Impressive Xfinity Debut for Anthony Alfredo with Sixth Place Finish

Photo by Rachel Schuoler / Kickin' the Tires

FONTANA, CA — The NASCAR Next rising prospect Anthony Alfredo dodged wild restarts in the final stage, fighting for a sixth place finish in Saturday’s Production Alliance Group 300 at Auto Club Speedway.

“We were moving pretty good there,” said the Richard Childress Racing driver.

RCR announced back in December that Alfredo would be with the organization as a part-time driver of the No. 21 Chevrolet Camaro in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. Auto Club was his first scheduled race, and the 20-year old racer made every opportunity count on route to his second top-10 finish of the 2020 season.

“It was definitely a really fun race there,” Alfredo shared about his Xfinity series debut. “I kinda held back in the beginning to learn as much as I could about the cars and the track. Obviously we’re running way longer than we ever had in practice, and the restarts on low air pressure, there’s a lot that goes into it. By the end, I felt like I had it figured out pretty well there, especially that last restart for the last stage. I think we had a car just about as fast as Xfinity internet.

“We were able to roll the center really good down in (Turns) 1 and 2, and the top of (Turns) 3 and 4, so when we got to the 11 (Justin Haley), I really feel like we should’ve come home P5. We kept getting a run on him down the back straightaway, and I’d slide job him off the exit of (Turn) 4 for what felt like a ton of laps in a row. But he would just come back with the momentum off the top and get me back, so he barely got me at the line. It was a ton of fun, we raced hard and clean, and the whole race was great. Just to finish, run all the laps and have a solid finish is a great start for us.”

In 2019, Alfredo competed in 13 NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series and earned two top-10 results. It’s been a sharp and abrupt learning curve for the 20-year old, but the smart approach to the race and near top five outcome made him look like a veteran out on track, despite his lack of live pit stop experience.

“Honestly just what the car is like,” said the RCR competitor, reflecting on what he learned in his first Xfinity race. “(Learning) how they like to be driven, and it’s mainly depending on what your balance is, if you’re tighter or looser. It’s what you got to do to manage that and still be fast, so that’s what I struggled with early. By the end, we had the car dialed in a lot better. Our Anderson’s Pure Maple Syrup, Ralph’s Groceries and FaZeClan Chevrolet Camaro was fast. The guys did a great job on pit road. I got some things to brush up on because I don’t really have that much live pit stop experience. Got better throughout the day on my end.

“I feel we had a really great car to run up front, so I’m looking forward to the rest of the year. If we can keep this up, we’ll be competing for wins in no time.”

For the Connecticut native, racing isn’t popular in his neck of the woods, so he leans mostly from watching what others do around him. One of the strongest talents he carries is being able to soak in that racing knowledge and quickly yet effectively apply it onto the track. The first two stages of the race featured zero cautions for crashes. In the final stage, six yellow flags slowed the racing for crashes, creating more wild restarts that claimed some strong runners. Yet Alfredo was able to both put himself in the right position at the right time and lean on a little bit of luck to survive those four-wide maneuvers to gain valuable track position.

“It was very challenging,” Alfredo said concerning the restarts and live pit stops. “A couple times, I was in a lucky spot there as far as being far enough back to avoid it, or ahead of it. We were fortunate in that sense, but the restarts are crazy. At this level, it’s so competitive and these guys in the Xfinity series race really hard. You have to stay up on the wheel, especially until you get single file, then you can kind of take your time and move around and find speed.

But at the beginning, you got to do all you can to hold them off.”

The strong finish sets a high bar for the part-time rookie. However, he’s boldly approaching that with sky-high confidence.

“I think at this rate, if we can stay well inside the top 10 like this, just outside the top five, keep that up and we’ll go one step at a time. Top fives, top threes and some wins. That’s the plan.”

With the strong finish, he also chimed in with his opinion on the ongoing debate to repave Auto Club Speedway. Alfredo chose “Team No-Repave” with no hesitation.

“Definitely keep it as is.”

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