Anthony Alfredo is looking forward to the challenge of competing in the NASCAR Cup Series as a rookie when he gets behind the wheel of the No. 38 Ford for Front Row Motorsports in 2021.
Alfredo – nicknamed "Fast Pasta" – is fulfilling a childhood dream by being able to race in NASCAR’s top division not only for the first time, but in a full-time capacity.
"It hasn’t hit me at all yet, and I’m sure it won’t probably until we get down to Daytona and I strap in for the first time and fire up that Roush Yates engine in my Ford Mustang," Alfredo said on MRN’s "NASCAR Live." " It’s going to be an incredible experience and it already has been meeting everyone at Front Row Motorsports and getting to know them over the last few weeks as we worked on making this deal happen."
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Last year, Alfredo competed in 19 Xfinity Series races for Richard Childress Racing. With only eight races slated to have qualifying and practice in 2021, Alfredo will be in the same boat as last year when qualifying and practice were eliminated – with the exception of practice at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course – for 18 of his starts due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, Alfredo scored nine top 10s with his best coming in his final start – third at Texas Motor Speedway.
"I feel like I took to that challenge pretty well and got acclimated," Alfredo said. "It definitely wasn’t easy. I feel like the more track time I could get and the more overall seat time the better. But given the circumstances I’ll make the most of it."
Alfredo has been spending time in the shop building chemistry with his new team, getting his seat fitted for his new ride along with learning some of the differences with the Cup car, including the digital dash.
"I’ve never driven a race car with a digital dash and there’s different things I need to be looking for on them," Alfredo said. "Stuff like that just to help limit that learning curve as much as possible and be as prepared for when I get to Daytona as we can possibly be."
Part of Alfredo getting acclimated with the Cup car before hitting the track at Daytona for the first time will be with his time spent in the Ford Performance simulator.
"I’m excited about that to kind of get a general feel of the Cup cars," Alfredo said. "What I need to expect and get to work right away with the guys on finding speed and, you know, figuring out what balance the Cup cars have, what they need to have to go fast and what I need to do behind the wheel to maximize the performance out of our car."
Another challenge for Alfredo’s rookie season will be the longer races in the Cup Series and the revamped schedule that will see seven road courses and the addition of a dirt race at Bristol Motor Speedway. Alfredo made one road course start last year at Indianapolis and his dirt experience is limited to just iRacing.
"This is going to be more challenging for me physically and mentally this year than racing ever has been before for me," Alfredo said. "But I’m looking forward to the challenge. I’ve always looked forward to that side of racing and just, you know, being pushed to my limits as a person and a driver and of course to do it with great people around me."
Alfredo will have two veteran teammates alongside in Michael McDowell and David Ragan. McDowell will be back with Front Row full time with Ragan attempting to make the Daytona 500.
"I’m definitely going to be leaning on them a lot throughout the season because they have so much experience," Alfredo said. "The more I could surround myself with experienced drivers and knowledgeable individuals, you know, that includes my team and crew members that’s going to help me as a driver."
Alfredo, who also ran 13 Camping World Truck Series races in 2019 for David Gilliland, saw his last full-time season come in 2018 in the ARCA Menards Series East where he was member of the NASCAR Next Class.
"I’m ready for a significant learning curve," Alfredo said. "I just want to make the most out of each race by finishing, keeping the car in one piece and getting as much experience as possible and moving on from there and just maximizing each opportunity I get in the seat.
"I’m really excited to race every week…that’s going to be huge for me to get that experience and build momentum and develop some consistency with the team. I’m really looking forward to that because I think it’s going to make me a much better race car driver."