By: Justin Felisko
March 21, 2017
PUEBLO, Colo. – It is not rare to see Stormy Wing eating something on the back of the bucking chutes throughout a Built Ford Tough Series event.
At one moment he can be taking a bite out of a Snickers bar or some cotton candy, while minutes later he can be seen walking around with a tub of popcorn for himself and his buddies.
“Snacks,” as Wing was first nicknamed by PBR Sports Medicine, may not have been hangry when he nodded for the gate inside the bucking chute on Sunday afternoon at the Ty Murray Invitational, but he reminded everyone that when the 27-year-old climbs aboard a close-to-2,000-pound animal you may want to grab a box of popcorn in anticipation of seeing fireworks.
Wing conquered 2016 World Champion Bull SweetPro’s Bruiser for a career-high 95.25 points during the Built Ford Tough Championship Round Sunday afternoon, and it was good enough to propel him to the second victory of his eight-year career.
“I don’t eat a bunch of popcorn,” Wing said with a laugh. “Just a little bit. I had a Snickers today. Skittles yesterday. Popcorn. Sunflower seeds. I’m all about snacks, man. And some Marlboro reds, don’t forget about them.”
All jokes aside, the 27-year-old’s career-best ride ranks within the Top 25 in PBR history.
Twenty-two riders have scored higher, but the 95.25-point score is the fifth-highest numerical scored ride when you take away the multiple riders that have earned 96.5, 96, 95.75 and 95.5 points.
The ride was Wing’s ninth 90-point ride of his career.
Wing has made highlight-reel rides before, such as his 92-point ride on Train Wreck to win the 2012 15/15 Bucking Battle in Nampa, Idaho, and his 91.25-point ride on Nitro Carrilo Cartel at the 2013 Built Ford Tough World Finals.
Still, it is hard to top his ride from this weekend
“It would be one of the best,” Wing said. “I don’t know. I like me on Train Wreck in Nampa. I was 92 there. Ty Murray said on TV I should have been a few more. That is one that stands out. I have ridden the rank ones before. It is just a long time coming.
“I knew I could ride him and it happened to work out. We just got along today.”
Wing had previously been bucked off by Bruiser in 4.77 seconds in Springfield, Missouri, at the 2013 BFTS event.
This time he had The Pit in Albuquerque, New Mexico, rocking instead of being rocked to the ground.
“It was exciting,” said Murray, who thought Wing may have gotten way with a slight touch of the bull. “It felt great in here to see. There was some treacherous stuff going on.”
One of the most excited people in The Pit was none other than two-time World Champion J.B. Mauney.
Wing calls Mauney not only his best friend, but his hero, and he is normally the one of the back of the bucking chutes jumping up and down during a magical Mauney moment.
This time the roles were switched as Wing channeled his inner J.B. Mauney.
Mauney has ridden Bruiser for 92.75 points and 93.25 points.
“That was rank,” Mauney said. “He asked me earlier what I think before the short round. I said, ‘Bruiser. All day. You are going to have to be a lot of points to beat (Guilherme Marchi and Cody Nance). He picked him and he backed his ass up.”
Mauney’s confidence radiated through Wing in the moments leading up to his showdown against Bruiser.
Dillon Page had walked up to Wing as he was getting his rope ready and said, “Any day is the right day” against Bruiser.
Wing responded, “Today is the right day.”
It sure enough was, and now Wing is ranked 10th in the world standings after beginning the weekend 33rd and on the BFTS cutline.
Wing started the event 2-for-2 with rides on Switch Hitter (88.5 points) and Cracker Breaker (88 points) before being bucked off by Little Deacon (6.79 seconds) in Round 3.
He finished 3-for-4 and won a massive 715 points toward the world standings.
“That is what we come to do week in and week out,” Wing said. “I wouldn’t take myself out of the truck if I wasn’t here to win. It was great to bounce back, they were about to cut me. I don’t like to get thrown off. Nobody does.”
Wing’s ride on Bruiser is the highest on the BFTS since Mauney rode three-time World Champion Bushwacker for 95.25 points in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 2013.
“It is right up there with them,” Mauney said. “That was rank as shit. I feel like I just went 94.”
Wing spent the week before the Ty Murray Invitational in Mooresville, North Carolina, at Mauney’s ranch.
Every day the two got on Mauney’s drop barrel, while also spending time with their daughters.
“Sometimes when you are in a slump that is all you need to do,” Mauney said. “Get on a drop barrel, slow everything down and get your timing right. It worked out for him.”
Wing added, “J.B. helps me a lot. I love that guy like a brother. He is the best in the world as far as I am concerned. We hung out with our little girls and did some cowboy stuff. I started loving bull riding again.”
Mauney and Murray agree that Wing’s victory and memorable ride may be a turning point in the Dalhart, Texas, cowboy’s career.
Wing has never finished higher than 19th in the world standings (2012) and is 8-for-29 (27.59 percent) this season.
He only needs two more rides to match his 2016 total (10).
“Bull riding is all about confidence,” Mauney said. “When you are hot, you are hot. When you ride a bull like that, you are over the top.”
Last year, 2016 World Champion Cooper Davis took a big step toward going after the world title with a 91.5-point ride on Crossfire at the Ty Murray Invitational, while Mason Lowe, who is currently eighth in the world standings, elevated his career by winning the event.
“Confidence is a big freaking thing in this sport,” Murray said. “It can sound cliché, but it really is a big deal in this sport. This had to be a huge boost to his confidence. I don’t think it is a coincidence that you see somebody do good here and then carry it forward. If you can do well at a three-day event in Albuquerque, New Mexico, then you are not squeaking by. You are riding stuff that bucked and Stormy did that.”
Wing’s last victory came in Oakland, California, toward the end of the 2014 season.
Therefore, Wing knows winning at the BFTS-level is no easy task, and he doesn’t plan on getting cocky anytime soon.
“You can’t make it anything more than it is,” Wing said. “It won’t go to my head. The Top 35 guys in the world, any one of us can walk away with it. I was just better today than everybody. Maybe you can say all weekend.”
Wing later concluded with a smile, “I set goals, but I am not going to tell you all of my secrets.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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