The crowd was poised for a last-lap miracle from Dale Earnhardt Jr. in third place.

Then all hell broke loose at Martinsville Speedway.

And Ryan Newman won.

Nobody was poised for that on Sunday, which is why fans love short-track racing, why they’ve been belly-aching the past two weeks since the snooze-fest at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Newman did have a Hendrick Motorsports engine, but that doesn’t give Hendrick, Gordon, Johnson or even Earnhardt any solace. They were the class of the field all day — leading 441 of 515 laps — and basically came away with nothing.