Clay Smith got the first go-round win of his Wrangler National Finals Rodeo career when he and Paul Eaves were 4.0 in Round 2 of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, winning $26,230.77 a man.
The win got Smith and Eaves back on track in a hurry after they took a no-time in Round 1, and put them back within $5,000 of PRCA world standings leaders Kaleb Driggers and Junior Nogueira.
"Last night I was just trying to be a little too precise," Smith, who rode his iconic grey Marty again for Round 2, said. "I was being almost too sharp trying to get him around the horns. The steers have a little bit bigger horns, and you've got to open your swing up a little bit. And I just missed the first round, that's all there is to it."
Eaves opted to ride Guapo, a 10-year-old bay roan gelding he's owned for four years but barely ever ridden at the rodeos.
"He leaves the box good and wants to go when the gates open," Eaves said. "I was a little unsure of it, really. But that's what I went with, never riding him much."
It was the first go-round win for Smith, the fourth for Eaves. Smith has now qualified for the Wrangler NFR four times, all with Eaves. Eaves is roping at his seventh consecutive Finals, the first three with Montana's Dustin Bird.
Their win came late in the round that saw a second-place 4.1-second-run worth $20,730.77 a man for Cody Snow and Wesley Thorp, another team that took a no-time on their first steer. NFR-first-timer Bubba Buckaloo spun another good one in 4.6 for Chase Tryan to split third and fourth for $13,326.92 each their second check in as many days. They tied with Rhen Richard and Quinn Kesler, who's 4.6 won them $13,326.92 a man too. World champ Aaron Tsinigine and NFR-rookie Trey Yates got their first go-round check for their 4.8-second run, worth $6,769.23 each. Kaleb Driggers and Junior Nogueira stayed in the driver's seat in the average race with a business-like 4.9-second run, worth $4,230.77.
Richard's $13,326.92 helped him gain some more ground in the all-around race, as he stayed solid in the average in the tie-down roping, too, with a 9.5-second run. Richard, the only man roping at the NFR in Las Vegas in two events (Tuf Cooper and Trevor Brazile both made the National Finals of Steer Roping last month), is $86,331.75 behind Cooper and $67,302.16 behind Brazile. For reference (and simply as a talking point at this early stage of the Finals), the average winner in each event after 10 rounds wins $67,269.23.
Team Roping Round 2:
1. Clay Smith and Paul Eaves, 4.0 seconds, $26,230.77 each
2. Cody Snow and Wesley Thorp, 4.1 seconds, $20,730,77 each
3/4. Bubba Buckaloo and Chase Tryan, 4.6 seconds, $13,326.92 each
3/4. Rhen Richard and Quinn Kesler, 4.6 seconds, $13,326.92 each
5. Aaron Tsinigine and Trey Yates, 4.8 seconds, $6,769.23 each
6. Kaleb Driggers and Junior Nogueira, 4.9 seconds, $4,230.77 each