Diesel’s Top Index Racers
As the popularity of diesel drag racing continues to spread, more and more truck owners are signing up to compete. Naturally, the added interest and turnout has spawned higher payouts for racers, but it’s also improved the level of competition by leaps and bounds. From daily drivers and tow rigs filling up the bracket classes to 2,000hp, high-dollar oil burners tearing down the track in the “Pro” categories, there is something for everyone in diesel drag racing. For the high-powered street truck owner, index racing bridges the gap between the entry-level ET Bracket category and the all-out, heads-up classes.
Similar to bracket racing in that the goal is to run as close to a pre-determined elapsed time as possible without going faster, but different in that everyone shares the same dial-in, index racing offers a much-needed “middle-ground” option for the above-average racer. Specifically, the 7.70 and 6.70 Index classes are big hits with diesel owners (12.0 and 10.50 in the quarter-mile, respectively). It’s not out of the ordinary to have 40-plus trucks vying for the win in 7.70, or 15 (more powerful) trucks battling for first place in 6.70. Perhaps the best part of 7.70 and 6.70 index racing is that the trucks competing can easily be mistaken for daily drivers—and many in the 7.70 class still are.
We’ll admit that there are dozens upon dozens of talented index racers in the diesel world, but the following competitors are operating at the top of their game right now. At any given event, and on any given race day, any one of the them could grab the win.
One 7.70 Class competitor who’s always locked in is Eugene Ogle. The Tennessean regularly competes on the Outlaw Diesel Super Series circuit with his Duramax-powered ’72 Ford F-100, and he’s often the man to beat in 7.70. On top of that, you can usually find Ogle running a second class at each event, which in years past had him terrorizing both 7.70 and the ET Bracket fields. Last year, Ogle was the ODSS points champion in 7.70 Index and also finished in the Runner-Up spot in ET Bracket. At the present time, he’s sitting tenth in the 2018 7.70 points chase, but don’t let that fool you… He’s known for attending every event on the calendar, which when combined with his superb consistency usually brings home titles.
Part of the drag race-winning juggernaut that is Firepunk Diesel, Larson Miller has proven all-but-automatic behind the wheel of this ’07 Dodge Ram. With wins and consistency both on his side last year, Miller finished second overall in the ODSS 7.70 standings and also wound up seventh in the organization’s ET Bracket category. Miller kicked off 2018 with a 7.70 class win at the Rudy’s Diesel Season Opener, but has since moved on to piloting the nasty Pro Mod creation he and the Firepunk crew built for customer Edgar Artecona (the “Save the Racks” S10).
After finishing third overall in the ODSS 7.70 Index class in 2017, Ryan Riddle appears determined to bring home a first place trophy in 2018. So far this season, he and his regular cab Ram have earned a runner-up at the Rudy’s Diesel Season Opener and most recently took home a win at the TS Performance Shootout. These strong back-to-back finishes have propelled him 73 points ahead of second place 7.70 Index racer Nick Morris. If Riddle keeps it up, he’ll have no problem securing the title for the 2018 season.
Another Duramax-powered 7.70 Index competitor, Nick Morris’s standard cab ’03 Chevy Silverado is one of the more consistent on the ODSS circuit. At the first race of the year (the Rudy’s Season Opener) he nabbed a third place finish, right behind the aforementioned Ryan Riddle and Larson Miller. However, with Miller transitioning into his new Pro Mod driving duties, it paved the way for Morris to move into the number two spot in the 2018 points chase. Although Morris currently sits a considerable distance away from catching Ryan Riddle, he and his twin-turbo Duramax have four more races to make up ground.
When looking for a consistent Ford among the sea of Cummins-powered Rams and Duramax-equipped GMs in index racing, it’s hard to overlook Matt Maier and his ’97 F-250. His 7.3L-propelled crew cab Blue Oval runs consistent 7.70s/12.0s on fuel and has seen the most success at the highly competitive, well-attended Diesel Thunder races held in Gulfport, Mississippi. In both 2015 and 2016, Maier drove his OBS Ford to the front of the 11.90 Index class.
He may not be racing this year, but when longtime drag racer Banean Woosley was behind the wheel of this ‘05 Dodge Ram 2500, the rest of the 6.70 Index field took note. Thanks to three wins and above average finishes across the board, he handily won the 6.70 ODSS points chase in 2017. Prior to transforming his ¾-ton Ram (coined the “Great White Buffalo”) into a full-blown 6.70/10.50 rig, Woosley ran the first 10-second quarter-mile in Diesel Power Challenge history and was notorious for laying down the most horsepower at dyno competitions.
Believe it or not, Rick Fox’s second-gen Cummins used to be a dually (as well as a daily driver) before it became a dominant force in 6.70 Index racing, and no, the ’00 Dodge isn’t powered by a ’98.5-’02 24-valve. Instead, it benefits from a compound turbo’d 6.7L common-rail Cummins. In 2017 this truck finished near the top every time it was driven off the trailer, and it ended up earning Fox the second place trophy for the season. Currently, and after a slew of changes were performed on the truck over the winter, Fox is eagerly awaiting his chance to debut his revamped second-gen in the ODSS Outlaw 5.90 Index class.
Ric Newbury and his ’04 Dodge Ram 2500 epitomize the term “stiff competition.” This truck might not win every weekend, but you can always count on it to be there in the semifinals, if not the final round. Newbury finished third overall in ODSS 6.70 points last season. His quad cab Ram has run 9.90s in the quarter-mile in the past but is dialed back a bit to go rounds in 6.70/10.50 Index. It’s powered by a stock bottom end 5.9L Cummins and tips the scales at just 5,500 pounds without driver. Unfortunately, Newbury isn’t able to compete on the 6.70 circuit in 2018 (and the truck is currently for sale), but we look forward to his return to the staging lanes at some point.
Since obtaining this ’01 Dodge Ram from Chase Lunsford (where it was being run in Pro Street), Seth Higgins has turned it into one of the most consistent index racers in the country. Last season, Higgins drove his second-gen Cummins to a fourth place overall finish (along with earning a win at the Scheid Diesel Extravaganza) in the ODSS 6.70 Index points chase. This year, Higgins bumped up to the Outlaw 5.90 Index category, where he’s poised to be one of the newly-created class’s perpetual front-runners.
Susan Soga doesn’t run any specific racing circuit religiously. She’s known to show up at any given event, compete in multiple classes and give everyone she lines up against a run for their money. Her weapon of choice is an ultra lightweight ’34 Chevy rat rod that’s powered by a VE-pumped, 5.9L 12-valve Cummins. A talented driver at the helm of a rock-solid, proven vehicle, we’ve seen Soga be competitive in 7.70, 6.70 and even bring home a win in the Pro Mod category in the past.
Contributing Photographer: Amy Gilbert of Stainless Diesel