2018 RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo

The RNCFR Could Be A Turning Point In The 2018 Season

The RNCFR Could Be A Turning Point In The 2018 Season

With 750K up for grabs and cowboys making the WNFR thanks to last-minute earnings at this event, the RNCFR could be a game-changer in 2018.

Apr 6, 2018 by Katy Lucas
The RNCFR Could Be A Turning Point In The 2018 Season

Big payouts—coupled with the fact that the finals earnings count towards the world standings—make the RAM National Circuit Finals a crucial event for the competitors able to qualify through one of the 12 circuits this weekend in Kissimmee, Florida. 

Just one year ago, the PRCA board of directors decided to make both the 12 circuit finals and the RNCFR count towards the world standings, upping the ante for the cowboys and cowgirls that qualify.

In fact, between the 12 circuit finals and national circuit finals, those competitors have a chance at the nearly $3 million. The RNCFR alone is the third-highest purse of the year; its committee purse that floats around $750,000 is only bested by the WNFR and San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo. 

As the ProRodeo Sports News reported in March, those wins can become crucial to a competitor’s season. No other competitor knew that fact more than bareback rider R.C. Landingham, who was the highest earner at the 2017 RNCFR; he can credit the $29,630 he won there to seeing him through a rough patch in the rodeo season as he battled a shoulder injury. 

“Winning the RNCFR was a big deal,” Landingham told ProRodeo Sports News in the March 23, 2018 issue. “It pays a lot and gives great awards, and it was cool for me that it counted (in the standings) because I got hurt halfway through the year and I didn’t get to finish out the year and I still made the finals.”

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That nearly $30,000 win is hard to match during the regular PRCA season. The only rodeo that generally sees that type of payout is San Antonio with its $1.5 million committee purse, but you have to beat more competitors and go through more rounds to do it.

Other PRCA events like San Antonio, Austin, Cheyenne, Ponoka, or any other top 10-paying rodeo can rocket you up the standings, turning a bad season around or solidifying a strong season. But those payouts are hard to compare to Landingham’s win at RNCFR last year.

“The money that they pay at the RNCFR is great," Landingham said. "If you win that kind of money at one rodeo, it will change your entire year and your whole perspective on the way you’re rodeoing and your confidence.”

As the ProRodeo Sports News reported, there were several other competitors who saw themselves within the top 15 at the end of the season last year thanks to a large chunk of those earnings coming from the RNCFR. 

Tie-down roper Randall Carlisle earned $19,521 at RNCFR and finished the season in 13th spot, which was just $356 ahead of 15th. Steer Wrestling Nick Guy may have finished in the No. 9 spot last year, but tight competition meant he was just $11,794 ahead of the last spot into the WNFR.

His earnings at RNCFR? $11,656.

While some argue that the finals should not count towards the world standings, according to the PRCA media guide the decision was made “to encourage participation in the circuit system and its finals rodeos." The 2012 world champion saddle bronc rider Jesse Wright, who had a strong showing at the RNCFR last year and is a regular at the Wilderness circuit finals, agrees. 

“It makes the circuit guys have to really pick a circuit and go,” Wright said to the Pro Rodeo Sports News. “Now you have more incentive to hit 15 rodeos, so you can qualify to go to [the circuit finals], and it makes a huge difference when you can win that much money at the RNCFR. We make sure we get our circuit count, so we can go to the Wilderness Circuit Finals Rodeo every year. It is just icing on top of the cake if you can qualify for the RNCFR.”

Wright won $16,016 at the RNCFR last year and qualified for his seventh WNFR in 14th spot, just $981 ahead of the No. 15 man. 

Twenty-six competitors, two from each of the 12 circuits plus two from the Mexican Rodeo Federation Tour, are currently competing at the 2018 RNCFR that opened last night and will run until Sunday, April 8. Each competitor will go through two rounds of competition with the top eight moving on to the finals with a clean slate; from there, the top four will have a sudden death match to decide the national circuit champions.