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1997 Dodge Ram 2500 - Nothing’s Impossible

Micah Sullivan Makes Low 9s and 1,800 hp Happen with a Single-Turbo 5.9L Cummins

Jason Sands
Apr 15, 2015
Photographers: Jason Sands
It's been said that the allure of racing is that it pushes technology and innovation—and when we first heard about a 5.9L Cummins laying down nearly 1,800 hp with a single turbo and no nitrous, that's exactly what we thought, too. A few years ago, having such an engine would be unthinkable. But that's exactly what resides under the hood of Micah Sullivan's bad-to-the-bone drag truck. What's even more amazing is the fact that the chassis is virtually stock (save for some suspension tweaks), and the transmission is a good-old Dodge 47RE automatic, albeit with some upgrades.
Photo 2/18   |   The 5.9L Cummins in Micah Sullivan’s race truck is pushing the limits of common-rail technology, with an engine-dyno-proven 1,800 hp and 2,500 lb-ft of torque. Built by Scheid Diesel, the current combination has an operating range of about 3,500 to 5,000 rpm and is controlled by a Bosch Motorsports standalone computer.
This story starts with a truck in a barn, which is exactly where Micah bought this '97 Dodge. "I immediately knew I wanted it to be a race truck," says Micah, "and Dan Scheid had helped us so much with our other Pro Street ride, I thought this truck would be a perfect platform for another drag truck. But this time, Dan suggested a common-rail engine."
The block is a filled-and-fire-ringed stock 5.9L Cummins, but almost everything else has been changed. The factory crank swings a set of R&R connecting rods, which are attached to Arias low-compression pistons. Inside, a camshaft cut from a billet blank (again by Scheid Diesel) rides on roller cam bearings and moves custom valves, pushrods, and valve springs in a fully ported and polished 24-valve common-rail head—all to the tune of 5,000-rpm engine speeds.
Photo 3/18   |   Micah cut weight wherever he could when building his race truck. The small RCI fuel cell is a perfect example of something that would be ill-suited for the street yet works just fine on a race vehicle.
As advanced as the engine's long-block is, its air and fuel systems are where things really start to get interesting. While the competition relies on compound, or even triple turbochargers, Micah's ride uses a single 88mm turbocharger built by Precision Turbo. The enormous ball-bearing turbo features a massive 5-inch downpipe that snakes down to 4 inches under the truck. A Steed Speed T4 manifold lights the turbo, and the whole combination pushes an impressive 80 psi of boost through a Spearco intercooler. A whole lot of rpm is needed to keep the big turbo up on boost, and Micah reports he launches the truck at 25 psi and 3,800 rpm and shifts at 4,800 rpm.
"What the heck is that!?" is what virtually everyone says when they see the huge, beltdriven (with a large cog belt), common-rail pump. It's not a CP3, or CP4—or anything else we're used to seeing—rather it's a large hydraulic pump adapted to this application by Scheid. Nicknamed the "CP10," the pump works in conjunction with the stock CP3, a Bosch standalone injection system, and enormous injectors Dan calls "Red Man 30s" to supply more than 30,000 psi of injection pressure. "No matter what else happens during the run, rail pressure is one thing we don't need to worry about," jokes Micah.
Photo 7/18   |   Micah and his brother Seth custom-fabbed the 5-inch downpipe for the turbocharger. It exits into a 5-inch Silverline exhaust stack, although the team plans to switch to a hood stack when they move up a class to Pro Street.
With an engine as exotic as this Cummins, one might expect the transmission to be built out of unobtanium, but that's actually not the case. In fact, the transmission in one of the most powerful drag trucks out there is actually built by its owner and his brother Seth. "We manage power really well, so we don't need a lot of exotic parts," Micah says. "The second gear band, for instance, is one of the cheapest we can buy, but for whatever reason, it's the only one that lasts." All three transmission shafts are 300M billet steel, but are not oversize, and were sourced from Sonnax (input), ATS (intermediate), and TCS (output). A fully manual valvebody was installed, and the transmission runs more than 200 psi of line pressure in order to keep the clutches alive. A 3,500-rpm stall converter from Diesel Performance Converters was installed on the truck to ensure there were no problems spooling the huge turbo.
Photo 8/18   |   In high-rpm applications, the factory water pump can overspeed and provide much more pressure than is needed. To solve this issue, a Meziere inline water pump is used to save weight and provide constant flow to the engine.
Initially, Micah manually shifted the truck, locked the converter in Second gear, and commanded Overdrive himself—all while going down the track. But when he looked at the data logger he had second thoughts. "Some runs I would shift at 4,850 rpm, others maybe 4,700 rpm. Sometimes I hit Overdrive early, other times I was a little late...it just wasn't consistent enough." The solution came in the form of a Shifnoid solenoid, which attaches to the B&M shifter and bangs the gears for him at a preset rpm. A PCS controller is also employed now, which controls lockup and Overdrive.
Photo 9/18   |   Most of the factory dash is intact, but it has been fitted with numerous aluminum insets. Switches for the fan, radiator, and other systems are mounted right in front of the driver, as are all-important transmission temperature and fuel pressure gauges.
With a current best of 6.01 seconds at 121 mph in the eighth-mile and 9.35 at 149 in the quarter-mile, Micah's single-turbo Dodge is one of the quickest and fastest four-wheel-drive drag trucks out there. At 5,900 pounds (or 6,000 even to make NHRDA's Super Street Class), the truck is way too heavy for the next class up, Pro Street, even though Micah has won a few races in that class, too. "That's where we're headed with the truck," says Micah. He notes that dropping another 900 pounds won't be easy, but it will help control parts breakage and will hopefully allow the truck to run faster than its existing record. "We're a long way from when we started, running 10.50s...and we're not quite done yet!" says Micah. We can't wait to see how it all turns out.
Fast Facts
Year/Make/Model: '97 Dodge Ram 2500
Owner: Micah Sullivan
Hometown: Stanford, Kentucky
Odometer: 310,000 miles
Engine: 5.9L Cummins I-6; fire-ringed and filled common-rail block; factory crankshaft; R&R connecting rods; 12:1 Arias pistons; ported 24-valve head with Scheid Diesel springs, locks, and retainers; 234/254 duration camshaft
Fuel: DSR lift pump, factory Bosch CP3 and Scheid Diesel "CP10" injection pumps, custom lines, Scheid Diesel "Red Man 30" injectors, Bosch standalone ECU, RCI fuel cell, DSR lift pump
Air: Precision Turbo 88mm ball-bearing turbocharger, Steed Speed T4 manifold, Spearco intercooler, and ZZ Custom Fabrication intake
Exhaust: Steed Speed manifold, custom 5-inch downpipe, 4-inch straight pipe, and 5-inch Silverline stack
Transmission: Owner-built 47RE-based four-speed automatic transmission with a custom valvebody; 300M billet steel input, intermediate, and output shafts; DPC 3,500-rpm stall four-disc torque converter; B&M shifter with Shifnoid solenoid
Horsepower: 1,800 hp (engine dyno)
Torque: 2,500 lb-ft (engine dyno)
Tires: 28x14.50-16 Hoosier Quick Time Pro
Wheels: 16x10 Centerline
Suspension: Custom traction bars, AFCO shocks and springs (rear), AFCO springs (front), tuning by Fast Chassis
Axles: Dana 80 with a spool (rear), Dana 60 (front), 3.55:1 gears
Fun Fact: Since diesel trucks are so heavy, each 200 pounds of weight lost is worth about a tenth of a second, which means that in 2015 at 5,000 pounds, Micah's truck should run 8.90s!

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