Sting Ray Robb is sitting in a very comfortable position after the Mid-Ohio Indy Pro double-header this weekend. In six weeks, Robb has racked up five wins for Juncos Racing and a commanding lead in the championship with just five races remaining this season.
He is at stake for a scholarship valued at over $600,000 to cement graduation to Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires.
Before we jump into Robb’s performance, let’s talk about the winner of the first-race, Manuel Sulaiman. The racer from Mexico held off a determined challenge from Singapore’s Danial Frost (Turn 3 Motorsport), although both were trailing Sulaiman’s unfortunate DEForce Racing teammate Parker Thompson until the Canadian suffered an engine failure midway through the 25-lap race.
The racer had just two poles heading into the season but now can add the victory to his resume and became the seventh different winner after just 11 rounds.
“This is just amazing, to achieve this win,” he said. “We had the speed all weekend but we missed pole so that wasn’t a good start, but we made up for it by getting the victory. It was so fun out there, especially since it is so difficult to pass. I knew we had the speed, I just waited to make my move. It’s the first win for DEForce Racing, so that’s so important for me and the team. They did a great job and they deserve this. I’m happy for them but I’m sorry for what happened to Parker. We could easily have been one-two.”
But the real winner of the weeknd was Sting Ray Robb. After the second race began, Sulaiman slid off the road and into the gravel trap at Turn One. Colin Kaminsky and former Devlin DeFrancesco also fell victim to the conditions, leaving officials with little choice but to display the red flag. The race was rescheduled to late in the afternoon.
Robb gained the pole position after the race restart. There was never a doubt who would finish the race first, dominating from start to finish after the race. Robb’s victory also brought a seventh PFC Award of the season for Ricardo Juncos as the winning team owner.
“I’m so happy with how the weekend went,” Robb said. “I thought we did a great job of adapting to all the changing conditions. We started out with an okay car. I was happy to qualify fourth and finish fourth yesterday. It helped us extend the points lead. Going out in the rain this morning was crazy, every lap just kept getting worse. I remember going into Turn Nine on the pace lap and there was a huge puddle. We decided to play it safe through the first few corners and that was all we needed to do to start up front on the restart. Parker was really fast, he made me work for it.”
Thompson seemed overdue for a win but wasn’t able to finish it off. He now sits at sixth in the final standings.
“That was a tough one,” he said. “I’m happy that DEForce got their first win on the Road to Indy yesterday, it was fantastic to see, but I definitely wanted my time in the limelight today. I thought it would be my time in the rain this morning. I think we had a good rain car and I’ve raced here before in the rain with some success. We got up to P2 on those first corners. But it’s been a roller coaster of emotions this weekend, from missing out on pole by several hundredths of a second to missing out on a race win, then not getting to race in the rain today and settling for second. But I’m happy to get another podium for the team – I think we’ve shown that we’re consistent challengers, race in and race out. But the No. 9 crew is going to want to get a win before we’re done.”
After the weekend, the standings are as follows with five more races to go:
1. Sting Ray Robb, 306
2. Devlin DeFrancesco, 257
3. Artem Petrov, 243
4. Danial Frost, 242
5. Hunter McElrea, 219
6. Parker Thompson, 203
7. Manuel Sulaiman, 197
8. Braden Eves, 163
9. Colin Kaminsky, 161
10. Moises de la Vara, 142