'Country boy' a city star

Kody Lostroh would never vacation in Las Vegas. And he wouldn't be here now if it weren't for the Professional Bull Riders World Finals and paychecks with several zeros.

"I'm a country boy, and the city freaks me out," he said.

But all the neon lights, traffic and bawdy shows fade to black once Lostroh sits down in his office, the bucking chute at the Thomas & Mack Center.

Thursday's crowd of about 13,000 was nearly one-fifth the population of his hometown of Longmont, Colo. But once Lostroh straddled his 1,500-pound bull, it didn't matter where he was, who was watching or what the other 39 bull riders did.

It was just him, the big animal and a stopwatch that needed only to reach eight seconds.

Lostroh's concentration among the city slickers helped him team with Mission Accomplished out of 4L & Diamond S Rodeo Company to score 90.25 points and win the fourth round of the World Finals and $25,000.

The check he's really focused on, however, has six zeros instead of three. The series champion will be given a $1 million bonus Sunday afternoon.

Lostroh, 24, extended his lead in the Built Ford Tough series to 480.5 points over J.B. Mauney of Mooresville, N.C., who placed second in the round.

"I expect J.B. to stay on every time he nods," said Lostroh, who has earned $43,000 in the Finals to push his season total to $357,624. "I'm not even watching him. To be honest, I don't care what he does."

Mauney was the next-to-last rider and briefly held the round lead with an 89 on a night when only 10 of 40 riders made the eight-second buzzer.

The crowd reacted loudly to Mauney's ride, but Lostroh was the last man out and insists he had no idea how well Mauney had ridden.

"Mentally I've trained myself to block that stuff out. I get in a zone. That's my job," Lostroh said. "I'm dang sure aware of the energy, but didn't know what J.B. did."

It has been Lostroh's goal this year to pay no attention to what other riders do in order to focus solely on his own riding. So far it's working.

Lostroh said he expects to select Troubador as his bull for today's fifth round, which begins at 6 p.m. He placed second in the third round and is one of three riders to have covered each of their four bulls.

"It feels great to be in the position I'm in. I've been at the other end of the ladder when I barely was on tour," Lostroh said.

The PBR's top rookie of 2004 finished fifth last year and in 2006 and was sixth in 2007.

"It's awesome being able to do what I love to do and praise God for being made to do this," Lostroh said.

Even if it means staying in Las Vegas for another few nights.