For much of the 2015 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Martin Truex Jr. has flown under the radar with consistent, quiet finishes. After a sixth-place finish Sunday at Martinsville, Truex is tied for second in the Chase standings, nine points ahead of Carl Edwards in fifth.
Throughout the first seven Chase races, Truex has an average finish of 9.0, and the Furniture Row Racing driver hopes to keep the momentum going with just two more races before the Championship 4 is set.
Of the eight remaining Chase drivers, only Jeff Gordon has punched his ticket to the winner-take-all season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
"You have to go out there and fight for every point you can possibly get," said Truex on Friday at Texas Motor Speedway. "You now have seven drivers trying to secure those final three spots. It's difficult to predict what will happen -- all I know it's going to be a tight battle right to the end to be one of the drivers contending for the season title in Homestead."
After finishing ninth in the April race at TMS, Truex was eager to get back in action at the 1.5-mile track this weekend. In the nine previous 1.5-mile races this season, Truex's worst finish is 17th at Kentucky Speedway, and he has three top fives and six top 10s.
However, if he wants to secure his spot in the championship fight, Truex knows the team has to continue improving.
"I don't think that's good enough," Truex said of his 9.0 average finish in the Chase. "I think we'll have to improve for sure, unless we have some crazy stuff happen in the next two weeks, which is highly likely. I don't think 9.0 will be good enough. I also think that almost every race in the Chase, besides Martinsville and Talladega, we've run better than we've finished. We need to change that. If we can finish the way we've been running, I think we'll be great.
"Texas and Phoenix are two good tracks for us," he pointed out. "We tested out in Phoenix a month or so ago, and we were really fast. So, we're looking forward to that one. We'll definitely have to step it up, and it's just a matter of really not making mistakes and getting everything we can get out of the day."
While Truex was red hot in the first half of the season and into the summer months, the attention focused on his Furniture Row Racing team has dwindled as the Chase has gone on.
Friday at Texas Motor Speedway, Truex said the team embraces the underdog role, but it also bothers him at times.
"There's two sides to it," said Truex. "I really enjoy the underdog role; it's really cool. I think for a lot of reasons if you look at our race team, we are an underdog. I've never been in a championship battle in this series. I've got a rookie crew chief (Cole Pearn). We're a single-car team out of Denver (Colorado). There's a lot of reasons we really do fit the mold of an underdog.
"At the same time I get frustrated at times because I feel like what we've done this season gets overlooked," he said. "I think people have short memories. We were second in points this summer and we've had a really good season. There's a lot of times I'd like my team to get a lot more credit than they have. Sometimes I'd like to get a little more credit as a driver. But at the end of the day that's not what really matters. What really matters is us coming out here and doing our jobs."