PUEBLO, Colo. – J.B. Mauney doesn’t see the point in slowing down, especially knowing how close he is to a potential second world title.
The current world leader has confirmed he will be going to this weekend’s BlueDEF Velocity Tour Finals in Louisville, Kentucky, as he tries to build on his 3-for-3 victory last weekend in Tucson, Arizona, during the Built Ford Tough Series regular-season finale.
“I feel like when I am riding good there is no point in staying home” Mauney said. “There are points and money up for grabs in Louisville and I got the invite to go. I wasn’t going to turn it down. It is only seven hours from the house. I have nothing else to do.”
He may have nothing else to do, but he certainly can accomplish plenty inside the KFC YUM! Center this weekend before the Built Ford Tough World Finals on Oct. 21-25.
Mauney leads No. 2 Kaique Pacheco in the world standings by 1,250 points and one rider can earn up to 440 points at the BlueDEF Finals. The event average winner will receive 200 points and each of the three rounds award 80 points to the round winner.
Therefore, not only can Mauney extend his lead on Pacheco, he can also potentially officially eliminate No. 4 Matt Triplett, No. 5 J.W. Harris and No. 6 Fabiano Vieira from the world title race before the Top 40 riders in the world descend upon Las Vegas in 15 days.
Pacheco, Triplett and Harris have all confirmed they will be competing in Louisville. Vieira and world No. 3 Joao Ricardo Vieira (left knee injury) have yet to decide if they will ride at the BlueDEF Finals.
Mauney has never before been No. 1 in the world heading into the World Finals and he wants to make sure he keeps the momentum he has in his favor.
“You have to have the same mental attitude,” he said. “You go after them. You don’t weaken. You keep riding the way you were. You ride the same way you got there. You don’t change anything.”
Mauney’s 90-point ride on Mr. Bull last weekend was a major game-changer in the world title race.
Not only did it help him edge past Pacheco for the event victory, it also led to a 555-point swing in the world standings.
Therefore, Mauney would have held only a 695-point lead on Pacheco heading into this weekend’s BlueDEF Finals if he had been bucked off by Mr. Bull.
Mauney leads the BFTS with six 90-point rides and four event wins.
“Well, he is exactly where he wants to be and riding exactly how he wants to be going into the Finals,” said nine-time World Champion and CBS Sports Network commentator Ty Murray. “He couldn’t be going into the Finals any better.”
Murray compared Mauney’s recent performance – he has gone 17-for-23 since August – to that of past World Champions and legends in the sport.
“When you can tell somebody is riding really great is when you can tell it is over (by) the second jump, and that is how it felt here all weekend,” Murray said. “Every great bull rider that is how it felt.
“When I was battling against Adriano (Moraes) and you are behind the chutes and you watch him jump out there and on the second jump you would be like it is over. Down to Tuff Hedeman, Jim Sharp, Lane Frost, Ted Nuce, Charlie Sampson, Chris Shivers, Justin McBride. Any of those really great bull riders – that is what it looked like. You could just see it right away, this is in the bag.”
Murray said this is the best Mauney has looked since finishing runner-up to Kody Lostroh for the 2009 World Championship and when he capped off his 2013 comeback against Silvano Alves for the 2013 world title.
In fact, Mauney’s 73.91 percent average since Aug. 1 is the second-best of his career for the same time frame. In 2009, Mauney posted a career-best 75 percent average (18-for-24) before going 8-for-8 to win the World Finals event title.
Mauney had a 62.86 percent average (22-for-35) during his 2013 run from Aug. 1 to the beginning of World Finals. He then went 6-for-6 to win his second World Finals event average.
If Mauney can continue at his torrid pace, he may possibly become the fifth rider in PBR history to win multiple world titles and tie Robson Palermo for the most World Finals event average titles (three).
Murray did caution that much can change at the Finals even with Mauney having a commanding lead.
“He has had a lot of good Finals,” Murray said. “Two of the best Finals I have seen both involved him (2009, 2013). He looks damn good right now, but it is two weeks away. It is not in the bag. It is not. We have seen Justin McBride go in there in this position and buck off his first three bulls. It changes when you get there. The bulls are ranker and the focus is different. It is not just another weekend out of the year.”
Mauney says his biggest downfall in these next two weeks could be himself.
“As long as I don’t think too much, I will be good to go,” he concluded. “That has always been my problem. I will get to thinking too much about what I need to do instead of doing it.
“It seems like here lately I have been able to separate myself from the way they talk about me in the arena and everything going on around me. Once you crawl into that bucking chute, none of that matters. You are back to the basics and you are back doing what you love doing and that is riding bulls.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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