The final dominoes in the NASCAR Silly Season are starting fall, and we now have the solidified driver lineup for Front Row Motorsports in the 2021 Cup Series season: Michael McDowell returning to the #34 Ford for another year, and…Anthony Alfredo jumping in to the #38 Ford.
Back in November, it was quite the surprise when news broke that John Hunter Nemechek–who posted a respectable average finish of 22.4 in the Cup Series last season–wouldn’t be returning to the #38 car in 2021. Even more surprising is the fact that Front Row Motorsports pegged Anthony Alfredo as the replacement.
Rumors swirled for a bit that Alfredo was on Front Row Motorsports’ radar for this ride, so this one doesn’t come completely out of left field, but for a sport that doesn’t quite have enough room for the up-and-coming young talent, it’s a bit surprising that a driver with only 32 combined starts in the Truck and Xfinity Series would get a chance at running a full Cup Series season already–especially considering Alfredo’s average finish has been 18.8 and 12.6 in those two series, respectively.
How Will Anthony Alfredo Do In Cup?
Believe it or not, Anthony Alfredo has some decent-sized shoes to fill in 2021. John Hunter Nemechek put up a pretty solid season as a rookie last year, averaging a finish of right around 22nd with top 10 results at Darlington as well as in both Talladega races. Nemechek was running at the finish in 31 of the 36 races in 2020, and also had 15 lead lap finishes. It was the best performance we’ve ever seen from the #38 team under the Front Row Motorsports umbrella.
When it comes to expectations for Alfredo, there’s obviously plenty of potential there or the guy wouldn’t be getting rides like he is. Last year he drove for Richard Childress Racing in 19 of the 33 Xfinity Series races, grabbing nine top 10s with an average finish of 12.6. His best finish of the season–and thus far in his entire NASCAR national touring series career–came in his final start of 2020, when Anthony finished 3rd.
In the press release regarding Alfredo joining Front Row, the driver said he’s “excited for the challenge,” while Front Row said they were looking for “a young driver that they could work with for years to come and develop a future with.”
In 2021, you can expect Anthony Alfredo to be a bit of a project. He has driving talent, but he’s going to make mistakes–and probably a lot of them. The Front Row Motorsports cars have shown that they can legitimately challenge for top 20 finishes some weeks, but most of the time Alfredo will probably be a lap or two down and in the mid-20s. If he comes close to John Hunter Nemechek’s average finish of 22.4 in this car last year, it’d be a great rookie campaign from in.
With Fantasy NASCAR, Alfredo is too much of a risk for me to play in season-long contests such as the Salary Cap Challenge. With a contest like that, if you’re going to take a risk with a lower tier driver, you want one that is going to be relatively consistent in finishes. An example would be Michael McDowell (Alfredo’s teammate), who is also in the same price range.
In DFS NASCAR Fantasy, such as DraftKings and FanDuel, Anthony Alfredo is going to be a driver to keep an eye on. Don’t be surprised if he ends up being in the optimal lineup in a few races during the 2021 season, as Alfredo will likely be one of the cheapest viable driver options each week, with a decent amount of potential.