Special Coverage of the National Truck Driving Championships
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April 29, 2018 1:45 PM, EDT

Nevada Champion Gragg Wilson Goes About Winning in a Humble Way

Nevada 2018 truck driving championships winners Wilson (black shirt, fifth from left) surrounded by other 2018 Nevada Truck Driving Championships winners by Eugene Mulero/Transport Topics

FedEx Freight’s Gragg Wilson, Nevada’s 2018 truck driving grand champion who captured the sleeper berth class, is one of those quiet competitors who simply lets his performance speak for itself.

He was the overall state champ in 2017 as well and has recorded five top honors at the state level. His recent victory will mark his 13th trip to the national stage. His secret to success: Stay focused and keep it humble.

Gragg Wilson of FedEx Freight

Wilson via FedEx.com

“I try to be pretty humble about it. I’ll be with the other drivers and a lot of times they don’t want to be in my class or whatever. I just try to encourage them to do the best they can,” Wilson told Transport Topics on May 17. The state contest was held in late April, and the National Truck Driving Championships are scheduled for Aug. 15-18 in Columbus, Ohio.

In his competitive career, Wilson has victories in every class except straight truck and twin trailers. His goal is to continue expanding his repertoire and prove to himself he is capable of operating pretty much every vehicle. As he put it, “It shows that I’m pretty versatile.” Going forward, Wilson is contemplating sticking with a specific class so as to master it. Doing so, he said, could raise his chances at a big win at nationals.

Road to NTDC logo

The Road to the National Truck Driving Championships

Qualifiers | Map | Photos | Video

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

Now, as he turns his attention to the big show in August, Wilson will let experience guide him during the pretrip, written exam and driving challenge. Over the years, he’s watched his peers with similar experience take home major titles. Humility aside, Wilson confessed he is really starting to believe his time to shine is coming up.

“I think I just get a little too conservative. I pull back a little bit. I should probably just go for it a little bit more, I think,” he said, adding, “Hopefully this year. Let’s see what happens.”

As an aside, for those curious about the spelling of his first name, Wilson explained it’s his mother’s maiden name.

“My grandfather came from Finland, and he came over, and his aunt and uncle adopted him. And he took their last name. And then my mom just liked it and wanted to have it be a first name. So that’s my name,” he said. It’s still pronounced like “Gregg.”

Wilson also is among an elite group of truckers in Nevada who have come together to organize a fundraiser that combines their passion for highway safety and giving back. On Sept. 29, Wilson and his pals at UPS, Randy Stromlund and David Sharp, will host the “Drive for Freedom” truck roadeo, a benefit for the Wounded Warrior Project, in Sparks, Nev.

“It’s going to be for drivers that kind of want to get a taste of what it’s like to see if they want to get into the state competition or not. So it’s going to be a little more casual,” he said of the event that was first held last year.

At states, Sharp won in 3-axle, and Stromlund won in tank truck. Other winners securing a trip to nationals included:

  • Patrick Nerger of FedEx Express in 4-axle
  • Bradley Cupery of FedEx Ground in straight truck
  • Matthew Hart of FedEx Freight in twin trailers
  • Robert Fini of FedEx Ground in step van
  • Brandon Hardy of XPO Logistics in 5-axle
  • Erik Flick of FedEx Freight in flatbed