Donavan Harris’ Amazing 2008 Dodge 2500 Competition Truck
Donavan Harris is the owner of Armor Inc. Diesel & Suspension in Red Deer, Alberta, Canada. To promote his shop’s capabilities, he teamed with Lenny Reed of Dynomite Diesel Products to build a drag truck that would be capable of hitting the dyno on a regular basis as well as tackle the pull sled when needed at competitions like the Ultimate Callout Challenge. After the initial build they tackled the inaugural UCC, finishing in the mid to upper range in each event for a fourth-place overall finish. They came back strong in 2017 and finished in the top three in the drag race and sled pull for a second fourth-place overall finish. Harris has also won the Edmonton NHRDA Pro Street as well as the Alligator Diesel dyno day and the Beans Diesel Performance dyno event. Follow along for an unprecedented inside look at this amazing truck.
Starting with a regular cab, longbed 2008 Dodge 2500, Harris and his team at Armor Inc. went to work stripping the truck down before they could build it back up for race conditions by reducing weight and fabricating a race-worthy suspension. Up front they removed the factory coil spring and shock mounts from the frame and axle, then replaced them with new fabricated mounts to integrate a pair of Viking coilover double-adjustable shocks on each side, allowing them to dial in the suspension to match the track conditions and competition requirements. To locate the axle and keep it solidly locked within its travel, they replaced the weak factory control arms with lightweight fabricated chromoly control arms. Dual steering stabilizers help keep the truck pointed in the right direction at speed. To reduce weight, the front fenders, hood and bumper supports were removed and replace with a fiberglass one-piece front end and bumper shell. The hood and bumper are braced to keep them from deforming at high speeds as Harris rockets down the track.
In the rear, the build team left much of the factory frame (minus several inches at the tail end) but ditched the factory leaf spring suspension setup in favor of a custom-fabricated four-link design with a diagonal locator bar. As with the front, Harris relies on Viking coilover shocks in the rear to tune the suspension. To save weight they removed the factory steel bed and installed a pair of fiberglass bedsides along with the required bracing and mounts to hold them securely in place as the truck blasts down the drag strip at nearly 170 mph. The rear of the truck is also home to an aluminum fuel cell along with a pair of FASS Titanium fuel pump and filter systems, as well as an Optima Red Top battery. This helps keep much of the weight rearward and helps with traction to get the truck off the line more quickly.
The truck’s rear end also helps it to run cooler under stressful racing conditions since the team installed a Mishimoto radiator and a pair of sandwiched BD Diesel transmission coolers in the space behind the cab. Both the radiator and transmission coolers use electric fans to pull plenty of air through their cores. A master battery switch is installed near the fuel cell and battery to meet safety requirements. The tail end of Harris’ truck is completed with a Stroud parachute to help whoa the truck down from its 170-mph passes at the top end of the drag strip.
Of course a potent engine is required to compete at the top levels in the diesel world, and the one Harris, Reed and the Armor Inc. team built delivers the goods with dyno-proven runs of over 2,000 horsepower and more than 3,000 lb-ft of torque. The Armor Inc. crew built the engine with parts from D&J Precision Machine to help build the stock Cummins into the monster it is today. The Cummins engine is a 6.7L mill from the 2008 truck that has gone under the knife for some serious tweaks to enable it to live at outrageous power levels. A factory Cummins crankshaft swings a set of D&J rods and pistons through the 4.21-inch cylinder bores on a 4.88-inch stroke. A Hamilton Cams camshaft actuates the valves through a set of D&J pushrods. The short block is capped with a factory 6.7L Cummins head that has gone through D&J’s machining, porting and polishing to optimize the airflow in and out of the cylinder head. They also removed the intake shelf and installed a billet aluminum D&J intake manifold.
Plenty of air is fed into the Cummins engine through a two-turbo compound Garrett setup that Harris and his team fabricated specifically for this truck. The compressed air charge travels from the outlet of the second charger into a custom aluminum intercooler before it’s directed into the engine through the D&J intake. To go with all that air, Harris also adds a dash of water/methanol from a Snow Performance kit along with a healthy dose of giggle gas through Nitrous Outlet solenoids. Reed and his team at Dynomite Diesel Products also developed a fuel system capable of keeping up with the airflow and injectables.
