ALLENTOWN, Pa. – Here are three things we learned following this weekend’s Cooper Tires Take The Money and Ride Built Ford Tough Series event at the PPL Center.
Tracking qualifiers for World Finals
At the beginning of Round 2, it appeared as if the bubble riders were poised to make a push for the Built Ford Tough Championship Round in Allentown. However, only Jordan Hupp and Nathan Schaper were able to cover their bulls in the second round and qualify for the championship round.
Hupp made the most important jump of any rider in the world standings this weekend by finishing in second place in the event average after ridingWho Dey for 89.25 points in the championship round to cap off a 3-for-3 performance that pushed him inside the Top 35 of the world standings in the final BFTS regular-season event with all 35 riders competing.
“I was right in that zone where I knew I wasn’t going to get enough points unless I covered that championship round pick,” Hupp said. “It worked out. This weekend was really awesome for me. It was kind of coming to the point where I had to figure out what was keeping me down and I was struggling with it. I am just very thankful.”
The 29-year-old earned 100 bonus points for winning the championship round and an additional 270 points for his event placement. He also rode Rock & Roll for 82 points in the second round and had ridden Big Kahuna for 82.5 points on Friday night.
“Who Dey is just a really hard bucker right into my hand and I really like that about him,” Hupp said. “I thought he would fit me and I was happy that I was right.”
All and all, Hupp, who began the weekend 305.38 points out of the Top 35, earned 623.75 points toward the world standings to jump from 37th to 33rd in the world.
Hupp last rode three bulls at a BFTS event when he went 2-of-3 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, while also covering a bonus bull, during the 2013 season.
Schaper (2-for-3) moved from 32nd in the world standings up to 28th by placing ninth overall. He bucked off Mental Revenge in 2.43 seconds in the championship round, but rode Hou Hou for 84.75-points in Round 2 and Gatling Gun for 82.75 points in Round 1.
Kody Lostroh, who is questionable for the World Finals because of a broken left ankle, is 34th in the standings. Robson Palermo (1-for-2) is 35th, Billy Robinson (0-for-2) is 36th and Jason Malone (1-for-2) is 37th in the standings.
With Markus Mariluch out for the World Finals and the possibility of Lostroh being unable to compete at Finals, Malone may end up in Las Vegas. Not only that, but Malone only trails Robinson by 54.37 points in the standings and is double-entered in next weekend’s 2014 Touring Pro Division season finale in Little Rock, Arkansas.
World title race tightens up once again
All it took was one slip up by world leader Joao Ricardo Vieira to open the door for No. 2 Fabiano Vieira and No. 3 Silvano Alves this weekend.
All three riders entered the championship round 2-for-2, but Joao Ricardo Vieira bucked off New Holland Powerstar in 5.17 seconds and Silvano Alves and Fabiano Vieira covered their bulls to get within less than 750 points of the top spot with only next week’s Monster Energy 15/15 Bucking Battle remaining until World Finals.
The big winner — no pun intended — was Fabiano Vieira. The 32-year-old went 3-for-3 to win his third event of 2014 and he now trails Joao Ricardo Vieira by 511.63 points. He accepted a re-ride in Round 2 and surrendered his 74.25 points on Peanuts with the goal of earning himself a better spot in the championship round draft. To do so he had to ride Alternator instead, which he did for 87 points to earn the top selection.
Fabiano Vieira then picked Who Dat and rode the bull for an event-winning 85.5 points.
“I accepted the re-ride because I thought (Alternator) was a good bull and I rode him before one time and I (knew) I could go into the short go in second or third if I rode him,” Vieira said. “I need to ride good bulls to win the event.”
Alves went 3-for-3 for the second consecutive weekend and finished in fifth-place. He rode You’re Next (88.25 points), Skid Row Joe (84.25) and Alcatraz (60.75). The two-time World Champion sits 736.69 points behind the world lead.
“This competition is very fun, because all of those riders (Joao Ricardo Vieira, Fabiano Vieira, Guilherme Marchi and Mike Lee) all ride so good,” Alves said.
No. 4 Guilherme Marchi made the 8-second mark on Chute Buster for 87 points in the championship round, giving him two qualified rides for the first time since August. He finished in seventh place and trails Joao Ricardo Vieira by 1,019.19 points.
No. 5 Mike Lee’s struggles continued as he went a third consecutive event without a qualified ride.
Triplett gets monkey off his back
It was becoming a burden larger than anything for Matt Triplett. Fifteen times he had qualified for the Built Ford Tough Championship Round only to falter short of the 8-second mark. Finally, that 0-for-15 streak is over.
Triplett rode Freaky Eyes for an easy-to-be-had 87.5 points for his first career ride in the championship round at a BFTS event.
“Oh my gosh, this whole year it has just been there,” Triplett said. “I haven’t been finishing bulls in the short round. Finally to get a bull covered in the short round takes a load off my shoulders and puts me in a good position going into Vegas.”
Triplett used the eighth pick in the bull draft to select the bull after Gage Gay told him that he had been on him at an open bull riding.
“They said that bull usually goes left, but he jumped out there and went into my hand and moving ahead a little bit and I kind of cleared my head and just rode bulls and had fun,” Triplett said.
The ride pushed him into the event lead before Hupp’s successful ride and Triplett finished the event in third place. It is his highest finish since he bucked off in the championship round in Laughlin, Nevada, three weeks ago at the 7.99-second mark for a second-place finish.
Triplett rode American Gangster for 82 points in the second round earlier Saturday night and Outlaw for 76.25 points in the first round on Friday.
He is sixth in the world standings and trails Joao Ricardo Vieira by 2,313.67 points.
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko.
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