Martin Truex Jr. knows that even though he has locked up a spot in NASCAR’s Chase already, few people consider him a championship contender.

The Stafford Township native is fifth in the points standings with one race to go before the 10-race, 12-driver Chase. But he hasn’t been in the Chase since 2007. That also was the last year he won a race.

“I talk to the media a lot,” Truex said in quotes provided this week by his team, Michael Waltrip Racing. “I read what they write and what they are talking about.”

But Truex is in the midst of what has been unquestionably the best season of his career. While he hasn’t won, he has been a contender almost every week. He has led 416 laps, putting him on pace to break his career best of 581 set in 2007.

“It doesn’t bother me one bit where we stand (in other people’s minds),” he said. “I see this team as a cobra, ready to strike.”

The fact that he is back in the Chase after four difficult seasons is not lost him, though.

“When I made the Chase in 2007, I thought it was going to be a regular occurrence. Boy, I was wrong,” Truex said. “I appreciate this one so much more. Making it with MWR is something I am very proud of. It’s the first time MWR has ever had a car in the Chase and we have me and Clint (Bowyer) in.”

But he’s not content just to be in the Chase.

“I think it is very important for people to know that we just don’t want to be in it, we want to take advantage of it,” Truex said. “I feel like we are in a good position to do that.”