Special Coverage of the National Truck Driving Championships

Sweet 15: XPO’s Sweeney Bound for NTDC Again

Tank Truck Driver Advances to Nationals from Massachusetts
Richard Sweeney (right) with Kevin Weeks
XPO tank truck driver Richard Sweeney displays his grand champion trophy with Trucking Association of Massachusetts Executive Director Kevin Weeks. (Eugene Mulero/Transport Topics)

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WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. — Richard Sweeney is known for his quiet demeanor. Subtle and modest, he is the type who can blend in with a crowd. But beyond this serene persona is a professional truck driver who has compiled an impressive résumé during two-plus decades in precision-driving competitions.

In early June, the XPO standout surpassed a deep field of drivers competing in the tanker vehicle class to collect the best-in-show blue ribbon at the Massachusetts trucking championships. The award punched his 15th ticket to the National Truck Driving Championships.

In the wake of that win, an elated Sweeney discussed the commitment it takes, and the training regimen he follows — often with his best friend, Roland Bolduc of FedEx Express.

“Once you get hooked on this — it’s my personal opinion, and I’ve talked to Roland about this many, many times, and the Tony Speros of the world — by doing this every year, [it] makes you a better driver,” Sweeney told Transport Topics, referring to the recently retired Spero, a former national champion and longtime Connecticut team captain. “There’s a lot of great drivers out there, but you just want to go back every single year.”

NTDC 2024

2024 National Truck Driving Championships

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. 21-24

Where: Indianapolis

Bolduc, another veteran competitor from Connecticut, also qualified for this year’s nationals. He will be competing in the twin trailers class.

In addition to a state title, a prerequisite for nationals is to demonstrate an accident-free record for a year. That said, there seems to be a narrow window between state contests and the national tournament. A cascade of responsibilities typically consumes the women and men vying to compete at the state level in precision-driving events; they look to put on strong, flexible, fearless performances for a chance at winning a spot at nationals.

Getting to Know You

Richard Sweeney

Age: 56

From: Chicopee, Mass.

Class: Tanker

Favorite music: Country

Sports hero: Retired NFL quarterback Tom Brady

Favorite snack: Salt and vinegar potato chips

Last place visited: Columbus, Ohio

Most memorable NTDC moment: Finishing second place in flatbed in 2009

Only the top state drivers from each of the nine vehicle classes withstand the adversity and the technical and physical demands. Sweeney stressed that a wise approach is adopting an every-day mindset.

“Hard work, dedication; You know, I’m not just doing this from when the states are to the nationals,” he said. “This is a year-round endeavor.”

Specific to the tools for preparation, such as the “Facts for Drivers” book used to test competitors’ acumen at NTDC, Sweeney continued, “I’m always carrying the book with me. It’s always close by, even when I’m not studying, just to brush-up on everything that I’ve learned.”

Notwithstanding his NTDC longevity, Sweeney fondly remembers the first time he competed on the big stage in 2000.

“It’s amazing and scary at the same time,” he said. “But the precision that [the organizers] have you do … it’s just unbelievable.”

Other Massachusetts winners:

3-Axle: Sean Medeiros, FedEx Freight

Straight Truck: Christopher Buswell, FedEx Freight

Twin Trailers: Scott Barton, FedEx Freight

Step Van: Rafeal Jusfredo, FedEx

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