Indy! That single word is one of the most revered in all of motorsports—it elicits dreams of winning the big one in the hearts and minds of competitors of all ages. Thanks to the NHRDA, diesel competitors had the chance to call themselves “Indy champions” in one of 12 different classes contested in early June of this year. For sled pullers, their chance at glory came Friday evening at the Marion County Fairgrounds. Drag racers, dyno competitors and the show crowd has their opportunity for an Indy win on Saturday at the Lucas Oil Raceway.
The quality of the NHRDA competitors was top notch as usual. On the pull track at the fairgrounds, nearly every truck pulled out past the 300-ft. marker with the longest pull of the event coming in at nearly 375 ft. Then, at the drag strip, fast speeds and quick elapsed times abounded with new records being set and some very good lights cut on the line. There was even a 1,200-horsepower daily driver Dodge truck on the dyno.
Friday’s pulling action got underway at about 7:30 p.m., allowing the 1,250 spectators plenty of time to get home from work and head out to the track. Four classes of diesel truck competition were on hand for the night. These included the big dogs of the Super Stock, 3.0 and 2.6 classes that are normally seen at NHRDA events, along with the addition of the 2.5 class. The 2.6 class ran first, followed by the 2.5 and 3.0 classes. The evening finished with the powerful Super Stock class.
Competition was stiff in the 2.6 class with less than 6 ft. separating the top three finishers and all but two trucks pulling beyond 300 ft. Ben Braunecker made the first hook of the night with his “Cummin Atcha” 1997 Dodge pulling the sled along for a 323.53-ft. ride. Amazingly, he turned down that hook, feeling he could do better. He immediately made a second hook, dragging the sled an additional 2 ft. down the track and setting the tone for the night. Fellow Indiana resident Jordan Kinderman had a great pull with his 2007 Dodge but fell just short of taking the win from Braunecker, finishing in second place. Third place in the 2.6 class went to Nick Weaver, who pulled just short of 320 ft. in his 2001 Dodge, making it a Dodge sweep of the 2.6 class podium. Dan Clarke had a rough night in Indy finishing seventh, but still left the event with the NHRDA National Point lead in the 2.6 class.
While the 2.5 class only had three competitors, the competition was no less fierce, with less than a foot separating the top two finishers. Tim Tuttle took home the Indy victory in this class, with his 2006 Chevy pulling the sled more than 306 ft. Doug Monroe followed him closely in his 2005 Dodge that finished with a 305-ft. pull. Jon Bartless rounded out the podium with his 2000 Ford finishing third.
In the two-truck field of the 3.0 class, Joshua Deeter and his 1995 Dodge pulled 12 ft. over Dan Clarke’s 2005 Chevy to take the win. This was Deeter’s third consecutive NHRDA win in the three events he has entered so far in the 2014 competition season. Clarke’s second place finish was good enough to give him the National Points lead following his fourth consecutive podium finish.
The Super Stock class was small but did not disappoint in the performance department, with each truck pulling well past 300 ft. Brad Deeter and Brad Ingram battled to within 4 ft. of each other, keeping their NHRDA points battle within two points as they vie for the National Championship. Deeter and his 2013 Dodge finished ahead of Ingram and his 1996 Dodge, thus taking second place and breaking the points tie they held coming into the Indy event. While the two Brads were battling for the points, Kent Crowder ran away with the Indy event win. Crowder used his 2008 Dodge to pull the sled nearly 375 ft. to take the win in a convincing fashion with an edge of more than 35 ft.
Drag racing action at the track started at around 11 in the morning and the trophies were handed out by about 5:30 in the evening. This made for a great day of racing that allowed spectators time to get dinner and get the kids in bed at a decent time. The early evening finish also allowed competitors plenty of time to get loaded up and back to the hotel, or make their way back home without burning the midnight oil.
On Saturday morning, more than 1,500 spectators were on hand for the NHRDA diesel drag racing action at the famed Lucas Oil Raceway. As we mentioned earlier, winning in Indy is a big deal and the diesel drag racers came prepared to do battle. Fans saw great qualifying passes, near-perfect reaction times and three new NHRDA National Records set.
In the Sportsman class, where diesel vehicles of all shapes and sizes line up to compete with staggered starting based on each driver’s “dial-in” time. Trey Sikes took the win in his 2010 Volkswagen Jetta TDI wagon. Sikes took down the faster 2007 Chevy truck of Blake Newman with a 0.024-second reaction time combined with a 16.19-second pass on a 16.17-second dial-in. Consistency is key in this class, rather than top speed. Indy was the fifth NHRDA race of the season for Sikes; it was also his fourth final round appearance and his third event win. With performances like that it’s no surprise that Sikes holds a very large points lead in the NHRDA National standings.
