Considering that the closest title race in the 20 year history of the Professional Bull Riders (PBR) Built Ford Tough World Finals came down to 594 points, saying that a lead of 471 points is huge seems just wrong. But after a week which has seen the standings lead change three times in four days and a points difference as small as 19.75 points, 471 does sound pretty big.
The biggest night thus far of this finals came in round four Saturday night when North Carolina cowboy J.B. Mauney won his second go round in three days with a huge 90.75 point effort on Breakdown from Cox/Vermejo River Ranch/Tribal Tuff. World standings leader Silvano Alves meanwhile was called for a slap at 6.99 seconds. In the biggest swing of the event, Mauney earned 490.75 points towards the World Championship while Alves earned none.
Entering the final day of an incredible 2013 season, the eight-year pro Mauney is staring down the barrel of his first world title and the $1 million bonus that comes with it. He is now the only rider here to cover all four bulls and has a commanding lead in the average race as well.
It's been a huge swing for Mauney who came out on the wrong side of that other close race when Kody Lohstroh took the title in 2009. He looks to be completely in control of his own destiny as the riders prepare for the final two bulls of the season on Sunday, October 27.
Two-time and defending World Champion Alves slipped to eighth in the average with the no score but certainly went down swinging, making several moves to stay aboard True Blood after he seemed bucked-off. Though still aboard the bull with his hand in the rope at the eight second whistle, Alves lost control and hit the bull's head with his free hand and a large portion of his upper body as he tried to earn his fourth score of the week.
The rookie race is also going to come down to the final Sunday. Second ranked Eduardo Aparecido rode his third bull of the week while leader Joao Ricardo Vieira bucked off again, closing Vieira's lead to just under 1,300 points. More importantly, Aparecido is seventh in the average with the chance to move up higher on Sunday. If he keeps riding, he has a great chance to come from behind during the finals as last year's rookie Emilio Resende did.
If that excitement isn't enough, the final round to decide the World Champion Bull happens during the Championship Round. Bushwacker has the lead but only a quarter of a point separates him from reigning World Champ Asteroid. Three other bulls are another quarter point behind Asteroid, Smackdown, Mick E Mouse and Shepherd Hills Tested.
The Championship Round bulls are drawn into positions and the riders will be matched based upon their position in the average entering the final round. Round five is also randomly drawn with Mauney drawing Harlem Shake and Alves getting on Cowtown Slinger. The latter carried Claudio Chrisostomo to 89.75 points on Saturday night while Harlem Shake makes his first appearance of the finals; the bull has only been ridden once in eight outs but has just a 22 point average marking.
The final round with all its drama kicks off at 11:30 a.m. Pacific time at the Thomas & Mack in Las Vegas. All 35 qualifiers will ride in round five with the top 15 in the average earning one more bull in the Championship Round.