Nobody has ever done what Kaleb Driggers and Junior Nogueira have done in 2022—with just 39 rodeos officialed, they broke the PRCA’s regular season earnings records.
There are still two full months left in ProRodeo’s regular season, but Driggers and Nogueira have already amassed an unprecedented $152,018.86 each on the year. Clay Smith set the previous heading record in 2019 at $150,512, while Travis Graves had the heeling record at $147,653 from 2010.
“Honestly, if you rope for a living, winning the year-end is almost a bigger deal than winning the world,” Driggers, 32, of Hoboken, Georgia, said. “Naturally that’s not the title that you’re after, but going in No. 1 in the world means you’ve roped under all situations and done well. It’s always been important to me. I’ve talked to Jade, Clay Tryan, and they feel the same way. It’s every situation. Not just the NFR. Every barrier, leaving from the head box, heel box, roping necks. To set the record on that, that’s something that’s pretty special.”
Driggers and Nogeuira won the Fort Worth (Texas) Stock Show & Rodeo, the Heart O’Texas Fair & Rodeo in Waco, the Clark County Fair & Rodeo in Logandale, Nevada, the San Angelo (Texas) Cinch Shootout, Big Fork (Montana) Summer ProRodeo, the Oakley (Utah) Independence Day Stampede and St. Paul (Oregon).
Notably absent from that list is a big hit like RodeoHouston, which makes up a $50,000-swing for the now-split team of Clay Tryan and Jake Long, who are second and fourth in the world standings, respectively, with $108,395.10 and $81,323.72 won, respectively.
“It’s pretty cool to break the record,” Nogueira, 31, of Presidente Prudente, SP, Brazil, said. “After I achieve something I’m happy, but I am already thinking about accomplishing something else. But I want to be so grateful because this means a lot. Even though we are always wanting to do better and be better, I like to focus on being appreciative of the blessings we’ve had this year.”
Driggers and Nogueira are heading home after the short round at Salt Lake City’s Days of ’47 WCRA Monday July 25 for a week of down-time. They plan to practice to get their run even sharper and take Driggers’ old horse Cuervo (14-year-old Remis Gays On Ofadoc) home for some rest and TLC from Danita Walker.
They’ll pick back up in Lovington, New Mexico, and be on the road for the rest of the regular season. Nogueira has had his family with him for most of 2022, so his wife Jacqueline will head back home to Lipan on this break with their two kids under 2.
Kaleb Driggers and Junior Nogueira’s Horsepower
While Driggers’ has a whole barn full of the best horses in the business, it’s been aboard Cuervo that he’s done much of his winning in 2022. He also bought back Gangster, a horse he’d sold to Jake Cooper, who Cooper sold to Driggers’ long-time friend Brandon Webb.
“We have three really good horses for every situation,” Driggers said. “No matter where we go, we’ve got some of the best horses. We’ve just pieced them together. When we’ve had the opportunity to buy good horses, we’ve taken it. We’ve always tried to get the best horses we could, but it’s just a blessing that we’ve got these three horses on both sides of the play to let us do what we need to do at this moment at the same time.”
Nogueira has been splitting his time evenly in 2022 between Timon (12-year-old gelding Kiehnes Frosty Pepto), Lucky Bucky who he bought from Cesar de la Cruz and his black gelding Chupapi, who came from Clay O’Brien Cooper.
“It’s been a blessed year, and Kaleb has been roping phenomenal the whole year,” Nogueira said. “I’m very blessed to have great horses and great family, and be a team. I think that us working together, and being on the same page, is what is creating the big results. It’s not just the roping part—that’s important—but the whole group, Carlos, my wife, my kids, everybody working together is really making a big difference. When he messes up, I don’t care. I drop the ball, but we pick it up and keep going. That’s the secret.”
Stetson Wright holds the single-season earnings record across the saddle bronc and bull riding with $320,482 set in 2021. Clint Cannon won $233,504 in the bareback riding in 2009, and Ryder Wright won $224,488 in 2019 in the saddle bronc riding. Tuf Cooper won $190,455 in 2017 in the tie-down roping, and Sage Kimzey won $297,026 in the bull riding in 2018. Cole Patterson set the regular-season earnings record in the steer roping in 2021 with $104,516. Of those who set the regular-season earning record in their respective event, Cannon, Ryder Wright and Tuf Cooper did not win the gold buckle that same year.
Driggers has roped at nine NFRs since he joined the PRCA in 2008, finishing 16th in his rookie season in 2009 with Brad Culpepper but winning the regular season in 2016, 2017 and 2018. He won his first gold buckle in 2021 after finishing second in the world in 2016, 2017 and 2018 and third in 2019.
Nogueira, the 2016 World Champion All-Around Cowboy for his joint efforts in the heeling and tie-down roping, joined the PRCA in 2014 and made the Finals for the first time that year. He’s not missed the Finals since joining the PRCA and he’s won the regular season five times so far. He’s also the 2020 AQHA Senior Heading World Champion and Senior Heeling Reserve World Champion on Apache R Hali.