These 5-second Fords are Bucking All Convention in Diesel Drag Racing
In the spring of 2020, no 6.0L Power Stroke had ever gone 5’s in the eighth-mile. Several were knocking on the door, but all had yet to officially pull off the feat. All of that changed in May, however, when Austin Denny and Charlie Fish met at our first COVID ‘660 drag race at Wagler Motorsports Park. Signed up for the 5.90 Index class, Austin’s ’06 F-250 put up a 5.76 at 120 mph right off the bat, while Charlie and his purple Super Duty nicknamed “Lucky” trimmed tenth after tenth off of their initial 6.20 E.T. by bumping up the nitrous until running a best of 5.85 at 117 mph. But that was just the beginning. Now these 5,000-rpm thoroughbreds can run the number consistently.
So how are these two getting away with campaigning the 6.0L Power Stroke in one of drag racing’s fastest classes? Are they still HEUI-injected? How much nitrous do they spray? What transmissions do they run? How light are their trucks? And how reliable are the engines? The answers may surprise you. One utilizes a compound turbo setup and uses very little nitrous while the other sports a big single and huffs quite a bit of it. One truck relies on a 4R100 to handle its shifts while the other retains the 5R110. One is four-linked front and rear while the other still rides on the front coil springs and rear leafs. Find out which is which in the pages that follow, along with what parts make both of these 1,500hp 6.0L’s so competitive.
After ending the 2019 racing season as a 6.70 competitor, Austin Denny pulled out all the stops for 2020 when he decided to bump up to 5.90 Index. His ’06 Super Duty goes down the track safely and effectively thanks to a roll cage and front and rear four-link suspension built by Lyn Miller and Cody Fisher of Firepunk Diesel. Sticking with the factory 5R110 TorqShift platform, Austin’s five-speed automatic is the pride of Red Diamond Diesel’s David Ferguson, who lends Austin a huge hand both in the pits and behind the scenes.
With Wagler forged rods, triple O-ringed heads fitted with RCD Performance valvesprings, RCD pushrods activated by a Colt stage 3 cam, and ARP Custom Age 625+ head studs (torqued to 300 ft-lbs), Austin’s 6.0L is pretty serious. However, there is no real rocket science involved in making the engine—assembled by David Ferguson—produce and survive 1,500-plus horsepower. The pistons are factory bore, Mahle cast-aluminum pieces that’ve been de-lipped and flat cut, and a stage 3 (S3R) ported intake manifold from Odawgs Diesel sits in place of the stock unit.
SoCal Billet Inc.’s Larry Steele built the compound turbo system around the use of sizeable chargers from Bullseye Power. The T6 flanged, S500-based atmosphere unit shown uses a 94mm compressor wheel, a 104mm turbine, and a 1.15 A/R exhaust housing to get the job done. In the valley sits one of Bullseye’s quick-spooling NLX series turbos, complete with a T4 flanged, 76/87/1.0 unit and dual ball-bearing center cartridge. SoCal Billet Inc. also fabricated the up-pipes that link the valley charger to a set of Harrington Diesel exhaust manifolds, which feature a Tial 44mm wastegate on each side. Peak boost checks in at 115 psi on spray and 100 psi on fuel.
If you’re wondering whether or not Austin’s 6.0L was still oil-fired (i.e. HEUI), here’s your answer. In fact, with all the advancements Warren Diesel Injection has made in working with the 6.0L injection system over the years, there is no reason to get away from it. To feed Austin’s massive Warren 500cc, 400-percent nozzle hybrid injectors the oil they need, a dual high-pressure oil pump system (also from Warren) is employed, the secondary HPOP being sourced from Kevin Cyr. As for the fuel side of the 500/400 injectors, two Aeromotive pumps combine forces to feed the hybrids a constant supply of 60-psi.
