No. 2 is actually No. 1 — at least for Glen Paine Jr.
The roofing contractor from Puyallup won his first national event in the Super Gas class Sunday at the 28th annual NHRA Northwest Nationals at Pacific Raceways in Kent. And he did it by crossing the finish line second.
Paine and Vancouver’s Gene Heaton both finished too quickly for the class’s allotted index of 9.90 seconds.
“You want to go fast to the finish line,” Paine said, “but not too fast to where you’re breaking out. We both broke out, but, fortunately, he broke out more than I did.”
Just barely — Paine finished with a 9.888-second elapsed time, Heaton four-thousandths of a second quicker.
Paine, who has raced competitively for 10 years, but in only three events on the national scale, likened the field of drivers to Murderers’ Row. He worked through five elimination rounds before facing Heaton in the final.
“I had to run all of the top guys right away,” Paine said. “There are no freebies.”
Sunday was also the first time Paine — who drives a 1994 Chevrolet Beretta — has qualified for a national final.
“It was just more intense because it was the final round,” he said. “I’m trying to breathe more, my wife and daughter are here, you know, and you just line up and subconsciously go.
“And there’s the win light. I cannot believe it.”
Paine modestly attributed some of the success to luck — in the form of his wife, Tina, and daughter, Kylie, who attended the event Sunday.
“Tomorrow I’ll go, ‘Wow, I still can’t believe it,’” Paine said. “And of course (Tina) goes, ‘Yeah, tomorrow you have to mow the lawn and take out the trash, so enjoy it now.’”
Proudly toting around his Wally — the official NHRA trophy named after founder Wally Parks, and one of 24 awarded to drivers — Paine certainly seemed to.
Longtime Puyallup drag racer Jody Lang’s bid for a 26th national event win slipped away in the Super Stock finals.
Following a quick start off the line, Lang’s 1981 Chevrolet Malibu slowed, allowing Dan Fletcher of Churchville, New York to cruise by for the title with a 10.276-second elapsed time. Lang finished at 11.084 seconds at 117.39 mph.
“It doesn’t make any sense,” Lang said. “I don’t know what happened.”
This is the second time in three years Fletcher defeated Lang in the finals at the NHRA Northwest Nationals.
“He comes into your territory … I’m getting tired of it,” Lang said.
Lang has won at the Seattle-area event five times — most recently in 2011, when he swept the Super Stock and Stock Eliminator classes.
Lauren Smith: 253-358-4160