Juncos Racing veteran Sting Ray Robb came to ‘St. Pete’ looking to put an exclamation point on his 2020 Indy Pro 2000 championship. So far, the 19-year-old has a win, two poles, and two new track records and still has Sunday’s final race of the season to contest.
Robb’s victory was his seventh of the season and sixth in the last nine races.
Robb led from green to checkered flag, never having a competitor with a second of him, and hold a 3+ second lead for the majority of the race.
“That was a hard race, even though I was leading the whole way,” said Robb. “The team set a goal for me to hold a certain lap time and I did, until I saw Danial starting to catch me. I started pushing harder and set the quick race lap time, bettering my own race record from last year. Two lap records in one day here, that’s pretty special! Huge thanks to the team, I don’t know what more I can say that I haven’t said all year. They are so amazing. And I’m so happy to have so many of my friends and family here, they get to see me on the top of the podium, and I get to share it with them. And the glory goes to God, as always!”
Robb’s win is the seventh in St. Pete for Juncos Racing. The Indy Pro 2000 pole-sitter has now won 15 times on the 1.8-mile, 14-turn street circuit.
Crossing the line behind Robb, was Turn 3 Motorsport sophomore Danial Frost. The second-place finish is the Singaporean driver’s fifth podium of the season.
“It’s been strange, being here in an Indy Lights car last March and now back here in the Indy Pro 2000 car, but I’m so glad to be racing here again, St. Pete is one of my favorite races on the calendar,” explained Frost. “It’s such a challenging track, it’s so physical and you really have to stay focused, so it’s mentally difficult as you get toward the end of the race, but I like that kind of attack. It’s nice to get the podium, but I want to get the next spot! I have one more chance tomorrow to get that race win.”
Robb’s teammate Artem Petrov was the third driver to cross the start/finish line.
The Russian’s seventh trip to the podium moves him to within 12 points of Devlin DeFrancesco (Andretti Autosport) for second place in the championship with one race remaining.
The command to fire the engines for the final race on a busy Saturday in St. Petersburg, Fla., The Indy Pro 2000 Grand Prix Of St. Petersburg Presented By Cooper Tires was given at 5:40 pm.
The front row of Robb and Frost brought the seven rows of two to the green flag.
Robb got a great jump from the inside of the front row. Also getting a significant jump from third was Thompson, who moved to second in Turn 2.
After Robb’s excellent jump, race control did review the start, but they decided that no action was necessary.
Behind them, the field went side-by-side and cleanly through Turn 1.
The running order at the end of the first lap was Robb, Thompson, Frost, Petrov, McElrea, Manuel Sulaiman (DEForce Racing), Moisés de la Vara (DEForce Racing), Colin Kaminsky (Pabst Racing), Rasmus Lindh (Turn 3 Motorsport), Devlin DeFrancesco (Andretti Autosport), Nate Aranda (Juncos Racing), Kory Enders (DEForce Racing), Tristan Charpentier (Exclusive Autosport) and Charles Finelli (Fatboy Racing!).
After only two laps, Robb’s lead was already 2 seconds over fellow veteran Thompson.
Lap 4 was rough for DEForce Racing veterans de la Vara and Enders. de la Vara lost four spots falling to 10th, and Enders spun at the exit of Turn 1. Enders was able to continue, keeping the track green.
As they started Lap 8, Robb’s lead was 2.8 seconds. A pair of former Exclusive Autosport Indy Pro 2000 drivers, Thompson and Frost, were only separated by 0.8 seconds behind the leader.
On Lap 9, Sulaiman, who was defending against Lindh, was warned by race control for blocking.
On Lap 10, the DEForce Racing/Valkyrie Velocity No. 9 of Thompson ended up in the runoff area in Turn 4. The winner of two Indy Pro 2000 races on the 1.8-mile, 14-turn street circuit in 2019 was able to continue slowly but came to pit road and the attention of the DEForce Racing crew, and the veteran climbed from the car.
That moved Frost into second place and Petrov into the final spot on the podium.
On Lap 13, Frost turned the quickest lap of the race, grabbing a new race lap record, and lowering Robb’s lead to 3.9 seconds.
With ten laps remaining, the lead was still at 3.9 seconds. Petrov, in third, had a fight on his hands, with McElrea, Sulaiman, Lindh, and Kaminsky covered by 1.5 seconds.
Robb’s lead over Frost when Lap 17 started was 3.4 seconds. Frost had a comfortable 3.0-second gap to Petrov.
Over the next two laps, Frost was able to eat into Robb’s lead, starting Lap 20 with a 2.4-second gap to the leader.
On Lap 21, Kaminsky, who was putting pressure on Lindh, got too deep into Turn 4, missing the corner and ending up in the runoff area. He was able to continue but fell down the running order to ninth.
With four laps remaining, the lead was down to 1.7 seconds.
The Juncos Racing crew must have told Robb that he had lost the quickest race lap record. With two laps remaining, the Idahoan turned a lap at 68.3621 seconds, regaining the record.
Robb’s gap to Frost when they took the white flag was 1.8 seconds. The presumptive Indy Lights driver continued to push on the final lap, lowering the race track record again.
Indy Pro 2000 Grand Prix Of St. Petersburg Presented By Cooper Tires Race Results
|1||2||Sting Ray Robb||Juncos Racing||25 laps|
|2||68||Danial Frost||Turn 3 Motorsport||-1.9774|
|3||42||Artem Petrov||Juncos Racing||-8.7188|
|4||18||Hunter McElrea||Pabst Racing||-10.7626|
|5||8||Manuel Sulaiman||DEForce Racing||-12.4517|
|6||3||Rasmus Lindh||Turn 3 Motorsport||-13.092|
|7||17||Devlin DeFrancesco||Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport||-15.7126|
|8||6||Moises de la Vara||DEForce Racing||-23.1374|
|9||19||Colin Kaminsky||Pabst Racing||-23.3512|
|10||90||Tristan Charpentier||Exclusive Autosport||-43.1291|
|11||69||Nate Aranda||Juncos Racing||-56.1775|
|12||83||Charles Finelli||FatBoy Racing||-2 LAPS|
|13||9||Parker Thompson||DEForce Racing||-14 LAPS|
|14||7||Kory Enders||DEForce Racing||-15 LAPS|
The middle rung of the Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires is back on track Sunday at 11:30 am for their final race of the season.