Special Coverage of the National Truck Driving Championships
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July 13, 2018 4:30 PM, EDT

Brent Shull Becomes Kentucky's Grand Champion on His Worst Day Competing

Kentucky Grand Champion Brent Shull Kentucky Grand Champion Brent Shull (left), also tops in the Sleeper Berth division, with Kentucky Trucking Association Chairman Bill Hill. (Kentucky Trucking Association)

Imagine going through one of your worst performances ever in competition, in an event you selected because nobody else wanted it. And, when it’s all said and done, you leave the field as the big winner.

That’s Brent Shull of UPS for you.

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The Road to the National Truck Driving Championships

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Who: Winners from nine categories at the state level advance to the national competition, with a grand champion crowned

What: Contestants are judged on a written examination and their driving skills

When: Aug. 15-18

Where: Columbus, Ohio

At the Kentucky truck driving championships in May, Shull noticed the Sleeper Berth class mostly had been neglected. So he signed up for sleeper. Struggled a bit on the course. Was mired in the test portion of the tournament. And, of course, he wins and becomes Grand Champion.

Perhaps being exposed to trucking at a young age helped somewhat. Shull’s father was a trucker who ran his own firm. When Shull was 21, he earned his commercial driver license and hasn’t looked back.

“I’ve basically been trucking since I was 5 years old. My dad was in the trucking industry for my entire life,” Shull told Transport Topics.

His goal at the National Truck Driving Championships is simple: “I guess, make him proud is what I’ll be looking forward to.”

The blue ribbon showing at states earned him a second trip to nationals. But, after a disqualification resulting from an accident ahead of last year’s tournament, this year actually would mark his first time competing on the main stage.

Most state Grand Champions set their hearts on winning the overall prize at nationals. Shull, not so much. He tries not to overthink things.

As he put it, “Make sure I don’t get hit. Don’t want to be disqualified again.”

When his national debut gets underway in mid-August, his game plan will consist of staying focused.

“Trying not to let the mental aspect get to me. That’s the big thing. Competition, you know, I never been a real good test taker, so that makes it a very difficult thing for me to try to do there, as far as finishing the test well. And, not allowing the pressure of it to actually get to me,” he said. “It’s a normal day.”

Joining him at nationals will be his partner, two children, and, perhaps, his father.

Also punching a ticket to nationals:

• Jason Herko, UPS, 3-axle

• Kyle Wright, AAA Cooper Transportation, 4-axle

• John Willinger, FedEx Freight, 5-axle

• DuWayne Drexler, UPS, Tank Truck

• Dale Brenaman, UPS, Straight Truck

• Donald Gaston, UPS, Flatbed

• David Proctor. FedEx Freight, Twins

• Dustin Powell, UPS, Step Van

The National Truck Driving Championships will be held Aug. 15-18 in Columbus, Ohio.