Five riders tied for the round victory in the Professional Bull Riders World Finals on Saturday -- a first in the 16-year history of the series.
There was one constant, however, in the quintet.
For the third consecutive night at the Thomas & Mack Center, no one rode better than Kody Lostroh from Longmont, Texas., while J.B. Mauney of Mooresville, N.C., stayed close behind.
A pen of evenly matched bulls kept the championship race close for the $1 million bonus, but Lostroh was able to extend his lead to 1,034 points over Mauney.
"My approach (Sunday) will be the same as it's been all week," Lostroh said. "I didn't come here with any expectations other than I'm going to try my butt off every time."
Robson Palermo, Brian Canter, Aaron Roy and leading rookie contender Cody Nance all matched Lostroh's score of 89.25. Each won $14,000, and that pushed Lostroh's event-leading total to $82,000
Mauney and Lostroh had been nearly error free during the first five rounds, but each encountered trouble Saturday before a packed house of 17,889.
Lostroh received an option for a re-ride after his bull stumbled out of the chute. But Lostroh declined, seeing no reason to erase a share of the lead midway through the round.
"Once they announced my score and I was leading the round, I didn't consider it," he said. "I didn't even go see what the (re-ride) bull was. They were all so even."
Riders had their most successful night of the Finals, with 24 of 40 completing eight-second rides. But Mauney nearly saw his string of five straight completed rides brought to an end.
"It was my fault. I should have rode him dead easy," Mauney said. "I let my feet get behind me, and he almost pulled me down on his head. I made it look harder that it was."
The affable Mauney said he isn't about to let the error affect how he will ride in today's 11:30 a.m. final round of 40, after which the top 15 in Finals points will compete in an eighth round.
"I'm not worrying about nothing," Mauney said. "I'll do what I've been doing; stay on and try to have fun."
Lostroh, Mauney and Brazilian Valdiron de Oliveir are the only riders who have covered each of their bulls. De Oliveir is third in season points and trails Lostroh by 2,267.75.
But Lostroh's lead is far from insurmountable. Each round winner today will receive a 400-point bonus, and the bonuses drop by 50-point increments through 10th place.
A bigger cache awaits top finishers in the Finals event standings, in which Mauney leads 534.5-534 over Lostroh. The top Finals rider will receive 2,500, which drops by 250 points through 10th.
Contact reporter Jeff Wolf at jwolf@ reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0353.