Houston, We Have a Record: Summer Kosel and Apollo Achieve Star Status With Round 5 Win

Summer Kosel and Firewaterfrenchfame broke the Round 5 NFR record in 13.42 seconds.
Summer Kosel victory lap
Summer Kosel takes her victory lap in Round 5. PRCA Photo by Roseanna Sales.

Who won 2023 NFR Round 5 barrel racing?

Summer Kosel recovered from a disappointing Round 4 experience inside the Thomas & Mack to turn in the fastest time over five rounds of NFR barrel racing competition. Aboard FireWaterFrenchFame, “Apollo,” she claimed the Round 5 win with a time of 13.42 seconds.

“I just knew I needed to send (Apollo), have my timing really on point and stay out of his way,” Kosel said. “As soon as he turned the first barrel, I thought ‘Okay, we’re going for it. Just give it to him and God and stay out of the way.'”

What went wrong for Summer Kosel in NFR Round 4?

Kosel was first on the ground and made the most of that opportunity after a disappointing fourth round.

“I must have squeezed my butt cheek a little too soon (going to the first barrel in Round 4),” Kosel said. “That’s literally all it takes—me pushing a toe down or squeezing my butt—and he’ll lay his butt down and slide. I knew right away it was too tight, so I had two options: let him hit the barrel or try to stand up and lift him forward so he would stretch back and take a stride. I thought ‘Whatever happens, happens.’ I stood up, lifted and the rein came over, but it didn’t come all the way over.”

The rein caught the Flair strip on Apollo’s nose and hung across the gelding’s eye, making it impossible for Kosel to apply any useful pressure to Apollo’s face or neck. She attempted to shake the rein free to no avail.

Summer Kosel NFR 2023
Summer Kosel lost rein contact at the first barrel during NFR Round 4. Jamie Arviso photo.

“I thought ‘I’m sorry, buddy, I’ll just try to give you slack,'” Kosel said. “‘Just listen to my feet, and let’s make it around the pattern so we get a time.’ He still clocked, like, a 14.3 with all the chaos.”

Just 24 hours later, Kosel came back with a fresh mind, seemingly unrattled by something that would have unsettled even some veteran NFR cowgirls.

“Stuff like that or knocked barrels, nothing really fazes me,” Kosel said. “Honestly, I just always believe in and have faith in what’s going on. I pray over my horses before I run. Every run, I just wing it and live on a prayer.”

NFR Round 5 Barrel Racing Recap

Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi continued her steady placing streak just one day after becoming the fourth barrel racer in history to earn over $1 million solely at the NFR with a second-place finish on Jets Top Gun, “Benny,” in 13.58 seconds, earning $24,267.97.

Sissy Winn and A R Dash Ta Flame, “Scoop,” came off their second round win of the week during Monday’s Round 4 to earn $18,324 in Round 5 for a 13.59 third-place finish. On her heels, Paige Jones, Jordon Briggs and Emily Beisel split the fourth through sixth placings with 13.60-second runs, gaining $8,584.58 each. To see the complete list of horses ridden in Round 5, look back on our cheat sheet.

For Kosel’s full interview and advice for those aspiring to make the NFR some day, come back tomorrow morning for the full The Money Barrel episode.

Stay tuned for the full interview and round recap here and on The Money Barrel podcast.

NFR 2023 Round 5 Barrel Racing Placings

1Summer Kosel13.42$30,706.41
2Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi13.58$24,267.97
3Sissy Winn13.59$18,324.97
4/5/6Paige Jones13.6$8,584.58
4/5/6Jordon Briggs13.6$8,584.58
4/5/6Emily Beisel13.6$8,584.58
7Wenda Johnson13.63
8Kassie Mowry13.7
9Lisa Lockhart13.81
10Jessica Routier13.84
11Sue Smith13.97
12Ilyssa Riley14.15
13Hailey Kinsel14.21
14Taycie Matthews18.77
15Stevi Hillman19.02