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Kaleb Driggers and Junior Nogueira jumped out ahead of the pack with a 4.2-second run in Round 1 of the 2018 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. Round 2 will feature a medium pen of steers not all that different than in Round 1, with some teams looking to throw it over the gates to get back into contention while others will hope to keep it steady early in the week. Reserve world champion heeler Ryan Motes joins the TRJ team to help break down what happened in Round 1 and what you should expect while watching Round 2.  

Kaleb Driggers Junior Nogueira Round 1 Victory Lap

Kaleb Driggers and Junior Nogueira

Round 1: 4.2  

Round Winnings: $27,230.77 a man 

Total Earnings: $151,182.44 (Driggers); $152,166.29 (Nogueira)

World Standings: 1

Average: 1

Motes' take: Driggers nailed the start at last team out. The round was reasonably easy at 4.6. I think everybody felt like those two could win the round right there. It looked easy for them. If they can stay tapped off like that, they can win a lot. 

Clay Smith and Paul Eaves 

Round 1: NT

Round Winnings: --

Earnings: $125,344.55 each

World Standings: 2 

Average: --

Motes' take: It was weird timing last night. He and Riley Minor both got good starts, but Clay's was pushing away from him a bit. Those steers have big horns and are long bodied and fresh, so if you get off stride with them, their head drops six to eight inches every stride. I think he just missed the right horn. These two will look to be fast the rest of the week.

Dustin Egusquiza and Kory Koontz

Round 1: 4.4 + 5

Round Winnings: --

Total Earnings: $116,396.03 each

World Standings: 4

Average: 7/8/9

Motes' take: Dustin will hang it on him really fast again tonight. Their steer ran a bit last night, and they were both late. Dustin reached a long way and Dog had to come at him at a funny angle. The timing just didn't match up with that big steer, lot of rope out, and a neck catch. He dang sure slipped a leg. Kory will be farther down the arena to get a better angle at him this time around. 

Clay Tryan and Travis Graves

Round 1: 4.6

Round Winnings: $15,794.87 each

Total Earnings: $122,784.90 (Tryan); $118,927.76 (Graves)

World Standings: 3

Average: 2/3/4

Motes' take: They're as consistent of a team as there is out there. I look for Clay to nail the start, and just make the middle of the arena, mid-to-short 4 runs all day long. To them, it looks easy. Clay is going right to them to rope them a coil or coil and a half back. That sorrel finished fast. They got into the wall a bit, but they'll make that same solid run all week and be 4 on any steer in the pen. 

Cody Snow and Wesley Thorp

Round 1: NT

Round Winnings: 

Total Earnings: $101,862 (Snow); $98,173.40 (Thorp)

World Standings: 7 (Snow); 9 (Thorp)

Average: --

Motes' take: There are a couple teams who went out yesterday who are capable of being extremely fast. They'll have a chance to win something on 9 head, and they need to be tapped off and start winning rounds and winning big money now to have a chance to win the world at the end of the week. Cody and Wesley and Clay and Paul will be fast the rest of the week. 

Bubba Buckaloo and Chase Tryan

Round 1: 4.6

Round Winnings: $15,794.87 each

Total Earnings: $114,662.86 (Buckaloo); $94,078.68 (Tryan)

World Standings: 5 (Buckaloo); 11 (Tryan)

Average: 2/3/4

Motes' take: That was a good shot from Chase last night. They'll be quieter throughout the week. They can place a little bit every night and have a chance at the end. They came and practiced a little bit before they went out there, and Bubba is so sharp across the line. He doesn't look like he takes many chances, a lot like Clay Tryan, but he still turns the steer fast. Chase has been working a lot on his heeling to get himself back to the NFR. Up there at the Canadian Finals, he was getting around and shutting steers down. Out there when you let a little rope run a 4 can go to a 4.7 fast, and that's $18,000-$20,000 out there. They made an easy, carefree run and won second. I look for them to make that run over and over. 

