RICHMOND, VA --- A record 33 UPS and UPS Freight state champions will test their skills against the nation's top professional drivers in next month's American Trucking Associations’ National Truck Driving Championships.
This year's UPS team, a mix of veterans and newcomers to the national stage, have collectively accumulated 110 state titles and logged more than 500 years of accident-free driving. The event takes place Aug. 18-23 in Houston.
"Our nine first-time state champions are further evidence that the safety practices and skills that have been a hallmark of our drivers for many years are being passed on to the next generation of UPS and UPS Freight drivers," said Phil Warren, UPS Freight vice president for community affairs. "For UPS and all competitors, the nationals represent a showcase of our industry's top professional drivers."
The UPS team includes two former national champions, West Virginians Clarence Jenkins and Roger Lanham. Jenkins, a UPS Freight driver from Charleston, garnered the first of his West Virginia record 13 state championships in 1983 and won his national title in 1988. Lanham, who captured his 10th state title this summer, won his national championship in 1985.
Another West Virginian making his 10th return to the nationals is Ralph Gragg, a pickup and delivery driver for UPS Freight in Charleston. This year's company team also includes Barry Holland from Federalsburg, Md., who was named 2008 Maryland Grand Champion after recording the top score of all competitors in the state driving tournament.
The UPS Freight team also features Jerry Davis of Richmond, Va., who won his ninth state championship this year and first since 1999, and Dennis Kendrick of Richmond. Kendrick captured his eighth Virginia title in 2008 and second in a row in the five-axle competition.
Also returning for the second year in a row to the Nationals is UPS feeder driver John Foran, who this year successfully defended the Vermont four-axle championship he first won in 2007.
Other members of the 2008 team include eight UPS feeder drivers who won their first state titles this year to qualify for the national competition. They include David Edwards from Tennessee; David Sharp from Nevada; Minnesota's Carl Myers; Troy Turtle and Bill Harvey from Oklahoma; Gareth Denham from Maryland; Ed Mikan from Illinois, and Shane Schneider from Kansas.
Rounding out the 2008 team are UPS Freight drivers Ty Bentley and Chuck Jones from North Carolina; Texas' Bobby Brown; Scott Cain from Georgia; Anthony Chestnut from Florida; Joe Clements from Virginia, and South Carolinians John Cook, John Hummel, Dennis Martin and Steve Newsome.
Also, Danny Drewery from Tennessee; Alan Graham and Duane Lasure from Ohio; Johnny Hodges and Craig Warner from West Virginia; Vernon Smith and Robert White from Nevada, and Jerry Sheble from California.
Both the state and national competitions include difficult driving skills, maneuvering tests, equipment inspections and exams covering safety policies and regulations. More than 400 drivers from across the nation will compete in Houston in nine equipment classes.
UPS Freight, one of the largest less-than-truckload carriers in the United States and a leading truckload service provider, serves customers throughout North America, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands.