1701 K St, Lincoln, NE 68508 | 402-219-1174 | [email protected]

2023 Nebraska Truck Driving Championships Sets Records

GRAND ISLAND – Fans at the 2023 Nebraska Truck Driving Championships (NTDC) cheered on a record 40 rookies (first-time competitors) and six women. While championship competitors surpassed pre-pandemic numbers, with ninety-nine drivers registered in 10 truck classes.

The Nebraska Trucking Association (NTA) organized the June 1 -June 3 event at Fonner Park to highlight the best professional truck drivers in the state. Competitors demonstrated knowledge, talent, and skills, focusing on what it takes to be a safe driver on our streets and highways.

Drivers competed in pre-trip inspections, written exams, oral interviews with the Nebraska State Patrol and tackled a demanding driving course. The competitors faced six problems on the course designed to challenge the skills they use as part of the industry that delivers 72% of the nation’s goods. In one problem, 5-axle sleeper drivers back a 65-foot long, 8-and-a-half-foot wide truck and trailer through a 10-foot alley marked by barricades.

In cooperation with the Nebraska Concrete & Aggregates Association and for the first time in NTDC history, mixer class drivers faced two unique problems. Fans excitedly cheered on drivers as they used their chute to bowl a strike and drain a basket with precision.

Awards were presented based on scores in the four test areas: written examination, personal interview, pre-trip inspection, and driving test. Companies with three or more drivers competed for team awards, given to the company whose drivers scored the highest overall average.

The 2023 grand champion was Thomas Rott of Grand Island Express, Inc. Cory Mattly of FedEx Express earned the Rookie of the Year Award (first-time participant with the highest overall score in all four parts of the competition). The Professional Excellence Award given to the driver with the highest written test went to Mark Cole of Old Dominion Freight Line.

NTDC closely works with the Nebraska State Patrol Carrier Enforcement troopers. The Bucky Buchholtz Top Driver Award, named in honor of Buchholtz, a former Trooper and long-time championship committee member, goes to the driver with the highest score on the driving course. This year’s honoree was Larry Derr from Werner Enterprises.

Phil Delauder brought home another honor for Werner Enterprises when he earned the Kurt Everett Vehicle Condition Award. The award is named in honor of Everett, a long-time championship committee member, and goes to the driver with the highest score on the pre-trip inspection.

The Jerry Wessel Award, named in honor of a long-time NTDC committee member, is awarded to drivers who have competed or volunteered at the Championships for at least five years and receive the highest rating for professionalism, industry knowledge, and attitude. This year’s winner was Garet Poland of Walmart Transportation, LLC.

The first-place winner in each class advances to a national competition. Nine class winners will attend the American Trucking Association’s National Truck Driving Championships in Columbus, OH, August 16-19, 2023. The mixer truck class first-place winner advances to the National Mixer Driver Championship in Nashville, TN, on October 1, 2023.

Also held during the championships was the Nebraska State Patrol Inspector Championships, consisting of a personal interview, a tabletop hazardous materials exercise, and various hands-on inspections. Nebraska State Patrol Carrier Enforcement Investigator Kris Hunzeker of Lincoln took first-place honors, and Sergeant Matt Ramsey received runner-up honors. Hunzeker will now represent Nebraska in the North American Inspector Championships, held in conjunction with the ATA’s National Truck Driving Championships.

2023 NTDC class winners:

Straight class:

  1. Scott Stroup, Yellow
  2. Tina Gaines, FedEx Express
  3. Sam Wilson, XPO Logistics

Three-axle class:

  1. Adam Stroup, FedEx Express
  2. Randy Stiles, Old Dominion Freight Line
  3. Thomas Voge, Old Dominion Freight Line

Four-axle class:

  1. James Corbett, Old Dominion Freight Line
  2. Kevin Zelasney, ABF Freight
  3. Todd Rose, Crete Carrier Corporation

Five-axle class:

  1. Thomas Rott, Grand Island Express, Inc.
  2. Paul Johnson, Old Dominion Freight Line
  3. Gary Lamphier, Werner Enterprises

Five-axle sleeper class:

  1. Jeff Mckenzie, Walmart Transportation, LLC
  2. Izet Kantarevic, Werner Enterprises
  3. David Standring, Hill Brothers Transportation, Inc.

Tank truck class:

  1. Larry Derr, Werner Enterprises
  2. Pat Crumb, Fremont Contract Carriers, Inc.
  3. Dan Vandervelde, Old Dominion Freight Line

Flatbed class:

  1. Phil DeLauder, Werner Enterprises
  2. Toby Kort, FedEx Freight, Inc.
  3. Ben Paben, Chief Carriers, Inc.

Twin-trailer class:

  1. Chris Dotson, FedEx Freight, Inc.
  2. Paul Badgett, FedEx Freight, Inc.
  3. David Podelco, ABF Freight

Mixer truck class:

  1. Daniel Campagna, Lyman-Richey Corporation
  2. Levi Fister, Lyman-Richey Corporation
  3. Jacob Freiderich, Lyman-Richey Corporation

Step van class:

  1. Cory Mattly, FedEx Express
  2. Jenni VonBonn, FedEx Express
  3. John Peyton, FedEx Express

Team winners:

  1. FedEx Freight
  2. Werner Enterprises
  3. Old Dominion Freight Line

The Nebraska Trucking Association’s Safety Management Council and the Nebraska Truck Driving Championship Committee organize the championships.

The Nebraska Trucking Association (NTA) is the statewide trade association for commercial trucks and affiliated businesses. NTA delivers the essential knowledge, contacts, services, political representation, and partnerships that help our members continue to deliver the goods to Nebraska communities and throughout North America.