Top 6 Duramax Trucks of UCC 2019
While the Ultimate Callout Challenge standings have traditionally been dominated by Cummins-powered trucks, the Duramax faithful have proven they can hold their own against the best in the business. In years past, Duramax owners have finished in the top five during the sled pull, run plenty of tens, a fair amount of nines and even a few eights in the quarter-mile and made 2,000hp aboard the dyno. However, scoring top five finishes across all three events has eluded each GM competitor to date. Will their luck change in 2019? With names like Wade Minter, Tony Burkhard and Eric Merchant returning, it’s important to never say never with the Duramax camp.
In the GM segment of UCC, aftermarket names like Wagler, SoCal, Merchant, Danville and DHD rule the roost and some competitors have even gotten away from the Allison automatic in favor of simpler, more competition-friendly transmissions such as the Chrysler 48RE or GM TH400. Although the field of Duramax-powered trucks has dipped to half a dozen this year, it doesn’t make their chances of inflicting damage any less lethal. The ones that are making the voyage to Indy will have some of the most powerful 6.6L-based mills in existence—and their drivers have a lot of experience behind the wheel. Make sure you’re in Indianapolis May 3-5 to see how they fair.
1. Wade Minter
Of all the Duramax competitors, Wade Minter may have the best chance of coming out on top. Our reasoning? He’s already placed fourth overall once, back in 2017. Minter’s Silverado is capable of running eights in the quarter-mile and has already laid down nearly 2,000rwhp on the dyno and turned in a full pull in the past. Supported by Truck Source Diesel (the same outfit behind Chris Buhidar’s ultra-competitive Cummins-powered F-350) and powered by a SoCal Diesel 7.1L stroker engine, Minter has some pretty solid names behind him. Trust us, this 2,000hp Bow Tie has the potential to place near the top in any given event.
Triple-Turbo’d, Former Work Truck
Originally a cab-and-chassis truck, Minter’s ’06 Chevrolet Silverado 3500 HD (nicknamed “Ill Tempered”) is one of the quickest GMs in the nation, having gone 8.89 at 158 mph at UCC 2018. Thanks to the Duramax being stroked to 7.1L, the triple-turbo arrangement, no shortage of fuel provided by S&S Diesel Motorsport and an extra kick provided via nitrous, Minter should be able to equal his 2017 dyno numbers of 1,960hp and 2,727 lb-ft. Throw in a repeat of his full pull performance in the dirt from that same year and we could be looking at this year’s UCC champion.
2. Tony Burkhard
A veteran truck puller of more than 15 years, it was no surprise when Dirty Hooker Diesel’s Tony Burkhard dug his way to a third place, 320-foot finish during last year’s sled pull event. For 2019, look for Burkhard to repeat this performance if not best it, along with improving on his low-11-second quarter-mile elapsed time at the drag strip and 1,673hp and 2,625 lb-ft dyno numbers. As a puller at heart, Burkhard fittingly has the truck, an ’06 Chevrolet Silverado HD coined Last Minute Hooker, configured to dominate the sled pull. His standard cab Bow Tie sports a custom coil over front suspension and Burkhard has a lot of time invested in finding the perfect suspension geometry for his needs. The one of a kind front-end also accepts suspension stops and sizeable CV axles from RCV Performance.
Turning to Wagler Competition Products for a complete, billet-aluminum dry sump long block, Burkhard should have nothing to worry about in the way of his Duramax surviving the abuse it will see at UCC. The engine is fueled by Exergy Performance (big injectors and two gear-driven CP3s), is tuned by Danville Performance and is bolted to a Turbo 400 from Rossler Transmissions. Power makes its way to the front and rear axles by way of an SCS Gearbox quick change transfer case and through custom-built driveshafts from CCI Driveline. It’s no secret that the all-aluminum Duramax combined with the lighter weight powertrain was done in an effort to improve the truck’s performance at the drag strip—and we expect it to be much quicker through the 1320 this year.
3. Eric Merchant
Another longtime sled puller, Eric Merchant (of Merchant Automotive) will be returning this year, competing in his blue ’02 GMC Sierra 2500 HD. After toasting his engine at the drag strip and scoring zero points on the dyno, Merchant was able to salvage a 17th Place overall finish with a strong performance during the sled pull last year. However, to say he’s looking to survive all events and make a bid for a top 10 finish this time around would be an understatement. Two weeks before UCC, Merchant was holed up on the engine dyno at S&S Diesel Motorsport, where extensive testing of his engine, equipped with a single, 3.0-inch smooth bore turbocharger, was being conducted. Look for Merchant’s Duramax to be packing his “budget compounds” at UCC and the truck to have a better showing on the dyno, a quarter-mile E.T. that beats last year’s 10.95 and a 300-foot effort in the dirt.
4. Dave Martin
After his Sixth Place finish during the 2018 UCC Qualifier initially denied him entry into the following year’s main show, Dave Martin gave it another shot at the Wagler UCC Qualifier last fall. There, he took first place overall thanks to an 1,141hp, 1,825 lb-ft performance on the dyno, a 6.67-second eighth-mile and a first place hook during the sled pull. With a spot on the UCC 2019 roster, Martin began planning for even stiffer competition the following spring. His classic body Chevrolet Silverado HD features a chassis that’s already proven itself in the dirt and enabled the truck to run low tens in the quarter-mile, but look for Martin to improve upon those numbers May 3-5 in Indy.
Put together with SoCal, Wagler and Carrillo parts at Locke Performance in Nappanee, Indiana, Martin’s triple-turbo Duramax was recently treated to an S400 valley charger in the hopes of freeing up some more ponies at this year’s show. Two BorgWarner S369s act as a single atmospheric unit. Fueling is provided by Exergy Performance, with eight 200-percent over injectors and a 14mm CP3 getting the nod. Martin’s fourth turbo checks in in the form of a bottle, as he plans to feed the reinforced Duramax mill a healthy dose of nitrous via a two-stage, progressive system from Nitrous Express.
5. Kodi Koch
The biggest wild card in the Duramax camp is Kodi Koch, and we say wild card only because he may not physically make the event due to damage incurred during testing (this truck is plenty powerful and capable). On April 20, during Koch’s licensing runs at Emerald Coast Dragway in Holt, Florida, the truck’s air-to-water intercooler sprang a leak and wet the tires on a pass down the track, causing the truck to break traction and ultimately hit the wall. Now, Koch and team are in a race against time to repair the short bed Chevy and hightail it to UCC. We’re told the front tube section of the frame will have to be rebuilt, along with addressing several other, miscellaneous issues. With veteran horsepower junkie Dmitri Millard by his side, we have a hunch Koch may just make it to Indy.
6. Wade Boyd
2018 proved to be more of a learning curve for Wade Boyd than a success. However, the engine trouble he faced after his 10.7-second quarter-mile pass (which kept him out of the following dyno competition and sled pull finale) did not deter him from building an even better engine and returning to UCC for 2019. This year, Boyd’s ’01 Chevy shortbed is packing a Duramax with full billet-aluminum cylinder heads from Wagler Competition Products, along with Wagler connecting rods and Ross pistons. In addition to running quicker at the drag strip and going as far as possible with the sled in tow, Boyd and team hope to break the record for the fastest Allison-equipped, Duramax-powered truck.