Clint Bowyer figured he was in line for a fourth-place finish.
Then he was looking at a chance at victory, and when he went for it — and failed — the fingers pointed every which way.
It was Bowyer's move to the inside of Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson entering Turn 1 that wound up wiping out all three of them on the penultimate restart, but Bowyer said he had a boost from behind from Ryan Newman to help him.
He also was one of many wondering exactly what David Reutimann was doing as he circled the track with no brakes and the race winding down, and then stopped in a precarious spot just before Turn 1 to bring out the caution that changed everything.
"He drove around there for 10 laps with no brakes and finally just stopped," Bowyer said. "That was ridiculous."
It irked Brad Keselowski, too. He ran near the lead all day, but wound up ninth.
"That was really, really uncalled for and ruined the day for a lot of people," he said.
The caution allowed everyone but Gordon, who was leading, and Johnson, who was second, to stop for at least two tires. The two Hendrick Motorsports cars had dominated the day, but the new rubber behind them made their ability to hold on questionable.
On the restart, the cars chasing bunched up quickly, and mayhem ensued.
"They had the cars to beat. They should have won the race and we should have finished fourth there, but that's just the nature of the beast," Bowyer said, adding that Gordon, on old tires, spun them on the restart, and Bowyer went where Newman was heading.
"If I didn't go down there, (Newman) had already hit me in the rear and he was going to. I did and (Newman) won."
Newman said he's been on the opposite end of such scenarios, too, and made no apologies.
"Like I said, we've lost them that way hands down several times. It's nice to be able to win one," he said.
Reutimann said he was trying to stay in the top 35 in points, which guarantees him a spot in the next race, and was very apologetic for what happened, and how it changed the outcome for so many drivers.
"They gave me a black flag. We were coming to pit road and it shut off," he said. "And that's as far as I could go."
Gordon, meanwhile, seemed to take his lost opportunity in stride once Bowyer explained what had happened.
"That's Martinsville, green-white-checkered," he said. "There are no guarantees at this place."