Pony Wars 2: Arrington Performance Steps Up With A Challenger

The 2018 offering of the Pony Wars challenge was an exciting competition for the blue oval and Bow Tie crowds, but the Mopar bunch had to sit on the sidelines and imagine what could have been. Well Mopar fans, rejoice. For the 2019 Pony Wars, Mike Copeland and Arrington Performance have thrown their hat into the ring. Their weapon of choice for Pony Wars is Copeland’s brand-new, personal “beat it like a rental car” 2019 Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack 392 Hemi coupled to an 8-speed automatic transmission. Copeland’s Challenger is equipped with a factory Dynamics Package, which adds bold wheels, high-performance tires, and enhanced braking power once exclusive to the SRT® Hellcat. The Challenger will compete against a 2019 Camaro SS with a DI 6.2-liter and a 2019 Mustang sporting a 5.0-liter. Both the Camaro and the Mustang will be competing with 10-speed automatic transmissions.

Arrington Performance

Haven’t heard of Arrington Performance? The company has been an industry leader in parts sales, engine builds, and vehicle fabrication on Mopar automobiles for more than 50 years. In 2017, Mike Copeland, CEO of Diversified Creations, purchased the Virginia-based Arrington Performance. Copeland moved the operation to Brighton, Michigan, neighboring the Diversified Creations facility. Under Copeland’s leadership, Arrington Performance has seen an advancement of its existing business. The corporation has expanded to include the Jeep and Ram truck lines, as well as off-road and restomod builds. The deep roots of all things Mopar with the Arrington Performance employees made the company the perfect fit for the Pony Wars Dodge Challenger build.

The baseline parts of the Pony Wars build for Arrington Performance started with a new K&N oil filter and a K&N air cleaner. The engine oil, transmission, differential, brake, and power steering fluids were replaced with Lucas Oil products. E3 ignition coils and spark plugs replaced the factory parts. Corsa provided headers and a full exhaust system to help remove the spent hydrocarbons from the 6.4-liter Hemi. A DiabloSport tuner and CMR software provided the tune for the new parts. Arrington Performance's Mustang chassis dyno established a baseline for the new bolt-on parts. The best baseline run provided 466.2 rear-wheel horsepower (rwhp) and 431.5 lb-ft of torque.

Pony Wars 2

The rules for the 2019 Pony Wars are straightforward. The competitors receive the baseline parts at no charge. These products are supplied by K&N Filters, Corsa Performance Exhaust Systems, E3 Spark Plugs, and Lucas Oil. When the modifications start, the participants use sponsor-manufacturer components to upgrade the vehicles. The manufacturers include BMR Suspension (driveshaft loop), Weld Wheels, Toyo TQ drag radials and autocross tires, and a ProCharger supercharger. In addition to the components supplied by the sponsor manufacturers, each team has a $10K budget for parts based upon Summit Racing Equipment pricing.

Arrington Performance carefully selected upgrades from the $10k budget. The focus of the Hemi was on the rotating assembly. High-quality 2618 MAHLE pistons were selected because of their ability to work with the high-horsepower supercharged Hemi. Arrington spec'd the custom pistons with MAHLE, so they could be utilized without needing to balance the crankshaft. The MAHLE pistons are attached to Manley connecting rods. Total Seal file-fit rings ensure proper cylinder seal. After the pistons were slipped onto the rods and the rings wrapped the pistons, the bottom end of the engine was assembled with great detail, but no special procedures were required (including machining as per the rules).

To acquire the parts for maximum output of the Challenger in all four performance areas, the use of the budget must be prudent. The four areas are the dyno challenge, braking, autocross, and drag strip testing. The dyno challenge and braking sections of the contest are worth a single point to the winner. The autocross and drag race portion have a winning value of two points and a single point is awarded to the runner-up. As per the Pony Wars rules, Arrington will perform all the labor for the build. They will install all the bolt-on parts without modifying the engine, drivetrain, or the Challenger beyond the provisions laid out in the guidelines.

Setting the Stage

The baseline parts of the Arrington build consisted of a K&N cold air intake kit and a K&N engine-oil filter. Corsa provided headers and a full exhaust system to help the 6.4-liter expel the burnt hydrocarbons. Corsa included all the necessary hardware to install the exhaust. E3 ignition coils and spark plugs provided the spark to light each cylinder’s air/fuel mixture. DiabloSport supplied the Trinity T2 tuners and the CMR software to tune each engine. Lastly, Lucas Oil products replaced all the factory slippery stuff throughout the drivetrain.

With the bolt-on parts installed onto (or poured into) the Hemi, the Arrington crew baselined the Challenger on its Mustang chassis dyno. The best baseline run provided 466.2 rear-wheel horsepower (rwhp) and 431.5 lb-ft of torque. With the baseline established, Copeland and his crew started narrowing down the list of parts they needed to stay within their $10k budget, while extracting maximum performance from the Challenger.

