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2006 Ford F-250 Dragstrip Dominator

The Underdog

Jason Sands
Mar 7, 2017
Photographers: Jason Sands
When people think about diesel-powered race trucks, a Ford with a 6.0L Power Stroke engine probably isn't at the top of their list. That didn't stop Ross Dunagan from building one, as he thought a budget-built ’06 F-250 seemed like the right rig to have. It may appear to be an odd choice, since the ’03-to-’07 Power Stroke engines are known for having their fair share of issues, but Ross just figured he could run the stock powerplant until he blew it up.
However, since building a brand-new race engine is expensive, Ross decided to save some bucks by not rebuilding the truck’s original 240,000-mile engine. The head gaskets are secured with ARP cylinder-head studs, but that's about it. The block, crank, rods, pistons, cam, and even heads and valvesprings are all the same pieces that were installed at the factory.
Photo 2/21   |   Ross and his screamin' green 6.0L-powered ’06 Ford F-250 are commonly seen at National Hot Rod Diesel Association drag race events, where he runs in the 11.90 Index Class. With the nitrous-oxide cranked up, the truck has run a best quarter-mile e.t. of 11.36 seconds at 117 mph.
One of the keys to Ross’ plan was to run the engine with medium amounts of boost and nitrous oxide and to rev it quite high in order to avoid rod-killing cylinder pressure. So, Ross’ first modification was a 71mm turbocharger from Barder Turbo Service. The Stage 4 turbo not only features the big compressor wheel, it also retains the factory variable-geometry setup and incorporates a 360-degree bearing. Other than the turbocharger, the rest of the intake tract remains stock.
To make the type of power Ross was looking for, the Power Stroke needed a lot of help in the fuel department. Virtually everything is upgraded or replaced. The injectors are 230cc units with 100-percent-over nozzles from Holder’s Diesel Performance, supported by a Thumper II high-pressure oil pump from River City Diesel. The low-pressure fuel system also received a revamp, with Power Stroke Enginuities’ regulated return kit and a lift pump system from Ross’ own shop, Flyin’ Diesel Performance. Ross deviated from his stock-parts-themed build when it came to the transmission. The F-250’s 5R110 five-speed automatic was replaced with an older 4R100 four-speed. Ross figures less time shifting will lead to quicker and more consistent elapsed times on the dragstrip and, with plenty of parts available, it’s a natural choice. Ross built the transmission himself, with upgraded input and output shafts, an oversized intermediate shaft, TransGo shift kit, and Raybestos GPZ clutches. The torque converter is built by Precision Industries, and the transmission is controlled by a standalone computer from Powertrain Control Solutions.
Photo 3/21   |   The Power Stroke engine in Ross' F-250 has more than 240,000 miles on it, and it definitely looks the part. Aside from a set of new cylinder-head gaskets with ARP head studs, the original long-block remains completely stock.
Ross had the same “keep it simple” strategy with regard to building the drivetrain and chassis. The axles, transfer case, driveshafts, and suspension are mostly stock, save for a set of Rancho shocks up front that Ross found laying around the shop and a set of Calvert Racing CalTracs traction bars. The wheels and tires are pure drag-race fare, with a set of 17x12 wheels from Weld, along with four 390/40R17 M&H drag radials.
When Ross finally got his rig to the track, he was pleasantly surprised to find his creation dipped right into the 12s, with a best quarter-mile e.t. of 12.50 at 109 mph. Motivated by the truck’s initial success, Ross added a bit of nitrous with the intention of entering the National Hot Rod Diesel Association’s 11.90 Class. After more than a year of racing, Ross has made a number of semifinal appearances, and he even notched a couple wins. With a 0.099-inch nitrous jet, the sleeper has run a best e.t. of 11.36 at 117 mph, with a quick 1.59-second 60-foot time. While Ross says he’s eventually going to swap the Ford with a Cummins engine and shoot for 9s (sorry Power Stroke fans), everyone agrees it’s amazing to see a 6.0L-powered Ford running at the front of the pack.
Photo 4/21   |   A 71mm turbocharger from Barder Turbo Service replaces the stock variable-geometry unit. Since Ross mostly drag-races his truck, he picked the Stage 4 turbo to feed the engine as much air as possible.

