Game Changer: 2,200-HP Common Rail

For years now, we’ve been hearing the same old rumor over and over: “Common rail injection engines are the next big thing; they’ll dominate diesel motorsports; mechanical trucks don’t stand a chance.” But, the reality of the situation is that mechanically injected trucks are still dominating the circuit, as large plunger P-pumps (International injectors repurposed for Cummins engines) and firehose injectors are still the norm for the winners’ circle in both drag racing and sled pulling. It would’ve seemed as if the rise of the common rail injection might have been nothing more than myth. Yet again, that just might change.

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AGAINST THE GRAIN

There are always those competitors who are willing to risk going against the grain. In the world of high-horsepower sled pullers, Kyle Michael is one of those guys. In a class that’s completely and utterly dominated by non-electronic rigs, Kyle’s Super Stock puller is an aberration in that he not only runs common rail injection, he also runs a stock Duramax block. While that may not sound impressive, in a World of $100,000 aluminum-block Cummins engines, it actually isn’t bad. So how was Kyle able to compete? We have our theories.

“I got tired of all the rule changes from all the various sanctioning bodies. I decided I should just keep it simple and build a super stock truck.”

First and foremost, the key to his success has been practice, practice, practice. It’s not his first sled pull with the Duramax, nor is it his 100th. As far back as 2004, Kyle’s been pulling with various Duramax-powered rigs as a way of promoting his shop, Crank It Up Diesel. After starting out in the 2.6 class, then eventually moving up to the 3.0 class, Kyle decided it was time for a change. “After a few years, I got tired of all the rule changes from all the various sanctioning bodies,” he says. “I decided I should just keep it simple and build a Super Stock truck, a class where there are very little rules.”

So in 2008, Kyle bought a Barker Machine chassis and set to work. “It took a lot longer than I thought it would,” he tells us. “We were trying a lot of new stuff and custom parts.” But in the fall of the 2011 pulling season, the truck finally was done and ready to make its debut.

While Kyle's Duramax may be different, the basic recipe is pure Super Stock class puller. Huge compounds, a stout bottom end and a ton of one-off parts combine to produce 2,200 horsepower at 5,000 rpm, along with more than 3,000 lb-ft. of torque.

While Kyle’s Duramax may be different, the basic recipe is pure Super Stock class puller. Huge compounds, a stout bottom end and a ton of one-off parts combine to produce 2,200 horsepower at 5,000 rpm, along with more than 3,000 lb-ft. of torque.

The long block in Kyle's rig is one of the stoutest Duramax engines we’ve ever seen. The block is from a 2011 LML, is filled, and equipped with ARP main studs. The engine also has a one-off Sonny Bryant crank, Carrillo connecting rods, and 15:1 Mahle pistons. Surprisingly, the block and Wagler Racing CNC cylinder heads are not fire-ringed, but do have custom 625 studs holding everything together along with an OEM head gasket. Exhaust manifolds are from ATS, and the AFO cam is a custom grind from Crank It Up Diesel. Smith Brothers pushrods and Wagler Racing valve springs with factory rocker arms round out the long block.

The long block in Kyle’s rig is one of the stoutest Duramax engines we’ve ever seen. The block is from a 2011 LML, is filled, and equipped with ARP main studs. The engine also has a one-off Sonny Bryant crank, Carrillo connecting rods, and 15:1 Mahle pistons. Surprisingly, the block and Wagler Racing CNC cylinder heads are not fire-ringed, but do have custom 625 studs holding everything together along with an OEM head gasket. Exhaust manifolds are from ATS, and the AFO cam is a custom grind from Crank It Up Diesel. Smith Brothers pushrods and Wagler Racing valve springs with factory rocker arms round out the long block.

A huge set of compound turbos provides the airflow needed to make 2,200 hp. The "smaller" of the two turbos is a 4.3-inch (109mm) turbo, while the larger turbo is a 5-inch (127mm) turbo. Total boost is 120 psi, while drive pressure comes in at 140 psi.

A huge set of compound turbos provides the airflow needed to make 2,200 hp. The “smaller” of the two turbos is a 4.3-inch (109mm) turbo, while the larger turbo is a 5-inch (127mm) turbo. Total boost is 120 psi, while drive pressure comes in at 140 psi.

