By: Justin Felisko May 24, 2014@ 01:30:00 PM
PUEBLO, Colo. ― The PBR summer break is in full force and with Touring Pro Division and Velocity Tour events scattering the country, there are plenty of opportunities for riders to acquire points toward the world standings.
Brant Atwood and Stetson Lawrence are just two of the riders beginning the summer outside of the Top 35 of the world standings that are planning on hitting the TPD/Velocity trail in the coming weeks and months.
Both explain below how there will be endless chances for them to make up some ground to hopefully qualify for the Built Ford Tough Series once the second half of the BFTS resumes on Aug. 15 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
JF: What are your plans this summer to try and get back on the Built Ford Tough Series?
ATWOOD: “I’m hitting every Touring Pro I can. I am going to enter it smarter. I’m going to try and double enter at the events where I know the good bulls are. I am going to hit everything I can and focus primarily on PBR. Years before, I would go and do the PRCA during the summer, but this year I am going to focus on going to every Touring Pro I can to get enough points to get back into the Top 30 before the cut comes back for Tulsa.”
LAWRENCE: “Yeah, I’m going to go to as many as I can. See where I am in the standings and try and get back up into the Top 35.”
JF: Speaking of the standings, last year we saw Chase Outlaw, Matt Triplett and others pick up a solid chunk of points during the summer months. How much of an important opportunity is it this summer to try and make up some points in the world standings?
ATWOOD: “Very much so. That’s why I am putting the rodeos to the side and just focusing on the PBR. I am going to stick where the money is at and that’s the PBR.”
LAWRENCE: “Oh, yeah. I plan on going to the majority of them. It all depends on how my body feels and if I get hurt or not. I am not going to push myself just to get up there. I rather be healthy when I am there.”
JF: How much pressure comes with being on the bubble of the world standings? Every week you have to jockey for position in hopes of getting another crack in the Built Ford Tough Series.
ATWOOD: “Once you get to the BFTS, especially in the bottom near 35th through 37th, you have a lot of pressure on yourself. You shouldn’t make it hard on yourself, but it’s hard because you know in the back of your mind you really need to ride all of your bulls to get enough points to get back on tour so you are fumbling with that. A guy needs to be able to overcome that mentality to be a professional, so that’s what I have been really focusing on.”
LAWRENCE: “Yeah, because when you ride that bubble line, it gets pretty expensive because you get a call on a Tuesday or Wednesday to go and you have to scramble to find flights and it gets pretty expensive. It makes you want to be up there more for sure.”
JF: Is that why you sometimes decide to still head to these Touring Pro Division events despite having some lingering injuries from the first half of the season?
ATWOOD: “I am going to see how it goes for the next couple of weeks and if my (ACL/MCL) is no good, I am going to take at least four weeks off. The points are critical right now and it’s hard to watch yourself to slip from 43rd to 50th because you are not able to go.”
LAWRENCE: “I got a brace on (my MCL) so it’s doing alright. I really don’t think it’s that bad, but we’ll see how it works out this summer and maybe I’ll take a break.”
JF: Brant, how much did last season’s rotator cuff injury impact your start this season on the BFTS before being cut from tour?
ATWOOD: I struggled with a torn rotator cuff most of the second half of the (2013) season because I went to so many rodeos last year. So I was struggling with that shoulder all year long and I took a break after the Finals – two months – and came back and didn’t come back really good. I was, I guess, favoring my shoulder still when I came back and went to my first five (BFTS) events. At the first three, I got shutout on all my bulls, and then I finally rode one at each event after that, but it wasn’t enough points to keep me on tour. I have been riding really consistent, just as good as I was last year when I got put on tour, so all I have to do is keep it up this summer and I will get enough points to get back into the Top 30.”
JF: Having competed in multiple events on the BFTS, is it easier going to these TPDs knowing you can get back to that point when you were on tour?
ATWOOD: “Yeah, I feel like I have a little more confidence at these Touring Pros now, but I got the confidence knowing I will be able to get back into the Top 30 just going to these over the summer. A lot of the guys are going to go, but they are not nearly going to go as hard as I am.”
LAWRENCE: “What motivates me the most is I know I am good enough to ride in the Top 35.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko.
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