Year/Make/Model: '06 Ford F-250

Owner: Ross Dunagan
Odometer: 241,000 miles
Hometown: Kerrville, Texas
Engine: 6.0L Power Stroke V-8, ARP head studs
Programming: SCT X4 with Truck Source Diesel tuning
Fuel: Lines, filters, and lift-pump system by Flyin' Diesel Performance, Power Stroke Enginuities regulated-return system, River City Diesel Thumper II HPOP, Holder's Diesel Performance 230cc/100-percent-over injectors
Air: Barder Turbo Service 71mm turbocharger, Nitrous Express Stacker nitrous-oxide system
Exhaust: Diamond Eye Performance 4-inch tube, Smeding Diesel 6-inch stack
Transmission: 4R100 four-speed automatic by Flyin' Diesel Performance, Precision Industries torque converter, Powertrain Control Solutions transmission controller
Axles: 3.73 gears
Power: 800 hp
Torque: 1,300 lb-ft
Tires: 390/40R17 M&H Racemaster
Wheels: 17x12 Weld
Suspension: Rancho shocks, CalTracs traction bars, Pro Comp steering stabilizer
Body: Dodge Lime Green paint
Interior: Edge Products Insight CTS 2 monitor, Auto Meter gauges
Fun Fact: Ross' F-250 is an original two-wheel-drive rig; he used parts around the shop and a couple of wrecked trucks to turn it into a 4x4.
Photo 5/21   |   Ross relies on a single stage of nitrous to help the truck get down the track. He varies the jetting based on track conditions and elevation, and his best pass was made with a 0.099-inch jet.
Photo 6/21   |   The transmission is probably the most modified and expensive piece in the entire build. The stock 5R110 five-speed automatic was swapped for a 4R100 four-speed Ross built himself. The transmission was bulletproof through an entire season of racing.
Photo 7/21   |   There's a large universal transmission cooler mounted front and center, which helps keep the heat down for greater transmission and torque converter reliability.
Photo 8/21   |   Ross doesn't always have enough time to change nitrous bottles between rounds, so he has mounts for twin 15-pound bottles to help keep pressure up.
Photo 9/21   |   The fuel system on Ross' F-250 was built by his company, Flyin' Diesel Performance. It combines twin filters and lines with custom filter blocks and a lift pump from Fuelab.
Photo 10/21   |   A 4-inch exhaust system from Diamond Eye Performance extends from the turbo back to the bed, where it exits a 6-inch exhaust stack from Smeding Diesel.
Photo 11/21   |   One of the few additions to the front suspension is a set of Rancho shocks, which are a bit stiffer and help keep things under control during hard, four-wheel-drive launches.
Photo 12/21   |   The rear suspension is mostly stock, save for a set of CalTracs traction bars from Calvert Racing. Even the stock overload springs are retained.
Photo 13/21   |   Four 17x12 aluminum wheels from Weld cut down on weight and are perfect for drag racing.
Photo 14/21   |   Grip on the launch is provided by a set of 390-series M&H drag radial tires. The 14.8-inch-wide tires have resulted in regular 60-foot times in the 1.6-second range.
Photo 15/21   |   The interior of the F-250 is surprisingly stock for a race truck. Ross says he doesn't see the point of cutting it up since he competes in the 11.90 Class, which doesn't require a rollcage.
Photo 16/21   |   A three-gauge A-pillar pod holds boost, fuel-pressure, and EGT gauges from Auto Meter, and an Insight CTS 2 monitor from Edge Products keeps tabs on the rest of the powertrain's data.
Photo 17/21   |   Having a solid front end is a must for a four-wheel-drive drag truck, so Ross installed steering stabilizers from Pro Comp to help keep the F-250 straight and true down the track.

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