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There are several issues your post raises. Let us address them in turn.

First, if your coolant temperature is running at 171 F, you do not have a 172-178 degree thermostat. Thermostats are rated at their "opening temperature". Actual operating temperature usually runs 6-10 degrees hotter. Your thermostat seems to be opening in the low 160s. This is probably too cold. Why?

Second, oil temperature usually runs about 10 degrees above coolant temperature. If your coolant temperature is only 171, your oil temperature is probably about 180, too cool to "boil off" the condensates that collect in the oil pan. These condensates can dilute your oil and result in severe wear. You probably would like the oil temperature to be 195-200.

Third, hotter engines make more horsepower. There is considerable evidence, however, that in a LS-1/LS-6, spark and fuel retard cut back power if the coolant temperature gets much above 190. So I would aim at a 190 coolant temperature. This should result in, say, a 198 oil temperature.

Many people offer a "180 degree" (opening temperature) thermostat. That should be about optimum for keeping the oil clean and making maxium horsepower.
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