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5.9L Cummins

Diesel of the Week

Single-Turbo 5.9L Cummins Engine

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There’s a long list of reasons to love diesel trucks, but the roar of a high-powered engine is certainly towards the top in terms of adrenaline-pumping satisfaction. In fact, this is the reason Trent Owens jumped into the diesel world in the first place.

“Growing up, I had an uncle that had a Cummins when no one else was into diesel stuff,” Owens says. “He had a tree cutting business and pulled around lumber in a trailer, and as crazy as it sounds, I just really loved the way it sounded.”

Trente saved up his money and bought a first-Gen Cummins once he got to college. A lack of funds meant he couldn’t afford to do many upgrades aside from hacking the back exhaust off, but he soon got addicted to building horsepower. After graduating, Owens bought another truck and spent around eight years upgrading it from stock to 750 horsepower. He wanted to do more, but the truck was essentially tapped out.

With this first project, Owens was able to make a name for himself in the industry, grow a social media following, and start an LLC. He primarily works as an industrial mechanic at a steel mill, but runs Melting Pistons Race Parts on the side where he does various work on customers’ trucks and manufactures a few of his own parts.

His current project is a bright red 2007 Ram 2500, which is essentially unrecognizable from his first truck, but has way more potential under the hood. Owens has built the 5.9L Cummins engine up to be a racing machine, but still offers a level of streetability.

“It’s honestly pretty impressive because it’s a really basic build,” he says. “It’s got 186,000 miles now on the stock bottom end and I haven’t done anything below the head. For a few years now we’ve been running a T6 76mm charger that we’ve got tuned to make all the power possible and high RPMs, so that kind of tunes the torque out of it.”

“The engine originally had ARP2000 head studs on it, and I wasn’t planning on change that until there was a problem,” Owens told us. “Early last year, it blew the head gasket, so I sent it to Kill Devil Diesel and they shaped it for us and made sure everything was good to go. Then, we went back and put Hamilton valve springs on it, Diesel Auto Power heavy-duty pushrods, ARP625 head studs, and a Kingspeed valve cover. Other than that, the engine is mechanically stock.”

For fuel, the engine runs Exergy 250% fuel injectors and dual CP3 injection pumps. Owens is currently running tune 3 from Ryan at Hardway Performance and the truck sits at around 4,800 RPMs while out on the track.

This is year three on the current setup, but Owens didn’t start racing the truck seriously until last year.

“We went to Rudy’s last year and won the gambler’s race out of like 30 trucks,” he says. “There was a bunch of events rained out, but we made it to the Fall Truck Wars and ran it in the 6.70 index class. I got second in that and first in ET since I don’t have a roll cage.”


Interestingly enough, Owens sets the truck apart from most other racers by running it with a camper shell on.

“Once I got it all setup for 6.70 I took it to the track to get it dialed in and it ran 6.84 at 103 mph,” he says. “Well, I had this nice matching camper shell, so I thought it might be funny to put that on the next week for Diesel Truck Wars and no joke, it ran the exact same time at the event. Obviously, it’s heavier so maybe the aerodynamics help or something? I’m not really sure, but I decided to leave it on after that.”

All in all, Owens’ Ram makes around 1,050 horsepower and continues to place well in racing events across the country.

Diesel of the Week is sponsored by AMSOIL. If you have an engine you would like to highlight in this series, please email Engine Builder magazine’s Editor, Greg Jones at [email protected]

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