He’s got the sauce: Anthony Alfredo ready for step up to Cup


Anthony Alfredo admits that if someone told him a year ago that he’d be a NASCAR Cup Series rookie in 2021, he probably wouldn’t have believed it.

But on the cusp of his Cup debut in the Feb. 14 Daytona 500, he’s glad for the opportunity.

“I’m just so thankful,” said Alfredo, driver of the No. 38 Front Row Motorsports Ford, in a Friday media teleconference.

“I feel very blessed and definitely wasn’t sure what was gonna happen, but I felt like I had a great year last year, and I was just hoping things would come full circle because of putting the effort forward and all the people who have been by my side throughout my career.”

That uncertainty was evident after his final Xfinity Series start with Richard Childress Racing last October at Texas Motor Speedway.

The week before at Kansas Speedway, his hopes for a top-10 finish ended on a late restart, when contact from behind sent him into the wall and on his roof.

But at Texas, he climbed from 18th on the grid to finish a career-best third after a tight battle with race winner Harrison Burton for the runner-up spot; Burton tracked down and passed Noah Gragson on the last lap to claim the victory.

On pit lane, an emotional Alfredo was close to shedding tears.

“It’s just kind of soaking in – what I got to do this year was really cool,” he told NBC Sports after the race. “… I just hope I get to do this full-time next year and run for a championship.”

He got his wish. But instead of remaining in Xfinity, the 21-year-old will compete on Sundays.

It marks the end of a relatively quick progression up the NASCAR ladder.

From 2015-2017, Alfredo raced late models (in 2017, he drove for Dale Earnhardt Jr.‘s JR Motorsports team) before entering what’s now known as the ARCA Menards Series East in 2018.

In 2019, he got his first exposure to NASCAR national series competition with 13 starts in the Camping World Truck Series for David Gilliland Racing. Last year, Alfredo moved up to Xfinity with 19 starts for RCR.

Now, three years removed from his last full-season effort and with only partial Truck and Xfinity seasons under his belt, Alfredo makes the biggest jump of all.

But the driver known as “Fast Pasta” isn’t worried about a potential lack of seasoning. He believes he’ll get plenty of that in Cup.

“What really stuck out to me is just being able to run full-time and to do it with the largest schedule in NASCAR, if you will, is huge for me to develop, grow and just get overall experience,” he said. “I’m looking forward to learning and being able to compete every week.

“Running part-time – sometimes you have a good run and you have to wait a couple weeks and you kind of lose that momentum, and if you have a bad run and you’re off for a couple weeks, you can’t go out the next week and try to rebound.

“I’m looking forward to being able to (race) a lot of times this year. Probably all the races combined in the Cup schedule is probably as many Xfinity and Truck races put together (that) I’ve run, which sounds a little wild to say. But … It’s a great opportunity and I have amazing people who believe in me, so I’m very thankful for that and that boosts my confidence in myself.”

One of those people is Michael McDowell, his Front Row Motorsports teammate.

The 14-year Cup veteran is on his third rookie teammate in as many seasons after Matt Tifft in 2019 and John Hunter Nemechek in 2020.

Tifft has since had his driving career paused due to seizures and transitioned into team ownership, while Nemechek is back in the Truck Series this season with Kyle Busch Motorsports.

From McDowell’s perspective, Alfredo has struck a different chord with him due to his personality and willingness to learn.

“Right before we did this (teleconference), I was just talking to him about some of the stuff we’ve got going on this week with simulation and just working through things he needs to think about and things that don’t pop up until you get in the race and it’s too late,” McDowell said Friday.

“It’s nice to help guys be able to shorten that learning curve, and really with him, it’s been pretty easy just because he’s so eager to learn, easy to get along with and very respectful and humble, so it’s been fun.”

Those qualities may prove invaluable for Alfredo this season, as he seeks to build his future at NASCAR’s top level.

Portland Xfinity race results, driver points

Portland Xfinity results
Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images

Cole Custer went from fourth to first on the overtime restart when the top three cars made contact and went on to win Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at Portland International Raceway. Custer is the 10th different winner in 13 races this season.

MORE: Portland Xfinity race results

MORE: Driver points after Portland Xfinity race

JR Motorsports took the next three spots: Justin Allgaier placed second, Sam Mayer was third and Josh Berry was fourth. Austin Hill completed the top five.

