LAS VEGAS ― He needed every bit of the 93.75 points and a Round 2 win at the World Finals to take a preliminary lead in the world standings with four rounds remaining, but J.B. Mauney is now the No. 1 ranked bull rider in the world.
Mauney leads two-time defending World Champion Silvano Alves by a slim margin of 30.75 points.
Despite being the top rider in the average with 182.5 points, Mauney said he's not looking at the average and he's definitely not worried about the standings with three days left.
"I'm going to keep looking at one bull at a time," said Mauney, who added that everyone was quick to point he's atop the season standings. "Yeah, that's what they just said. I don't feel that way because this is a week-long event, so anything can happen. It can change back and forth throughout the course and what matters is when that short round is over Sunday."
Asked if he feels like he's in control of his own destiny, he replied, "I don't look at it that way."
Mauney won Round 2 with 93.75 points on Smackdown and has a commanding 6.75-point lead in the Finals average after two of six rounds.
L.J. Jenkins (175.75), Guilherme Marchi (173.75), Ty Pozzobon (171.75) and Silvano Alves (163.25) round out the Top 5 in the average and are the only five riders to have covered their first pair of bulls at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.
Mauney moved from second to first in the average, while Alves, who has been the talk of town after turning down a re-ride option in Round 1 and electing to keep an opening-round score of 73.75 points, went from 13th to fifth in only 24 hours.
Alves believes this year's eventual World Champion will need to be a perfect 6-for-6.
"I need a score on all my bulls," Alves said. "There's no falling off the bulls. … Yeah, I think, I need to ride six bulls."
Alves continues to make the point that he does not feel any pressure despite relinquishing the world standings lead for the first time since Mauney's brother-in-law, Shane Proctor, took the lead after the 15th Built Ford Tough Series event of the season in Des Moines, Iowa.
Mauney's second-round effort plays a big role in another world title race as well.
Smackdown was one of three bulls along with Mick E Mouse and Shepherd Hills Tested contending for the World Champion Bull title with bull scores of 46 points. As expected, leading the way is Bushwacker with 46.5 points followed by last year's World Champion Bull Asteroid with 46.25 points.
"I can't hardly talk," said Chad Berger, who owns and hauls Smackdown and admitted that his heart was racing afterward. "I was so happy for J.B., and happy for Smackdown, and real proud of both of them. I couldn't ask for anything better.
"This is what it's all about right here."
The other two bulls contending for the title are Lightmaker's Rango (45.25) and I'm a Gangster Too (42.5).
Douglas Duncan rode Bushwacker for 8 seconds, but judges called him for a slap at 3.42 seconds that was upheld by replays. Mauney was behind the chutes for three consecutive rides heading into the intermission. He pulled both Duncan and Stormy Wing's rope on back-to-back outs.
Wing faced Asteroid and despite some sage advice from Mauney ― the only rider to successfully ride Asteroid, Bushwacker and Shepherd Hills Tested, came down in 2.37 seconds.
"I thought it went pretty good tonight," said Gene Melton, who hauls Asteroid for Circle T Ranch & Rodeo. "He kind of bounced off the corner there a little bit.
"After you get one trip down and it was pretty good, you hope you can just do the same thing again."
The top bull contenders will be out again Sunday afternoon in the Built Ford Tough Championship Round to close out the season and will likely play as much a factor in crowning the World Champion as Smackdown played tonight in catapulting Mauney to the lead.
There were 11 qualified rides in Round 2. Rounding out the Top 5 were Joao Ricardo Vieira (91), who is vying for the Rookie of the Year title, Brant Atwood (90.75), Jenkins (89.75) and Alves (89.5).
Vieira and Atwood both wowed the crowd.
Both are competing in Vegas for the first time and Atwood brought the crowd to its feet with the first 90-point effort of the event when he covered Lightmaker's Rango, and then Vieira did the same late in the round when he rode Jack Daniel's Tennessee Honey.
However, it was Mauney's 93.75-point effort - the second highest score of the season ― that captivated everyone as the Thomas & Mack Center erupted upon the score being announced.
"It felt great and I knew I was going to have to try hard on that bull," Mauney said. "I had rode him a few times and he threw me off a few times and if you stub your toe on him, he's the kind that's going to make you pay for it and I knew just keep going at him."
"I've been saying it all day," proclaimed Berger. "I even said it on Flint's show that you're going to see a 93 to 95 point ride on Smackdown. I just knew it with J.B. as hot as he is."
Professional Bull Riders Built Ford Tough
Built Ford Tough World Finals
Thomas & Mack Center, Las Vegas
Event Leaders (Round 1-Round 2-Event points)
1. J. B. Mauney, 88.75-93.75-182.50 points.
2. L.J. Jenkins, 86-89.75-175.75 points.
3. Guilherme Marchi, 87.5-86.25-173.75 points.
4. Ty Pozzobon, 85.5-86.25-171.75 points.
5. Silvano Alves, 73.75-89.5-163.25 points.
6. Joao Ricardo Vieira, 0-91-91.00 points.
7. Brant Atwood, 0-90.75-90.75 points.
8. Cody Nance, 89-0-89.00 points.
9. Kody Lostroh, 0-87.5-87.50 points.
10. Renato Nunes, 87.25-0-87.25 points.
11. Markus Mariluch, 87-0-87.00 points.
12. Eduardo Aparecido, 86.75-0-86.75 points.
(tie). Jory Markiss, 0-86.75-86.75 points.
14. Ryan Dirteater, 86.25-0-86.25 points.
(tie). Valdiron de Oliveira, 0-86.25-86.25 points.
16. Gustavo Pedrero, 0-83.75-83.75 points.
17. Claudio Crisostomo, 83.25-0-83.25 points.
18. Shane Proctor, 81.25-0-81.25 points.
19. Matt Triplett, 80.25-0-80.25 points.
Agnaldo Cardozo, 0-0-0.00 points.
Alex Aparecido Marcilio, 0-0-0.00 points.
Austin Meier, 0-0-0.00 points.
Ben Jones, 0-0-0.00 points.
Billy Robinson, 0-0-0.00 points.
Brendon Clark, 0-0-0.00 points.
Chase Outlaw, 0-0-0.00 points.
Chris Lowe, 0-0-0.00 points.
Douglas Duncan, 0-0-0.00 points.
Edevaldo Ferreira, 0-0-0.00 points.
Emilio Resende, 0-0-0.00 points.
Fabiano Vieira, 0-0-0.00 points.
Jordan Hupp, 0-0-0.00 points.
Lachlan Richardson, 0-0-0.00 points.
Luke Snyder, 0-0-0.00 points.
Marco Eguchi, 0-0-0.00 points.
Mike Lee, 0-0-0.00 points.
Nathan Schaper, 0-0-0.00 points.
Sean Willingham, 0-0-0.00 points.
Stormy Wing, 0-0-0.00 points.
Zane Lambert, 0-0-0.00 points.
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