XPO’s Robert Dean Wins Washington Title, Qualifies for NTDC
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There are plenty of competitors this year who have already qualified for the National Truck Driving Championships. But few have their nationals-qualifying cousin to thank for securing a ticket to the big show.
Robert Dean, a longtime professional driver with XPO, took top honors at the Washington Truck Driving Championships last month competing in what has become his favorite vehicle class: flatbed.
His championship run in April marked his debut as the Evergreen State’s grand champion and his fifth qualifier to the nationals, a tournament promoted as the “Super Bowl of Safety.”
With more than three decades of experience as a commercial driver, Dean explained the road to his recent statewide blue ribbon honors was made possible by an outstanding drive on the skills course. He also credited his high marks on the written examination of rules and regulations, and excelling in what has become his forte: the pre-trip inspection.
Getting to Know You
Washington Trucking Associations
Name: Robert Dean
Favorite Food: Tacos
Sports Hero: Steve Largent (former NFL wide receiver)
Lucky Charms: He brings to NTDC a messenger bag featuring the Con-way logo.
Favorite Vehicle: Flatbed
What was the last TV show you watched: M*A*S*H
What’s going through your mind before driving the course at NTDC: One step at a time; think about the maneuvers.
Washington’s grand champion expressed appreciation for the support he receives from his employer, XPO, friends and colleagues, his wife, Joanna Dean, an individual he described as his biggest fan and staunchest supporter. Importantly, he expressed a deep appreciation for his training partner, mentor and cousin Chris Poynor, an XPO driver and an NTDC qualifier in the 3-axle class. (Poynor has become a consistent nationals qualifier in recent years.)
In regard to training, Dean articulated a deep belief in making time for what is important, such as preparing himself for state and national transportation safety tournaments. In less than a month, Dean said he intends to resume intense training routines with Poynor.
2023 SCHEDULE: Every state date
Their plan will be to schedule driving exercises nearly every weekend until nationals kicks off in mid-August. This year’s summer classic will be held in Columbus, Ohio, and likely will feature more than 400 professional drivers from every state.
“My strategy is, when, right before I practice, I take the courses that I have seen and my cousin [Poynor] has seen. And we put them together and we try to guess what problems they [will] throw at us,” Dean said recently when asked to explain his comprehensive method of training. He went on: “And we practice those.”
Dean acknowledged that training alongside Poynor is the kind of motivation that inspires him to elevate his level of performance behind the wheel of the flatbed. Such training also helps him to adapt to high-pressure situations — a useful skill to have at nationals.
The Road to the 2023 National Truck Driving Championships
State Schedule | NTDC Qualifiers | Map of State Champions | Photo Gallery
Who: Winners from nine categories at the state level who have advanced to the national competition, where a Grand Champion will be crowned
What: Contestants are judged on a written exam, pre-trip inspection and driving skills
When: Aug. 16-19
Where: Columbus, Ohio
“Both him and I have won multiple times at our state level in our class and gone to nationals. So, he won last year. I won last year. So we both went to nationals. And it’s kind of ironic we both win this year and then I win grand champion, and now we’re going to nationals together again,” Dean observed. He competed at nationals in 2022 in the flatbed.
As far as a secret weapon that Dean uses to his advantage at competitions, that has to be maintaining a positive attitude and visualizing sound maneuvers and outcomes. Such mental training will solidify his confidence ahead of NTDC.
Or as he put it, “I feel good going to nationals.”
Other class champions from Washington:
- 3-Axle: Chris Poynor, XPO
- 4-Axle: Andrey Grishchuk, XPO
- 5-Axle: Michael Dickinson, USF Reddaway
- Sleeper Berth: Joe Ryles, Walmart
- Step Van: Jaime Bautista, FedEx Express
- Straight Truck: Carl Gibson, The Boeing Co.
- Tank Truck: Aleksandr Dragonchuk, Walmart
- Twins: Josh Jenkin, Peninsula Truck Lines
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