TULSA, Okla. – The Express Employment Professionals Classic quickly became J.B. Mauney’s to lose once he rode Buck Autism for 91.25 points to win Round 1 on Friday night.
Mauney is once again running on full cylinders like so many other times in his 10-year career and his second consecutive week with a 90-point ride gave him 58 career 90-point rides.
He nearly got number 59 on Saturday night when he capped off his second victory in a row, and third this season, with an 89.75-point ride on DaNutso.
The two round wins added to Mauney’s Built Ford Tough Series-leading nine round wins, which has contributed to 26.11 percent of his world points this year.
Mauney has been able to whip his free arm to much success throughout his career, and it is partially why he is averaging 87.14 points per ride in 2015.
“It probably has to do with my style,” Mauney said about his 90-point success. “I whip a lot more than I should. I don’t do it on purpose. It is just my riding style and sometimes it benefits me and sometimes it gets me thrown off making moves.”
Friday was his first 90-point ride in the first round since riding Ragin JT for 90 points in Kansas City, Missouri, in 2012. That was the ride in which Mauney sustained a broken left ring finger on his riding hand.
Mauney had eight 90-point rides during his 2013 World Championship run, and he said his whipping motion isn’t something that he exactly tries to do.
He is more likely to try to not whip his free arm rather than purposely throw it in an emphatic fashion to dress up a ride and earn a bonus point or two.
“Well, my whole life I have tried to slow my free arm down from whipping it,” Mauney said. “Bulls like (Buck Autism) that go away from my hand, I have always had problems with me whipping my arm too much.
“I still whip it, but where I have tried to correct myself is where I stop it when I whip it. As long as I keep my shoulders square, it don’t really matter how hard you whip that thing as long as you stay square and bring it right back to the front on the next jump. It all works.”
Still, it has become a standout characteristic of the 28-year-old’s riding style.
CBS Sports Network commentator J.W. Hart said it reminds him a lot of how Chris Shivers would use his free arm during his illustrious career.
Shivers is the all-time leader in career 90-point rides with 93.
Fellow two-time World Champion Justin McBride is second with 74.
“Shivers is the same way,” Hart said. “He could really fancy one up with that free arm movement and J.B. has that ability to do that. It gets him in trouble a little bit. He sometimes does it when he doesn’t need to. Shivers was probably a little more precise with it. If he didn’t need to do it, he didn’t do it. J.B. kind of doesn’t get away with it that easy.”
Right now, nothing seems to be slowing Mauney down.
He has now ridden 13-of-17 bulls since returning from his torn left ACL in mid-April. Mauney has picked up 2,482.5 points toward the world standings to jump from No. 12 to second in just five BFTS events, one Touring Pro Division event and the Calgary Stampede.
Mauney is breathing down the neck of world leader Joao Ricardo Vieira (167.5 points behind) and another strong showing at this coming weekend’s PBR Major – the Jack Daniel’s Music City Knockout at Bridgestone Arena – and he could be the No. 1 bull rider in the world for the first time since hoisting the World Championship trophy in the Thomas & Mack Center two seasons ago.
He also passed three-time World Champion Silvano Alves for the BFTS lead in riding percentage with his 3-for-3 showing in Tulsa.
Mauney’s 56.82 percent (25-for-44) riding average is his best since posting a 63.94 percentage (63-for-99) in 2009.
“Man, he is on a roll,” Hart said. “As a commentator, as a fan, I like seeing it. It doesn’t matter to me if it is J.B., Matt Triplett or Guilherme Marchi, as long as there is a race. I want to see a good race between at least two guys, maybe five guys going into Finals.”
Mauney has been riding so strong to start off the stretch run that it was almost surprising he didn’t select World Champion Bull contenders SweetPro’s Long John or Jared Allen’s Air Time.
Two years ago, he rode Bushwacker for 95.25 points for the BFTS victory in Tulsa, ending the World Champion bovine’s streak of 42 consecutive buckoffs.
He admitted it was certainly tempting once he stepped on to the shark cage.
“I thought about it and I had been on (Long John) before. I knew he was good and I knew I wanted a rematch on him,” Mauney said. “Long John and Air Time will get their rematches, that is for sure. I just am going to try and pick smart you could say. I still want to be 90 every time, but I am going to pick the ones I feel like I fit up better with.
“If I am coming back second or third, I will pick Long John or Air Time every time.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
© 2015 PBR Inc. All rights reserved.