IndyCar: Potential turnaround in store for lowest rookie?

Sting Ray Robb, Dale Coyne Racing with Rick Ware Racing, IndyCar (Mandatory Bob Goshert-USA TODAY Sports)
Sting Ray Robb, Dale Coyne Racing with Rick Ware Racing, IndyCar (Mandatory Bob Goshert-USA TODAY Sports) /

The debut IndyCar season for Sting Ray Robb has been a struggle, but there is still plenty of opportunity for a course correction.

Sting Ray Robb finds himself in IndyCar behind the wheel of the No. 51 Dale Coyne Racing with Rick Ware Racing Honda this year after finishing runner-up in last year’s Indy Lights (now Indy NXT) championship.

That second place finish was an impressive one, as he tallied eight podium finishes and only finished outside of the top six once.

Unfortunately, the strong consistency that helped bolster the argument to give Robb the seat over champion Linus Lundqvist has been lost so far this year.

Robb has only finished two of the seven races that have been contested in 2023. Five DNFs before the halfway point of your rookie season is a tough start. However, not all of Robb’s misfortune is his fault.

In the first lap of his first IndyCar race, Robb was caught up in the carnage on the streets of St. Petersburg. Just under two months later, mechanical issues at Barber Motorsports Park caused him to be the only driver to retire from the race.

On the flip side, some of his misfortune was his own fault. His first taste of an oval race at Texas Motor Speedway ended with a brutal collision with the wall, an understandable mistake for a rookie.

Later on at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, a late, aggressive move caused an incident with his own teammate, Davis Malukas. Rookie or not, that was an avoidable mistake that shouldn’t have happened.

Then in the Indy 500, a late move going into turn one by Graham Rahal caused Robb to go high and ultimately hit the wall, taking him out of the race.

While neither driver was necessarily at fault for the move that pushed Robb high, he wasn’t happy with Rahal afterwards. At the end of the day, simply qualifying for the Indy 500 was a big win for the rookie.

In the two races that Robb has completed, he didn’t finish on the lead lap. His finish one lap down on the streets of Long Beach and three laps down on the streets of Detroit left him out of any serious points positions in those races. Ironically, his best finish of the year is his DNF in St. Petersburg.

With this collection of poor finishes, Robb finds himself in 27th place in the championship standings, dead last among full-time drivers.

With Ed Carpenter Racing’s recent release of Conor Daly, speculation regarding which other drivers could fall victim to a midseason release has begun. Even though he’s only a rookie, Robb could find himself out of IndyCar soon if things don’t turn around.

But with 10 races left on the 2023 IndyCar schedule, there is still time for Sting Ray Robb to turn around his rookie campaign.

The expectations for Robb as a rookie in a Dale Coyne Racing car are not high. No one is expecting him to compete for wins or even consistent top 10 finishes. The focus for the young Idahoan needs to be finishing races and stealing a few top 15 finishes while doing so.

The good news for Robb is that five of the 10 races remaining on the schedule are at permanent road courses. The majority of his wins in the Pro Mazda/Indy Pro 2000 Championship and Indy Lights came on permanent road courses.

He collected wins at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, and WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. His 2020 championship in Indy Pro 2000 even included a staggering three straight victories at Indianapolis.

He has to take advantage of that road course strength over the next few months a make up some ground in the standings. If he doesn’t, his IndyCar career will last just as long as some of these races have for him, and we’ll see the best name in the series out of a seat quicker than he found it.

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Sting Ray Robb is set to get his next shot at correcting his wavering rookie season this weekend at Road America. The Sonsio Grand Prix at Road America is set to air on USA Network on Sunday, June 18 beginning at 1:00 p.m. ET. Begin a free trial of FuboTV today and don’t miss it!