Why Barrel Racers MUST Pay Attention to the 2023 NFR Playoff Series and the Governor’s Cup

Learn how the NFR Playoff Series and the 2023 Governor's Cup in Sioux Falls may have major implications on the 2023 world standings race.
Margo Crowther barrel racing
NFR Playoff Series Finale Barrel Racing Champion Margo Crowther and Shes Packin Fame. Image by Rod Conner.

When the Cowboy Chanel aired the live announcement of the NFR Playoff Series Governor’s Cup in late 2022 about the event set to pay $1 million across eight events in 2023, barrel racers had questions—we have answers.

What is the NFR Playoff Series?

For a full rundown of the NFR Playoff Series, click here.

First thing’s first. The NFR Playoff Series is the most recent incarnation of what has been known by various names in recent years, but was called the ProRodeo Tour in 2021. Standings are kept throughout the season and there is a championship event at the end of the year.

According to the WPRA, these are the remaining rodeos in the 2023 Playoff tour.

Hermiston, OR
Sikeston, MO
Logan, UT
Caldwell, ID
Canby, OR
Gooding, ID
Kennewick, WA

Tremonton, UT
Bremerton, WA
Filer, ID
Ellensburg, WA
Walla Walla, WA
Abilene, TX
Pendleton, OR

How do athletes accumulate points?

NFR Playoff Series standings are points based. There are three levels of points based upon the total purse money of a given rodeo.

  •      Top Tier —more than $650,000 total purse
  •      Middle Tier — between $649,999 and $325,000
  •      Bottom Tier — less than $324,999

Points are distributed to each rodeo down to 40th place based on the fastest time or highest score. For rodeos with multiple rounds, the points are calculated based on the average. Tournament rodeos are more complicated, but points are assigned based on how far each competitor advanced through the tournament.

Get all the scoop on points here.

What is different in 2023 with the Playoff Series?

The 2022 NFR Playoff Finale took place in Puyallup, Washington. You can read about the event format and Margo Crowther’s 2022 domination here. In 2023, the PRCA announced that the top 24 athletes from the 2023 NFR Playoff Series will compete in Puyallup at the Washington State Fair on the weekend of September 7-10. But that isn’t the close of the Playoff Series, like it was in 2022.

Enter…..Sioux Falls Governor’s Cup

After Puyallup, the barrel racers who finish in the top four in Puyallup will meet up with the top eight in the 2023 WPRA Playoff Series standings (on the year) and head to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, for the 2023 Cinch Playoffs Governor’s Cup.

What is the Governor’s Cup, and why does it matter?

The Governor’s Cup takes place September 28-30, 2023 and offers a payout across eight events of $1 million.

The close of the PRCA and WPRA regular seasons is September 30. That means that the following massive payouts will hit during the final days of the season and it will have an impact on who makes the National Finals Rodeo in December as the buzzer sounds.

Governor’s Cup Format

The Governor’s Cup will allow the 12 qualifying contestants to compete in rounds one and two of competition.

Those rounds will have the following current and unofficial projected payout from the PRCA.:

  1. $12,099
  2. $9,166
  3. $6,599
  4. $4,399
  5. $2,566
  6. $1,833

After the first two full rounds, the top eight barrel racers on two runs will advance to Saturday’s round. In Saturday’s clean-slate round, the top four fastest times will advance to a four-man short round. The four-man shootout round wil pay the following amounts as the current and unofficial projected payout from the PRCA.

  1. $16,355
  2. $12,266
  3. $8,177
  4. $4,008

Here’s the NFR Playoff Series standings as of August 3, 2023 by points and number of rodeos attended (source: WPRA.com).

1Hailey Kinsel717.2516
2Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi705.6424
3Lisa Lockhart604.8818
4Kassie Mowry548.512
5Shelley Morgan54618
6Jordon Briggs498.512
7Summer Kosel458.517
8Wenda Johnson447.6319
9Ilyssa Riley351.8816
10Paige Jones351.2513
11Sissy Winn332.516
12Ashley Castleberry331.0116
13Jimmie Smith33118
14Emily Beisel326.6320
15Sue Smith324.7512
16Kelly Allen31919
17Tracy Nowlin295.758
18Stevi Hillman286.8819
19Loni Kay Yates276.2511
20Jackie Ganter269.7514
21Rachelle Riggers268.0112
22Carlee Otero263.7517
23Sara Winkelman263.524
24Jennifer Kalafatic260.2519
25Ivy Hurst259.5118

Comparatively, here’s how the WPRA world standings are shaping up as of August 08, 2023.

1Brittany Pozzi TonozziLampasas, TX$188,895.4754
2Jordon BriggsTolar, TX$141,353.6722
3Kassie MowryDublin, TX$130,029.0125
4Lisa Lockhart (G)Oelrichs, SD$115,146.6838
5Hailey KinselCotulla, TX$98,239.5939
6Taycie MatthewsWynne, AR$95,022.8253
7Emily BeiselWeatherford, OK$92,464.0660
8Jessica RoutierBuffalo, SD$91,178.9034
9Sue Smith (G)Blackfoot, ID$89,617.1739
10Ilyssa RileyHico, TX$89,488.8251
11Paige JonesWayne, OK$81,771.6132
12Summer KoselGlenham, SD$77,406.6937
13Wenda JohnsonPawhuska, OK$76,761.2433
14Sara WinkelmanBig Lake, MN$75,409.5272
15Sissy WinnChapman, TX$75,158.8644
16Kelly AllenStephenville, TX$73,970.7773
17Stevi HillmanGranbury, TX$69,058.0651
18Dona Kay RuleMinco, OK$65,806.6438
19Jackie GanterAbilene, TX$63,567.9656
20Shelley MorganEustace, TX$58,201.3832
21Leslie SmalygoSkiatook, OK$54,654.1644
22Molly OttoGrand Forks, ND$54,529.5632
23Carlee OteroLaundesboro, AL$52,826.5362
24Ashley CastleberryMontgomery, TX$47,951.3361
25Margo CrowtherNorth Fort Myers, FL$46,757.0536
26Jimmie SmithMcDade, TX$45,396.9750
27Stephanie FryarWaco, TX$43,641.1862
28Rachelle RiggersLewiston, ID$42,139.1035
29LaTricia DukeThree Rivers, TX$41,465.0058
30Abigail KnightCharlo, MT$37,226.1720

BarrelRacing.com will continue covering the NFR Playoff Series standings and will provide more information on Puyallup and Sioux Falls as concrete information becomes available from the PRCA and WPRA.