By Dustin Albino

Going into the 2022 NASCAR Xfinity Series season, Anthony Alfredo didn‘t know what to expect. To him, everything was new. 

Last December, Our Motorsports announced Alfredo, 23, would join the team for his first full-time season in the Xfinity Series as part of the organization‘s expansion to three cars. In 2020, he ran 19 races with Richard Childress Racing, highlighted by a pair of top-five efforts. This year, he would drop down from a full season in the Cup Series, competing with Front Row Motorsports. 

“I would say going from Cup to Xfinity has been a huge advantage for me because, even though last year was quite a struggle being that it was a large step, it wasn‘t necessarily just that,” Alfredo told on Tuesday. “What I learned about that and being able to adapt in new environments quickly and having to learn by the seat of my pants.”

Since cracking through to the Xfinity Series scene in 2020, Alfredo has had very limited practice and qualifying. This year, while he‘s had a 20-minute practice session at the majority of the tracks, it‘s hard to dial in your setup for the race. 

It is, however, better than his rookie season in Cup last year, where he pretty much went into the race blind, though having time on a manufacturer’s simulator with Front Row Motorsports and Ford. Alfredo said of 2021, “You couldn‘t have asked for a more challenging situation for a rookie in the history of motorsports.”

One of the biggest challenges of the 2022 Xfinity season is Alfredo doesn‘t get that allotted sim time with Chevrolet. Instead, being an avid iRacing competitor, he‘s putting his own simulator to use.

“I rely more on iRacing than I ever have,” he said. “I‘m on my simulator more than I ever have been, just having fun and producing content and doing things I‘ve always done. But I‘m utilizing it as a training tool for each event.”

Through the opening 23 races of the 2022 season, Alfredo has a trio of top-10 finishes, with his lone top five coming at Auto Club Speedway when his crew chief Pat Tryson elected to save a set of tires for late in the race. The No. 23 team hasn‘t earned a top 10 since Talladega in late April.

Despite having an average finish of 19th, Alfredo is 14th in the championship standings, 79 points below the playoff cutline with three races to go in the regular season. While mathematically it‘s still possible to point his way in, the No. 23 Chevrolet is likely going to have to win at either Darlington, Kansas or Bristol. 

“It‘s hard to ask for much more from our team,” Alfredo stated. “I truly believe we run better than we should every single week.”

Alfredo credits a lot of his performance to his team, specifically Tryson, who has 10 NASCAR national touring series wins as a crew chief. He would also like to believe that his experience from the Cup Series is good enough to gain a spot or two on a given week. 

“That‘s why we consider it a bad day if we don‘t run top 15,” Alfredo added. “It‘s hard to get much better than that, but we do. We run top 12, top 10, lead laps. That‘s a big accomplishment. I call us the little team that could. We do a lot with a little.”

At Daytona last weekend, Alfredo was in the mix for the win late in the race. The No. 23 car led eight laps, which was more than he led in the first 22 races of the season. 

But being involved in a wreck in the first of three overtimes dropped Alfredo to 32nd in the finishing order. 

“It was a confidence booster, but it was a huge disappointment because I went into that race and knew I could win it,” Alfredo said of Daytona. “I like to consider myself a solid superspeedway racer and I‘ve yet to prove that since I don‘t have a win.

“I know that we can put ourselves in position. That‘s why this race was marked on my calendar all year. Talladega is too, but that‘s in the playoffs and after we need a spot in the playoffs. It would have been big for us to win that race.”

The reality is, Alfredo didn‘t win. But the next three races, he believes, could see a breakthrough performance. At Fontana, an aged track surface, the team has its best finish of the year. Darlington relates to that. He thinks Kansas is his best intermediate track, though he has a love-hate relationship with the track after landing on his lid in an Xfinity race in 2020. And then there‘s Bristol, which he said Our Motorsports has a strong short track program. 

“I don‘t think we‘re out of it yet,” Alfredo noted, “but we need to pull it off this week since we couldn‘t last week. Not sure what the rest has in store.”

Through a partnership with Richard Childress Racing and Team Dillon Management — the management company that Alfredo is a client of — the Carolina Cowboys will be featured on the No. 23 car at Darlington. 

The Carolina Cowboys represent the Carolinas in Professional Bull Riding, which features some of the world‘s top bull riders competing on teams in five-on-five full riding games. Austin Dillon serves as the team‘s general manager. 

“I think it‘s cool,” Dillon said of the Carolina Cowboys being on Alfredo‘s car at Darlington. “We had an opportunity to promote ticket sales for Sept. 9 and 11; that‘s our home event (in Winston-Salem). Being in South Carolina, it‘s not far away. I think we can bring some of our fans to our event and Anthony is a good driver, so I think he will get us some TV time.”

In May, Alfredo finished 15th at Darlington, which is where the series competes this weekend.

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