Although the Rocky Top Diesel Shootout has always been good to us, the Stainless team definitely had its work cut out for it this time around. After rolling into Tennessee’s Crossville Dragway on Thursday, we decided to swap the Turbo 400 transmission we’d been saving for the coming Pro Mod into the Pro Street truck for testing. Unfortunately, Johnny drove through some violent tire shake on the first pass, eventually blew the tires off, and then noticed a leak at the end of the track. Traced back to the pump seal in the pits, the team went to work swapping the old transmission back into place, only to discover a bent flex plate. The wait for a fresh flex plate meant no racing for team Stainless on Friday—a day that’d awarded us our first-ever 4-second pass one year prior.

Despite having everything buttoned up by midnight Friday, our struggles continued the next day. After managing a 5.22-second pass on a hot track, we lost a nitrous solenoid. Then upon sourcing a new one from Pro Mod driver, Brian Gray, a loose nitrous line left us venting N2O to the atmosphere just 200-feet into our next pass. Believe it or not, the nitrous troubles resumed in the first round of eliminations. Johnny took the win but a stuck solenoid forced him to vacate the cockpit and scramble to turn the bottles off. Pro Mod driver, Ben Shadday (who also spotted us a new battery on Friday), showed up with a rebuild kit and Stephen went to work on the solenoid assembly.

Somehow, someway we made it to the finals. And although the valvetrain issues encountered by fellow competitors Tyler Burkhard and Paul Cato made the task of making it to the last race a little easier, Michael Dalton did anything but give us the win. Fitting for the way our weekend unfolded, the truck’s transmission woes returned during the final, which made for a dramatic finish at the stripe: a 5.37 at 133 mph to a 5.50 at 134 mph. Luckily, Johnny got the jump on the tree before the pump gears exploded somewhere around mid-track and he was able to coast to victory.

To try to limit carnage at the next ODSS race, the Scheid Diesel Extravaganza, Johnny and the team are looking to back things off and simply get from A to B rather than try to set the world on fire each time out. J3 is already working on a tune-up that should be good for 4.90s yet keep the truck repeatable. As for the Turbo 400’s, they’ll both be freshened up—with the Pro Mod unit getting bolted back into place for Scheid’s. See you there!