

“Dale and I have spent a lot of the off season testing and discussing driver options,” said Rick Ware, Team co-Owner. “Getting Sting Ray Robb on board to compete for the INDYCAR Rookie of the Year championship, as well as the Indy 500 Rookie of the Race honors, is pretty incredible. He’s young and already has multiple years in the IndyCar ladder system.

“I am really looking forward to another fresh driver and personality to the No. 51 team and partnership platforms. With Sting Ray’s road course experience, and Dale’s oval-track program, we are very optimistic.”

After receiving his first go-kart at the age of five, Sting Ray started running nationally when he was eight years old. He entered Cadet division events from 2010 to 2013 and finished second in America during his first season in the Junior ranks. In 2015, Robb won the Triple Crown of International Karting Championships; the Can-Am Karting Challenge, the Challenge of the Americas and the Florida Winter Tour. In 2016, he switched from go-karts to car racing and moved up the Road to Indy ranks through the years.

“I’ve had the privilege to work with Sting Ray and his family since 2017, when he transitioned from karting to formula cars. His development through the Road to Indy has been awesome to watch; both on and off track,” said Pieter Rossi, Principal, One Motorsports Marketing and Management. “As a rookie entering IndyCar, he has another opportunity to display his abilities as he takes the next step in his career. He will be a great ambassador and professional for IndyCar. He fully understands the responsibility of this opportunity.

“Working with Dale and Rick to secure Sting Ray Robb was enjoyable these past few months, and quite the silly season, I believe DCR’s youthful line up with Sting Ray and David will be very exciting for IndyCar.

“Last year we brought on Jonny Baker, a well-known industry professional to work with our young drivers. He’s a racer and gets it and we’re excited that our relationship with him is continuing in 2023. He will be handling trackside support for us working directly with Sting Ray and DCR at test and race events. The season cannot begin soon enough!”

Youthful Team

With the addition of Robb as a teammate to David Malukas in the No. 18 HMD entry, the Dale Coyne Racing team will have the youngest driver lineup in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, with both drivers born in September of 2001.

Last 2 Indy Lights Runner-Up Finishers With The Team

The Road to Indy is usually predicated by winning championships and taking that scholarship money up, but for DCR, they’ve hired the last two Indy Lights runner-up finishers. Malukas finished second to Kyle Kirkwood in the 2021 championship and last year, it was Robb’s turn to finish second to champion Linus Lundqvist.

Raw Deal For Lundqvist

Ironically enough, Linus Lundqvist won the championship in Indy Lights last year for DCR/HMD’s joint entry. However, Andretti Autosport’s Sting Ray Robb who finished 2nd to Lundqvist in the standings lands the DCR/RWR seat in the NTT INDYCAR Series.

That’s because Robb has the budget to do so while Lundqvist didn’t get enough scholarship money or resources from his championship to carry up the ladder with him.

Another New Face In The 2nd Car

With Robb joining the 2nd DCR entry, it’s the 10th straight season a new driver is in this ride. It all started in 2014 with Justin Wilson, then in 2015 and 2016 a cast of drivers, 2017 was Ed Jones, 2018 Zachary Claman De Melo and Pietro Fittipaldi and Santino Ferrucci shared the seat, 2019 was Ferrucci full-time in it, 2020 was Alex Palou, 2021 was Romain Grosjean and Fittipaldi and 2022 was Takuma Sato. 2023 the keys are handed to Robb.

Robb Paid His Dues, Needs Time To Grow Again

Sting Ray Robb is only 21, but he’s been in the Road to Indy ranks since 2017. He spent four seasons in the Indy Pro 2000 Series, two in Indy Lights and now makes the jump to INDYCAR. He’s improved every year which leads me to believe that if he’s given multiple seasons, he can eventually excel.

He was 6th in points in 2017, gained his first podium in 2018, had 6 podiums and a fourth place finish in the standings in 2019 and won his first race and championship in 2020. He then moved up to Indy Lights in 2021 and finished 8th in points. A year later, he improved six spots in the standings to 2nd including a win and eight podiums.

While 2023 could be a learning curve, 2024 could be a season to where he shines.

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