Hailey Kinsel and DM Sissy Hayday, “Sister,” added the last of the National Finals Rodeo go-round buckles to their collection in Round 2 of the 2022 NFR.
Kinsel picked the right night to stay clean and smooth. Of the 15 runs made, only nine cowgirls kept all three cans upright. The win comes after Kinsel had a disappointing downed barrel in the opening round.
“She knows she needs to win rounds now, so maybe that tipped barrel was a blessing in disguise, because she’s on a quest for another world title,” Campbell said before the performance.
Kinsel was rock solid on her body positioning through her first and second turns, but one spot at her third turn made her nervous.
“I think the only place I felt a little off was at the third barrel,” Kinsel said. “I was really determined to get by it. She was like, a tick tight last night. I know we don’t get to get back in the arena until tomorrow morning, to make sure I can ride her up into that spooky box area, to let her see it and get used to it. I was just determined to get by that, and that made me kind of shift my weight forward going into the turn.”
Unofficially, after the round, Kinsel moved into the No. 3 position in the world standings with $148,303.28.
The Queen of ProRodeo Strategy
Kinsel was at the top with a target on her back in 2021 when she entered the Thomas & Mack. In the end, Jordon Briggs bested her on the Thomas & Mack stage to walk away with the world championship. This year, she’s pressure free, and her No. 5 position coming into the Finals is playing out in her favor thanks to the format of the barrel racing draw, which stays consistent each year.
“It’s funny, coming in fifth,” Kinsel said. “The last couple of years, I’ve been been grateful to be first or second, and that’s great, but you shuffle to the bottom on Round 2. When you run 15 without a drag, no matter how good the ground is, you’re going to have ruts. So I was kind of excited (being higher on the ground in Round 2) because I was like, ‘This might finally be my chance to win Round 2. Like, my best chance.'”
Kinsel is quickly becoming known as one of the most strategic barrel racers in the game. In the fall of 2021, she told the host of The Money Barrel podcast, Kayla Jones, that she wanted to take Sister to the Northwest in the fall of 2022. That way, she could close out the season at rodeos she hadn’t previously been able to take Sister to, and she stuck to that game plan through the year. Kinsel let her other three mares take the reins for the summer, and it worked out in her favor to enter without the No. 1 position on her mind.
“Let me just say, I wasn’t sad about it,” Kinsel said of her pre-NFR world standings position. “Not just because of Round 2, but because of the positioning. Shuffling to the bottom the second night is hard, because then you’re having to run through ruts for your next couple runs. To be able to make our first three runs at the top and let her get confident and get that feel, I think it’s awesome. It lets them get time to get the ground figured out.”
Kinsel laughed about the fact that during the first barrel practice inside the Thomas & Mack on Tuesday, Sister spooked a bit at the first barrel. She brushed it off with a laugh, because Sister’s quirky ways don’t phase Kinsel.
“I mean, I can’t change her; she is the way she is,” Kinsel said. “She’s a boogery sucker.”
Listen to Kinsel’s full interview on The Money Barrel Podcast.
Wenda Johnson’s World Standings Move
Johnson took advantage of her No. 1 position on the ground in Night 2 to pull a third-place finish off with a 13.75-second run on Steal Money “Mo,” the same bay gelding she topped Round 1 aboard. The $17,254.95 check that accompanied the placing brought her total earnings to an unofficial $167,762.92, closing the gap between herself and reigning World Champion Jordon Briggs, who has $195,034.10 earned, unofficially. To further add to the drama, Johnson sits No. 1 early on in the aggregate race, while Briggs is holding at No. 2 after finishing seventh in the second round with a 13.92-second run.
NFR Round 2 Barrel Racing Payout
Full NFR Results, Rounds 1 and 2
|Pre-NFR Ranking||Name||Pre-NFR Earnings||Round 1 Time||Earnings||Placing||Round 2 Time||Placing||Earnings||Aggregate Ranking|
|2||Dona Kay Rule||$127,441.79||$13.91||$4,663.50||6||18.89||0||12|
|11||Bayleigh Choate (R)||$90,892.81||$13.97||13.95||0||6|
|12||Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi||$88,431.79||$14.09||18.93||0||13|
|15||Leslie Smalygo||$84,453.00||$13.80||$12,125.10||4||14.01||$12,125.10 , 5|