Behind the Chutes: Billings, Day 1

BILLINGS, Mont. – Here are three things we learned from Round 1 of the Stanley Performance In Action Invitational, presented by Cooper Tires, in Billings, Montana, on Friday night.

Joao Ricardo Vieira extends world lead despite rib injury

Even an injury to his ribs can’t seem to slow down Joao Ricardo Vieira.

The No. 1 bull rider in the world continued his hot streak on Friday by riding Nearly Departed for 86 points to finish Round 1 in fifth-place and earn 30 points toward the world standings.

Vieira was the only rider within the Top 10 of the world standings to place within the Top 5, and he now leads No. 2 Matt Triplett by 325 points.

The 30-year-old immediately headed to the PBR sports medicine room after his ride to get ice wrapped around his ribs, which were sore throughout week following the BFTS event in Nampa, Idaho, where he injured them inside the bucking chute.

“I feel so-so,” Vieira said. “It’s pulling when I move my (free) arm. It’s OK. I’ll ride tomorrow.”

Vieira has now ridden nine of his last 13 since the Ty Murray Invitational. His last seven qualified rides have placed him within the Top 5 of a round and he has averaged 87.89 points per ride.

Triplett was bucked off by Heaven’s Basement in 6.24 seconds, but didn’t appear to be affected by his torn left MCL.

Valdiron de Oliveira rode King George for 53 points, but it wasn’t without consequence. The No. 3 bull rider in the world turned down his re-ride option and had to be assisted to the sports medicine room where Dr. Tandy Freeman diagnosed him with a sprained left knee.

Oliveira spent roughly 15 minutes following the event icing the injury.

Nunes wins first BFTS round since September 2014

Renato Nunes admitted that he was nervous about facing Shaft in the first round inside Rimrock Auto Arena before he nodded his head for the gate.

The 2010 World Champion had seen the bovine athlete buck off all 13 of his previous BFTS foes, and 22 overall, and wasn’t quite sure what had made him so apparently hard to ride.

“I had seen he had bucked off a lot of Brazilians – a lot of left-handed – and I was nervous,” Nunes said following his Round 1-winning 89.75 points aboard Shaft.

Nunes became the first rider to make the 8-second mark on Shaft with a vintage Nunes’ performance that gave a glimpse of his World Champion talent.

The 33-year-old threw his free arm with ease and was able to readjust when necessary.

“I really like him, but it wasn’t easy,” he said. “I didn’t really have control for all 8 seconds and I got in a little trouble.”

It is Nunes’ first BFTS round victory since winning the second round in Laughlin, Nevada, last September with an 89.5-point ride aboard Flyin Crazy.

Nunes moves from 27th in the world standings to 23rd because of the 100 points he earned for the win.

Brady Sims placed second in the round and earned 60 points to the standings with an 87.5-point ride on Gentleman Jim. Stetson Lawrence picked up 50 points with a third-place finish aboard Flip Out (86.5 points).

Shane Proctor rode Tahonta’s Magic for 86.25 points to place fourth and earn 40 points.

Nunes said Friday night’s ride was important to him after he bucked off Crack The Whip in 3.02 seconds last week during the Built Ford Tough Championship Round in Nampa, Idaho.

“I am going to feel good tomorrow because I rode one for 89 today,” Nunes concluded. “This helps a lot because last week if I would have stayed on, I should have won. I got bucked off and I was so upset.

“To get back this weekend and ride for 89, I feel much better.”

Palermo notches a ride in return to BFTS

It’s been two months since Robson Palermo was cut from the BFTS and in one of the feel good moments of Round 1 the three-time World Finals event winner made the 8-second mark.

Palermo rode Smoked Out for 85.75 points to finish Round 1 in sixth place, yet just being back on the BFTS for at least one weekend was a moment that Palermo cherished.

“I am really happy,” Palermo said. “I have been out for so long and to come back here and ride one, especially turning back to the right (was good). I have been getting on lots of bulls in the Touring Pro (Division) turning to the right and kind of have been building up my confidence back.”

Immediately following his 8-second ride, Palermo was congratulated by a bunch of riders – including his good friend Guilherme Marchi – as well as the Dickies® Bullfighters and Flint Rasmussen.

“Oh my gosh, everybody congratulated me, especially Guilherme” Palermo said. “He is a real good friend. I was really happy and proud when I jumped off the bull and everybody was like ahhhh!”

Palermo has been riddled with injuries for the last few seasons and this season was no different following a bad wreck at the ABBI Spring Fling event in Stephenville, Texas, two weeks ago.

Palermo’s left shoulder was stepped on during the event and the force of the impact bent one of two screws that was inserted by Dr. James Andrews during a 2013 surgery.

Palermo is now riding with a shoulder brace and extra tape to help keep his riding arm in position so that no further damage is caused during a potential buckoff.

“I had a bad wreck two weeks ago,” Palermo said. “I have two screws in my shoulder and one screw is bent and it has been causing problems. They say I need to fix it, but I talked to Tandy and said let’s go and try something different. I wear a brace and I have them tape up everything so my arm doesn’t go far. I need to be careful when I jump off now.”

Unfortunately for Palermo, he did not earn any points toward the world standings and still trails No. 30 Rubens Barbosa, who was bucked off by Raven Flyer in 4.98 seconds, by 163.75 points.

Palermo will head into his Round 2 matchup with You’re a Daisy If You Do sitting in sixth place in the event average.

Regardless, Palermo is happy to be back on the BFTS with his buddies this weekend.

“To be here with all of my friends and hanging out – I have missed it a lot.”

Injury Updates

Eight riders were listed as officially out of competition by Dr. Tandy Freeman: Silvano Alves (broken left hip); L.J. Jenkins (broken neck- C1); J.B. Mauney (left knee); Emilio Resende (multi-ligament knee reconstruction); Ty Pozzobon (concussion); Josh Faircloth (left ankle fracture); Billy Robinson (left PCL tear) and Chase Outlaw (right shoulder dislocation/torn rotator cuff).

Eduardo Aparecido (sprained left shoulder, free arm) and Alexandre Cardozo (right elbow sprain) were the only two riders competing with documented injuries, per Freeman.

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko

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