Accustomed to final round appearances and championship runs, Pete Berner has become more familiar with first round losses as he’s been off form throughout the 2012 ADRL racing season. However, for the final event of the season, fans of the Summit Racing driver saw more of the Berner they’re used to.

With help from manufacturers and Pro Stock supporters, several of the Pro Stock teams organized their own Battle for the Belts Shootout. Berner went all the way to the finals in the Shootout, ending his season on a high note.

Berner started off the weekend by laying down a 4.051-second eighth-mile run on his first qualifying pass, an effort that would place him in the number-two qualifying position for the weekend. Berner looked in good shape for the Battle, where, in round one, Berner ousted Todd Hoerner with a stout 4.071. In round two, Berner laid down another 4.051 to take out the hard-hitting John Deflorian Jr. On the other side of the ladder, Ritchie Stevens had advanced to the finals, making it his second final in as many years. Stevens would go on to claim his second win as well by beating Berner on a holeshot.

“Congratulations to Ritchie on his second consecutive Battle win,” Berner said. “We were making exceptional runs. We got a handle of the sweet spot of this machine. I’m not quite sure what happened to [me] in the World Finals eliminations. I lost my focus and was out of rhythm. I didn’t stage well, which meant I didn’t let the clutch out well. Overall though, we’re very pleased with our performance this weekend. The car repeated well, which was part of the issue we battled all year.

“Before this event we changed basically everything on the car except for the body. So to come out and go straight to the number two spot was a relief for us. With the weather change on Saturday we babied it a little. We understand what it wants and we’re happy with the combination, but we’ll always continue to refine and further our understanding of how to use the tricks and tools of this machine.

“Many thanks to Tom Pierson and Mark Eckman for organizing our Pro Stock Battle for the Belts this year,” Berner said. “We owe much gratitude to them, the other seven racers who put money up for the Shootout and our wonderful supporting manufacturers. I especially appreciate Summit’s efforts and participation in this. All of our associate sponsors including Hoosier Tire, RJ Race Cars, Ram Clutches, Braswell Carburetors and Penske also helped make the Shootout a possibility. Without everyone’s efforts there would have been nothing to run for, and I would not have even had the chance at the winner’s circle. I know I speak for many of my fellow competitors when I say thank you to everyone who had a hand in this. We also appreciate the ADRL letting us put this race on.”

“My crew, Eric and RV, did an exceptional job all year. I’ve never seen two guys work so hard. Nearly every time we went down the track this year we changed the setup. In testing we made a run every hour. With what we had to go through this year, these guys worked tirelessly, and they worked incredibly well together.

“Drag racing is a never-ending learning curve, and this year it seemed we learned everything the hard way. We’re hoping now that there are better times ahead. I’m confident that we’ll be launching from a better spot next year, and with all we’ve learned this season, there are only positive things that can come from it.”

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