The eighth annual Rocky Top Diesel Shootout in Crossville, Tennessee, was coming up quickly. I was highly anticipating this because no matter how the year goes, “Rocky Top” always has one of the best shows. That area is just full of trucks, spectators, and the surface we get to use is usually top notch. The weather looked great, the truck was loaded up and ready, let’s hit the road.
Not only was I excited for this event but I think the rest of the Outlaw Diesel Super Series competitors and fans were too. We started the year strong with Rudy’s season opener, had a killer time at the Outlaw Diesel Revenge / UCC event, but the last event in Virginia, the HollyRock Customs show, was canceled mid-day due to weather. Everyone was itching to get more racing in and it just didn’t happen.
Testing And Grudge Racing
After everyone waited another month, it was finally time. Crossville Dragway was opening for testing heading into the weekend on Thursday. Anyone who had made mid-season changes could come out here and do what they needed to make sure they were ready for competition. One of those people was Hot Shot’s Secret Pro Street driver Paul Cato.
Cato has been after that first ever four second pass with his Ram and just hasn’t been able to squeeze it out. Hopefully with some changes and testing, you just never know. One other driver is Mattison Graves. Graves’ Duramax-powered dragster has been a new toy for the HollyRock Customs crew this year and they have been making sure it is ready to battle it out. Could this weekend finally be their weekend?
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to attend Thursday’s testing session so I had to monitor the live feeds and Facebook groups. Nothing too wild happened because everyone sure was quiet. Maybe they were playing their cards close to the chest. Either way, let’s head into Friday. Friday was qualifying day and a few other extras for the fans.
All pro classes included Firepunk Diesel Outlaw 5.90, Hot Shot’s Secret Pro Street, SunCoast Diesel Pro Mod, and Industrial Injection Pro Dragster. Each class was served two qualifying passes to better their times for the evening. After qualifying S&S Diesel Motorsport offered up two “Friday Night Grudge” belts and $1,000 in cash to each pair of grudge matches.
The first was a face-off against Ryan Riddle and Corbin Hall. Both trucks are lethal 7.70 contenders but they wanted to face off with the wick turned up. At the stripe, it was Riddle taking home the victory. “I’ve been after this six-second pass for some time now and we still didn’t quite get it but once it cools off this fall, it is definitely within reach,” Riddle said.
As for the second pair, it was supposed to be me versus Greg Alberalla. A round two battle between us since we squared off at UCC but because I didn’t have the necessary equipment on hand to be able to “give it the sauce”, I withdrew my name from the hat and passed it off. David Large, a 5.90 Index newbie, took on the role and ended up winning in a very close finish. Large’s truck had just enough advantage to hold Alberalla off for 660-feet.
Another grudge race was Iowa-native Brett Marcum. After getting “the works” done at Hammertech Racecars, Marcum and his team managed to lighten up the load and find some new power via S&S Diesel Motorsport injectors. He decided to give it more juice in the grudge and managed to run a 5.38 at 131-mph resetting his personal best elapsed time. Gnarly ride, Mr. Marcum.
As the night got older, the action didn’t stop. RLC Motorsports‘ Michael Dalton organized a gas versus diesel match with some locals. Cody Cloyd, Ben Shadday, Brian Gray, and Larson Miller were our fantastic four out representing against the dark side. Shadday’s Cummins-powered Corvette lost a very close race first round, Cody Cloyd’s ram detonated a turbocharger mid-track ending his evening, but Gray and Miller went on to take their round victories.
Moving into the semi-final and final rounds, all that remained was Larson Miller and the nitrous-fed racecar coined “Warbird”. For what I believe is the first time ever, a diesel took home the victory in this gas versus diesel challenge. Miller and the rest of the Firepunk Diesel crew collected their money and decided to relax the rest of the evening and get ready for race day.
Race Day Highlights
Rise and shine! After a quick stop at Dunkin’ Donuts for a coffee and a sandwich, we were headed to Crossville Dragway for a guaranteed day of action. Once again, you know how this goes. Something is in the air. People aren’t nearly as relaxed. They are in the zone and ready to compete and take home those crucial points and the money. Myself included.
All of the non-pro classes including Thoroughbred Diesel 6.70 Index, ATS Diesel Power 7.70 Index, and JAMO Performance ET headed to the lanes for their two time trials. About mid-morning was when qualifying came to a close and the ladders were drawn up. ET, there are no ladders. In the 7.70 and 6.70 indexes, they didn’t do a ladder because of a large car count.
