“Huge day. Biggest of my life to date.”
That’s how Anthony Alfredo, in an interview with TobyChristie.com, described the incredible news that he will be moving to full-time NASCAR Cup Series competition for the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season in the No. 38 Front Row Motorsports Ford Mustang. Alfredo, who has raced a partial NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season in 2019 and a partial NASCAR Xfinity Series season in 2020 will be thrust into the big show.
The 21-year old driver, who scored nine top-10 finishes in NXS competition a season ago driving for Richard Childress Racing, is ready for a chance at a full-time schedule.
“Oh, I’m very excited. You know, it’s a huge opportunity for me to go and compete at the highest level of stock car racing and fulfill a childhood dream of mine with just such great people who believe in me and have really made this come together — everyone at Front Row Motorsports. Bob, Jerry and all of our partners. It’s very exciting,” Alfredo stated with exuberance. “Definitely hasn’t hit me fully, yet. It probably won’t until we get to Daytona, but it’s going to be so great to compete every single week and run a full-time schedule, especially at this level. The Cup Series schedule is very diverse now too as far as going to more road courses and things like that, so I’m looking forward to just getting more experience overall. Becoming a better race car driver and building chemistry with the race team as well, because it’s something that I hope to be long-term. I feel like it was — I wouldn’t call it a long road to get here, it happened pretty fast, but now that I’m at the Cup level, I almost feel like I’m just starting now. I hope this is the start of a long-term future and I am looking forward to getting the season started.”
This announcement marks the culmination of an emotional series of decisions that led to Alfredo chasing his NASCAR dream. At the age of 19, he had to upend his own life and move away from his family in Connecticut in favor of living in North Carolina — the hub of NASCAR — to run down his career aspirations. Now that he’s a Cup Series competitor, does it make all of the missed dinners, birthdays and holidays with his family worth it?
“It absolutely does [make it all worth it]. This has been a goal of mine and I’ve sacrificed a lot but not only myself, my family has [as well]. It’s really rewarding and I say it’s definitely a very emotional day for my family and I as a whole,” Alfredo explained. “You have to remember, before I was even born, my parents were attending NASCAR races and coming down to Charlotte from New York to go visit the race shops and see the Coke 600 and stuff like that. So, to think I’m going to be racing in those very same events that they would go to and sit in the grandstands to watch before I was born and that I’ve watched growing up as a kid, is definitely surreal.”
While moving to the NASCAR Cup Series is the dream of just about every kid that grows up racing short tracks across America, moving to the Series at such a young age, with so little experience in the NASCAR National Series always encourages nay-sayers, who don’t believe a driver has paid their dues and/or thinks that they aren’t worthy of the opportunity.
For those who believe Alfredo shouldn’t be heading to the Cup Series just yet, he says he’s not coming in guns blazing. He understands there is a lot to learn and that he has tempered expectations heading into his rookie season.
“Well, I think the biggest thing is that I don’t have some unrealistic expectation. I know it’s going to be a learning curve and I’m prepared for that,” Alfredo explained. “The biggest thing is I’m going to be working with Ford on the simulator and all of my guys on the 38 team to learn as much as they can, of course before we get the season started, and from there take it week-by-week. Get into a rhythm, get better and just develop some form of consistency and be competitive. I’m looking forward to the challenge and like I said, I already know it’s going to be — running these longer races is going to push me physically and mentally probably more than ever and I’m excited about that. And on top of that, just the experience and learning. Getting more laps under my belt, going to some new race tracks and hopefully developing something long-term as I said.”
Regardless of how you feel about Alfredo moving to the Cup Series, you have to admit that it’s been an interesting and quick climb up the NASCAR ladder for the Connecticut-native. But did he in his wildest dreams expect, while making his NASCAR National Series debut in 2019, that he would be a full-time NASCAR Cup Series competitor by 2021?
“No, definitely not, probably,” Alfredo said. “I mean, I wouldn’t say that. I think it’s — the biggest thing to me is I’ve always been focused on the task at hand, if that makes any sense? You know, of course you kind of have a — you develop what you might call a long-term plan and set goals for yourself that you want to exceed. Especially running part-time the last couple of years, I’ve always just been focused on making the most of every opportunity that I’ve had. Because some of them have been few and far between at times and I’m just super thankful to have the opportunity I have this year. I truly feel blessed and have so many people to thank, especially at Front Row and our partners, and the people behind me. It wasn’t a decision I made by myself. This goes back to other team owners I’ve drove for, and everyone who believed in me. We all agreed that this is the best opportunity for me to take the next step in my career. Like I said, it’s definitely going to be a challenge, but I’m definitely excited about it. I always hoped I would get to this level, but when that day came — which is today — it definitely feels pretty surreal.”
While we don’t know the sponsors that are lined up for the No. 38 ride in 2021, just yet, we can already begin thinking of dream sponsors for the car. For the last couple of years, Alfredo, the driver dubbed Fast Pasta, has lobbied Olive Garden pretty hard for a sponsorship, as his name would have a great tie in with their menu items. Is it time for an Italian Food sponsor to finally pull the trigger and partner with him?
“Definitely, definitely. We’ve been trying to make that happen for a while now,” Alfredo stated with a chuckle. “Maybe now that I’m at the top level of our sport, we can work something like that out. That would be great. I think I would be the perfect representative and it could be marketing magic to have some sort of Anthony’s Fettuccini Alfredo or something like that at an Italian restaurant.”
In sitting down and talking with Alfredo, you truly realize that at 21-years old, he’s mature well beyond his years. He’s humble, he’s a ball of excitement and he is not afraid to heap praise on those who have helped him along the way. He’s a down-to-earth approachable guy, who is building a loyal fan base through interacting on social media and streaming his endeavors in the eSports world. Basically, Alfredo is the total package of what you’d want in a driver off of the race track.
If he can weather the storm of learning the NASCAR Cup Series car early in the season, and build momentum as the year builds on, we could see a better than expected rookie effort from him in 2021 as he has shown incredible flashes of potential in his previous part-time roles.
HOW CONNECT WITH ANTHONY ALFREDO
If you are a fan of Anthony Alfredo and want to connect with him on social media, be sure to follow him on Twitter (@AnthonyAlfredo), on his Facebook page and be sure to tune into his iRacing streams on his Twitch channel.
Toby is the Founder, Editor and go-to man for TobyChristie.com. He is also the co-host of The Final Lap Weekly Podcast. Additionally, Toby is a NMPA (National Motorsports Press Association) award winning writer, and has followed NASCAR as a fan since 1993.