FIRST TRY A SUCCESS

“We were pretty far down on power compared to a lot of the trucks that were out there when we started,” recalls Kyle. “Heck, I was even running EFILive to tune the truck.” With about 1,600 horsepower (some 500 hp less than the competition) Kyle was doing okay, but he knew changes would have to be made if he was to keep competitive. Out of the 10 to 15 pullers that show up on any given day for the Super Stock class, Kyle had his share of top five finishes, including a number of seconds and thirds. Beating out 70 to 80 percent of the field gave him the motivation to continue with his unique setup, along with the confidence that sooner or later his truck would come out on top.

A heavily reinforced Precision air-to-water intercooler is used to control intake air temperatures down to slightly above ambient. The piping for the intercooler was built by Crank It Up Diesel, and the system consumes more than 80 lbs. of ice per pass.

A heavily reinforced Precision air-to-water intercooler is used to control intake air temperatures down to slightly above ambient. The piping for the intercooler was built by Crank It Up Diesel, and the system consumes more than 80 lbs. of ice per pass.

Airflow is optimized throughout the entire engine in a pulling application such as this. A ZZ Fabrications individual runner intake sends a precise amount of air to each cylinder, which is then lit off by Exergy Engineering 500-percent over injectors.

Airflow is optimized throughout the entire engine in a pulling application such as this. A ZZ Fabrications individual runner intake sends a precise amount of air to each cylinder, which is then lit off by Exergy Engineering 500-percent over injectors.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Kyle's build is the crazy fuel system, which employs three stock CP3 pumps to maintain 30,000 psi of rail pressure. Built by S&S Motorsport, the drive system has since ditched the water pump for the engine (far left) with a fourth CP3, as even with three pumps, Kyle's Duramax was still dropping rail pressure! A boost-referenced 700-gph Waterman lift pump provides 20-70 psi of pressure to the whole assembly.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Kyle’s build is the crazy fuel system, which employs three stock CP3 pumps to maintain 30,000 psi of rail pressure. Built by S&S Motorsport, the drive system has since ditched the water pump for the engine (far left) with a fourth CP3, as even with three pumps, Kyle’s Duramax was still dropping rail pressure! A boost-referenced 700-gph Waterman lift pump provides 20-70 psi of pressure to the whole assembly.

The oiling system for the Duramax system is quite complex, and uses an external wet sump system. Up front, four Peterson tanks (two on each side) hold oil for both the engine and turbo systems, as well as diesel fuel, and water for the water injection system.

The oiling system for the Duramax system is quite complex, and uses an external wet sump system. Up front, four Peterson tanks (two on each side) hold oil for both the engine and turbo systems, as well as diesel fuel, and water for the water injection system.

TWEAKING THE MONSTER

In the last couple of seasons, Kyle’s made a number of changes that has upped his game (and power levels) dramatically. Pushing more than 2,200 horsepower, Kyle’s engine is still based on a 2011 LML block, but now has a larger turbo setup, AFO cam, different cylinder heads, and a Bosch Motorsport stand-alone engine management system that helps him generate more than 600 hp over his previous combination. Tuned by Kyle himself, the aftermarket computer is a big help in making power beyond 5,000 rpm. Leaving the line at 6,200, Kyle’s screaming Duramax could now put down the power right off the line, and keep the rpm up down the track to avoid the low-rpm cylinder pressure that breaks parts.

“Leaving the line at 6,200 rpm with more than 2,200 horsepower and over 3,000 lb-ft. of torque.”

So how has Kyle’s new combination fared? Well, the competition is as tough as ever, but this past year Kyle had a number of top three finishes, including a win at a Wisconsin PPL pull, and a second place at the ultra-competitive Rudy’s Diesel event in October. Kyle’s win was also the first time a common rail-powered rig (Ford, Dodge or GM) has ever won an event in the Super Stock class. Not one to stay put, Kyle has made even more changes for the 2015 year, including adding a fourth CP3 pump and filling the block.

While the competition is still as tough as ever, Diesel World congratulates Kyle on daring to be different and giving GM and Duramax fans a machine to root for in the truck pulling’s toughest class. With the drive to win and an innovative mindset, Kyle’s sure to be a tough-as-nails competitor in years to come. DW

The larger of the two turbos dictates how much power the engine can make, so Kyle spent some coin on a Columbus Diesel Supply ball-bearing turbocharger that’s often used in tractor pulling applications. The huge turbo is capable of supporting more than 3,000 hp worth of airflow.

The larger of the two turbos dictates how much power the engine can make, so Kyle spent some coin on a Columbus Diesel Supply ball-bearing turbocharger that’s often used in tractor pulling applications. The huge turbo is capable of supporting more than 3,000 hp worth of airflow.

