Anthony Alfredo moved on pretty quickly from the what could have been narrative from two weeks ago at Auto Club Speedway.
The 23-year-old feels pretty confident that he did everything he could have to win the Production Alliance Group 300. It’s what happened last weekend at Phoenix Raceway – not even being able to take the green flag — that stings considerably worse.
Such is the highs and lows of big-time auto racing.
The Our Motorsports No. 23 went off-sequence against the rest of the field on February 26 at Fontana, with a series of late race cautions giving crew chief Pat Tryson the opportunity to take a set of tires they had saved earlier in the race after everyone else exhausted their allotment.
Alfredo restarted the third overtime on the front row, but fell back to fifth by the finish, still well above where they had run before catching the fortuitous caution.
“To be honest, I don’t think I could have done anything differently,” Alfredo told Racing America on Thursday. “I did as well as I could under the circumstances. Rick (Carelli, spotter) did a great job calling that restart and Pat made a great call to put us in that position.
“We actually weren’t very good all day, which is why we were even in that position in the first place to save a set of tires and were probably going to have to fight really hard to get a top-15. So, to even get a top-five this early in this season is huge for our team. We don’t get tire data or sim time. We run really lean and have a great team and all in all, that was a great day.”
Ultimately, two heat cycles followed by a half hour red flag worked against Alfredo just as much as it helped him pick through the field and get a front row restart. Maybe if the car had been a little better, or if the red hadn’t been as long, maybe the tires wouldn’t have equaled out as much.
He says Carelli and Tryson did a great job keeping him in the moment but also calm and collected.
“A lot of that comes from my Cup experience,” Alfredo said. “I didn’t get overly excited. It’s actually wild how much I learned last year that I didn’t even know I learned until I fell back on that muscle memory or instincts.
“But I kept it simple.
“You can think of a million different scenarios for what’s going to happen on that restart and it’s the one million and one that happens. For example, I thought I was going to restart third on the bottom but the 18 chose the bottom and gave me the top.”
Alfredo says Justin Allgaier gave him a great push, but that it’s just hard to defend from the outside at Fontana. All told, it was just fun for his Our Motorsports team to be in that spot.
That’s also what made Phoenix hurt.
The green flag waved, and the No. 23 was getting pushed behind the wall fighting a drivetrain issue that plagued them all weekend. They never even had a chance to follow on a season that began with a 9.66 average finish.
“Having a race end before it begins is the worst,” Alfredo said. “I’d rather something happen because we had a shot and were competing than that. My first lap all weekend was lap 50. That was aggravating for all of us, especially because of the points situation.
“Daytona is a toss-up for everyone and we were ahead of the curve there and now we’re in 17th and it’s kind of a bad spot to dig ourselves out of.”
With that said, Alfredo is excited for the opportunity to start digging on Saturday in Atlanta. At 22-years-old, Alfredo’s ascent up the NASCAR ladder was rapid. He ran full-time in Cup last year for front row when they needed a last-minute replacement after the departure of John Hunter Nemechek.
Alfredo had spent a partial season in Xfinity with Richard Childress Racing and posted nine top-10s and two top-5s in 19 starts without the benefit of practice each week. He says he has ‘unfinished business’ in the second-tier division.
And while Alfredo wants to return to Cup, he’s also committed to building a winner with team owner Chris Our and believes in that vision.
“We have a lot that we want to accomplish,” Alfredo said. “There are going to be some bumps in the road, but we have some really great people here. Jeb (Burton) and Brett (Moffitt) have Cup experience too and that’s a really great foundation for what we’re trying to do.
“I would love to be a part of that. The Xfinity Series is really exciting, and it’s been fun to be in the mix these first couple of weeks.”
Alfredo is from Ridgefield, CT, and Chris Our is a successful building contractor who resides in Harwich, MA.