PUEBLO, Colo. – Cody Nance was tightening his riding glove on the back of the bucking chutes inside Dreamstyle Arena, aka the Pit, on Sunday afternoon when he glanced toward the stands.
His wife, Korie, and his son, Nash, were looking on in excitement as Cody was preparing to ride Carrot Top in the championship round of the Ty Murray Invitational, presented by Isleta Resort & Casino.
Immediately, Cody felt a wave of calmness and tranquility descend upon him inside the highly electric arena that revs up nearly every bull rider’s blood pressure once they step foot in the historic Albuquerque, New Mexico, arena.
“I can look over at him and my wife’s smiling face before I get on and I find so much peace,” Nance said.
Korie and Nash had plenty to cheer about in Albuquerque as Cody went a perfect 4-for-4, riding Carrot Top for 85.75 points, to win his second 25th PBR: Unleash The Beast event.
While adjectives and characteristics such as grit, determination and relentlessness are often associated with Nance, it was his selfless love for having Nash and Korie with him in Albuquerque that had him displaying the other emotional side of the 30-year-old cowboy.
Nance’s eye’s teared up as he was holding the 10th event victory belt buckle of his 10-year career with Nash playing in the dirt in front of him.
The win earned Nance 637.5 world points and moved the Paris, Tennessee, cowboy to No. 3 in the world standings.
“I am just trying to enjoy the process,” Nance said. “I have my family with me and am taking things jump for jump and trusting the ability that I have been given. Having my little boy here really lights a fire in me. I just can’t say how thankful I am.”
The family is making a road trip to Glendale, Arizona, for this coming weekend’s Ak-Chin Invitational, presented by Cooper Tires.
Korie and Nash may have even more to cheer about this weekend inside Gila River Arena when Nance squares off in a marquee matchup against Pearl Harbor (37-4, PBR UTB) in the 15/15 Bucking Battle on Friday night.
Fans can watch the 15/15 Bucking Battle exclusively on CBS national television Saturday at 2 p.m. ET.
This is Nance’s first 15/15 Bucking Battle of the year.
Pearl Harbor is coming off a down performance at the Ty Murray Invitational when he hipped himself leaving the chutes with Cody Teel.
The 6-year-old bovine, though, is 7-0 this season and is averaging 45.46 points per out.
This will be the second matchup between the two 2018 World Champion contenders.
Pearl Harbor won the first meeting in 2016 when he bucked off Nance in 3.98 seconds in Springfield, Missouri.
Nance admitted on Wednesday he was not 100 percent in that matchup after being stomped on the night before.
“My ribs were busted,” Nance said. “He felt good. I’m looking forward to it.”
Nance will certainly give Pearl Harbor all he can handle on Friday night.
Nance’s effort and no-quit attitude has been on full display this season as he is 17-for-31 (54.84 percent) with two victories and four Top-10 finishes.
His 54.48 percent riding average is tied for the third-best in the PBR alongside Ramon de Lima.
Nance trails Lima by only 154.17 points for the world No. 1 ranking.
Lima has drawn Heartbreak Kid (15-0, PBR UTB) in the 15/15 Bucking Battle.
PBR Director of Livestock Cody Lambert can tell things are clicking well for Nance this year.
“He is just determined and he is ready,” Lambert said. “In the last several years, he would fight his head, he would fight his equipment and he would make changes. This year he has confidence.”
Nine-time World Champion Ty Murray was certainly impressed with Nance’s performance in Albuquerque.
Nance began the weekend with 85.5 points on Chingus Dumingus and 86.5 points on The Don.
He then tied for the Round 3 victory with 89 points on More Big Bucks.
“Sometimes he doesn’t do anything right, but he never forgets the effort,” Murray said. “That is why I have been rooting for him. To see him step up and take it today was great. I like seeing the guys that put out that effort.”
Murray was captivated by Nance’s ride on Carrot Top to clinch the victory at the 22nd edition of Murray’s annual event.
“That bull turned back with him, and his hips were so far out of position, and he just makes a great move and just snaps right back into position,” Murray added. “That shows the talent and what he is capable of. The reason I am a big fan of him is I think effort is everything.
“This is a guy that is a veteran. He is still a specimen. He still works at it. He still loves it.”
Nance is one of only three riders in the Top 10 of the world standings that has qualified for the PBR World Finals five or more times. No. 8 Eduardo Aparecido has qualified for six World Finals, while No. 9 Ryan Dirteater has qualified for nine.
Dirteater is set to square off against two-time World Champion Bull SweetPro’s Bruiser (42-11, PBR UTB) in the 15/15 Bucking Battle and Apareicdo has a rematch against Jack Shot (29-4, PBR UTB).
Aparecido has ridden Jack Shot for 90.5 points and 90.25 points.
One more event win would tie Nance’s career-high of three that he set in 2014, which was the last time he was the world No. 1 bull rider.
He may have two wins this season, but Nance doesn’t think he is riding his best just yet.
“I have hit some inconsistent streaks due to some circumstances,” Nance concluded. “The circumstances are great now. We are staying focused on the positive right now and we will take it one bull at a time.
“It helps me to ride and focus on all the positive things right now going on around me.”
15/15 Bucking Battle Matchups
Fabiano Vieira vs. Rising Sun (7-5, PBR UTB)
Dakota Buttar vs. Frequent Flyer (13-0, PBR UTB)
Marco Eguchi vs. Losing My Religion (24-2, PBR UTB)*
Kaique Pacheco vs. Twinkle Toes (4-1, PBR UTB)
Keyshawn Whitehorse vs. Cut the Cord (23-6, PBR UTB)
Tanner Byrne vs. Bezerk (13-4, PBR UTB)
Valdiron de Oliveira vs. Sosa’s Alley Cat (11-2, PBR UTB)
Stetson Lawrence vs. Breaking Bad (5-4, PBR UTB)
Jose Vitor Leme vs. Spotted Demon (35-3, PBR UTB)
Ryan Dirteater vs. SweetPro’s Bruiser (42-11, PBR UTB)$
Eduardo Aparecido vs Jack Shot (29-4, PBR UTB)$
Cody Teel vs. Wild Goose (7-3, PBR UTB)
Claudio Montanha Jr. vs. Speed Demon (17-2, PBR UTB)*
Cody Nance vs. Pearl Harbor (37-4, PBR UTB)*
Ramon de Lima vs. Heartbreak Kid (15-0, PBR UTB)*
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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