While a 58-volt FICM sends more juice to the electric side of the hybrids, spot-on PCM tuning via SCT software from Warren Diesel Injection is what gets the most out of the 500/400 hybrids and dual HPOP’s. But perhaps even more important, notice the mechanical injection pressure regulator (IPR) shown in front of the FICM. This piece from High Speed Performance Inc. brings a mechanical IPR into the mix. In large injector applications, the 6.0L’s factory IPR is known to blow open, dropping injection control pressure (ICP). The mechanical IPR allows for 5,500 psi worth of ICP to be sent to the injectors (for reference: a factory 6.0L produces roughly 3,600 psi of ICP).
The removable, fiberglass front clip makes accessing the 6.0L a breeze and also helped in lightening up the truck. A Mishimoto intercooler helps to cool intake temps and EGT, but V-band connection points have been welded to the inlet and outlet to rule out blown boots at high boost. Most recently, Austin and his team swapped a rack and pinion steering system in place to get rid of the natural play in the factory steering system, which was becoming a bit dicey on the big end of the track.
So far, most of the work involved in Austin’s 5.90 Index campaign has revolved around getting the chassis fine-tuned. Firepunk’s Rick Fox has played a huge role in getting the truck’s chassis and suspension dialed in, with fellow 5.90 racer Austin Doidge offering help and advice both at races and in between them. Part of keeping the truck in its happy place also boils down to tire pressure. On race day, Austin told us he makes sure the front slicks have 13.5 psi of air, and that the rears have 12 psi.
Though the factory frame still survives under Austin’s truck, the front radius arm/coil spring suspension and rear leaf springs out back have been scrapped in favor of a front and rear four-link arrangement. Both the four link suspension and roll cage were built at Firepunk Diesel, and Austin’s chassis is certified to go as quick as 8.50 in the quarter-mile. As you can see here, AFCO double-adjustable coil over shocks (obtained through NCB Diesel & Offroad) are in use above the front axle. And speaking of axles, the Dana 60 is bone-stock, while the only upgrade made to the rear 10.5 has been the addition of a Yukon Grizzly locker.
To get the big Ford off the line with consistency, Austin uses a BD staging limiter, with the trigger point on the Racepak set to 25-26 psi of boost. Unfortunately, running a 5R110 means he doesn’t have the luxury of utilizing a trans-brake. Austin, David Ferguson, and Jesse Warren’s solution to the five-speed TorqShift’s tendency to become temperamental with high horsepower in the mix was to launch in second gear, cut out ABS sensor monitoring and allow lockup to be controlled by a Digi Set delay timer rather than the truck’s computer. Not only does this combination work well, but the transmission is in Overdrive before even hitting the 300-foot mark. From there, the engine is loaded up, triple-digit boost is made, and the truck eagerly charges toward its 120-plus mph trap speed.
Believe it or not, Charlie Fish’s ’05 6.0L used to be his daily driver…and a long bed…and two-wheel drive! After being kicked off the drag strip for going too fast without a roll bar, the wheels started turning, one thing slowly led to another, and eventually a full-blown short-bed race truck was born. Today, Charlie is no stranger to competition, having squeezed 1,536-rwhp and 2,405 lb-ft out of the truck at the 2019 UCC Qualifier, along with making plenty of passes in the low 6’s and now the high 5’s.
While a complete race engine from Kill Devil Diesel is in the works, Charlie’s best pass to date, a 5.85-second ride at 117 mph, was made on this 6.0L Power Stroke, a lesser-caliber engine he and his crew at KC Turbos assembled using parts sourced from KDD. Callies forged rods, fly-cut and de-lipped Mahle factory pistons, and a Kill Devil stage 2 cam reside in a stock (unfilled) block that’s been fitted with one of KDD’s billet front covers.
