Con-way Freight driver named National Truck Driving Grand Champion

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Paul Phillips, a Con-way Freight professional truck driver from Coarsegold, Calif., was named the 2011 Bendix National Truck Driving Championships Grand Champion on Saturday, Aug. 13. Paul’s driving skills and knowledge of transportation and truck safety information topped those of 428 other professional drivers from all across the United States in the championships held in Orlando, Fla.

The 74th annual “Super Bowl of Safety” is sponsored by the American Trucking Associations. In route to his title, Phillips has logged 35 years as a professional truck driver, with more than 1.6 million miles behind the wheel. He began competing in his state truck driving championships in 2004, and this year he made his second trip to the National Truck Driving Championships.

The contestants were the state champions in nine truck types from all 50 states; collectively, they have driven 595,155,665 accident-free miles. In their respective classes, they tested their expertise in the driving skills they use daily. The competition course inside the Orange County Convention Center challenged their knowledge of safety, equipment and the industry. The skills course tested drivers’ ability to judge distances, maneuver tight spaces, reverse, park and position their vehicle exactly over scales, before barriers or around curves.

“The National Truck Driving Championships showcase the industry’s commitment to safety,” says Bill Graves, ATA president and chief executive officer. “I applaud all the competitors for their efforts in making our highways safe, and congratulate Paul for demonstrating how a dedication to safe driving skills can make you a Grand Champion.”

Phillips also won the individual straight truck driving competition. Joining Phillips as champions in their respective classes:
• Straight Truck: Calif. – Paul Phillips, Con-way Freight, Coarsegold, Calif.;
• Three-Axle: Pa. – John Hazlett, ABF Freight System Inc., Philadelphia;
• Four-Axle: Kan. – Gary Harms, Wal-mart Transportation, Olathe, Kan.;
• Five-Axle: Ga. – Hershel Evans, Holland, Bremen, Ga.;
• Flatbed: Ore. – Edward Hawkins, Leavitt’s Freight Service, Springfield, Ore.;
• Tank Truck: Pa. – Leo Flack, A. Duie Pyle Inc., West Chester, Pa.;
• Twins: Utah – Jeffrey W. Payne, Reddaway, Cedar City, Utah;
• Sleeper Berth: Ore. – Joshua Carr, Wal-mart Transportation, McCall, Idaho; and
• Step Van: Tenn. – James Sheehan, FedEx Ground, Hendersonville, Tenn.

Phillips succeeds Carl Krites, a professional truck driver also with Con-way Freight from Wapakoneta, Ohio, as the National Grand Champion. In other awards:
• Michael Andrews, a driver for HEB from Valley Mills, Texas, was named the 2011 National Rookie of the Year after competing in the Three-Axle division;
• The Michigan state truck driving championship team won honors as the highest scoring state team, followed by Pennsylvania and Utah respectively;
• Michael Barnes, a driver for Wal-mart Transportation from Verona, Va., won the Vehicle Condition Award. Barnes participated in the Twins competition;
• Laurier R. Dumont, a driver for YRC from Rochester, N.H., was awarded the Neill Darmstadter Professional Excellence Award. Dumont participated in the Five-Axle competition;
• Marking his 20th year as a NTDC volunteer, Gary Tunsky from Minnesota was awarded the Life-Time Volunteer Award. During his career, Tunsky also has competed and volunteered at the state level and in 2000 was awarded the Minnesota Trucking Associations’ Herb Ney Memorial Outstanding Service Award.

The Orlando NTDC annually attracted more than 2,000 cheering friends, family, colleagues and spectators. For more information, go to the 2011 National Truck Driving Championships website at www.truckline.com/Federation/Councils/slpmc/NTDC/Pages/Default.aspx.