Chasing Salsa: Anthony Alfredo Settling Comfortably into Xfinity’s First Full Season

LOUDON, NEW HAMPSHIRE - JULY 15: Anthony Alfredo, driver of the #23 John Civetta & Sons Chevrolet, looks on during qualifying for the NASCAR Xfinity Series Crayon 200 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 15, 2022 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images) |  fake images

LOUDON, NEW HAMPSHIRE – JULY 15: Anthony Alfredo, driver of the #23 John Civetta & Sons Chevrolet, looks on during qualifying for the NASCAR Xfinity Series Crayon 200 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 15, 2022 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images) | fake images

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Entering the 2022 NASCAR Xfinity Series season, Anthony Alfredo didn’t know what to expect. For him, everything was new.

Last December, Our Motorsports announced that Alfredo, 23, would be joining the team for his first full-time season in the Xfinity Series as part of the organization’s expansion to three cars. In 2020, he ran 19 races with Richard Childress Racing, highlighted by a pair of top-five efforts. This year, he would come down from a full season in the Cup Series, racing for Front Row Motorsports.

“I would say moving from Cup to Xfinity has been a huge advantage for me because even though last year was quite difficult because it was a big step, it wasn’t necessarily just that,” Alfredo said. on Tuesday. “What I learned about that and being able to quickly adapt to new environments and having to learn by the seat of my pants.”

Since entering the Xfinity Series scene in 2020, Alfredo has had very limited practice and qualifying. This year, even though he’s had a 20-minute practice session at most tracks, it’s hard to pin down your race set-up.

Still, it’s better than his rookie Cup season last year, in which he virtually entered the race blind, though he did get time in a manufacturer simulator with Front Row Motorsports and Ford. Alfredo said of 2021: “You couldn’t have asked for a more challenging situation for a rookie in motorsport history.”

One of the biggest challenges of the 2022 Xfinity season is Alfredo not getting his allotted sim time with Chevrolet. Instead, being an avid iRacing competitor, he is putting his own simulator to use.

“I trust iRacing more than ever,” he said. “I’m in my simulator more than ever, just having fun and producing content and doing things that I’ve always done. But I’m using it as a training tool for every event.”

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Through the first 23 races of the 2022 season, Alfredo has a trio of top-10 finishes, with his only top-five coming at Auto Club Speedway when his crew chief Pat Tryson decided to save a set of tires for the end of the race. The No. 23 team hasn’t posted a top 10 since Talladega in late April.

DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 18: Anthony Alfredo, driver of the #23 Dude Wipes Chevrolet, drives during practice for the NASCAR Xfinity Series Beef.  It's what's for dinner.  300 at Daytona International Speedway on February 18, 2022 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images) |  fake images
(Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images) | fake images

Despite having an average finish of 19, Alfredo is 14th in the championship standings, 79 points below the playoff cutoff with three races left in the regular season. While it’s still possible to point his way mathematically, the No. 23 Chevrolet will likely have to win at Darlington, Kansas or Bristol.

“It’s hard to ask for much more from our team,” Alfredo said. “I really think we run better than we should every week.”

Alfredo attributes much of his performance to his team, specifically Tryson, who has 10 NASCAR National Tour Series wins as crew chief. He, too, would like to believe his Cup Series experience is good enough to earn a spot or two in any given week.

“That’s why we consider it a bad day if we’re not in the top 15,” added Alfredo. “It’s hard to get much better than that, but we do it. We run top 12, top 10, laps ahead. That is a great achievement. We called the small team that could. We do a lot with little.”

At Daytona last weekend, Alfredo was in contention for the win late in the race. The No. 23 car led eight laps, more than he led in the first 22 races of the season.

But being involved in a crash in the first of three overtimes left Alfredo 32nd in the order of finish.

“It was a confidence booster, but it was a huge disappointment because I went into that race and I knew I could win it,” Alfredo said of Daytona. “I like to consider myself a solid super sprinter and I have yet to prove that as I don’t have a win.

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DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA - AUGUST 26: The #23 Pit Boss Grills Chevrolet, driven by Anthony Alfredo, is assisted by NASCAR security after an on-track incident during the NASCAR Xfinity Series Wawa 250 Powered by Coca-Cola at Daytona International Speedway on August 26, 2022 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images) |  fake images
(Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images) | fake images

“I know we can get into position. That’s why this race was marked on my calendar all year. Talladega is too, but that’s in the playoffs and then we need a playoff spot. It would have been great for us to win that race.”

The reality is that Alfredo did not win. But he thinks the next three races could see a strong performance. At Fontana, an aging track surface, the team has its best finish of the year. Darlington relates to that. He thinks Kansas is his best intermediate track, though he has a love-hate relationship with the track after landing on its cap in an Xfinity race in 2020. And then there’s Bristol, who said Our Motorsports has a strong program of Short track.

“I don’t think we’re out of it yet,” Alfredo noted, “but we need to get it done this week as we couldn’t last week. I’m not sure what the rest have in store.”

Through a partnership with Richard Childress Racing and Team Dillon Management, the management company Alfredo is a client of, the Carolina Cowboys will appear in the No. 23 car at Darlington.

The Carolina Cowboys represent the Carolinas in Professional Bull Riding, which features some of the best bull riders in the world competing in teams in full five-on-five riding games. Austin Dillon serves as the team’s general manager.

“I think it’s great,” Dillon said of the Carolina Cowboys who were in Alfredo’s car at Darlington. “We had the opportunity to promote the sale of tickets for September 9 and 11; that’s our local event (in Winston-Salem). Being in South Carolina, it’s not too far. I think we can bring some of our fans to our event and Anthony is a good host so I think he will give us some TV time.”

In May, Alfredo finished 15th at Darlington, which is where the series competes this weekend.

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