Rail Dominates

For ease of maintenance, weight, and accessibility, the GM employs a hydraulically lifted GTS fiberglass body. The lift-top is also good for showing off the hardware in the pit area.

For ease of maintenance, weight, and accessibility, the GM employs a hydraulically lifted GTS fiberglass body. The lift-top is also good for showing off the hardware in the pit area.

A big step in the last few years has been the addition of a Bosch Motorsport stand-alone computer, that data logs, and drives the injection system. "We can tune the engine with actual fuel quantity, rather than just guessing with duration and pressure," says Kyle. He also informed us that the Bosch system gave an extra 1,000 rpm of usable operating range.

A big step in the last few years has been the addition of a Bosch Motorsport stand-alone computer, that data logs, and drives the injection system. “We can tune the engine with actual fuel quantity, rather than just guessing with duration and pressure,” says Kyle. He also informed us that the Bosch system gave an extra 1,000 rpm of usable operating range.

There's no suspension out back, just a SQHD axle that can handle the massive strain put on the rear end from a 40,000-lb. pulling sled. The axle in the rear runs 6.20 gearing, as does the Rockwell up front.

There’s no suspension out back, just a SQHD axle that can handle the massive strain put on the rear end from a 40,000-lb. pulling sled. The axle in the rear runs 6.20 gearing, as does the Rockwell up front.

Kyle informed us that a water injection system is vital in an application such as this. The 1,000-psi mechanical setup is used to set EGT wherever Kyle wants. "If it's not a points pull, we can drop the EGT as low as 1,300 degrees, but we'll lose as much as 200 horsepower." Full tilt, Kyle runs 1,500 to 1,600 degrees for maximum power.

Kyle informed us that a water injection system is vital in an application such as this. The 1,000-psi mechanical setup is used to set EGT wherever Kyle wants. “If it’s not a points pull, we can drop the EGT as low as 1,300 degrees, but we’ll lose as much as 200 horsepower.” Full tilt, Kyle runs 1,500 to 1,600 degrees for maximum power.

Since Kyle's puller only goes about 300 to 400 feet during a run, just a single gear is needed. A four-disc Crower clutch puts the power down, along with a reverser from SCS.

Since Kyle’s puller only goes about 300 to 400 feet during a run, just a single gear is needed. A four-disc Crower clutch puts the power down, along with a reverser from SCS.

The interior of the puller is sparse and functional. The lever to the right of the steering wheel is a hand throttle, which allows very precise control of the engine, especially on rough tracks. The OEM-style buttons on the switch panel were custom made, so were control things like the lighting, ignition and fuel pump.

The interior of the puller is sparse and functional. The lever to the right of the steering wheel is a hand throttle, which allows very precise control of the engine, especially on rough tracks. The OEM-style buttons on the switch panel were custom made, so were control things like the lighting, ignition and fuel pump.

Although the block has been filled, Kyle still used a cooling system to circulate water through the heads. Since then, he's found the engine to be reliable without it, so the radiator has now been deleted.

Although the block has been filled, Kyle still used a cooling system to circulate water through the heads. Since then, he’s found the engine to be reliable without it, so the radiator has now been deleted.

Since Kyle runs in a four-wheel-drive class, as much weight is kept to the front as possible to offset the tongue weight of the 40,000-lb. sled. A weight box up front is not only full of ballast to aid traction, but also the ice water for the air-to-water intercooler.

Since Kyle runs in a four-wheel-drive class, as much weight is kept to the front as possible to offset the tongue weight of the 40,000-lb. sled. A weight box up front is not only full of ballast to aid traction, but also the ice water for the air-to-water intercooler.

The front suspension came with the Barker-built tube chassis, and Kyle admits he hasn't touched it much over the years. There are two coilovers and one shock per side, which are used to dampen the front axle, which is a mix of military and Rockwell F106 parts. Also visible in the left corner is one of four 14-volt batteries, which Kyle runs to prevent any voltage drop, as the truck's electric over hydraulic steering takes some serious amperage to run.

The front suspension came with the Barker-built tube chassis, and Kyle admits he hasn’t touched it much over the years. There are two coilovers and one shock per side, which are used to dampen the front axle, which is a mix of military and Rockwell F106 parts. Also visible in the left corner is one of four 14-volt batteries, which Kyle runs to prevent any voltage drop, as the truck’s electric over hydraulic steering takes some serious amperage to run.