Justin McDaniel left eastern Oklahoma early Thursday afternoon for a leisurely drive to Weatherford, Texas, that should take less than five hours.
It wasn’t long before the 2008 world champion bareback rider realized that he was heading in the right direction, but to the wrong rodeo; he wasn’t going to the Parker County … but, instead, was up Thursday night in Coleman, Texas.
That’s a two-hour time difference. Instead of a comfortable drive that got him to the arena in plenty of time to relax and prepare to make his ride, McDaniel pushed his James Hodge Ford into the “Cowboy Lane” and tried to turn a seven-hour drive into six.
He made it just fine, then spurred Stace Smith Pro Rodeos’ Black Friday for 87 points to take the early lead in the rodeo.
McDaniel is a five-time qualifier to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, but he’s got a lot of ground to make up if he’s going to qualify for a sixth time; the Porum, Okla., cowboy is not in the top 50 in the world standings, according to ProRodeo.com.
But he’s got the drive (pun intended) to chase the gold buckle again.