Anthony Alfredo is a little bit late to the party.
That party is the 2020 NASCAR Xfinity Series season and the 20-year-old is rolling up to it as round three gets underway.
Alfredo is one of three drivers competing part-time in Xfinity for Richard Childress Racing, joining Myatt Snider and Kaz Grala. After Snider kept the seat warm in the No. 21 Chevrolet at Daytona and Las Vegas, Alfredo makes his series debut today at Auto Club Speedway (4 p.m. ET on Fox).
His move to the Xfinity Series itself was a late development last year, when he competed part-time in the Truck Series for DGR-Crosley.
“Around the time of Homestead last year, that was my last truck series race but I didn’t even get to run because the motor blew up on pit road,” Alfredo told NBC Sports on Friday. “That week I was actually reached out to by someone at RCR. They asked what my plans were for this year and to be honest with you I didn’t really have any. And I was a little bit nervous because late in the season most rides had filled up and it was just a blessing.”
A native of Ridgefield, Connecticut, he moves up to Xfinity Series after just 13 starts in the Truck Series. In those starts, he only managed two top-10 finishes, an eighth at Charlotte and ninth at Chicagoland.
Prior to that, he had one ARCA Menards Series East win in 2018 and two CARS Late Model Stock Tour wins for JR Motorsports. But after just two top 10s in trucks, why was a move to Xfinity the right move for him?
“Honestly, last year I’m pretty disappointed with the end results because we had great speed,” Alfredo said. “I was really happy with our competitiveness, especially with my limited experience and running less than half the races. But unfortunately, we just had a lot of bad luck and things that crippled our end results.”
Including his engine failure in the finale, Alfredo suffered four DNFs last year in his 13 starts, three of them for wrecks.
“But if you watched the races, we ran up front most of them,” Alfredo said. “So I will say, what set this plan in order for me was just knowing that next year, 2021, my goal is to make that a full-time Xfinity Series season. Even though this a big step for me from where I came from, I think after running the majority of the season this year and learning a lot and getting a lot of experience I’ll be ready to go win a championship next year.”
Alfredo will compete in 17 of the remaining 31 races, and he is thankful that they are on some of the circuits’ toughest tracks.
That includes Darlington, Bristol, Homestead and today on the 2-mile Auto Club Speedway.
“There’s no doubt most of my races are at some of the hardest tracks on the circuit,” Alfredo said. “That kind of plays into, not only next year … being able to go to all the difficult tracks now, like Auto Club, helps better prepare me for that, because you definitely don’t want to go into a championship season and go to places like Auto Club or Homestead or Darlington and not know how to get around them.”
The fact he is making his series debut on a track he’s never been on in a car he’s never driven is what makes Alfredo the “most nervous” about this weekend.
His prep time in practice Friday was limited when more than half of the first 50-minute session was wiped out by cautions.
Combined with the final 25-minute session, Alfredo only made 39 laps.
But he’s attended both races with the team so far this year in an effort to get accustomed to crew chief Andy Street and his spotter. He’s also swapped notes with Snider, who made his series debut two weeks ago at Daytona.
“Him and I have just talked about how the simulator translates to the tracks he’s been to so far, just because we’ve obviously spent a lot of time on that,” Alfredo said. “For me going to a new track, the simulator’s been huge. So to kind of know the differences between the sim and real life are really important, just so you can focus on those characteristics and adjusting what you may need to in real life.”