Chad Masters and Joseph Harrison

Round 1: 4.4 + 5

Round Winnings: --

Total Earnings: $95,342.14 (Masters); $114,515.04 (Harrison)

World Standings: 8 (Masters); 5 (Harrison)

Average: 7/8/9

Motes' Take: Chad is so good every time. I don't know how many steers he's missed there, but it's not many. He rides the barrier so good out there. When you're a little late, it feels like you're a mile late, but he nailed the start and took a nice, smooth spin. Joseph just roped a leg. He doesn't do that often. He got there quick and as soon as that steer was checking up and rolling away from him, he stuck it high on the right. Chad will turn that same steer nine more times.

Derrick Begay and Cory Petska

Round 1: 4.9 + 10

Round Winnings: --

Total Earnings: $94,837.15 (Begay); $101,294.03 (Petska) 

World Standings: 9 (Begay); 8 (Petska)

Average: 11

Motes' take: Derrick is obviously on Swagger. Derrick breaks narrow and Swagger naturally does anyhow. Derrick took the right start there, and that steer didn't start. Both Derrick and Swagger did what they should have done there. The hard thing about the first three rounds, the steers are fresh. It's their first run at the rodeo. If you make sure you see the start and see extra, you're in trouble. So you have to take the start, and you need that steer to start. Derrick can't back off of that barrier now. I look for him to take that same start tonight, and they'll be contenders. Their run is kind of one of the coolest, craziest runs there is because it's completely in control and it's always fast. Swagger fits that building really, really well. For Petska, that's a good fit. Derrick can rope and rein them into the corner because Swagger isn't that strong there, and they don't hit too hard. They just roll around, and Petska is there waiting on them every time. He doesn't let his header get all the way to the corner. If you can finish before that header gets in the wall, it's crazy how much faster it is. Their run looks just like Rogers and Petska's did last year. 

Aaron Tsinigine and Trey Yates 

Round 1: 5.0 + 5

Round Winnings: --

Total Earnings: $94,044.49 (Tsinigine); $108,438.94 (Yates)

World Standings: 10 (Tsinigine); 7 (Yates)

Average: 10

Motes' take: That steer was wanting to push to the right. That's fast, but your header has to stay with his delivery a little bit long. So as Aaron was pulling his slack and going to the horn, he ended up dallying with quite a bit of rope out. That steer was stepping just enough away that made it a hard move for Smudge. Aaron dallied with three coils out.That steer wanted to handle a little wilder. They're so big, so instead of your head horse jerking them, it almost jams those head horses up a little bit. The steers almost hit back. It causes them to go through a bucking motion there. Trey roped him as he was pulling away from him right there. Trey had to heel that steer as he was jumping away from him. It was a tougher-looking run. Hopefully tonight he stays straighter and isn't pushing away from Aaron as much. Trey can get there from anywhere, but it was a tough shot last night. 

Luke Brown and Jake Long

Round 1: 4.6

Round Winnings: $15,794.87 each

Total Earnings: $108,897.04 each

World Standings: 6

Average: 2/3/4

Motes' take: They got started off good, and obviously Luke has been there several years. He's just always right in the barrier or getting a good start. He didn't have a lot of rope out, which made for a good finish. Jake will throw fast and finish great every time, whether you're at the local jackpot or the NFR. That looked like an easy run, and they'll do the same thing a few more rounds with the steers fresh. Luke's horse keeps them soft right there by not being too strong with them. That steer hit pretty good and let off pretty easy.  

