Berner's Big Weekend: After clinching 2008 Pro Stock World Championship, Pete Berner wins $100,000 IHRA Pro Stock Showdown Rockingham, NC (Oct. 20, 2008) -- It may have taken quite a bit longer than planned, but Pete Berner (Crete, Ill.) has...
Berner's Big Weekend: After clinching 2008 Pro Stock World Championship, Pete Berner wins $100,000 IHRA Pro Stock Showdown
Rockingham, NC (Oct. 20, 2008) -- It may have taken quite a bit longer than planned, but Pete Berner (Crete, Ill.) has no complaints. Berner defeated John Montecalvo in the final round of the $100,000 IHRA Pro Stock Shootout, a program that was originally scheduled to be completed at the North American Nationals in Epping, N.H. last month.
Rain washed away the final round in Epping after the first two rounds were completed. Montecalvo and Berner agreed to race for the $50,000 first prize during the season-ending IHRA World Finals at Rockingham Dragway during the Saturday evening session. Unseasonably cool weather caused the race to again be delayed as IHRA rescheduled it for Sunday at the World Finals. Again, things did not work out as planned...but it was not weather that caused another delay, it was Montecalvo.
The plan was to have Montecalvo and Berner settle things after both of them were knocked out of the World Finals. Berner was knocked out in the first round by Elijah Morton, but Montecalvo would not go quite so quietly. First he defeated J.R. Carr in the first round. He then stopped Dean Goforth in the quarterfinals. He followed that up by knocking off Frank Gugliotta in the semifinals before going on to defeat Elijah Morton with the event championship and Ironman on the line.
As Montecalvo moved through the rounds of eliminations the Showdown kept getting pushed back. When he won the event in the cool of the night, as the track temperature plummeted, the Showdown final was again moved. Since the majority of the sportsman competitors were moved to Monday morning IHRA decided Montecalvo and Berner could settle things Monday as well.
Finally, at 1pm, the two drivers squared off. Berner had a huge advantage at the starting line (.050 to .129) and powered down the track in 6.267 at 220.66 mph to get to the finish line first and put $50,000 in his pocket. Montecalvo, who clocked a 6.300 at 221.74, earned $20,000 for finishing second.
"I'm tickled to death about this weekend," Berner said. "The only thing that could have made it better would have been if we could have made a better run in the first round Sunday. We knew it was going to be fast, but we'd never run the car with this much power under these conditions. Everyone here was limited with their information so we were just trying to take baby steps to get it down the track. We thought we could run in the low .20's, but we tried to keep it conservative and just shot for the mid-.20's."
Montecalvo was disappointed, but did not leave Rockingham Dragway empty-handed. He won the World Finals Pro Stock Ironman as well as runnering up in the Showdown.
"We wanted to triple up this weekend, win the Showdown, win the event and stay third in the points race," Montecalvo said. "I guess two out of three isn't bad. The funny thing is, with all the delays in the Showdown people kept asking us if we ever thought about splitting the pot or something like that. Pete and I have way too much pride and ego to do something like that."
Montecalvo defeated Dean Goforth in the first round and Jeff Dobbins in the semifinals, both at New England Dragway. Berner knocked off Frank Gugliotta in the first round and Robert Patrick in the semifinal, also at New England Dragway. And though it took a long time to complete, Berner was thrilled with the Showdown program and how it was executed.
"We came back here Monday with all the sportsman cars running, and the track was just phenomenal," he said. "IHRA did a great job of getting it ready for us. After that storm came through in Epping, where we were doing very well, I thought it would give John plenty of opportunity to get some work done and catch up with us. We worked on ours too, tested and worked on some things. And my car is phenomenal. My guys are so resilient, they busted their butts and worked with no time off to get me ready for this weekend."
"With the delays we had to make some adjustments, but it wasn't that big a deal. We had to work with whatever the conditions said. The rain got IHRA behind on their deal this weekend, so they had 400 cars to run here on Monday. We just adjusted to whatever happened so we could make a good run. John did the same thing and he has a great car with great power and a great team behind him. We must have both done something right to get ourselves into position to race for this much money in one shot."