Race Weekend Central

Eyes on Xfinity: Anthony Alfredo Running With the Big Dogs

Take a look at the NASCAR Xfinity Series points after the first four races. The top 10 features little in the way of surprises. As we discussed here last week, Brandon Jones is having a good start to the year, and that continued at Phoenix Raceway. As he told us last week, he expects to be there.

In 11th, it’s Parker Kligerman. He’s right about where he was at last season, and his Big Machine Racing team is known to have close ties with Richard Childress Racing, so there is some expectation for performance that comes along with the RCR connection.

The first surprise comes in 12th. That’s where you’ll find Anthony Alfredo, fresh off a gritty top 10 Phoenix. Back in 2022, Alfredo ran full-time with Our Motorsports in the Xfinity Series. They put together a solid but unspectacular season, finishing 15th in the final standings with a pole, one top five and four top 10s.

See also
Derek Kraus Talks Cup Introduction, Kaulig & Jordan Love

Last year, Alfredo moved over to BJ McLeod Motorsports. It was a tough year for Alfredo, who finished 20th in the points with just two top 10s. Meanwhile, his former team Our Motorsports struggled mightily, finishing 32nd in owner points.

Perhaps the grass wasn’t greener. As fate would have it, Alfredo and Our Motorsports are back together for 2024, and they’re turning heads with their performance early in the season.

“We certainly have had a great start to 2024, but we want a lot more,” Alfredo said. “My goal is to win at least one race and make the playoffs.”

Alfredo already has two top 10s, equaling his total last year at BJMM. It’s also two more than Our had last year with three different drivers. That’s right, they were blanked in the top 10 column despite starts in all 33 events.

So, what has been the recipe for the improvement? In talking with the driver known as Fast Pasta, I learned it’s a lot of things as it always is in this team sport. But there is a feeling of confidence and unfinished business that is motivating the whole team.

“Chris Our and I certainly have unfinished business together,” Alfredo told Frontstretch. “We both want to win, and we know we can … He reached out to me at the end of last year to discuss me returning to the team, and being a focused, one car program.”

Despite the focus and the consolidation from prior seasons when Our ran multiple cars, there are still some glaring challenges the team faces every weekend.

“We do not have an alliance,” Alfredo said. “We didn’t have one in 2022 either. It makes it way more challenging, because there are so many Cup-affiliated Xfinity teams with alliances.

“All the more [reason] our performance should be turning heads.”

This is where the chip on the shoulder comes in. The indescribable, intangible piece of internal motivation to prove the doubters wrong, to prove you are deserving of more. To prove that while you might be at a disadvantage, you won’t let it hold you back. Rather, you’ll use it to fuel you to results few thought were possible, embracing the underdog role.

“That motivates us to continue to go out there and beat those guys with less resources,” Alfredo continued. “We don’t have engineers running [simulator]. I don’t get driver sim time for our Xfinity program, we don’t have all the fancy technology that the other teams do, but we work hard and maximize what we do have.”

When you don’t have the tools to show up with pole-winning speed every week, you have to be smart to survive the attrition and put yourself in position to capitalize on the misfortunes of others. So far this year, Alfredo has done that.

“The biggest thing this season has been working hard start to finish and controlling what we can. Honestly, we didn’t have the best cars at Atlanta and Phoenix, but [in] both of those races we kept chipping away at it and put ourselves in contention at the end.”

Alfredo knows where his best chance to secure a victory is, but he doesn’t write any races off. The chipping-away-at-it plan combined with the right circumstances or strategy could present opportunities to win anywhere.

“The superspeedways are definitely our best chance to win knowing the speed we brought to Daytona and my confidence at those places as a plate racer. That being said, you never know when another race at another type of track comes down to strategy, and we are able to capitalize on it.”

See also
Only Yesterday: Bristol Kings, Baby

In this column, we’ve been talking about the 14 drivers who have top-tier rides and have the best chances to complete the playoff field. Alfredo isn’t one of those 14. But so far, he’s punching above his weight and running with the big dogs. Can it continue? Some might have doubts, but not Alfredo. In fact, he has a message for the doubters.

“They need to respect us,” Alfredo said. “Clearly, we have already been able to accomplish quite a bit with a lot less resources than the big teams. We have less people, equipment, funding… It definitely won’t be easy, but if we keep executing the way we have been, we have a legitimate shot.”

What would it say for little Our Motorsports and Alfredo to take a playoff spot from a team like JR Motorsports, Kaulig Racing, Stewart-Haas Racing or Joe Gibbs Racing? Jeb Burton did exactly that last season, driving for Jordan Anderson Racing. Why not Alfredo this year?

“I’m looking forward to continuing to improve,” Alfredo said.

We’re four races into the season, and what a heartbreaker Justin Allgaier suffered at Phoenix. But one driver’s tragedy is another’s sweet success. Chandler Smith took advantage and won the race, punching his ticket to the playoffs early like he did last season.

Smith joins Austin Hill in the most-likely-playoff-clinching win column. We should note, it’s possible more than 12 Xfinity drivers could win at least one race, in which case a win wouldn’t guarantee a playoff berth. The competitive depth of the field makes that as possible as ever. With Cup drivers and guys like Hill winning multiple races, it still seems unlikely, however.

The series is set to take a weekend off before heading down to Circuit of the Americas to get the squiggly season started. Keep your eyes on Alfredo.

About the author

Steve Leffew joined Frontstretch in 2023, and covers the Xfinity Series. He resides in Wisconsin and has been a NASCAR fan as long as he can remember. He has served honorably in the United States Air Force and works during the week as a Real Estate Lender.

Sign up for the Frontstretch Newsletter

A daily email update (Monday through Friday) providing racing news, commentary, features, and information from Frontstretch.com
We hate spam. Your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else.

Share via