Top-end upgrades begin with a camshaft, valve-spring retainers, and spring locators from Comp Cams. New ARP head studs and Cometic head gaskets kept the factory cylinder heads clamped and sealed to the block. All of these components were purchased with the Summit Racing Equipment $10K budget.

ProCharger supplied a supercharger to each team, and Arrington selected the 2015 and up SRT Stage 2 6.4-liter kit with a D-1X supercharger. They also selected a race intercooler upgrade, a race-by-wire upgrade, and an ATI Super Damper. Even with a complete kit from ProCharger, Copeland noted their slight disadvantage, “if ProCharger made an intake for the Hemi, like they do for the LT1, we would have been able to order it as well, without affecting the budget.”

Spending On Speed

Arrington’s carefully selected upgrades began with the Hemi’s rotating assembly. The crew slipped eight MAHLE pistons onto Manley connecting rods. To achieve the proper ring-end gap, an assembly technician file fitted the Total Seal rings, and then wrapped the rings onto the pistons. The top-end upgrade used a Comp Cams camshaft, valve-spring retainers and spring locators, coupled with a set of Arrington/PSI valve springs. New ARP head studs and Cometic head gaskets kept the factory cylinder heads clamped and sealed to the block. Arrington supplied the fuel pump, and Aeromotive provided the fuel regulator. A set of 1,000cc fuel injectors from Fuel Injector Clinic rounded out the fuel system upgrades.

Arrington Performance/PSI valve springs coupled with Comp Cams valve-spring retainers and spring locators were used. The factory rocker arms and push rods were reinstalled. A pair of E3 spark plugs were threaded into each cylinder. E3 also supplied the ignition coils. The cost of the valve springs was applied to the Summit Racing Equipment budget, while the E3 ignition components were not.

Copeland confided, “The most challenging part of the build was trying to stay within budget. Typically, Mopar parts are more expensive, and there are less aftermarket options available compared to our competitors. We were not able to afford everything we needed.” The updates to the engine set Arrington’s budget back $4,822.95.

MAHLE Pistons

“The MAHLE pistons selected for the Hemi are constructed of a 2618 alloy that works well with boosted engines that exceed 750 horsepower,” relayed Joe Maylish of MAHLE Motorsports. Because of the low-silicon-based material, the 2618 pistons can expand and contract more than the 4032-alloy pistons. The 2618 pistons require a greater piston-to-bore measurement to guarantee proper clearance to compensate for the piston expansion. MAHLE has a 100-year worldwide history in road racing, drag racing, circle track racing, tractor pulls, and diesel engine technology. They relies on this history to manufacture the best products. “Our pistons are Phosphate coated (a dry lubricant to reduce micro-welding and wrist pin galling), and the pistons have MAHLE’s GRAFAL® skirt coating, which reduces drag, scuffing, friction, and cylinder-bore wear. To ensure the ultimate durability and strength, the top-ring land of each piston is lowered and anodized,” stated Maylish.

Arrington Performance replaced the struts with single-adjustable struts from Ridetech. The Ridetech struts have a monotube design. This allows a large-piston area as well as completely isolated gas/oil sections. The result is precision, high-performance dampening with an extended service life. The Ridetech struts feature adjustable rebound, which helps the user dial-in the ride quality to match their driving style. A pair of SPC Performance adjustable control arms replaced the factory front control arms. These provide additional camber and caster adjustment. A pair of BMR rear adjustable lower control arms replaced the factory components. With the expectations of increased horsepower, Arrington relied on a GForce driveshaft and a pair of GForce rear axles. All these components were purchased with the Summit Racing Equipment budget.

Comp Cams

The camshaft chosen for the 6.4-liter is a design that will benefit the wide-open throttle (WOT) tests, yet, work well with the vast RPM changes required for the autocross challenge. The camshaft that Arrington selected has an intake valve lift of 0.619-inch and an exhaust valve lift of 0.612-inch. The intake duration is 226 degrees, and the exhaust duration is 234-degrees, both measured at 0.050-inch lift. James Fry of Comp Cams noted, “The camshaft has a pretty conservative duration for WOT acceleration (drag strip testing and dyno challenge), where a more aggressive duration could be utilized. But, to accommodate the requirements of the autocross, the cam selected is the overall best choice. Depending upon the application and other factors, the camshaft should have a max RPM in the high-6,000 to low-7,000 range.”

BMR provided each team a driveshaft loop. This simple device provides protection and safety to the driver, other participants, and any bystanders. Corsa designed headers, a full exhaust system, and all the mounting hardware to help the 6.4-liter move the exhaust rapidly out of the engine. ProCharger supplied a supercharger to each team. All of these components were supplied by the manufacturers with no charge against the budget.

Spending On Handling And Braking

Now that the Challenger had some go, it was time to focus on getting the car to effectively turn and stop. The car came with the Dynamics Package that includes the 15.4-inch front rotors and six-piston Brembo calipers. The rear sports 13.8-inch factory rotors and four-piston Brembo calipers. Because of the great factory braking system, Copeland said, “We replaced the pads with Hawk pads, burnished the rotors and pads together, and ran it.”

