As the lead for the Professional Bull Riders (PBR) World title bounced back and forth between J.B. Mauney and Silvano Alves during the first four days of the 2013 PBR Built Ford Tough World Finals, Mauney maintained that the only time being first in the standings mattered was at the conclusion of the Championship Round on Sunday, October 27.
Mauney, an eight-year veteran of the PBR, knows the value of the final day at the World Finals. He has twice finished second (2008, 2009) and twice third (2007, 2010) in the race for the championship.
But in 2013, Mauney made sure that it was his name, and not that of the two-time and reigning World Champion Alves, that stood alone atop the PBR's World standings following an incredible and dominating performance during the six rounds of the 20th anniversary PBR World Finals in Las Vegas.
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“There’s no better feeling. You dream of something all your life and to eventually get it, oh, I mean, it feels like you’ve done conquered the world,” Mauney said after winning both Round 5 and the Championship Round of the Finals to clinch the average title and the $1 million bonus for being the PBR's World Champion.
“Silvano didn’t let off the gas and I was trying not to. It was a dogfight right down to the very last bull and I was just glad I got the last one rode, finished it off," Mauney said. Alves had disqualified on his bull during Round 4 Saturday night, allowing Mauney his largest lead of the season at 471 points entering Sunday's competition.
In Round 5, Alves put up 88.25 points on Cowtown Slinger. Meanwhile, Mauney had to take a re-ride after being unable to get out on Harlem Shake. Quickly switching chutes, Mauney prepared to climb aboard Ford Hammer Down as the crowd alternately chanted the names of the top two riders.
Eight seconds later, Mauney had another go round win and had clinched the average title for the second time in his career. He also won here in 2009, setting a record that season with an 8-8 perfect Finals while settling for second in the World Championship behind Kody Lohstoh in the closest race in PBR history at 594 points.
Mauney was a lock for the 2,500 bonus points in the average, assuring him the World title as well.
For good measure, Mauney topped the Championship Round as well, earning 93 points aboard Wipeout. Alves, who accepted a re-ride for the first time this season after marking low on Big Tex "ROCKS," put up 89 on Jack Daniel's Tennessee Honey to finish second in the average.
“It was a good competition and it was good for the PBR,” the ever gracious Alves said after losing the opportunity to become the PBR's first three-peat champion by just 977.75 points. “He did a good job and congratulations. It was a good (race).”
Mauney capped an unbelievable second half comeback during which the North Carolina cowboy came from 3,056 points behind Alves as the summer hiatus ended in August. He won five of the final nine events setting a record for four event wins in a row including the World Finals. He won four of the six go rounds in Vegas and joined Troy Dunn and Robson Palermo as the only men to win more than one World Finals title.
"When I started out the year, I had the mentality take it one bull at a time, not worry about the race," Mauney said. "When you get down there on the back of the bucking chutes, they started playing that song, everybody's hooping and hollering, it's hard not to think about it. I'd just look at my wife and she'd smile at me. I'd smile and that made it all better."
Mauney gave credit to his wife Lexie for his first World title, a title many expected the incredibly talented rider to win years ago. He told reporters during press conferences all week that she was the one to convince the "hard-headed" rider to take some time away from the sport.
“The best thing I ever did was take that break. Got my mind right, went home and didn’t think about bull riding," he said. "I came back with a brand new attitude and my body felt great. This is the best I’ve ever felt my entire career. It showed up in my riding, everything was going great, family’s great, happy as I can be."
Mauney earned $1.81 million including $1,385,500 earned during the five days of the World Finals; it was the second richest season in PBR history behind Justin McBride's $1.83 million earned in 2007.
Mauney also earned the Lane Frost/Brent Thurman Award, which is presented to the bull rider with the highest-marked ride at the World Finals. He won Round 2 with 93.75 points on Smackdown.
Joao Ricardo Vieira capped a phenomenal first season by winning the rookie title during the final day of the PBR World Finals. The Brazilian nearly lost out to his countryman Eduardo Aparecido but rode Little Kombat in the Championship Round for 87.25 points while Aparecido came down early off Bushwacker. Vieira finished third in the World standings as well.
Bushwacker figured into both the World and Rookie races as Mauney became the first man to ride the bull in four years back in Tulsa in August, earning the highest marked ride of the season at 95.25 points.
“Riding Bushwacker," Mauney said when asked what was the most memorable moment of his World Championship season. "Winning this world title, that means everything to you but the highlight this year was riding that bull."
"He’s slammed me so many times. To get lucky and get by a bull like that, there’s no better feeling," he added. "I take my hat off to those guys because they do a wonderful job with that bull and he’s one of the greatest bucking bulls I’ve ever seen."
Not surprisingly, the great bull reclaimed his World Championship title after losing out in a close contest in 2012. Putting up a huge score in the Championship Round of 47 points, the son of Reindeer blew the doors off the competition on the final day, earning 93.50 points en route to his second World Champion Bull title.
"If it wasn’t for Kent [Cox], Bushwacker probably wouldn’t be in the shape he’s in," said Bushwacker's owner Julio Moreno, referring to the bull's handler. "He takes care of him better than anybody could take care of anybody. I did raise the bull, I owned his mother and father. But I owe it all to Kent, the way he went about it. He took him to the right places and has done great with him.”
“He don’t want to be messed with, he’d just as soon everybody just leave him alone," Cox said of the notoriously unfriendly bull who defies gravity with his bucking style. "The only reason he tolerates me is he knows that I’m the one who brings the groceries to him.”
Shepherd Hills Tested was second with 91.75 points.