Riley and Brady Minor

Round 1: --

Round Winnings: --

Total Earnings: $91,553.75 (Riley); $90,361.13 (Brady)

World Standings: 11 (Riley); 12 (Brady)

Average: --

Motes' take: I couldn't believe it. If there was one thing I thought wouldn't happen in Round 1, it was Riley missing. He's on the Horse of the Year, and Riley is so good at getting a good start and turning steers there. But those steers are so big. At first, I didn't see their run. Then I was on Facebook, and I saw a picture that some friends in the stands took. It just happens that in the background, it's Riley missing. And in it, you can see so plain how low-headed that steer is. Riley nails the start, is right beside him, and just misses the right horn. I'd have bet anything that wouldn't have happened. But Riley's was the definition of low-headed. And it's not even that he's ducking his head. It's just the timing of the run. Their head-bob in their stride is just pretty drastic. 

Tyler Wade and Cole Davison

Round 1: 4.4 + 5

Round Winnings: --

Total Earnings: $83,145.02 (Wade); $76,251.57 (Davison)

World Standings: 13

Average: 7/8/9

Motes' take: TWade did a really good job last night. From his first trip to the NFR to his second trip, he's got it figured out a lot better. He's not going to be as aggressive. You get out there and want to be super, super aggressive. But last night he reached but not more than a coil if that. The first trip he was coming too kamikaze. He's my circuit partner, and who I'll rope with at the Circuit Finals in a few weeks, and I've seen how he's changed. Last night he did such a good job riding his horse across the line and kept the steer on a lot shorter of a rope. Cole just got an outside leg. I look for them to stay with that pattern and not vary from it yet. They'll place tonight. 

Erich Rogers and Clint Summers

Round 1: 5.0

Round Winnings: $6,769.23 each

Total Earnings: $85,123.45 (Rogers); $96,236.20 (Summers)

World Standings: 12 (Rogers); 10 (Summers)

Average: 5

Motes take: Rogers did a great job. His steer stepped to the right and he took one more swing and rode his horse over there. They stayed away from the wall. And it looked like a consistent, average jackpot run. It was simple. Rogers obviously knows the deal. If they're stepping hard to the right, it's a hard throw over the chute. But he drove his horse across there more—a veteran move. They made a good, easy run and finished good out in the middle. Clint has heeled good all year. If Rogers keeps turning them, Clint will keep roping two feet. 

Lane Ivy and Buddy Hawkins

Round 1: --

Round Winnings: --

Total Earnings: $77,457.61 (Ivy); $74,451.01 (Hawkins)

World Standings: 15

Average: --

Motes' take: They'll go last tonight. Lane is an aggressive roper. Not a reacher, but aggressive. He's got the range he needs. He snapped it on the steer and waved it off. They were going to have a chance to be short 4 and win second. Big loop, big coverage, and he just waved it off. That isn't his M-O. Lane and I are second partners everywhere we go, and waving it off the right horn is almost unheard of for him. I don't know if he was on the gain too much, he took the proper start. I look for them to make up some ground, going last tonight. Those steers have such big horns, it's a bad break. 

Rhen Richard and Quinn Kesler 

Round 1: 5.7

Round Winnings: $4,230.77 each

Total Earnings: $79,462.79 (Richard); $75,579.53 (Kesler) 

World Standings: 14

Average: 6

Motes' take: They started it off, and Quinn pulled off an amazing shot right there. Rhen got it on the steer good, but he kind of bobbled his slack a little bit. Missing his slack made that steer have a little extra rope out there, and it made for a tough heel shot. Rhen won't miss his slack again, so for those guys, this will be a good week. Rhen's horse looks good—that's a good horse. He's a guy who can run close and still be snappy and aggressive. Quinn throws fast. Rhen didn't get the best, flattest go and threw almost the same loop Ivy did, but his stayed on. Rhen missed his slack and his dally once both. They still got finished good and were 5.7. If he gets a clean head catch tonight, they'll be a 4-second run. They can be sharp and fast. Rhen has a lot going for him this week, as far as the all-around too, so making sure he stays in the average in both events is huge. Winning sixth in both events doesn't seem like a lot, but to get started like that, by the end of the week, if he can place both events in the average, he can win $100,000 just the last day. So he needs to just cluck along and win twice as much as anybody else.