Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012 | 1:47 p.m.
Renato Nunes at 2012 PBR World Finals
After Wednesday night’s Round 1 at the Thomas & Mack Center, it looks as if it will be a last-minute, down-to-the-wire nail-biter at the 2012 Professional Bull Riders Built Ford Tough World Finals on Sunday -- for the Top Two riders and the Top Two bulls.
No wonder 2010 champion Renato Nunes jumped for joy with a backward somersault after winning 8 seconds of combat with the snorting and stomping Yellow Jacket Jr. Nearly 11,000 fans cheered on Renato as he clinched the first round, but 2nd-ranked contender Valdiron de Oliveira, riding with a herniated disc, tied for 3rd, and it brought him within 143 points of the leader.
If 2011 champion Valdiron pushes past Renato to win, it would be the first time in PBR history of a back-to-back championship.
Eleventh-ranked Luke Snyder finished 2nd for the night when only three of the Top 10 riders hit the miracle 8-second mark. Will it be the riders or the bulls who score the points on Sunday’s NBC televised finals; we posted a PBR rundown Tuesday.
The Top Two bulls in the world, defending world champion Bushwacker and last year’s runner-up, Asteroid, tied for high-marked bull Wednesday night with 46 points apiece, and they will be the only ones to watch in the world finals.
Contributing photographer Tom Donoghue was ringside for all the action and heroics; our thanks for his photo gallery this morning. The world finals at Thomas & Mack consist of six rounds of competition featuring the Top 35 bull riders in the world with the best of bulls -- that means the most ornery, meanest and vicious.
The first five rounds -- Round 2 gets underway at 6 p.m. today -- features all the riders. The scores from the five rides -- also 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday -- are combined, and the Top 15 riders advance for Round 5 at 11:30 a.m. Sunday. The PBR Built Ford Tough World Finals title and the prized belt buckle, which goes to the world champion who has the most points accumulated in the regular season and the finals, follow that.
The riders fight for a total purse of $2.2 million, plus, a $1 million bonus to the world champion; $250,000 also goes to the rider with the highest total score for the six rounds here in Las Vegas.
We’ll have daily photo coverage this 19th consecutive year (PBR’s 20th anniversary) of the fierce bucking bulls in Las Vegas. The PBR Fan Zone ad Marketplace with Flint Rasmussen’s show “Outside the Barrel” will be open at Mandalay Bay from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day except Sunday.
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
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