The ADRL Dragpalooza IX was Pete Berner and the Summit Racing Equipment team’s first race out with new Crew Chief, Tom Pierson, and new major associate sponsor, CarSafe.

With so many changes for the first event, one might expect a major adjustment period for the team. However, it was easy it tell that the team was a perfect fit, and things couldn’t have gone more smoothly.

“The team worked great together,” Berner said. “Tom had me laughing all weekend, and I couldn’t ask for better partners in Tom and Mark [Eckman, owner of CarSafe]. Mark and his son, Sean, jumped right into the team and were a perfect fit. Tom’s heart and passion kept all of us going throughout the weekend. It’s easy to see that he wants to do well. He’s an asset to racing in general, but to have him work with us in the role of Crew Chief was just what I was looking for. Eric [Fleming] and RV [Rick Varnold] have the continuity and hard work that keep this program going day in and day out. They did an awesome job in the pits, as usual. Everyone blended well together.

Berner also welcomed Jeff Perley of NHRA’s KB Racing Pro Stock team on board for the weekend.

“Having Jeff Perley help out this weekend was also a perfect fit,” Berner said. “He was a great asset, and his personality worked well with the rest of the team.”

The Summit Racing Equipment Team’s efforts landed them a #4 qualifying spot with a 4.039-second time, just .014 seconds off the #1 spot. In round one, Berner faced Doug Kirk, who posted an incredible perfect light. However, it wasn’t enough for Berner’s powerhouse 4.08-second pass. In round two, though, reaction times would prove to be Berner’s nemesis as Trevor Eman’s .013 reaction time and 4.05-second elapsed time was enough to eclipse Berner’s .047 light and 4.04-second run.

“Congratulations to Trevor on running some of his best numbers ever and on doing a heck of a driving job,” Berner said . “He got the better end of us and did what he had to do to beat us. With Doug putting that triple ‘0’ light on us in the first round, I knew no one was going to be giving it to us easy on race day. The tight races and side-by-side action are what make Extreme Pro Stock a fan favorite. Congratulations, also, to John Deflorian. He’s the new guy setting the performance benchmark for the rest of us. We’re not going to let him rest easy up there, though. We’re hot on his heels.

With the ADRL back under the former leadership of Kenny Nowling for 2013, many racers were curious as to what the season would hold. Packed stands and a well-run event quickly subdued any doubts.

“It was a great weekend for racing,” added Berner. “I want to congratulate Kenny and Jack [Switzer, owners] as well as Steve Earwood [Rockingham Dragway owner] on a fantastic event. They had a great crowd. The stands were packed, and the racing was great.”

Berner looks forward to seeing what the rest of the season holds–and to seeing what his Camaro can do.

“Even though we made some really nice runs throughout testing and the weekend, they were nowhere near as good as they will be,” Berner said. “We are constantly learning more and more about our combination and setup. With new sets of eyes on the car this weekend, we were able to make some more strides in the right direction.”

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