Phillips has been a professional truck driver 35 years, with more than 1.6 million miles behind the wheel. He began competing in his state truck driving championships in 2004, and this year he made his second trip to the National Truck Driving Championships.
The contestants were the state champions in nine truck types from all 50 states. Collectively, they have driven 595 million accident-free miles.
In their respective classes, drivers tested their expertise in the driving skills they use daily. The competition course inside the Orange County Convention Center challenged their knowledge of safety, equipment and the industry. The skills course tested drivers' ability to judge distances, maneuver tight spaces, reverse, park, and position their vehicle exactly over scales, before barriers or around curves.
Phillips also won the individual straight truck driving competition. He succeeds Carl Krites, also a Con-way Freight driver, from Wapakoneta, Ohio, as the National Grand Champion.
Michael Andrews, a driver for HEB from Valley Mills, Texas, was named the 2011 National Rookie of the Year after competing in the Three-Axle division.
The Michigan state truck driving championship team won honors as the highest scoring state team, followed by Pennsylvania and Utah.
Michael Barnes, a driver for Walmart Transportation from Verona, Va. won the Vehicle Condition Award. Barnes participated in the Twins competition.
Laurier R. Dumont, a driver for YRC from Rochester, N.H. was awarded the Neill Darmstadter Professional Excellence Award. Dumont participated in the Five-Axle competition.
2011 National Truck Driving Championship Winners (1st, 2nd and 3rd place):
Straight Truck Class
Paul Phillips, Con-way Freight, Coarsegold, Calif.
Sean Saxon, FedEx Ground, Scottsdale, Ariz.
John Lopez, Reddaway, Ranch, Colo.
John Hazlett, ABF Freight System, Inc., Philadelphia, Pa.
Michael Stickley, Con-way Freight, Middletown, Va.
Virgil Boyanton, FedEx Freight, Florence, Miss.
Gary Harms, Walmart Transportation, LLC, Olathe, Kan.
Kenneth Ferencie, Norwell, Mass.
Larry Kendall, FedEx Express, Tulsa, Okla.
Hershel Evans, Holland, Bremen, Ga.
John Enyeart, Safeway Stores, Inc., Ravensdale, Wash.
Russell Beachler, FedEx Freight, Moore, Okla.
Edward Hawkins, Leavitt's Freight Service, Springfield, Ore.
Mark Bailey, Walmart Transportation LLC, Springvale, Maine
Robert Magnuson, Hannaford Trucking Company, Portland, Maine
Tank Truck Class
Leo Flack, A. Duie Pyle, Inc., Westchester, Pa.
Thomas Winston, FedEx Freight, Greenville, S.C.
Thomas Wilson, H-E-B, Katy, Texas
Jeffrey Payne, Reddaway, Cedar City, Utah
Gerald Thompson, Con-way Freight, Grand Island, N.Y.
Gary Martin, FedEx Ground, Galt, Calif.
Sleeper Berth Class
Joshua Carr, Walmart Transportation, LLC , McCall, Idaho
Pat Rudesill, FedEx Ground, Hammond, La.
Brandon Hicks, Mergenthaler Transfer & Storage, Helena, Mont.
James Sheehan, FedEx Ground, Hendersonville, Tenn.
Timothy Cole, FedEx Ground, Muskego, Wis.
Robert Ledoux, FedEx Express, Swansen, Mass.
A slide show of highlights from this year's championship: