The World’s 5 Fastest Diesels: Power Stroke Edition
Despite Ford trucks outselling those produced by GM and Ram for decades, the Power Stroke name has never had the same kind of success that the Duramax and especially the Cummins I6 enjoy at the drag strip. However, in recent years the Ford faithful have been pushing their V8 diesels to new heights. Whether it be with the ancient 7.3L, the often-hated 6.0L or the new-age, common-rail 6.7L Power Stroke, Blue Oval fans have a lot to be excited about. In the past three racing seasons alone, we’ve seen seven, eight and nine-second quarter-mile passes from a door car, a dragster, an altered and even two trucks.
So who’s the fastest? Surprisingly, it’s not a rail at the present time. Rather, it’s a ’98 Mustang packing a P-pumped (i.e. non-HEUI) 7.3L, compound turbos and 150 psi of boost. Even more surprising, three of the top five fastest quarter-mile Power Strokes in the land are HEUI-injected V8s. While a Power Stroke-powered vehicle is yet to make it into the 6s or break the 200 mph barrier, based on all the progress we’ve seen over the past decade, we aren’t ruling out the possibility. For now, enjoy this variety pack of Power Stroke profiles, each with its own unique story and parts combination.
1. Matt Kubik: 7.60 at 192.19 MPH
Thanks to the compound turbo’d, P-pumped 7.3L Power Stroke mill under the fiberglass front clip, Matt Kubik’s “Demented” ’98 Mustang has plenty of cool factor built into it. For a lot of reasons (though mainly for horsepower potential), a mechanically-injected 7.3L (vs. the oil-fired HEUI system the engine originally came with) garners a whole lot of attention. Be it in the pits, on the track or online, this car has celebrity-status among Blue Oval loyalists. In October of 2017, Kubik and his fourth-gen Mustang put up their best quarter-mile E.T. and trap speed to date with a 7.60 at 192.19 mph. According to the car’s 192 mph trap speed and 3,300-pound race weight, 1,600hp was making it to the rear slicks, despite a slipping converter.
The P-pumped, tractor-technology aboard Kubik’s Mustang comes courtesy of Hypermax Engineering, where he sourced the engine. The block is cast in compacted graphite iron for improved strength and one of Hypermax’s bed plates ensures the crankshaft never moves. Recently massaged by the mechanical injection wizards at Scheid Diesel, an inline eight-cylinder Bosch P-pump and 8.3L Cummins-derived injectors mount in a set of factory-based 7.3L heads. The sizeable sticks pour copious amounts of fuel on top of D&J Precision Machine FSR (forged steel ring) pistons. Eight forged-steel rods absorb the abuse that comes from making in excess of 2,500 lb-ft of torque and a 4.1-inch (104mm) Hypermax atmosphere turbo and a Garrett GTX5533R combine for an insane 150 psi of boost at full tilt.
2. Dan Snyder: 8.43 at 170.39 MPH
Tipping the scales at 2,490 pounds, Snyder Performance Engineering’s Dan Snyder only needed roughly 850rwhp to send his rail through the traps at more than 170 mph. Given the fact that the 6.7L Power Stroke it’s packing in its tube chassis is capable of making considerably more horsepower than that, his dragster is definitely capable of more. With a few more ponies and a harder launch, Snyder’s rail could literally walk into the sevens. After running an 8.43 at 170 mph in the summer of 2016 (as well as an even more promising 5.24-second eighth-mile at 140 mph), the rail has only seen sporadic race time, but we hope to see more of it next season.
Putting the almost-infinitely capable high-pressure common-rail system employed on the 6.7L Power Stroke to good use, Snyder’s engine sports dual injection pumps (a stroker CP4.2 and a stroker CP3), Exergy Performance injectors and his own engine tuning. Airflow checks in via compound turbos: a 96mm S500 BorgWarner monstrosity for the low-pressure unit and an S475 for the high-pressure charger. A full engine build features a filled block, Ontork main studs and head studs, Carrillo rods, coated Mahle pistons, a Colt cam and ported factory cylinder heads. With the rail’s two-stage Nitrous Express system activated, the engine could see as much as 150 psi of boost.
3. Brian Gray: 9.288 at 146.27 MPH
To some, Brian Gray’s low nine-second pass back in March came out of nowhere, but he’s been around a while. As the owner of Performance Injection Systems (as well as Gray’s Diesel Performance), a company specializing in 7.3L injectors, Gray knows a thing or two about HEUI. Needless to say, the power plant in his old body style, regular cab Ford gets along just fine with the factory-based injection system. The truck itself weighed in at 4,550 pounds on its 9.28-second quarter-mile journey, but its un-ballasted heft checks in at just 3,625 pounds. While Gray has yet to make a quarter-mile pass in lighter trim, it did allow him to storm the eighth-mile in 5.21 seconds at 137 mph—which converts to approximately 8.2s in the 170 mph range in the quarter.
Nitrous-Huffing, 1,100+ RWHP
Placing the HEUI injection system on steroids, the 7.3L is fitted with a set of 400cc hybrid injectors equipped with 400-percent over nozzles and a dual high-pressure oil pump setup from Brian’s Truck Shop (now available through Full Force Diesel). But despite running what are considered to be very large injectors in the HEUI realm, Gray’s engine is still fuel-limited in comparison with today’s common-rail engines or Matt Kubik’s mechanical 7.3L. So what does he do to make up the difference? He sprays a boatload of nitrous! Prior to spray, boost production gets its start via a big single turbo from Garrett. The 1,100+ hp 7.3L is also backed by a Proformance Racing Transmissions’ Turbo 400, complete with a 12-inch lockup Neal Chance converter and trans-brake.
4. Matt Kubik: 9.36 at 153 MPH
Back in 2015, Matt Kubik (yeah, the same owner of the “Demented” Mustang) was making waves in this 6.0L-powered Ranger. It was back-halved (yet all steel), made use of a narrowed rear 10.5-inch Sterling with a pinion brake and often left the line with at least one front wheel in the air. The truck has since disappeared from the drag racing scene but is believed to now be owned by some folks that definitely know their way around 6.0Ls—and it’s the same shop that’s gleaned nearly 2,000hp out of one. Needless to say, we expect to see big things when/if this Danger Ranger makes a comeback.
Big Fuel, Oil and Air
Making roughly 1,130rwhp a reality, the 6.0L Power Stroke under the hood of Kubik’s Ranger was nasty to say the least. Still HEUI, the injection system benefitted from a set of Warren Diesel 500/400 hybrid injectors supported by a River City Diesel Thumper II high-pressure oil pump. A healthy, 80 psi worth of boost was crammed into the engine courtesy of a compound turbo arrangement that consisted of an S591-based BorgWarner over an S471 SX-E, along with a couple stages of spray. In order for the 6.0L to survive that kind of boost and the big torque produced by the compounds, a host of internal hard-part upgrades were necessary: Hypermax connecting rods, River City pushrods and valve springs and ProMaxx Performance heads anchored via ARP 625 Custom Age head studs.
5. Jim Rose: 9.37 at 140.31 MPH
Different from most of the dragsters you’ll find in the diesel segment, Jim Rose’s tube-chassis altered was built specifically to house an oil-burner rather than a gasser. Most notably, its wheel base is roughly a foot longer than traditional altereds in order to achieve a favorable weight bias with the hefty diesel mill in place. Thanks to a narrowed Ford nine-inch, two-speed Powerglide and no intercooler, the 7.3L-powered dragster checks in at a lightweight (for a diesel) 2,800 pounds with Rose onboard. Inaugural passes made in the fall of 2017 yielded several nines, including a best of 9.39 at 139 mph. Recently, Rose was able to improve on those numbers with his new best: a 9.37 at 140 mph.
Compound Turbo’d 7.3L
As the owner of Rosewood Diesel Shop, a company that specializes in high-quality, affordable 7.3L HEUI injectors, Rose runs a set of his own injectors, which flow 300cc worth of fuel. A 15:1 compression engine from Carson Stauffer Diesel was built to handle the triple-digit boost that an S488 over S467 turbo combination from Barder Turbo Service provides. Nine-second trips through the quarter-mile consist of 4,300 rpm, 90 to 100 psi of boost and a healthy exhaust note provided courtesy of a stack attached to the low-pressure turbo.
Photography provided courtesy of Amy Gilbert of Stainless Diesel, NHRDA and the vehicle owners.