John Hunter Nemechek remains the points leader after 13 races. He has a 14-point lead on Hill. Nemechek leads Allgaier by 44 points.

Cole Custer wins Xfinity race at Portland in overtime


Cole Custer held off Justin Allgaier at the finish to win Saturday’s Xfinity Series race in overtime at Portland International Raceway. It is Custer’s first victory of the season.

JR Motorsports placed second, third and fourth with Allgaier, Sam Mayer and Josh Berry. Austin Hill finished fifth.

MORE: Race results, driver points

Custer went from fourth to first on the overtime restart when Parker Kligerman, who restarted third, attempted to pass Allgaier, who was leading. Sheldon Creed was on the outside of Allgaier. All three cars made contact entering Turn 1, allowing Custer to slip by. Creed finished seventh. Kligerman placed 14th.

Custer won the second stage when John Hunter Nemechek made contact with Creed’s car while racing for the lead on the final lap of the stage. The contact spun Creed and Custer inched by Nemechek at the line.

Early in the final stage, Creed gained revenge with contact that spun Nemechek, who went on to finish 10th. A few laps later, Nemechek and Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Sammy Smith had issues. Smith spun Nemechek. After getting back around, Nemechek quickly caught Smith and turned into Smith’s car, damaging it.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Sheldon Creed

STAGE 2 WINNER: Cole Custer

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Despite the contact on the overtime restart, runner-up Justin Allgaier managed to score his fourth consecutive top-three finish. … Sam Mayer’s third-place finish is his best on a road course. … Austin Hill’s fifth-place finish gives him four consecutive top-five results.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Daniel Hemric finished 33rd after a fire in his car. … Riley Herbst placed 32nd after an engine issue. After opening the season with six top 10s in a row, Herbst has gone seven races in a row without a top 10.

NEXT: The series competes June 10 at Sonoma Raceway (8 p.m. ET on FS1).

Truck race results at WWT Raceway: Grant Enfinger wins


Grant Enfinger took the lead when the leaders wrecked in the final laps and held off the field in overtime to win Saturday’s Craftsman Truck Series race at World Wide Technology Raceway.

It is Enfinger’s second win in the last five races. He also collected a $50,000 bonus for winning the Triple Truck Challenge.

MORE: Truck race results

MORE: Driver points after WWT Raceway

Christian Eckes finished second and was followed by Stewart Friesen, Carson Hocevar and Chase Purdy.

Ty Majeski and Zane Smith wrecked while racing for the lead with six laps to go. Majeski, running on the inside of Smith, slid up the track and clipped Smith’s truck. Both hit the wall. That put Enfinger in the lead.

Smith finished 20th. Majeski placed 30th.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Grant Enfinger

STAGE 2 WINNER: Stewart Friesen

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Grant Enfinger’s victory is his fourth top 10 in the last five races. … Carson Hocevar’s fourth-place finish is his fourth consecutive top-five result. … Stewart Friesen’s third-place finish moved him into a playoff spot with four races left in the regular season. … Matt DiBenedetto‘s sixth-place finish is his third consecutive top 10. … Jesse Love finished ninth in his series debut.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Ty Majeski had a chance to take the points lead with series leader Corey Heim out because of illness, but Majeski’s 30th-place finish after running at the front most of the day, leaves him behind Heim. … Hailie Deegan finished 32nd after contact sent her truck into the wall hard. … After finishing a career-high third last week at Charlotte, Dean Thompson placed 34th Saturday due to an engine issue.

NEXT: The series races June 23 at Nashville Superspeedway (8 p.m. ET on FS1)

Xfinity starting lineup at Portland: Sheldon Creed wins pole


Sheldon Creed scored his first career Xfinity Series pole by taking the top spot for Saturday’s race at Portland International Raceway.

Creed, making his 50th career series start, earned the pole with a lap of 95.694 mph on the 1.97-mile road course.

MORE: Portland Xfinity starting lineup

Cole Custer will start second with a lap of 95.398 mph. He is followed by Josh Berry (94.242 mph), John Hunter Nemechek (95.127) and Charlotte winner Justin Allgaier (94.897). Road racing specialist Jordan Taylor, driving for Kaulig Racing, qualified sixth at 94.772 mph.

The green flag is scheduled to wave 4:46 p.m. ET Saturday on FS1.