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Competition Diesel Performance Truck Tires, Part 2: Why Drag Racers Choose the Nitto NT420V

In the aftermath of the Nitto NT420S departure, its successor, the NT420V, is quickly becoming a hit in the diesel drag racing segment. Thanks to its growing reputation for traction and low wear characteristics, the luxury truck and SUV all-season is beginning to take off in the world of 500 to 800rwhp, daily drivable, weekend warrior-type diesel pickups. Stop in at any Outlaw Diesel Super Series event and you’ll find a slew of trucks in the Test ‘n Tune, ET Bracket and 7.70 Index categories rocking 420Vs—and we found just that at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park back in June.

2017 Ford F-250 Power Stroke

There, we watched a pair of low 8-second eighth-mile performers—which could’ve easily been tow rigs for the faster, purpose-only oil burners also in attendance—get the job done on NT420Vs. Below, we’ll showcase what those trucks did as well as point out exactly what makes the 420V so effective at the track. As the popularity of Nitto’s eye-catching, asymmetrical tread all-season continues to grow, we look forward to seeing it on daily drivers, tow rigs and drag racers alike.

A 24-Valve Second-Gen On A Mission

2001 Dodge Ram 2500 Cummins Drag Race

We spotted Jordan Blackard’s second-gen Cummins for several reasons, the first of which was the fact that the truck is powered by a 24-valve 5.9L—the ’98.5-‘02 generation of Dodge Rams that many ignore due to the VP44’s “seeming” lack of horsepower potential. From Jordan’s first pass (an 8.25 in the eighth-mile) to his last, it was apparent that his ’01 Dodge Ram 2500 was belting out somewhere in the neighborhood of 550 to 600 hp at the wheels, a far cry from the 195 to 210rwhp these trucks produce stock. Our estimated guess on horsepower was confirmed later on, when Jordan told us his Ram made 562rwhp aboard the Northwest Dyno Circuit’s SuperFlow chassis dyno.

Solid Parts Selection

ISB 24-valve Cummins Diesel Engine

The setup that helped Jordan transform his 24-valve into a formidable drag racer is fairly simple. It starts with a bone-stock bottom end, a factory untouched cylinder head and ARP head studs. One of the only additions under the valve cover is a set of 90hp injectors from Dynomite Diesel Products. A standard output (stock) VP44 injection pump feeds the 90hp sticks and at the time we watched it go down the track received its low-pressure fuel supply from a Fleece Performance Engineering PowerFlo lift pump that sat in the factory tank. A T4 Steed Speed exhaust manifold accommodates a billet S363/68/.83 A/R turbo from GT Performance Turbochargers while 24-valve tuning guru, TJ Frey, handles the engine calibrating by way of a Quadzilla Adrenaline.

NT420V Tires On 20x12" Wheels

Second-Gen Cummins Diesel Drag Race NT420V

With all of the above working in his favor, Jordan put together a string of passes in the 8.20s, which translates into high 12’s in the quarter-mile. His tire of choice for the occasion was the NT420V, sized at 305/50R20, which when combined with four-wheel drive never failed to find traction during the truck’s boosted launches. Not only are 8.20s respectable from the VP44/ISB 5.9L platform, but it’s not far off the pace of what’s required to run the ever-competitive 7.70 Index class. Immediately after this race, Jordan began cutting weight off of his 6,740-pound second-gen to help him race in the latter category.

Why Jordan likes the NT420V: “Traction. That and they look good on a 20x12-inch wheel. They are cost friendly as well.”

Dieting Down To 7.70 Index

Gutted Dodge Ram 2500 Diesel Drag Race

Recently, Jordan made a concerted effort to take his truck to the next level. He put the second-gen under the knife for an extreme weight loss program. Notice that the bed stack is missing (in favor of a hood stack) and a fuel cell exists now, along with an AirDog lift pump system, which happens to be the company’s new 5G 220-gph system. With the truck gutted and tipping the scales at 6,000 pounds currently, Jordan plans to ditch yet another 150 and pursue his 7.70 Index goals.

Consistent Grip & Long Tread Life

Nitto NT420V Tire

As the successor to the NT420S—an all-season that found a home in both the drag racing and daily-driven diesel truck segments—the NT420V had a lot to live up to. Luckily Nitto did its homework to ensure traction is never an issue. The NT420V’s large outer tread blocks play a big role in this tire’s consistent grip, which effectively increases the amount of surface area touching the pavement. As a bonus, for the diesel racer who doesn’t want to swap wheels and tires at the track, the NT420V’s non-directional tread pattern design provides for cross-rotation for even wear and a long tread life.

Road & Track

NT420V Nitto Luxury Truck SUV Tire

Truck-specific sizes and load ranges make the NT420V a solid candidate for year-round use, which is especially convenient for the weekend warrior that works his truck by towing a trailer all week. Select NT420V’s in both 20-inch and 22-inch fitments even boast F load range (a 12-ply rating). For higher horsepower, such as strictly drag racing applications, versions packing a lower ply rating are at times preferred due to the softer sidewall providing the perfect amount of “give” to maintain traction, especially on a hard launch. All told, 34 different sizes of the NT420V are in production at the present time, most of which are available in popular 20-inch and 22-inch wheel fitments. In the world of truck tires, where options abound, the NT420V comes in at middle-of-the-road on price, further adding to its attractiveness for the diesel owner looking to maximize traction on the street.

Standard Cab Super Duty In The 8s

2017 Ford F-250 Power Stroke

It’s nice to see a ’17-newer Ford getting after it on the track. After all, with nothing more than a tune, a turbo upgrade and a set of tires you can send in excess of 600 hp to the pavement. This particular 6.7L Power Stroke has a weight advantage over its crew cab brethren, so needless to say it can get more out of its mods than the heftier, more popular four-door models. How do 8.50s sound (or bottom 13s in the quarter) in what essentially amounts to a brand-new Super Duty?

NT420Vs & 22-inch American Forces: A Mouthwatering Combo

6.7L Power Stroke Diesel NT420V Tires American Force Wheels

For the money, it doesn’t get much more pleasing to the eye than a set of NT420V’s mounted on 22-inch American Force wheels. And then to see the combination hook and book as well as it does on this late-model Super Duty makes it all the more impressive. The 305/45R22 NT420V tread shown here measures 32.8-inches in overall diameter and just under 12-inches wide for a favorable footprint and plenty of traction when the last yellow bulb comes on. The F-250 would go 8.53 at 84 mph through the ‘660 shortly after we took this photo.

  • NT420Vs, Mud Grapplers and Terra Grappler G2s are all being campaigned successfully throughout diesel motorsports. You’ll see what we mean right here.
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