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June 10, 2019 11:30 AM, EDT

FedEx Freight 3-Axle Ace Ritch Fundell Repeats as Illinois Grand Champion

Illinois TDC champion Ritch Fundell Ritch Fundell earned Grand Champion honors in the event that put a strong emphasis on educating the public about Illinois' "move over" law. (Ritch Fundell photo/FedEx)

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For the second year in a row, Ritch Fundell had a grand old time at the Illinois Truck Driving Championships.

Fundell, a 3-Axle ace with FedEx Freight, conquered the Pheasant Run Resort course in St. Charles on June 7-8 to earn his second straight trip to the National Truck Driving Championships. This year, Fundell will pack his bags for Pittsburgh, site of NTDC on Aug. 14-17.

2019 NTDC

The 2019 National Truck Driving Championships

Qualifiers | Map | Photos | Video

Who: Winners from nine categories at the state level have advanced to the national competition, where a Grand Champion will be crowned

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

When: Aug. 14-17

Where: Pittsburgh

He will be joined at NTDC by three other class winners who also claimed victories in 2018. FedEx Freight’s Miguel Corral prevailed in 4-Axle after taking home the title in Twins last year. Paul Barnes of UPS (Sleeper Berth) and Tim Banasiak of FedEx Freight (Flatbed) repeated in their respective categories.

Corral went on to claim class champion honors at last year’s National Truck Driving Championships in Columbus, Ohio.

ILLINOIS ARCHIVE PAGE: Recaps, previews and more

Overall, FedEx and UPS split eight division wins, with Altom Transport winning one — Jason Troyer in Tanker Truck.

Some 199 drivers (and two alternates), competed at Pheasant Run, site of the Illinois TDC since 2014.

The Illinois Trucking Association puts the focus of the day’s events on safety, according to Linda Blisset, ITA’s certified director of safety.

Since the beginning of the year, 16 Illinois State Police officers have been involved in crashes, resulting in two deaths and multiple injuries. ITA has initiated a “move over” campaign to educate the public on Scott’s Law.

PHOTOS: 2019 Illinois Truck Driving Championships

The law requires that motorists move over one lane, if possible, when approaching an emergency vehicle or any vehicle with flashing lights. Its inception dates to December 2000, when Lt. Scott Gillen of the Chicago Fire Department was struck and killed while assisting at a crash scene on a Chicago expressway.

Class winners advancing to nationals:

  •  3-Axle: Ritch Fundell, FedEx Freight
  •  4-Axle: Miguel Corral, FedEx Freight
  •  5-Axle: Kari Paulson, UPS
  •  Flatbed: Tim Banasiak, FedEx Freight
  •  Sleeper Berth: Paul Barnes, UPS
  •  Tank Truck: Jason Troyer, Altom Transport
  • Twins: James Alvarez, UPS
  • Straight Truck: Maurice Walker Sr., UPS
  • Step Van: Vince Pekarek, FedEx Freight