Moving up to the Super Diesel 11.90-Second Index class, we saw a nearly perfect performance by Michael Dalton with his 2010 Dodge. Dalton’s best qualifying run was 11.901, only one-thousandth of a second away from a perfect time in the highly competitive class. One of the more interesting vehicles we saw on the track was Josh Harris’s 2006 Chevy van that lined up against Dalton in the final round, but left the line a little early to hand Dalton an easy win. The Indy win was Dalton’s first NHRDA win of the season, giving him the points lead in the Super Diesel class.
The Super Street class was dominated by Ben Shadday, who used his 2004 Dodge to set the fast time in qualifying with a 9.81-second pass at 140.44 mph, and then proceeded to get faster through the day. Ultimately, Shadday set a new ET record for the class after making the quickest Super Street pass the NHRDA has ever seen at 9.41 seconds. The final round and the Indy win was decided between a pair of Dodges with Derek Rose finishing in the runner-up position to Shadday’s super-quick Dodge. Ryan Milliken provided some drama for the class during qualifying when a failure under the hood wet the track at the top end and sent his Dodge into the concrete wall. He was not hurt, but the same could not be said for the truck as it left the track on a rollback.
Excitement abounded in the Pro Street class, where trucks put down great numbers but also experienced some brutal failures. Seth Sullivan put the first passes on the new setup in his 1998 Dodge, posting the fastest speed of the day by breaking the beams at 158.99 mph. We expect to see great things from this truck once they get it dialed in. Shawn Proctor turned out several great passes in his 2WD 2006 Dodge. He won his semi-final round, but had issues at the top end of the track with something catching fire under the hood. This needed the attention of the Indy track crew to extinguish the flames. Proctor’s problems gave top qualifier Jarid Vollmer a bye run in the final round. Vollmer needed the bye to get the win as something broke in the drivetrain as he launched his truck off the line. Vollmer has won every NHRDA race he’s entered this season and carries a huge points lead into the second half of the season.
After walking away from a solid hit into the concrete wall in the Super Street class Ryan Milliken still had some driving to do. His 1996 Chevy was the only truck entered the Pro Stock class, and the damage did not stop him from making a few passes and taking the Indy win. Yes, you can make lower speed passes and win your class, without competition, but you have to make them. Milliken has entered and won all six NHRDA events so far this season and looks to take his points lead and win streak into the second half of the season.
What would Indy be without some great dragster action on the track? Jared Jones and Jeff Dean both made passes to thrill the crowd with their diesel dragsters. Dean’s Duramax-powered rail was experiencing some issues but still managed to deliver low 8-second passes, along with customary smoky burnouts before each pass. Jones’s Cummins-powered dragster was on a mission and the Scheid Diesel team had the power and performance of the rail dialed in and ready to attack the record books on the sticky Indy track. Attack they did, coming away from the event with the Indy win as well as setting new NHRDA Top Diesel records for ET at 6.466 seconds and top speed at 225.30 mph. Jones’s quickest pass of the day was a 6.37 while he ran a 6.67 in the final round to defeat Dean, who took the early lead cutting an 0.007 reaction time light for the holeshot.
In addition to six classes of diesel drag racing, diesel enthusiasts also had a small Show-n-Shine competition to take in as well as the dyno competition. There was also a manufacturers midway so fans could check out the latest and greatest performance diesel products from supporting manufacturers. Dustin Spray’s super-clean 1996 OBS Ford F-250 took home the Show-n-Shine Indy win taking the win by popular crowd vote.
Cummins-powered trucks were the most popular on the Reality Check chassis dyno, operated by the team from Dan’s Diesel Performance. Half of the dyno competitors had a Cummins powerplant under the hood, including winner Lavon Miller and his 2004 Dodge that put down nearly 1,250 horsepower with more than 2,200 lb.-ft. of torque. The top finishing Power Stroke truck belonged to Luke Wagner, which put more than 630 horsepower to the rollers while the highest powered Duramax truck was Kevin Hurt’s that fell about 20 horses short of the 600-hp barrier.
The Indiana Diesel Shootout was a little smaller than we hoped this year, but it was still a very good event, with high-quality trucks and their owners giving it their all to take home an Indy victory. No matter how many competitors are on the track or how many spectators are in the stands, a win at Indy is still a win at Indy. It puts diesel drivers into a rare group of Indy winners like Don Garlits, Don Prudhomme, Tony Schumacher and John Force—good company for sure! We plan to be back in Indy to catch the action next year and hope you’re there to join us. For more information on this or other NHRDA events check them out on the web at NHRDA.com where you can also watch videos from the event. DW
Lucas Oil Raceway
Marion County Fairgrounds