With the increases in torque and horsepower, Arrington relied on GForce for the driveshaft and the rear axles. A pair of SPC Performance adjustable control arms replaced the factory front control arms. This provided additional camber and caster angles as needed for the autocross course. A pair of BMR rear adjustable lower control arms replaced the factory components, along with a bushing and differential lockout kit to prevent wheelhop. To upgrade all four struts, Arrington Performance installed single adjustable coilover spring struts from Ridetech. A 36mm Hellwig sway bar took the place of the factory front sway bar. The suspension upgrades chewed up $5,154.94 of the budget.

Ridetech Suspension

Speaking about the Ridetech struts, Copeland stated, “Adding the coilovers provided the most important change we made to the Challenger. The suspension modifications coupled with a road-race alignment made the difference in the Challenger’s handling.” Steve Chryssos of Ridetech Suspension stated, “The biggest gain comes from our monotube design. It allows for a very large-piston area as well as completely isolated gas/oil sections. The result is precision, high-performance dampening with long service life. Our coilovers feature adjustable rebound, which helps the end user dial-in his or her ride quality to match their driving style and other vehicle factors (like wheel/tire selection and weight). The icing on the cake is an adjustable ride height.”

With the experience of the Arrington Performance employees and the well thought out parts they selected, it looks like they will have the best combination of engine and suspension upgrades for the four areas of competition, leaving the Camaro and Mustang teams fighting for Second and Third place. Stay tuned for the results of the 2019 Pony Wars.

Baseline Parts - No Charge Part Number
K&N Cold Air Intake Kit 63-1565
K&N Oil Filter HP2010
DiabloSport Trinity T2 Tuning & Modified PCM PKITCHALV819-T2
Corsa Cat Back 14987
Corsa Headers 16109
E3 Spark Plugs E3.112
E3 Coils E3.614
Lucas Oil – Engine Oil (0W40) 10211
Lucas Oil – Trans Fluid 10418
Lucas Oil – Rear End Fluid (80W90) 10043-1
Lucas Oil – Brake Fluid (DOT 4) 10827
Lucas Oil – Power Steering Fluid 10824

 

Sponsor Modifications - No Charge Part Number
BMR Driveshaft Loop DSL110
Weld S77 18×5, 17×10 Wheels 77HB8050W21A, 77HB7100W67F
Toyo Proxes TQ 315/35/17 Drag Radials 172030
Toyo Proxes RR 285/35/20 Tires 255200
ProCharger Stage 2 Supercharger Kit with D-1X Supercharger 1DG204-SCI-D1X-RVR-ATIPP
Hawk Performance Front Pads HB649W.605
Hawk Performance Rear Pads HB194W.570

 

Summit Racing Equipment $10K Budget Part Number Cost
Aeromotive Fuel Regulator 13303 $226.24
Arrington/PSI Valve Springs LS1511ML $259.00
Arrington Lifter Set 449-2 $256.00
Arrington Fuel Pump 68258753AF $301.99
ARP Head Studs 244-4300 $323.99
Cometic Head Gaskets C5026/5027 $178.82
Comp Cams Valve Spring Retainers 761 $54.99
Comp Cams Valve Springs Seats 4683 $45.99
Comp Cams Camshaft 201-428-17 $676.99
Fuel Injector Clinic 1,000cc Injectors IS153-1000H $700.00
GForce Driveshaft MOP10205A $999.00
GForce Axles MOP10102A $1,599.00
Hellwig Front Sway Bar 5910 $168.99
MAHLE Pistons, Manley Rods, Total Seal Rings MMP-64FPRP2618 $1,798.94
Ridetech Struts 13040210 $2,200.00
SPC Performance Front Control Arms 66045 $187.95
BMR Bushings & Lower Trailing Arms SCB110, DMB110, LTA111 $509.85
Total $9,977.89

The 2019 season of Pony Wars is made possible by some of the leading companies in our industry, including Summit Racing, COMP Cams, TCI, K&N Filters, Toyo Tires, MAHLE Motorsports, Dyna-Batt, Weld Racing, Corsa Performance, Fragola, Holley, DiabloSport, NOS, E3 Spark Plugs, Total Seal, Mickey Thompson, Moser Engineering, BMR Suspension, Miller Electric, Aerospace Components, Victor Reinz, Moroso, US Gear, Hawk Performance, Lucas Oil, PRW Industries, Weld Racing, VP Racing, NOS, ProCharger, and ARP. Stay tuned, it’s going to be a wild ride!

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About the author

Christopher Holley

Chris Holley has been a freelance writer since 2014. Chris has been a college professor since 1998; he currently instructs the second-year automotive electrical/electronics and HVAC classes at Pennsylvania College of Technology. In addition, he also teaches the chassis dyno classes where he and the students perform dozens of modifications and hundreds of runs per semester on various vehicles. Chris’ passions run deep for the Mopar products. When Chris is not working, he has several Dodges that he either races at the drag strip, cruises to car shows, or tests on a chassis dyno. Chris is a multi-time track champion at the local drag strips in the central Pennsylvania area.
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