NASCAR veteran Mark Martin says he is not concerned about his position in the Sprint Cup standings, where he ranks just inside the top 12 despite having won four races already.
The 50-year-old had entered last weekend's race at Chicagoland Speedway in 13th place in the driver standings following an early crash at the previous race in Daytona. His fourth win of the season allowed him to get back inside the top 12, although he is just 11 points inside the Chase zone.
Only 41 points split eighth and 12th in the championship, with only seven races left before the Chase starts, and Martin says he will continue to approach the coming races in the same way.
"No matter what happens going forward, I may change my mind later, but right now I'm leaving the track the same points position I was last week because it's just a rollercoaster," said Martin. "I feel more solid and better about the effort that we've made. I can't do anything more about how the points have fallen. We have had a horrendous number of really unfortunate situations.
"I will only be disappointed for these guys if we don't make the Chase. It's very, very tight. It's very, very close."
Although Martin has the highest number of wins this season, he also has the most DNFs among those in the top 12 due to wrecks at Talladega and Daytona, and engine-related woes early in the season.
The Hendrick Motorsports driver reckons he cannot afford to have any bad races for the next few weeks. He admits to mistakenly relaxing after winning at Michigan last month and losing ground the standings after bad results at Sonoma and Daytona.
"The only way we'll ever have a shot at [the Chase] is to go lead the most laps and win," Martin added. "For now, that's how I'm managing my head. I really thought when we jumped up to wherever we were, eighth or ninth, several weeks ago, that maybe we would be able to breathe. And that was a mistake. Two horrendous races.
"I'm not worried about it. Had we not won a race and we were sitting here right now, I'd be worried about it because we need to do something good. But we have done a whole lot of good."
Should Martin fail to make the Chase, he would be the driver with the most victories ever to miss the series play-off. In 2005, his Hendrick team-mate Jeff Gordon missed the cut due to six DNF's in the first 26 races, despite having three wins to his name at that point.