TALLADEGA, Ala. -- Drivers who are typically knocked out of the Chase for the Sprint Cup at Talladega Superspeedway often moan about getting caught up in a mess created by someone else.
For the four drivers eliminated Sunday following the Hellmann's 500, they could only look at themselves to blame.
With no big crash taking out competitors, the four eliminated drivers -- Austin Dillon, Martin Truex Jr., Chase Elliott and Brad Keselowski -- just didn't perform as well as needed to advance to the semifinal round of eight.
Truex and Keselowski -- with four wins apiece this year -- were victims of engine failures. Keselowski, facing a nearly must-win situation, had led 90 laps before his engine went sour with 44 laps remaining.
"I'm not an engine guy, but the car was really strong and we definitely kept finding debris," said Keselowski, whose car had debris covering air vents on the front bumper twice, including a few laps before his engine blew. "I thought I got it cooled off and only got it slightly over, but I don't know. ... That's racing.
"We just had a tremendous race going, but it wasn't meant to be."
Truex's engine expired much earlier, just 41 laps into the race; he had started on the pole.
"This sport is tough, and we didn't perform at Kansas and Charlotte the way we were capable, and we had some issues there and that put us in the hole, and if we could have went there and done better and maybe got a win, then we wouldn't be talking about this right now," Truex said.
"We didn't get the job done."
While Keselowski missed the cutoff by 35 points, Elliott (who finished 12th at Talladega) missed it by 28 and Truex by 25. Dillon missed a chance to advance on a tiebreaker.
Denny Hamlin used a third-place finish, six spots ahead of Dillon, to tie Dillon with 78 points in the round. Hamlin's third-place finish was the best for either driver in the round. With the result, Hamlin earned the spot in the next round and eliminated Dillon.
"I guess it wasn't our day to do it," Dillon said. "We tried. We didn't really have enough speed all day to do much. ... We just couldn't get another spot. We got a couple there at the end, but it didn't work out."
Elliott, a rookie, faced a must-win situation. Both Elliott and Dillon still seek their first career wins.
"There's no time to be disappointed," Elliott said. "We'll just move on. ... The most important thing in this sport is winning, and we want to do that. I felt that we had a good enough car to compete with them.
"Once I fell out of the top 10 and got back there, it was just hard to make up those big chunks of ground in a hurry."