Werner's Eric Stein wins several awards at Nebraska driving contest

Updated Jun 7, 2024
Eric Stein with grand champion award
Grand Champion Eric Stein
Nebraska Trucking Association

Todd Gimpel, a FedEx Freight driver, named Rookie of the YearTodd Gimpel, a FedEx Freight driver, was named Rookie of the YearNebraska Trucking AssociationA Werner Enterprises driver won multiple awards during the Nebraska Trucking Association's annual Truck Driving Championships held recently in Grand Island.

Eric Stein won the grand championship award,  as well as the Professional Excellence Award, the three-axel class and the Kurt Everett Vehicle Condition Award.

Todd Gimpel, a FedEx Freight driver, was named Rookie of the Year, and won the twin-trailers class.

Werner Enterprises won the team award.

Results from all of the classes include:

Straight Class: 1st – Christina Gaines,  FedEx Express 2nd – Sam Wilson, XPO Logistics 3rd – Steven Hayes, Grand Island Express

Three-Axle Class: 1st – Eric Stein, Werner Enterprises 2nd – Jeffery Reed, Old Dominion Freight Line 3rd – Joseph Bush, ABF Freight Systems, Inc.

Four-Axle Class: 1st – Garet Poland, Walmart Transportation 2nd – Izet Kantarevic, Werner Enterprises3 rd – James Dotson, FedEx Freight

Five-Axle Class: 1st – Chauncy Hunter, Greater Omaha Express, LLC 2nd – Justine September Baldwin, FedEx Ground 3rd – Paul Johnson, Old Dominion Freight Line

Five-Axle Sleeper Class: 1st – David Strandring, Hill Brothers Transportation, Inc. 2nd – John Putney, Greater Omaha Express, LLC 3rd – Tim Dean, Werner Enterprises

Tank Truck Class: 1st – Mark Cole, Old Dominion Freight Line 2nd – Ray Peterson, Wynne Transport Services, Inc. 3rd – Philip DeLauder, Werner Enterprises

Flatbed Class: 1st – Guy Courtney, Crete Carrier Corporation 2nd – Larry Derr, Werner Enterprises 3rd – Tommy Inzauro, Lyman Richey Corporation

Twin-Trailers Class: 1st – Todd Gimpel, FedEx Freight, Inc. 2nd – Dave Podelco, ABF Freight Systems, Inc. 3rd – Chris Dotson, FedEx Freight

Mixer Truck Class: 1st – Linda Pawlenty, Ready Mixed Concrete Co. of Lincoln 2nd – Jacob Freiderich, Lyman Richy Corporation 3rd – Greg Burroughs, Ready Mixed Concrete Co. of Lincoln

Step Van Class: 1st – Rob Jensen, Fremont Contract Carriers, Inc. 2nd – Theresea Trively, FedEx Freight, Inc. 3rd – Andy Wire, XPO Logistics

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Team Winners:1st – Werner Enterprises2nd – Greater Omaha Express3rd – Fremont Contract Carriers

Nebraska State Patrol is a partner of the NTA. The NSP Carrier Enforcement Troopers play a crucial role in competition, and the Bucky Buchholtz Top Driver Award is named in honor of one of their distinguished members. Buchholtz was both an NSP Trooper and a long-time member of the championships committee. This award is presented to the driver with the highest score on the driving course. The 2024 winner of the Bucky Buchholtz Top Driver Award is  Rob Jensen, Fremont Contract Carriers.

Kurt Everett was another valued member of the championship committee, and the Kurt Everett Vehicle Condition Award was created to acknowledge the driver with the highest pre-trip inspection score.  The Kurt Everett Vehicle Condition Award for 2024 goes to Eric Stein, Werner Enterprises.

The Jerry Wessel Award, named in honor of the long-time NTDC committee leader, is presented to drivers who have competed or volunteered at the Championships for at least five years and have demonstrated the highest standards of professionalism, industry knowledge, and attitude. This year’s winner is Rob Jensen, Fremont Contract Carriers.

The competitors included 32 rookies, a record-setting 13 women, and returning veterans, totaling 98 drivers and 10 truck classes.

The first-place winner in each class advances to the American Trucking Associations’ National Truck Driving Championships in Indianapolis,  Aug. 21-24. The first-place winner in the mixer truck class will advance to the 18th annual National Mixer Driver Championship to be held during this year’s NRMCA’s ConcreteWorks 2024, Oct.10 to 14.

Also held during the competition were the Nebraska State Patrol Inspector Championships, which included a personal interview, a tabletop hazardous materials exercise, and various hands-on inspections. Sergeant Matt Ramsey from Omaha, earned first-place honors, while Investigator Kris Hunzeker from Lincoln, received runner-up honors. Sergeant Ramsey will now represent Nebraska in the North American Inspector Championships, held in conjunction with the ATA’s National Truck Driving Championships.