Sleeper Express: A Daily Drivable, 1,000 HP Cummins Diesel-Powered Dodge Ram
It can tow the camper to the track, then unhook and run low 7’s in the eighth—or it can drive 300 miles to a dyno competition and lay down a four-digit number. In the winter, you can find it digging through the snow when 4x4 is required. In the summer, it can knock down 18-21 mpg as a commuter. In between all that, it’s got a 6-foot, 4-inch short bed that can haul whatever needs hauled. Welcome to Justin Norris’s world—a world where his ’06 Dodge 2500 can do a bit of everything, and do it all well.
Most of the big red Ram’s versatility is a direct result of having left the factory with a 5.9L Cummins under the hood. Believe it or not, only three top-end hard-part upgrades have been added to help the iconic I-6 handle more than 1,000 hp. The short block has gone 100-percent untouched in its nearly 200,000 miles worth of service so far. Even better yet, the entire build was pulled off on a budget—the biggest expense being the reinforcements added within the 48RE transmission. Factory, 15-year-old paint, 17-inch wheels and conventional exit exhaust also means this 1,000hp terror flies completely under the radar…
On The Dyno
Justin Norris graced the diesel world with his sleeper Dodge’ presence in the summer of 2021 and he made the most of it. First, he competed in the dyno competition at the Scheid Diesel Extravaganza, where the truck belted out 1,169 hp and 2,116 lb-ft of torque aboard a Dynocom chassis dyno. A couple weeks later, he strapped the ’06 to a Mustang dyno and laid down 935 hp and 1,704 lb-ft. Although his second dyno experience yielded slightly more realistic numbers, Justin’s timeslips collected at the drag strip suggest his horsepower number lies somewhere between what either dyno says. More on that later.
That Little Something Extra
For a slight edge, many dyno participants remove their air filter, which is exactly what Justin is doing here. The thinking is that one less airflow restriction can help free up a few extra ponies. Sometimes it helps. Sometimes it doesn’t. In this case, Justin’s numbers didn’t change much, but it didn’t matter. They were still impressive. In fact, his Ram laid down top five dyno numbers at this particular event, LinCo Diesel Performance’s Grand Opening Hootenanny, where the aforementioned Mustang dyno was measuring horsepower.
Straight Outta Columbus
So what’s the secret sauce that makes Justin’s third-gen Cummins so deadly? In short, it all boils down to good fuel and air. Justin upgraded the Columbus, Indiana-born 5.9L’s common-rail fuel system with a set of injectors that were privy to internal body modifications at S&S Diesel Motorsport and that were also fitted with 200-percent over, 118-degree spray angle nozzles. A high-speed, 12mm CP3 from S&S replaced the factory pump and provides the proprietary injectors with a steady, 26,000-psi worth of rail pressure. As for the engine mods, Manton beehive valve springs replaced the weak stockers, Wagler pushrods sit in place of the OEM units and ARP 2000 head studs were installed one by one so the head wouldn’t have to be removed.
Big horsepower calls for big airflow, but instead of ditching the factory Holset turbo in favor of the common BorgWarner S400, Justin went a different route. He decided to make use of a premium option he’d obtained for a discount years prior: a 2.8 x 3 tractor turbo from Precision Turbo & Engine. That’s right, it’s a tractor pulling turbo. However, Justin has found that its size and flow are well-suited to the 5.9L Cummins—and it certainly made his path to power easier. The “2.8” refers to the turbo’s billet, 71mm (2.8-inch) compressor wheel, the “3” signals the 75mm turbine wheel (exducer) and the T4 divided charger is sufficiently responsive thanks to its .98 A/R exhaust housing. It builds 65-psi of boost.
Factory Reliable—With 3 Times The Power
While there’s no doubt it gets leaned on at the track and when strapped to the rollers, it’s apparent Justin baby’s the truck—as is evident here with the hood up even though the truck just made three trouble-free pulls of 900 hp or more and was in no danger of overheating. A short time after we snapped this photo, Justin hopped in the driver seat, placed his 935hp dyno sheet in the glove box and made a near-300-mile trek back home.
All-Terrains For An All-Purpose Truck
Let’s face it, stumbling across a high-horsepower diesel truck that isn’t sporting 20-inch wheels or larger is rare these days, so we definitely appreciate the sleeper look of Justin’s 17’s. For four-season versatility, those 17’s are wrapped in Nitto Terra Grappler G2 tread. The all-terrains measure LT285/70R17, have been on the truck since 2016 and—even though they’ve seen their fair share of burnouts—provide the kind of quiet, comfortable ride Justin was after when he used to commute 230 miles, one-way.
1,000RWHP Confirmation From The Track
Even more telling than a dyno graph, these numbers sum up what Justin’s sleepy third-gen Cummins is capable of. When you factor in an educated guess for the truck’s competition weight, the Wallace race calculator says it’s easily knocking on the door of 1,000rwhp according to this eighth-mile trap speed (trap speed being a more accurate indicator of horsepower than elapsed time).
Dyno Melter, Drag Racer, Commuter And Tow Rig?
Right before he collected the low-7-second timeslip pictured above, Justin’s Ram rolled into the pits with his 30-foot camper in tow. Other than the well-tuned, well-oiled Cummins that powers the truck, a sound transmission build makes everything the Ram does possible. The 48RE four-speed automatic benefits from billet input, intermediate and output shafts, a DPC triple-disc torque converter, RevMax Performance valve body, a pair of Derale Performance transmission coolers and also from having been pieced together by Cummins guru Chris Redlarczyk.
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