I look at that shot again, now with an SPVA monitor at work instead of my 1366x768 TN laptop screen, and I see tons of artifacting. Looks like the RAW would be needed, as that JPEG has already thrown out all of the highlight data.
That's OK. The picture can be retaken (really need wider than 18mm to get the shot I want). It's improving the skill set that is the big goal.
If you can use the histogram in the camera to get an idea of where your shadows and highlights stand, that may help. Upon in-camera review, if you see peaks 'squished' significantly to the left (sunken shadows) or right (blown highlights), then you have a bases for retaking the shot on the spot with different exposure settings.
When shooting at a car show over the weekend (some shots on my Flikr), I found that the camera's decided exposure left the image far, far too over-exposed. As I was shooting in manual (hooray!), I simply changed the exposure settings so that the camera read the shot as -1 or -2 EV (on the meter shown in the viewfinder). Typically this meant a faster shutter speed, but in bright daylight I found myself setting a narrower aperture even on my F/4 zoom; I was already at 1/4000 and ISO100, and couldn't get any darker without cheating!
*By cheating, I mean setting exposure compensation, which I believe would have the same basic effect that the Exposure slider has in photo applications, and would be limiting the dynamic range in the shot. I'd only allow this if I needed the focus isolation that a wider aperture provides, but I'd do it knowing that I'm likely sacrificing some flexibility in post.