Reigning World Champions Kaleb Driggers and Junior Nogueira have taken he lead in the PRCA world standings as of Aug. 21, 2023, holding a narrow lead over the second-place team of Dustin Egusquiza and Levi Lord.
The world standings race is tight this year, with Egusquiza and Lord just $2,067 each behind the leaders—a far cry from the $83,000-plus lead Driggers and Nogueira held at the end of the 2022 season. At No. 3, Nelson Wyatt is only $3,440 behind Driggers, with Wesley Thorp third on the heel side $13,564 back.
“We haven’t caught as many steers as we’d like to this year, but we’ve caught a lot of the right ones,” Nogueira said. “No team has been truly dominant this year. The gap is not nearly what it usually is. Even number one, two and three aren’t that far ahead of the rest of the pack.”
As of August 22, Canadian Dawson Graham is on the bubble with $72,572.91 won on the head side, while heeler NFR heeler Tyler Worley sits at No. 15 with $72,422.21 won with five weeks left in the regular season.
In 2022, it took Jake Orman $85,067.18 to qualify for the Finals on the head side in the final hole, and it took Jonathan Torres $84,854.45 on the heel side. Nogueira estimates it will take $90,000 to break the NFR bubble in 2023.
“You have to keep pushing all the way to the end,” Nogueira said. “Whether you’re on the bubble or trying to win the regular season. My goal every year it to make the NFR and try to do the best I can. I rope with the best header in the world. So that makes it easy on me. I get to throw my rope a lot for money. You have to finish the race. You have to see where it finishes. I look at myself the same way. We want to make the NFR, but you have to rope every steer. I don’t check standings or nothing anymore. I just try to do my job every steer.”
As the season winds down, Nogueira said it will be the guys with the best horses with fresh legs under them who stay strong in the Northwest.
“You have to go catch most of them, and everyone is stressed,” Nogueira explained. “So you have to trust in your horse. Your horse gives you confidence and puts you in a good spot to get through the whole season. We get tired, so it’s a big deal for our horses to be steady right now.” TRJ