Martin Truex Jr. is the driver atop the NASCAR Cup Series championship points standings as the regular season winds down.

He leads the standings by nine points, his closest competitor being William Byron. There are eight races left before the postseason and the driver who gets there as the regular season champion will do so with an extra 15 playoff points.

But the Joe Gibbs Racing driver doesn’t need to be reminded of any of that.

“All the time,” Truex said Saturday of how much he looks at the point standings. “All the time.”

The swing in fortune is not lost on Truex either. A year ago, the 2017 series champion faced repeated questions about his optimism for a win and how closely he was watching the bubble. Although he had the consistency to be a top-five driver in the overall championship standings, he went down the stretch of the regular season needing a win to make the postseason.

Ultimately, Truex missed the playoffs because he went winless. The final spot went to Ryan Blaney, who prevailed in the final race of the regular season and left Truex the first driver on the outside looking in by three points off the cutline.

“Different line. It’s a much better line this year to be on,” Truex laughed. “That’s just racing. That’s the way it is. Some years are good, some years are not. This year has been really good and hopefully we can keep it going.”

Truex leads the way on the strength of two victories and nine top-10 finishes. He has the third-best average finish of drivers who have run every race and is one of four drivers (William Byron, Kyle Busch, Kyle Larson) with multiple victories.

“I feel really good about where we’re at,” Truex said of his outlook for the rest of the regular season. “It’s just too early to tell; everybody seems to always find a way to step it up in the playoffs. The guys who are going to make the final four will find a little bit extra. (In) our good years, we’ve been able to do that.

“Can we do it again this year? We’ll have to wait and see.”