Ultimate Callout Challenge 2018: Sled Pull Coverage
After countless sub-10-second passes at the drag strip and some downright unworldly horsepower and torque numbers being produced on the dyno, expectations were high heading into the final event of U.C.C. 2018: the sled pull. After a full night of converting trucks from quarter-mile killers to sled pullers, the remaining 18 competitors were ready to hit the dirt. As Day 3 of one of the most grueling competitions in diesel motorsports began, the points race was tight. Even though Lavon Miller sat atop the standings thanks to his first place showing on the drag strip and runner-up effort on the rollers, Derek Rose had nearly closed the gap with his gargantuan dyno numbers the day before. In fact, heading into the sled pull, Rose’s accumulated points tally put him a mere 27 points behind Miller—and he would only need to out pull him by nine feet in order to steal the overall win.
Elsewhere in the points chase, things got interesting. Problems in the dirt for Jared Delekta and his Cummins-powered Silverado allowed Chris Buhidar to overtake him for the fourth place overall position, while Shawn Baca’s second place distance propelled him past Buhidar for the number three spot. Beyond that, a slew of shelled drive line parts, oil fires and adverse track conditions highlighted the pulling action from U.C.C. 2018. In the end—and with the farthest distance achieved as soon as the pull began—Lavon Miller held on to the lead to claim his third consecutive Ultimate Callout Challenge title. Read on to see how he did it, along with how the rest of the field stacked up with the iron sled in tow.
1. Lavon Miller: 329.83 ft
Following an incredible, 7.88-second quarter-mile performance and a second place, 2,243hp effort aboard the dyno, Lavon Miller and the Firepunk Diesel team added 1,500 pounds to the bed of their 4,600-pound Pro Street Dodge, along with a weight box out front, in preparation for the sled pull. As fate would have it, Miller drew first hook on a track that may have started out moist and tacky but quickly became dry and loose thanks to the windy daytime conditions. With one of the smoothest pulls of the day, Miller kicked things off by setting the unreachable mark at 329 feet.
2. Shawn Baca: 324.50 ft
Not only did Shawn Baca and the Industrial Injection crew figure out how to tame the Master Shredder Dodge on the drag strip this year, but they darn near nabbed a first place finish in the dirt. With track conditions already starting to fade, Baca’s cut tire Ram found sufficient traction and built up some impressive ground speed before the sled dragged him to a halt at 324.5 feet. Later in the day, when each competitor was given the chance to better their initial distance, the truck’s rear ring and pinion threw in the towel near the 300-foot mark.
3. Tony Burkhard: 320.33 ft
As a veteran truck puller, Tony Burkhard was counting on a strong performance in the sled pull—and that’s exactly what happened. With a 320.33-foot hook, Burkhard and his Duramax-powered ’06 Silverado 2500 HD took third place and shook up the final standings in the process.
4. Derek Rose: 301.25 ft
Once again, the final outcome of the Ultimate Callout Challenge boiled down to how Derek Rose performed in the sled pull. Although a broken drive shaft ended any chance of pursuing Lavon Miller’s seemingly unbeatable distance given the track conditions in the late morning hours, Rose would have one more crack at it later in the day. In the meantime, the skies opened up, dumping a half-inch of rain on the sunbaked track. This proved to be a blessing, as once the sun returned he had a completely different track to pull on. After yet another valiant effort from one of UCC’s toughest competitors, the truck’s rear ring and pinion checked out in Round 2, stopping Rose at 301.25 feet.
5. Donavan Harris: 293.58 ft
After taking fourth place at the drag strip, Donavan Harris finished outside of the top 10 on the dyno, but made it a point to come back strong on Day 3. Following a 279-foot pull earlier in the day, Harris and the Armor Inc/DDP Dodge were able to benefit from the reworked, afternoon track’s much-improved moisture content and drag the sled 14 more feet.
6. Chris Buhidar: 293.50 ft
Buhidar remained steady and consistent throughout the weekend, just as you would expect a championship drag racer to perform. Despite not being a truck puller, Buhidar had a strong showing in the dirt. Just the second truck to hook, his triple-turbo, Cummins-powered (and now dual rear wheeled, like so many others) ’00 F-350 yanked the sled a respectable 293.5 feet.
7. Todd Welch: 290.91 ft
Sticking with what worked so well in 2017, Todd Welch and the guys at Power Driven Diesel bolted the rear SQHD axle and the dual cut tires in place for the sled pull. With the P-pump hanging off the side of the 12-valve Cummins that was cranked up to an insane 1,350ccs of fuel (1,900hp engines use roughly 900ccs…), and despite some nasty mid-track bumps and Welch lifting due to the sight of a small engine fire, the second-gen Ram coasted to a 290.91-foot finish.
8. Eric Merchant: 289.25 ft
Although Eric Merchant’s ’02 GMC suffered engine damage on Day 1 at the drag strip and an unfortunate gremlin cost him and his team valuable points on the dyno, he was determined to make the call on Day 3. In order to keep competing, Merchant and his crew pulled the LBZ Duramax out of the infamous Merchant Automotive sand rail and stuffed it into the blue four door. The swap proved worthwhile, as Merchant pulled off one of the smoother hooks and ended up going nearly 290 feet.
9. Cody Hopkins: 270.50 ft
Aside from the dual hood stacks, Cody Hopkins’ Quad Cab Ram could easily be mistaken for a street truck rather than a competition rig. Showing great improvement over his 2017 performance, Hopkins was quicker at the drag strip (10.27 vs. 11.56), more powerful on the dyno (1,223hp vs. 1,105hp) and went 15 feet further during the sled pull.
10. Josh Gruis: 268.41 ft
A drag racer through and through, Josh Gruis was still able to make the top 10 in the sled pull thanks to six Nitto Mud Grapplers digging him through the dirt. When the dust settled, his 8-second, 1,700-plus hp Dodge had traveled 268.71 feet. Gruis also finished tenth overall at U.C.C. 2018.
U.C.C. Qualifier Sled Pull Winner:
Cory Witteveen: 282.50 ft
Putting nearly 13 feet on second place, Cory Witteveen’s cut tire’d ’05 Dodge put on an awesome display of power when it was his turn to hook to the sled. Originally equipped with a common-rail 5.9L, his Ram is now graced with a 6.4L displacement 12-valve Cummins and a 14mm P7100 from Hart’s Diesel & Machine. Witteveen’s nasty powertrain combination also belted out 1,397hp on the chassis dyno and went 11.1 through the quarter-mile. He’ll be in the main show at U.C.C. 2019.