By: Justin Felisko
September 15, 2018
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. – J.B. Mauney knows a thing or two about being a part of high-pressure World Championship races.
However, one thing that has been new for him this season is being involved in the race at the bottom of the world standings.
Mauney has been in a dogfight since the second half of the premier series resumed last month in Tulsa, Oklahoma, as a logjam of riders have been jockeying for Top 35 positioning.
The two-time World Champion finally was able to break through on Saturday night in New Jersey, finishing in a three-way tie for second-place during Round 1 of the Atlantic City Invitational.
Mauney (87.25 points on Hot Rod), Matt Triplett (87.25 points on Blue Stone) and Lachlan Richardson (87.25 points on Mickey Mouse) each earned 50 world points.
Mauney moved from 36th in the world standings to 32nd.
“It is the same mentality I have always had my entire life,” Mauney said. “I don’t give a shit about the points. The rest will take care of itself. Everybody has been asking about me being down there at the bottom trying to fight your way to the Finals. I don’t look at it that way. My fight is with that bull each time I nod my head.”
Triplett moved from 34th to 30th and Richardson went from 35th to 31st.
“It is huge,” Triplett said. “Last weekend I let a couple bulls get past me. I needed to work on my feet and I used them good tonight. I just have to keep taking it one bull at a time. It is still a long season. I have to keep grinding and keep trying and keep going at them.”
There is less than 100 points separating No. 28 Joao Ricardo Vieira and No. 35 Marcos Gloria heading into Championship Sunday following the rides by Mauney, Triplett and Richardson.
Round 2 can be seen on CBS Sports Network at 6 p.m. ET Sunday, as well as RidePass at 1:45 p.m. ET.
Round 1 winner Marco Eguchi had begun the night ranked 30th before moving up to 27th.
Mauney, Triplett and Richardson are the only riders among those eight riders on the bubble with a qualified ride, while No. 38 Alisson de Souza is sitting in 12th place with his 83-point ride on Sugar Boom Boom.
Does Mauney feel like he has an advantage over the other bubble riders because of his championship pedigree?
“No. I feel the advantage I have is I know I am not going to quit,” Mauney said. “I am not taking the easy route out. I am going to be there to the bitter end. I am tying my hand in there and trying to make it stay.”
Mauney is coming off a fourth-place finish last week and he has ridden three of his last five bulls.
The 31-year-old has begun to move his surgically repaired free arm with more and more ease the last two weeks.
It has been 14 months since he sustained the career-threatening shoulder injury at the 2017 Calgary Stampede.
“I really worked at it hard to get it strengthened back up,” Mauney said. “That was the only thing I was missing. I feel like I had the motion. I just wasn’t strong enough to keep it up over my head. Every time I made that big pump it would just automatically come back down beside me and it was screwing me up on those bulls coming into my hand. I could not keep it up over my head where I needed. I feel like I am getting her figured out now.”
Mauney flashed a smile when asked about the bubble riders picking up world points and rides on Saturday night.
“I like to make a race out of it no matter what,” Mauney concluded. “Bull riding is a competition. Not everyone gets a trophy.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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