Kaleb Driggers and Junior Nogueira and Brenten Hall and Chase Tryan were both going for the day money in Round 9 the 2019 NFR, and it showed.
Hall and Tryan, who led the average going into Round 8, went out with an illegal head catch and are now going fast to try to win as much in the rounds as they can.
"I've spun two to three good steers this week out of eight, and that's not great," Hall, a first-time NFR header, said. "I've not been sharp enough a lot of the times. I feel like the last couple rounds I got in a bad spot when steers were trying to get away. I was just making sure I caught instead of being tight with it, and that's what cost us last night. I had too much out there, and everything was too slow. I put it on him so methodical, so precise, that I had so much rope out there that it cost me. So tonight I got a little bit stiffer rope, and tried to swing a little harder."
"That run felt good, but my dallying felt terrible," Tryan, who rode his 16-year-old gelding added. "I went over my horn twice. I was scrambling, and the steer is literally standing there and I'm just scrambling for my horn to try to find and then I did, and I looked up and saw 4.3, and I was like MAN. I just cost my partner a chance at a buckle. I was so bummed, but it fell into our favor."
Their 4.3-second run was leading when Driggers and Nogueira, both out of the average race after two no-times earlier in the week, roped at last out.
"Anytime you back in there, we're both super competitive and we're going to give it everything we got no matter what," Driggers, who was back on his gray Yahtzee, said. "I know I don't have a chance to win the world, and I haven't been studying. I don't know where his chances are, but at the same time, we rope for a living. When we go home, we're going to be going to Odessa that pays $2,500 a round. This is life changing amounts of money that we get to rope for these next two nights."
Each team won $23,480.77 a man for their efforts, bringing Driggers and Nogueira's NFR earnings to $58,583.33 each, and Hall and Tryan's to $73,673.08 a man. Driggers and Nogueira are second in the world with $177,038.63 and $174,357.99, respectively, and ninth in the average with a time of 42.40 seconds on six head. Hall and Tryan are fifth in the world with $162,599.65 and $160,018.17, respectively, and fifth in the average with a time of 42.90 seconds on seven head.
The round win is the first of the Finals for both teams and the first-ever for Hall. This was also the first go-round win for Driggers' new mount, Timon.
"Timon has been really good for his first time here," Nogueira said. "He's a great horse, and so talented. Then this summer I rode him a lot in small buildings, and I think I just need to trust him a little bit more like I do Green Card. I really trusted him and sometimes I just kind of hold up a little bit. But tonight I made sure I get a really good start and got him all the way around him, and he did great."
While Hall was excited for his first round win on TimeBomb, he knew better than to try to take the victory lap on the quirky gelding. He had his famous Paint Captain, the horse he won the 2015 World Series of Team Roping #15 Finale aboard, standing at the ready.
"I saved myself an arm or a leg or something," Hall laughed. "We got outside, and I thought there was no way they'd let us win the round at 4.3. But Captain was there, and I figured I'd go ahead and get on him and if nothing else I'd just ride him back to the trailer and lead TimeBomb. They made us go down the tunnel, and I was nervous as heck because Driggers got it on him the minute the neck rope popped off. I thought, well there goes that chance of winning the round. But it worked out in our favor."
Clay Smith and Jade Corkill picked up $6,769.23 for fifth in the go round, moving their world standings totals to $241,319.91 and $199,445.62, respectively. They're fourth in the average with 42.60 seconds on seven head—one of seven teams to have seven head down. If the rodeo ended tonight, Smith and Corkill would win $31,730.77 for that fourth-place in the average, and they'd end the year with $273,050.68 and $231,176.39. That would put Smith $47,843.31 ahead of projected second-place winner and current average leader Cody Snow. Corkill would finish $13,726.55 ahead of Snow's partner, Wesley Thorp.
In the all-around race, bull rider Stetson Wright pulled further ahead of Smith with Wright's second place, $20,730.77 check. Wright now has $268,307.18 to Smith's $252,171.57. Tie-down roper Tuf Cooper is third with $222,640.18. TRJ
1/2. Kaleb Driggers and Junior Nogueira, 4.3, $23,480.77 each
1/2. Brenten Hall and Chase Tryan, 4.3, $23,480.77 each
3/4. Jake Cooper and Caleb Anderson, 4.4, $13,326.92 each
3/4. Riley and Brady Minor, 4.4, $13,326.92 each
5. Clay Smith and Jade Corkill, 4.7, $6,769.23 each
6. Luke Brown and Paul Eaves, 4.8, $4,230.77 each