The fuel system starts with the pair of high-flow Titanium Series FASS fuel pumps mounted on each side of the fuel cell that hand off the #2 diesel to a trio of 12mm Dynomite CP3 high-pressure pumps. One CP3 is installed in the factory location and the other two are mounted with a Beans Diesel Performance large-diameter pulley drive kit and machined drive pullies with Dynomite Diesel logos machined into the faces of the highly polished billet aluminum. Highly pressurized fuel is then force-fed into the engine through a set of DDP injectors. On the exhaust side, spent gasses exit the engine through a Steed Speed exhaust manifold before pushing through the Garrett turbos and exiting the hood through a stack positioned alongside the small-diameter wastegate outlet stack.
Jarid Vollmer of Breakout Tuning handled the custom tuning for the truck using EFILive to safely make tons of power. To date, the truck has been dyno’d on several of the best chassis dynos across the country and in Canada, the highest measurement being 2,033 hp and 3,021 lb-ft of torque. The current dyno numbers are considerably higher than measured at either of the previous two UCC events after the team discovered a simple mistake that was robbing them of lockup and diluting performance in all aspects of competition. With the problem properly addressed the truck has picked up both power on the dyno and speed on the track!
The Armor Inc. team built a Dodge 48RE transmission to back up the potent Cummins engine using a TCS billet FatShaft input shaft, billet intermediate shaft and FatShaft output shaft, as well as additional billet TCS internal components and Raybestos clutches to handle the high power demands of diesel competition. A BD Diesel SFI-rated billet flexplate is used to link the crankshaft to the billet Diesel Performance Converters quad-disc torque converter to send the power from the engine to the transmission. They also installed a SunCoast PCS-controlled valve body in the transmission to give Harris the control over the shifting that he desired using a PCS 2000 controller.
Power output from the transmission is channeled to a stock transfer case that has been modified to accept the larger diameter billet FatShaft TCS transmission output shaft. From there, power is handed off to a set of factory driveshafts to deliver the power to the stock AAM 9.25 axle up front and the stock AAM 11.5 axle in the rear. Yukon Gear and Axle gears in various ratios (the exact numbers kept secret) for each event Harris runs are stuffed into each axle assembly. During drag racing and dyno competition he runs the factory differential and axle shafts in the front axle with an Eaton locker and stock axles in the rear. For sled pulling, the Armor Inc. team swaps out the front differential for an Eaton Detroit Truetrac differential with Yukon gears and axle shafts. In the rear they swap out for a Yukon spool, gears and 38-spline axle shafts.
Putting the power to the drag strip, dyno rollers and pull track is highly important if you aim to win diesel competitions, so Harris has a wheel and tire combination for each discipline. When he’s hitting the dyno rollers the truck typically sports Moto Metal wheels wrapped in 305/50R20 Cooper Zeon LTZ tires. For drag race competition the Armor Inc. team swaps out the tread for a set of 16-inch M&H drag slicks mounted on Raceline wheels for great traction and light weight. To handle the slick dirt surfaces of sled pulling the team mounts up a set of six 35/12.50R17 tires on Fuel wheels with four Interco Truxus tires in the rear and a pair of Nitto Mud Grapplers up front.
Continuing with the weight reduction theme, Harris and the Armor Inc. build team stripped the cab of the factory seats, door panels, side and rear windows, dash, headliner and other trim, leaving the factory carpet as one of the only remnants of the truck’s original interior. For safety at the high speeds the truck would be capable of running, they fabricated and installed an NHRA-certified 7.99-second rollcage using chromoly tubing. The cage ties into the factory frame below the cab and in the bed to strengthen the entire chassis and protect the driver. The factory windshield remains in place, but the side and rear windows were replaced with lightweight acrylic windows to save weight and allow the rear tubes to run through the rear window into the bed.
The team installed a new lightweight aluminum fabricated dash panel complete with their “Say No To Slow” motto cut out of the top of the dash panel. Aluminum panels also replace the factory door panels, along with removal of the factory glass and window regulators for more weight savings. The bulky and heavy factory steering wheel and column was replaced with a simple column and Driven race wheel on a quick-release hub. With the factory steering column and shifter gone, Harris installed a B&M shifter on the floor to run through the gears on the track. To datalog his passes and keep the driver informed at a glance, a TS Performance Informant Pro system and an analog AutoMeter UltraLite II boost gauge were installed. Harris sits comfortably in a Corbeau race seat and is held safely and securely in place with a 5-point G-Force Racing Gear harness. The cab is also home to the Snow Performance water/methanol tank and pumps as well as the Nitrous Outlet nitrous bottle.
Harris tells us that, as with most truck projects, he isn’t finished with this one. After placing well in the UCC rankings for the first two years, Harris and Reed made another strong showing at the UCC 2018, taking fifth in the sled pull and fourth at the dragstrip with an 8.58 elapsed time. Something tells us we have still not seen the last of this truck.