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ISELIN, N.J. — The Garden State’s trucking world has a new Grand Champion in Artur Lesniowski.
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
The FedEx Ground driver took home top honors at the New Jersey Truck Driving Championships on June 22 after an impressive win in the 4-Axle class.
Lesniowski, 35, of Hasbrouck Heights, N.J., recorded the tournament’s top score on a course marked by an advanced parking challenge and precision maneuvering, which took him 7 minutes, 45 seconds to complete. He also recorded the highest score on the pre-trip inspection, and a decent score (60) on his written test for an overall tally of 390 points.
He explained the secret to achieving best-in-show status entailed consistent practices throughout the year, as well as studying the rulebook.
“I feel pretty good. I was prepared,” Lesniowski told Transport Topics during an awards banquet several hours after the tournament. He was joined by wife Agnes, daughter Layla, 6, and son Anthony, 2. “The course was tough in general, but we managed to [win].”
En route to his blue-ribbon award, he surpassed more than five dozen drivers, including Wilbert Vano of XPO Logistics, winner of the Twins category. Vano recorded the tournament’s top score on the written exam (68) and compiled an overall score of 320. Vano was runner-up in the Twins class at last year’s National Truck Driving Championships in Columbus, Ohio.
Lesniowski also surpassed last year’s New Jersey Grand Champion, Carlose London of XPO Logistics, who placed third in the 3-Axle. Dominick Piombo of FedEx Freight, who was runner-up to Lesniowski in the 4-Axle, earned the Rookie of the Year award.
Lesniowski emphasized he will quickly turn his attention to training for nationals, which will consist of the state winners from every class. NTDC is scheduled for Aug. 14-17 in Pittsburgh.
The Jersey standout’s regimen will entail consistent training. As he put it, “I’m going to have the same preparation. I’m going to eat a lot of pierogis.”
After winning New Jersey’s Sleeper Berth class last year, Lesniowski went on to win that category at NTDC as well. He also has excelled in the Step Van and Flatbed classes at the state level.
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Gail Toth, executive director of the New Jersey Motor Truck Association, recognized Lesniowki’s 2018 national title with an award at the banquet. She also encouraged him and other class winners to win titles at nationals.
“I am so proud of all of our drivers who competed. They are the best,” Toth told Transport Topics. “We have a great team of professional elite drivers heading to Pittsburgh. I am hoping Artur and the rest of our team can bring back another first place at nationals.”
New Jersey’s Ronald Vandermark of UPS Freight, a qualifier in the 3-Axle class at last year’s NTDC, addressed the drivers at the banquet. He reminded them to continue to embrace a culture of safety and a commitment to excellence. Vandermark is a member of the latest class of America’s Road Team, American Trucking Associations’ premier group of industry ambassadors.
Colleagues and relatives of the competitors looked on during the driving aspect of the tournament at the parking lot of APA Hotel Woodbridge. Toth’s family hosted a lemonade stand, the proceeds of which benefited women empowerment services in New Jersey. And Jaylen London, son of XPO Logistics’ Carlose, was among the fans who chronicled the performances of the drivers by keeping score and taking pictures.
All competitors moving on to nationals:
- 3-Axle: James Senor, FedEx Freight
- 4-Axle: Artur Lesniowski, FedEx Ground
- 5-Axle: Kevin Byrnes, UPS
- Flatbed: Luis Garcia, FedEx Freight
- Sleeper Berth: Maciej Grzywna, UPS
- Tank Truck: Joseph Cammalleri, UPS
- Twins: Wilbert Vano, XPO Logistics
- Straight Truck: Lorenzo Ramos, XPO Logistics
- Step Van: Stephen Lumpkin, FedEx Express