August 18, 2014 1:00 PM, EDT

NTDC Grand Champion Langenhahn: 'I Feel Like I'm in a Dream'

John Sommers II for Transport Topics

PITTSBURGH — A Con-way Freight driver from Plover, Wisconsin, Jeffrey Langenhahn, won the Bendix 2014 grand championship at the National Truck Driving Championships here Aug. 16.

Langenhahn, a father of five, also won first place in the Twins division at the 77th annual NTDC, which this year drew 426 drivers who competed in nine divisions.

Christopher Shaw, a FedEx Express driver from Albuquerque, New Mexico, took the top honors in the sixth annual National Step Van Driving Championships, which are held at the same time each year at the NTDC.

Both Shaw and Langenhahn were marking their fifth year of national competition.

“I feel like I’m in a dream,” Langenhahn told Transport Topics as a crush of well-wishers pressed to shake his hand at the awards banquet.

“I always wanted to be able to get into the drive-off just to get a chance to win,” he said of the final competition in the Twins division Saturday.

“And I’m so happy to finally bring one home and to win grand champion, I’m just so excited,” he said.

Langenhahn has logged 28 years as a driver, with over 1.9 million miles behind the wheel, according to American Trucking Associations, which founded the national event.

The grand championship award is sponsored by Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems.

Shaw, a father of two who drives a FedEx route in Albuquerque, called his win “amazing, just amazing.”

Shaw said that after competing against four other finalists on Saturday he thought he had scored well.

“I thought I had a chance, however, you never know how the other guys did and we had a gal in my class this year.”

Christy Tolbert of Richland Hills, Texas, was the only woman finalist this year.

The awards were presented after a week of competition in nine divisions, with written testing, a pre-trip check contest and a driving competition.

First-place winners in the seven other divisions were:

Straight Truck: Brendan Sharp, FedEx Freight, Henderson, Colorado.

Three-Axle: Basher Pierce, FedEx Freight, Sophia, North Carolina.

Four-Axle: James Quarles, Wal-Mart Transportation, Laurens, South Carolina.

Five-Axle: Wayne Gootee, Wal-Mart Transportation, Brooklyn, Michigan.

Sleeper Berth: Matt Awbrey, Wal-Mart Transportation, Franklin, Georgia.

Flatbed: Paul Brandon, FedEx Freight, Oxford, Connecticut.

Tank Truck: Christopher Miller, United Petroleum Transportation, Cowetta, Oklahoma.

David Guinn of Mulberry, Florida, a driver for Publix Super Markets Inc., was named 2014 Rookie of the Year after competing in the five-axle division.

To qualify as a rookie a driver must be competing for the first time at the state and national levels.

ATA President Bill Graves said in a statement that NTDC competitors are the best of the best and the safest, most skilled and most knowledgeable among drivers.

“I applaud all the competitors for their achievements and dedication to safety, and congratulate Jeffrey on his grand champion award which showcases his superior driving skill and commitment to safety,” Graves said.