FORT WORTH, Texas ― The message was simple, yet greatly impacts this coming week’s Built Ford Tough Series event in Kansas City, Mo.
“I’ll be in KC,” wrote J.B. Mauney.
The reigning World Champion confirmed he will be in the draw competing in the Caterpillar Classic at the Sprint Center. Eight days ago, Mauney elected to opt out of this past weekend’s three-day event in St. Louis because of a sprained riding hand and left wrist.
He exchanged tweets with Leah Garcia during Saturday’s CBS Sports Network telecast saying he was good to go and has now confirmed with the PBR competition department that he will in fact be back in action.
Mauney injured the hand and wrist in the second round of the event in Anaheim, Calif. The left-hander declined a re-ride option after receiving a 69.25-point score on Stirred Up in the last out of Round 2 to receive medical treatment in the sports medicine room prior to the start of the 15/15 Bucking Battle.
He was unsuccessful in his attempt to ride Palm Springs, only to return on Sunday afternoon and in true Mauney fashion earn 88 points on Crazy Action and a spot in the Built Ford Tough Series Championship Round, where he bucked off Shepherd Hills Tested in 5.17 seconds.
By the time he returned to Mooresville, N.C., he had indicated his intentions to take a week off.
It was a decision made by an older, more mature Mauney, who, more importantly, knows he’s capable of winning a world title down the stretch as long as he’s ranked in the Top 10 of the world standings.
Mauney has slipped only one spot in the standings – he’s currently fifth in the world – but went from 433.13 points out of the top spot prior to Anaheim, where he made up 80 points despite the injury, to now trailing current No. 1 rider Mike Lee by 1,025.88 points.
Mauney said Monday evening in a text message that his left hand and wrist, “Feels pretty good.”
He is the No. 1 seeded rider in the fast-approaching Dr Pepper Iron Cowboy.
The annual event in which 24 riders qualify to compete in the only head-to-head bracket style format on the BFTS series will take place Saturday, March 1, at AT&T Stadium (formerly known as Cowboys Stadium) in Arlington, Texas.
Mauney, who won the event in 2012, also earned a much-needed first-round bye, but would still need to climb in the chute four times to win it again and earn another much-talked about matchup with Bushwacker in what is being billed as the Bad Boy Mowers Million Dollar Ride.
Asked if he was ready for his 13th matchup with Bushwacker, he replied, “Hell yeah, I’m ready for it.”
In their most recent matchup – four weeks ago in Oklahoma City – Bushwacker was marked 46.75 points after bucking off Mauney in 3.48 seconds.
It’s the second time now he’s bucked off Mauney since the 27-year-old rode him last August to win his first of five regular-season events in a nine-week span to close out the 2013 season and set up what would later be revered as the greatest comeback story in PBR history as Mauney moved from 10th in the world to claiming the world title on the final day of the World Finals.
Mauney’s qualified ride last year, in Tulsa, Okla., was the first on Bushwacker since October 2009 and snapped a PBR-record 42 consecutive buckoffs at BFTS events—all of which took place in either the Built Ford Tough Championship Round or the 15/15 Bucking Battle.
Mauney is the only rider currently in the Top 10 to have missed a BFTS event and only Vieira (68 percent) and Lee (61.5 percent) have a higher riding average than his (59 percent).
Follow Keith Ryan Cartwright on Twitter @PBR_KRC.
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