This week /*Paul Phillips*/ returned from Orlando, Florida as the grand champion of the /*Bendix National Truck Driving Championships*/.
Phillips is clearly driven to succeed. To win a national championship Paul shifted his game into a different gear. He explained, "Most guys have the skills to do it but it's just the nerves. You have to be able to relax."
Truck drivers were tested on a skills course in addition to a pre-trip check and a written exam.
Paul received a rubber duck a week before the competition as a reminder. "On like right turn and the left turns they have a rubber duck and if you run over it you're killing the duck."
Instead, Phillips killed the competition. Truckers had to back up to a simulated dock without hitting it.
The front stop test was also tough. "What happens is it disappears over the hood so you have to guess where it is."
This week the national champion came home to a lot of good-natured ribbing. "I've been here for 25 years and they all kind of know me. Yeah, they were giving me a hard time. Can I be your agent? But it has been fun."
Paul has logged over a million and a half accident-free miles for /*Con-way Freight*/.
Service center manager /*Bud Whitney*/ joked, "Oh he's our superstar. Yeah, we have his entourage going back there."
Paul reached nationals before in 2004 but this time he took home all the championship hardware. "I tell you I was shocked. The competition was tough."
Paul also serves as a driving school instructor for the company. His message to the next group of trainees, "You gotta listen to me now."
Paul also received a /*Ford F-150*/ truck and $8500 for the title. He will also soon drive a new rig. Truckers will notice the cab reads "Paul Phillips - national champion."