2018 NHRDA World Finals
Since bringing its season-ending World Finals event to Texas in 2012, the National Hot Rod Diesel Association’s year-end extravaganza has enjoyed solid spectator and competitor turnouts. Each fall, you can count on watching the fastest drag racers and the most powerful pulling trucks in the nation compete at the Texas Motorplex in Ennis. In 2018, things were no different, as convoys rolled in from all over North America for a shot at being crowned a World Champion. In addition to the prospect of earning a World Championship trophy, many racers were hoping to perform well enough to tie up the national points chase in their respective classes.
With the overall points chase still up in the air in several categories (namely Top Diesel, Pro Stock, Pro Street and Sportsman), the stage was set for a highly-anticipated final weekend of drag racing. Adding to the anticipation, the Firepunk Diesel team hauled the Pro Mod Save the Racks S10 some 1,100 miles to take a shot at the long-standing Pro Stock quarter-mile record. Unfortunately, Mother Nature saw to it that no records were broken on race day. As violent weather tore across northeast Texas, torrential rainfall and tornado warnings canceled all drag racing on Saturday. Luckily, Sunday was available as a rain date, but with many teams unable to remain in town an extra night (Firepunk included), racer turnout was inevitably reduced.
Still, the World Championship truck and tractor pull went off without a hitch on Friday night and the drag racers that rode out the storm on Saturday were rewarded with sunny skies and a well-prepped track on Sunday afternoon. By the end of the day, Matt Kubik looked to be on the verge of breaking the Pro Stock record aboard his P-pumped, 7.3L-powered ’98 Mustang, Phillip Franklin put his 5.9L Dodge through the eighth-mile in 5.7 seconds and John Robinson awed the crowd with a low-7-second quarter-mile in his Power Service dragster. For those highlights and more, keep scrolling.
Pulling Off the Upset: Jared Delekta Wins Pro Street
Headed into the World Finals, Jared Delekta held a slight points lead over the always-automatic Dustin Jackson in Pro Street. But even though Delekta had been lowering the Industrial Injection Cummins-powered ’01 Silverado’s elapsed times (and increasing its trap speed) all season, the real question was whether or not he could edge out Jackson, whose Cummins-powered first-gen Ford Lightning is known to run consistent 5.0s and 5.1s in the eighth-mile. In a final round upset, Delekta’s 5.11 at 142 mph beat out Jackson’s 5.39 at 141 mph for the win. Throughout 2018, Delekta and the rest of the Industrial Injection crew pushed the 4,800-pound, four-wheel drive, IFS-equipped, rear leaf spring Chevy to its very limit, and the World Finals win is a well-deserved victory for the Pro Street newcomers.
Pro Street Runner-Up: Dustin Jackson
After grabbing the number one qualifier position, it looked as if the cool, calm, collected Dustin Jackson was once again on his way to victory aboard the Old Hustle, New Flow ’94 F-150. Thanks to a win earlier in the season at the Oklahoma Diesel Nationals, Jackson came into Ennis just a few points behind Jared Delekta. In fact, the points were tight enough that, had Jackson been able to beat Delekta in the final round, he would’ve also snuck around him in points and stolen the National Pro Street Championship out from under him. While it wasn’t meant to be this time, Jackson and Delekta’s side-by-side race in the final was awesome to watch.
World Championship Three-Peat: Jarid Vollmer
The ’41 Willys from G&J Diesel is always a fun one to watch go down the track. Known in the diesel world as the Batmobile, this Duramax-powered, Lenco transmission, fiberglass bodied head-turner runs mid 7s in the quarter-mile on a regular basis. At the World Finals, driver Jarid Vollmer trapped 186.41 mph in the final round against Matt Kubik, where he took the win in Pro Stock.