5.90 Index, our Friday night grudge race winner David Large took the podium with a 5.90 pass. Moving into Pro Street, Johnny Gilbert in his second-gen Ram took the podium. In Pro Mod, Larson Miller took the top spot. Pro Dragster, class vet Jared Jones was in the number one spot over Ms. Graves. Jones reset the Pro Dragster record with a blistering 4.07 at 185-mph in qualifying.
I tried keeping an eyeball on as many passes as possible and it looked like everyone was locked in. As for me, the first time trial went stellar. Competing in the 6.70 Index class, my 6.73 pass had me sitting pretty heading into qualifier number two. Unfortunately, the guy I lined up with apparently hasn’t done this before or hasn’t in a while and took a few minutes to stage which caused some serious damage to my rig forcing my forfeit for the weekend. Better luck next time, I guess.
After a day full of eliminations, it was finally time to crown some event champions. ET class veteran Ken Phillips wiggled his way through the competition all day and finished on top. Phillips faced off against Mason Burns in his nine-second Duramax. Phillips had the tree advantage and had plenty of room at the end to secure his victory. Congrats to both drivers for going the distance.
7.70 was called to the lanes and they raced up there to get their chance at victory all day but in the end, only one can be crowned as champion. Austin Swallows and Eugene Ogle faced off and as expected, it was a tight one. They both left the line great but it was Swallows who won with a double-breakout victory. Swallows went 7.68 and Ogle went a 7.66 on the 7.70 dial.
6.70 Index was kind of a cluster in the early part of the day because of some timing system issues. After round one, everyone was brought back to rerun and even though it seemed chaotic at times, the ODSS crew managed to get it done. In the first round Zach Pierce and Landon Miller faced off and Pierce took the win. But, because of the timing issues, they both continued on. At the end of the night, it was these two once again racing except this time it was the final round. Miller returned the favor and took home the victory.
In the 5.90 Index, the number one qualifier, David Large, was put out early by Austin Denny. This left the door wide open for the other competitors because the most dialed truck was out of the race. When it came down to the end, it was Brett Marcum. As if his weekend wasn’t going well enough, he took the 5.90 trophy over Dan Zelten. Marcum had an advantage on the reaction, 60-foot, 330-foot, and all the way to the end.
Pro Street was a wild up and down ride. Paul Cato managed to better his fastest and quickest times with a 5.07 pass, but fell just short of that four he’s been after. Unfortunately, in eliminations, he suffered some engine damage knocking him out of the race just past mid-track. Cato and his team will work hard to get back out there and get that pass they want.
Stainless Diesel‘s Johnny Gilbert was struggling early in the weekend but managed to go some rounds and put himself in the final round against Michael Dalton. Dalton’s sweet orange Ram was turned up but it just wasn’t quite enough to hold off the defending Hot Shot’s Secret Pro Street champion. Congrats to Gilbert and his Stainless Diesel team.
In Pro Mod, after already winning the gas versus diesel event just last night, Larson Miller found himself in the final round. It seems like this story has had a lot of unfortunate’s, but it is what it is. Sadly, in the semi-final round, both Ben Shadday and Brian Gray had their own issues and weren’t able to make the call handing Firpunk Diesel their first Pro Mod win of the year.
Pro Dragster was exciting. Jared Jones and his compadre Dan Scheid were on a high after resetting the record and took that momentum straight into their first and final round. Mattison Graves, a Pro Dragster newb, had nothing to lose. She and her team just wanted to go out there and put on a show and hopefully come out the other side on top.
Sure enough, it was her weekend. Both Graves and Jones spooled their engines up, took the beams, and was ready for takeoff. Jones couldn’t hold the power back and slipped through the beams earning a redlight foul handing the win to Graves. Graves’ team went absolutely ballistic when they realized what had happened. Their 4.64 at 146-mph pass was one of their best ever and it ended with a win. Congratulations to the entire HollyRock team on their victory.
For more information about the Outlaw Diesel Super Series, head on over to their website here. For more event coverage and truck features, stay tuned right here to Diesel Army. What are your thoughts on this year’s Rocky Top Diesel Shootout? Let us know in the comments below.