One of the biggest differences between Charlie Fish’s 6.0L and Austin Denny’s is the turbo(s) they’ve chosen. Charlie runs a single, front-mounted BorgWarner S480 SX-E. Though the big, T6 single features BorgWarner’s 96mm turbine wheel and 1.32 A/R exhaust housing, a few proprietary tweaks have been made on the 80mm compressor wheel. The task of mounting the S480 was left to Odawgs Diesel, which handled the exhaust manifolds and up-pipes. With the help of a two-stage nitrous system that effectively depletes the contents of a 15-pound bottle every two to three passes, the charger produces 70 psi of boost per pass. An ice barrel intercooler from C&R Racing (which takes dry ice) drops intake temps from as high as 400 degrees F to 100 degrees F before entering the engine.
An R4 wet sump oil pump from Peterson Fluid Systems is tasked with providing sufficient oil pressure throughout the engine. The billet-aluminum, low-profile modular pump is belt-driven off of the crankshaft.
Maintaining ICP is key when you’ve got a set of Warren Diesel’s 430cc, 200-percent nozzle, 7mm hybrid injectors in the mix, so Charlie runs a dual HPOP kit. Designed by Kevin Cyr and now offered through KC Turbos, the second high-pressure oil pump is front-mounted, running off the power steering pump pulley. On the fuel supply side of the equation, a Marty’s Diesel Performance competition system, complete with two Fuelab pumps, sends 65 psi to the big hybrids.
In retaining the stock radius arms, Charlie did what he could to prepare for front-end hop. This included adding nylon limit straps just in case the front tires ever try to leave the ground. Luckily, the truck has launched very smooth so far, and the straps have never been forced to do any work.
Unlike Austin Denny’s 5.90 Index truck, Charlie’s Ford retains the original suspension, front and rear. Granted, significant changes have been made, such as cutting down the factory coil springs to lower the truck, but the coil springs and radius arms are still present nonetheless. The altered coil springs are accompanied by double-adjustable QA1 shocks, which play a huge part in eliminating front-end bounce.
Like Austin Denny, Charlie makes use of the mechanical IPR setup manufactured by High Speed Performance Inc. Taking the factory IPR out of the picture means that no drop in ICP (and more importantly no oscillation of power) occurs. Thanks to tuning from Chris Buhidar of Truck Source Diesel, 5,000 psi of ICP is produced without issue.
Here’s something you don’t see every day: an hour meter on a 6.0L engine. Following the unfortunate destruction of the truck’s previous engine due to a short-shift, over-torque scenario, Charlie swapped the hour meter over to the current power plant. The idea itself came from his friends at Kill Devil Diesel, who are curious to see how long a 1,500hp 6.0L can last before any problems surface. Also notice the Bullet Proof Diesel FICM on the valve cover, which is a 58-volt unit that’s calibrated by HP Tuners.
Here you can see the factory frame and what’s left of the original rear suspension. The stock leaf springs are still in place, though each pack has been reduced to two leafs per side. Aside from a Truetrac limited slip, the factory rear 10.5 axle hasn’t seen any other attention other than being unable to wrap thanks to a set of One Up Offroad traction bars. The Dana 60 up front has gone completely untouched.
After outfitting the truck with a Lariat interior back when it was daily-driven, some of the upscale interior remains even in race form. Charlie entrusted 1320 Industries to build the roll cage at its Peoria, Arizona location. Notice the PCS controller on the transmission tunnel. It’s used to control the truck’s 4R100 transmission.
Between the fiberglass bedsides, you’ll find a C&R Racing radiator, Derale auxiliary coolers, and a 15-pound NX nitrous bottle tied in with the chassis. One Derale cooler serves as a fuel cooler given the fact that only 5 gallons of diesel can be held in the fuel cell. The other two Derale units are run in series to help keep the race-ready 4R100 cool. The 4R100 itself was originally built by Warren Diesel but gets freshened up locally at Transmissions Done Right in Tempe, Arizona. It boasts billet shafts and an Extreme Duty, 3,000-rpm stall triple disc converter from Goerend Transmission.