HICKORY, N.C. – A JR Motorsports driver swept both CARS Late Model Stock Tour events on Saturday night at Hickory Motor Speedway, it just wasn’t the driver everyone expected.
Eighteen-year-old Anthony Alfredo, who joined JR Motorsports’ late model program this year, won both races after intense battles with Austin McDaniel in both 75-lap events as part of the Scott McCorkle’s Liberty Buick-GMC 300.
The first of the two races looked like it was going to be a runaway, with Alfredo’s teammate Josh Berry dominating the race until the engine in Berry’s car suddenly failed on lap 56. That moved McDaniel into the race lead, with Alfredo assuming the second position.
Once the race resumed, Alfredo began pursuit of McDaniel and was able to get alongside him with about 15 laps left. The pair stayed side-by-side in a tight battle for the lead until the final lap, when Alfredo was finally able to clear McDaniel to take the lead and score the victory.
In the second CARS Late Model Stock Tour feature, Alfredo spent much of the race chasing McDaniel and defending series champion Deac McCaskill. On lap 35 Alfredo moved by McCaskill to take over second and then began pursuit of McDaniel.
On lap 66 Alfredo made his move, getting to the inside of McDaniel for the race lead. Alfredo cleared him, but McDaniel gave Alfredo a shot in the bumper that moved him up the track and allowed McDaniel to get back by for the lead.
It was only a momentary reprieve for McDaniel as Alfredo drove back by him to take the lead again only two laps later. Alfredo would hang on to win the race while his teammate Berry, with a new engine under the hood, came from 24th in the field to finish second.
“The first race the top two cars, my teammate Josh and Austin McDaniel got pretty far out, so I started saving,” Alfredo explained. “Josh blew up unfortunately. That caution helped us but I hated for it to go down that way for my teammate.
“After that restart we ran really hard with Austin,” Alfredo said. “We started racing side-by-side for about 15 laps really hard. It was fun, we were fighting for the win for sure. That was the hardest I’ve ever had to drive.”
Alfredo said he wasn’t sure how his car would handle in the second race because series rules stated he couldn’t change tires between races. He was worried he’d used up his tires winning the first race, but it turned out he still had plenty left.
“I didn’t think the car would be that great because I used so much tire in the first race, especially battling at the end there,” Alfredo said. “It was great, 150 laps on the same set of tires and to be able to sweep both races says a lot for this race team and what they are capable of.”
The sweep at Hickory on Saturday also earned Alfredo a guaranteed starting position in the late model stock car portion of the the upcoming U.S. Nationals of Short Track Racing at Bristol Motor Speedway.