Sting Ray Robb

What sophomore slump?

That’s the question Sting Ray Robb has pondered over the years in motorsports as he has progressed through the road to the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. Year over each year, he has made big gains.

In Indy Pro 2000, he went from scoring no race wins and six top-three finishes in 2019 to reaching victory lane seven times with five poles and winning the season championship in 2020.

In INDY NXT by Firestone, his second-year gain was again massive. He never finished on the podium in his first season, in 2021, but he delivered a race win and eight podiums on his way to a runner-up finish in Year 2.

Robb is looking for another ascension when his second NTT INDYCAR SERIES season begins in 2024.

“Historically my (second) seasons (in a series) have been quite a bit better than my rookie years, for whatever reason,” he said. “I like to say I don’t have the sophomore slump, which is kind of nice. It’s really tough that first year.”

Last season was an example of that. He never started a race higher than 21st, and he had only one finish better than 16th. Five of his first six races ended prematurely, the result of accidents and mechanical issues. He led only one lap all season. At Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May, he had to endure last-chance qualifying to earn his first starting spot in the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge.

But that was then aboard the Honda of Dale Coyne Racing with Rick Ware Racing, and Robb hopes next year with AJ Foyt Racing's Chevrolet will be different. For starters, A.J. Foyt’s team has a new technical alliance with Team Penske, where the sharing of information should provide a running start into what is typically limited pre-race track time at most events.

Additionally, Robb is excited to work with Michael Cannon, one of the paddock’s most successful and longest-tenured engineers who helped last year’s Foyt drivers – Santino Ferrucci and rookie Benjamin Pedersen – qualifying fourth and 11th, respectively.

Armed with all of that and considerably more series experience, Robb is eager to get rolling with what amounts to a second chance in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES.

“We could write a book probably about all the things I could apply based off my knowledge from last year,” he said. “I think one of the bigger things (was), I didn’t realize the impact it would have on the way I would arrive at the track – (all) the responsibilities. That was something during the month of May that I didn’t really have a good grasp on. People would tell me that it’s busy, (but) it feels like the year of May.

“Going into this year, my expectations are a lot different. I know how to manage that better. The team around me knows how to manage that better. I think that just plays into the whole momentum of the season.”

With better preparation, Robb said he expects his confidence to be higher as he pilots the No. 41 entry that will be based out of Foyt’s shop in Indianapolis. The 17-race season begins March 10 with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding.

“The off-track pace as well as the on-track pace was a bit of a shock last year,” Robb said of finishing 23rd in the standings. “Having the knowledge ahead of time, being able to build a program around that has been very helpful.

“I’ve been in the gym almost every day this offseason so far training, so to have that physical foundation already set even a few months before the season starting is a big deal because it’s only going to get better.”

Not surprisingly, Robb said he entered his rookie season feeling like he was “being sent into the deep end.” Keep in mind that he will again be one of the youngest drivers on the grid as he doesn’t turn 23 until Sept. 3. Among confirmed series drivers for next season, only David Malukas and rookie Kyffin Simpson are younger.

“This year,” Robb said, “I feel ready to go, even now today. I feel we’re in a better position mentally (and) physically). I’m excited for the season to get going.”

This sophomore is ready.