FONTANA, Calif: Anthony Alfredo of Ridgefield, CT and his Our Motorsports team threw a “Hail Mary” late in Saturday afternoon’s Production Alliance Group 300 at Auto Club (Calif.) Speedway and it nearly led to an upset victory in the second NASCAR Xfinity Series race of the season.
Article by Chris Knight / Catchfence
When Jade Buford crashed at Lap 125, much of the lead lap cars darted to pit road for their final set of Goodyear tires, but Alfredo’s crew chief Pat Tryson decided to do the opposite and keep his driver on the track behind Ty Gibbs who was out of sticker tires.
Knowing Alfredo was in a vulnerable position for the restart, the team was hoping for another caution later in the race which would allow Alfredo to head to pit road and take his final set of rubber – giving him the advantage over his competition with the fresher tires.
Luckily for Alfredo, the yellow flag waved at Lap 142 for debris in Turn 1 and it provided his No. 23 Dude Wipes Chevrolet Camaro the opportunity to pit and have a shot at stealing the win from a dominant Cole Custer.
Restarting 26th – Alfredo quickly maneuvered through the field and found himself 12th when the caution waved again on Lap 146 when Brett Moffitt and Sheldon Creed tangled.
With the field in overtime, Alfredo utilized the bottom lane for a Lap 151 restart and escaped a spinning Brandon Jones to find himself inside the top-five for the second NASCAR Xfinity Series overtime restart.
Coming to the white flag, three cars tangled on the frontstretch – which triggered a 23 minute and 01 second red flag that saw Alfredo gain two more positions and sit third for a third-round attempt at NASCAR overtime.
With second-place competitor Trevor Bayne electing to stay tucked behind Custer for the restart, Alfredo found himself on bottom lane of the front row for the restart.
A shove from fellow Chevrolet teammate Justin Allgaier on the restart tried to propel the No. 23 Our Motorsports Chevrolet into the race lead – but Alfredo was unable to clear Custer who was rim-riding the top lane which caused Alfredo’s momentum to break.
Fighting off his attackers from the top and bottom lanes, Alfredo was able to take the checkered flag finish in fifth and claim his first top-five finish since finishing third at Texas Motor Speedway with Richard Childress Racing in October 2020.
“Honestly, I’m a little disappointed because when you’re that close, it stinks,” Alfredo said. “We had tires on those guys but it was that red flag that killed us. Everybody’s tires got to cool back off. We had a couple restarts already so the heat cycles and that leveled the playing field back out. That’s where our disadvantage was (at the end).”
Alfredo admitted that the lengthy red flag likely contributed to the field being on a much more level playing field with the tires being allowed to cool during the 12th and final caution flag.
“Obviously our Dude Wipes Chevrolet Camaro was not as fast as the Xfinity internet today by any means but my crew chief, Pat Tryson, made an excellent call to save a set of tires and hope for a caution. By the grace of God, we got one and we fought hard.
“I felt like we had third in the bag at least if we couldn’t get around the leaders just because of our advantage with tires. But after that red flag, it seemed to even back out and we were doing all we could to hang out and race with those guys.”
Alfredo, 23, said his team still has room for improvement early into the season but said if the team can find more speed, he will have more opportunities to contend for victories this season.
“We just have to fine-tune some things, get a little bit faster so we can run up front more often and have more shots to win.”
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