Tough Break for the 7.3L Mustang
Anytime Matt Kubik shows up with his P-pumped 7.3L Mustang, people take notice. His unique Pro Stock creation sounds, looks and acts completely different than anything else on the NHRDA circuit—but it’s also incredibly fast. Having trapped 192 mph in the past, Kubik was on what looked to be a winning pass in the finals. Unfortunately, a clutch let go in the Lenco, costing him the race and a World Championship trophy. Amazingly, with the mechanical 7.3L Power Stroke screaming and the transmission unable to shift out of second gear, Kubik’s Mustang still managed to trap 172 mph!
A Win Is a Win
By the end of a long racing season, weak links sometimes begin to surface—and the Top Diesel class was living proof of that at the World Finals. With Wade Moody unable to race eliminations due to engine troubles and being that Jared Jones and the folks from Scheid Diesel broke their dragster's rear end during qualifying, all Robinson had to do to get the win was bump into the staging light during the final. Robinson too had seen his fair share of late-season issues, including internal engine damage incurred the weekend before the World Finals. Pieced together with a fresh cam and a handful of new valves, Robinson’s 12-valve Cummins was still able to throw down a 7.33-second pass in qualifying and end up with the World Championship.
Super Street King: Phillip Franklin
After running 8.80s at just under 160 mph in the quarter-mile last year, Phillip Franklin was a big reason the NHRDA implemented new rules for Super Street in 2018. The biggest change? These 6,000-pound behemoths will be limited to running the eighth-mile until further notice. But the track being cut in half didn’t seem to bother Franklin, as he racked up three wins before rolling into the World Finals with a commanding points lead. Once he’d gone rounds and ended up in the finals at Ennis, Franklin stormed the eighth in 5.78 seconds at 125 mph for the win. This is his second consecutive win at Worlds, but his first National Championship points win in the Super Street class.
Super Street Number One Qualifier: Dallas Wade
Accumulating two wins along the NHRDA circuit, Dallas Wade showed up in Texas hungry for more—and it showed. He claimed the number one qualifier spot with a 6.02-second eighth-mile at 119 mph, and it looked like it would boil down to him and Phillip Franklin in the final. Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be, as Wade red-lit against Chase Wells’ low-6-second Cummins in the semifinals.
10-Second Ranch Hand
Once he’d finished terrorizing the 11.90 Index class, Larry Brown installed a roll cage in his ’07 Dodge 2500 farm truck and set his sights on kicking tail in the 10.90 category. At the World Finals, he proved unstoppable. Brown and his flatbed Ram earned the win by cutting an 0.95 light and running 10.900 on the money in the last round. It doesn’t get much closer to perfect than that.
Canadian big-rig racer and world record holder Gord Cooper was in hot pursuit of his third consecutive NHRDA World Championship trophy in the Hot Rod Semi class. Thanks to the big Kenworth running an 11.96 at 115 mph in the final round against Mario Monette, he was able to pull off the three-peat. Earlier in the day, Cooper’s ’68 KW claimed the number one qualifier with an 11.93-second pass. The 10,000-pound W923 is powered by a nitrous-huffing, twin-turbo 8V92 two-stroke Detroit and has been as quick as 11.40 at 120 mph in the past.
Ending the Season on a High Note
Veteran truck puller Jim Greenway is no stranger to the winner’s circle and has campaigned a vehicle in every competitive pulling class there is. However, since introducing his latest truck (coined “Luther”) in the top-tier Super Stock class, wins have evaded him. All of that would change in Texas, where Greenway yanked the sled 326 feet and change, putting more than 20 feet between himself and second place.
Scheid Diesel: Running Out Front
Brad and Susan Ingram trekked 800 miles to the World Finals to represent the Scheid name in the Pro Stock and Super Stock categories. Winning Pro Stock (the class the truck spent the 2018 season competing in), Brad finished nine feet ahead of the rest of the pack with a 331-foot hook. Also signed up in Super Stock, Susan drove the cut-tire, second-gen Cummins to a 302-foot distance, which was good enough for second place.
Photography provided courtesy of NHRDA