This is a warning to the drivers who qualified for the National Truck Driving Championships in the tanker truck division: Don Logan of FedEx Freight will be joining you.
(And his competitive fire still is burning strong.)
The national grand champion in 2012 with a long list of accolades surpassed the competition at the Kansas qualifier in mid-June. His strong showing at states marked the fifth time he’s earned best-in-show honors, paving the way for a 12th trip to the national stage.
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
“I’m very excited and, even though I’ve been multiple times, every year is special. It’s something that I definitely don’t take for granted,” he told Transport Topics.
This year, Logan kicked off his training early: “I start studying for the written test in late April. … And the driving portion of it, this year I probably practiced more than I have in the past, which was probably, I think I practiced four Sundays for two or three hours, leading up to the competition, which is a little bit more than I’ve done in the past.”
Qualifying for nationals is a privilege that he cherishes, he said. Rooting for Logan at nationals will be his wife, Pam, and the rest of the gang: sons Dayne, Dayton,and Dawson, along with daughter Daylee and daughter-in-law Staci and grandson Bryce. They make up the Logan bunch who support his affinity for winning elite truck safety tournaments.
Facing off against the best drivers from every state is humbling, since each competitor has a shot at winning the overall prize, he explained.
“I would hope that all 400 competitors that are going there think that they’re going to be the grand champion. I mean, that is the ultimate goal. So hopefully, you know, that’s something everybody is looking to achieve,” Logan said. “Actually saying it’s going to happen is another thing, because, you know, that is one stiff competition. And you got to be on your game and every aspect of the driving, the written test and the pre-trip. It’s all got to come together for you on that particular day.”
His advice to rookies at nationals is to maintain the intensity and believe in the training that helped earn them a spot at the championships.
“Even though it’s going to be a new experience for them, they have just as much opportunity as everybody else,” he said. “My first year, when I was nervous and shaking in that truck when I got in it, I came out in fifth place. I was just happy to be there. I had no thoughts of actually winning the thing. But when I come out in fifth place, it was kind of an eye-opener to me that, man, this is something that I might be able to achieve someday. So my advice, just to the rookies, is they have just as much opportunity as everybody else. They need to be going in there looking to win, too.”
Also punching a ticket to nationals:
- Jeffrey Dwerlkotte, UPS Freight, Sleeper
- Jimmie Wisley, YRC Freight, 3-axle
- Timothy Helus, FedEx Freight, 4-axle
- Jeff Davis, Walmart Transportation, 5-axle
- Ronald Gabel, FedEx Freight, Straight Truck
- Michael Appelman, YRC Freight, Flatbed
- John Bouddhara, FedEx Freight, Twins
The national tournament will be held in Columbus, Ohio, Aug. 15-18.